Sunday, June 03, 2007

Lessons learned

I got some feedback for the demo lecture on Thursday. It confirmed my gut feeling about what had gone wrong, and what was good about it. On their three-step scale I got the middle grade. This is obviously a disappontment, but I do agree with their opinion.

So, my weaknesses were having a bit too much stuff in the talk, and having to rush through the bit where I showed data. Also, they had hoped for a bit of interaction towards the audience, which they had explicitly forbidden in the beginning, so I'm not quite sure how that could have worked. I did mention interaction and what I'd normally do with students in a lecture like that in the handout, but I suppose they didn't read it, and I probably should have said something about it in the beginning. Perhaps they meant that I was too concentrated on the talk and should have paid more attention to the audience or something, and that was probably true.

I made a stupid mistake with my PowerPoints, curse them. Contrary to what I wrote earlier, I did hang myself to my slides. I blame being tired, as I wasn't thinking straight when I made the last changes to the talk. At that stage I felt that I would need the support from the slides and constructed the narrative for the first section (the drivel-bit) into the slides to guide me through. The hare-brained idea was that I would stay focused and not digress, but what actually happened was that the slide structure prevented me from progressing as fast as I needed to, and stopped me from skipping some of that stuff and curbed attempts to improvise. As a result, the first part took way too much time. And my best content was in the end, which I now had to push through in a hurry, as I was determined to stay within the given 20 minutes. Again, a couple of minutes over wouldn't have been that bad, but when I tried to "read" the audience it seemed to say "next please" rather than "keep going, this is fascinating", and so I pushed to finish in time. Perhaps I didn't take into account that I was facing a Finnish audience trying to keep a stone face because it was a demo lecture, and not the usual crowds of international conferences or Cambridge...

It was nice to chat with some of those who had come to listen to the talks but weren't in the panel afterwards. As they hadn't focused on the technique of delivery, they had some nice things to say about the content. And so did the panel, BTW, they thought my strength was having the latest of current research in the talk. So I'm happy at least that part of my plan worked and my efforts were noticed.

A weekend's rest was welcome and very relaxing, although the perma-stress is still there rearing it's ugly head and will probably be there until the t***** has been submitted. Now it's back to the foggy island and as it's R***air, I'm not looking forward to the flight.

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