12 August 2004

Evaluations of BEJC presentation on 12 Aug 2004

The presentation of our holiday expeditions experience tonight was considered "amateurish" at best from feedback by some of the handful of audiences at the Biodiversity and Ecology Journal Club (BEJC). Personally it was dissapointing due to poor management on all front, mainly (and somewhat unknowingly) by me. Thus I have decided to write an evaluation.

Overall and Personal Evaluation

1) Miscommunication and lack of communications
I was "shot" without even seeing the arrow coming. Due to my inattention, I did not realise that I was actually coordinating the whole event and that the 3 other persons involved (1 chairperson and 2 other speakers) did not know head or tails of what was happening. Because of my blatant assumptions, the rest did not even know what the talk was about, what their role is, who is to bring the laptop or whether there is even a laptop or not at the conference room. We all assumed there was a laptop and in the end, because I happened to save my presentation in my computer and brought it, thus "saved" the day.

2) Poor time management
There are many instances of poor time management, simply from procrastination or, again, blatant assumptions.

a) Sent out the abstracts of the presentation too late and the email was only sent out to the mailing lists and updated on the website 2 days before the talk. This is insufficient time for any sort of publicity or for people to change their plans.

b) Assumed that I was the last speaker in the line-up so I was late for the presentation by 5-10 minutes. Did not doublecheck the venue and wasted time running between two places. Another speaker was also late. Presenters should be 15 minutes early regardless for preparation in advance. Audiences was kept waiting.

c) Did not prepare in advance for my own presentation and only finished the slides 5 minutes prior to leaving for the presentation thus resulting in my late arrival. This also led to an ill prepared presentation.

3) Lack of preparation
a) Computer was not prepared in advance and had to wait for mine to set up upon my late arrival. The first speaker had to postpone to second place due to lack of internet connection and had to go download her presentation from the internet again minutes before her presentation. None of the others knew anything about computers except me. I managed to debug some problems I faced during my previous presentation in Thailand but still met more and different problems this time.

b) Due to the lack of preparation time, I was careless under pressure and forgot to plug my laptop to a powerpoint - a mistake I would not commonly make in normal situations. The laptop died half way during my presentation which was the last. This resulted in a big delay of about 10minutes which lost the attention of many of my audiences.

4) Presentation skills
As the last speaker, I should try to capture my audience's waning attention. Although the presentation was supposed to be from 7pm - 8pm, it ended at 9pm instead. I had to entertain the audience during the wait and resulted in much repetition of myself and sometimes I lost the train of thoughts. I felt I was too casual and in my attempt to be humourous, I used too many jokes about what my family (which I used to represent the layman's opinion) thought of my work and my opinion on it. I should probably have been more ambiguous about the source to be more formal yet humourous.

a) Question and Answer
Q&A was supposed to be for 5minutes but lasted much longer for the rest. Mine was superbly short and there were no questions probably due to the fact that everybody was so tired and lost interest. Also, I did not handle the Q&A well. I was distracted by somebody raising their hands while I was explaining the first questions. I interrupted myself and decided to continue on my first answer again. This was very disruptive and ill presented.

b) Presentation Topic
There was no focus in my presentation. I did not think to modify my presentation after submitting my title and abstract. I was limiting myself to the initial, spur of the moment title and abstract. I was also not sure what to write for the abstract and copied the other two speakers' style. This put me at a disadvantage as my trip was very much different from them. Their trip had only a single purpose while mine had very distinct and seperate experiences from the field work itself and the trip as a whole. In my final presentation, I focused too much on my research findings rather than my field work experience which would have made for a better topic in a presentation as this. The lack of focus was probably due to my ill preparation as well.

These are the only points I can think of at this moment. This will definitely be a good list of pointers to remind myself and maybe others so we will not make the same mistakes again. It was rather dissapointing to realise that I have not already know these already as they are truly rudimentary aspects of presentation.

Perhaps, lastly, I must add that, one must not try to juggle too many eggs in one basket or one might just drop the basket and break all the eggs. I believe this may be one of my biggest mistake at this moment.

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