Happy Labour Day! Things have been busy here at work while we gear up for the new academic year. Students are around, schedules are messed up, and people are scrambling to get back into the right mindset to kick off the new term. Things are bustling and busy.
I don’t intent to keep a post trend going, but I wanted to ride some of the wave from last week’s psych-out post and talk about another recent failure I experienced at work.
Last week, I had to give a short presentation to college faculty about the research ethics board I’m on. The purpose of the presentation was to remind faculty that the board exists, and to have them consider whether an ethics review is needed for their or their student’s projects. I had a 15-minute block of time and a slide-deck provided by our board coordinator.
After the presentation, I sat down and wrote out all the ways the presentation sucked. In fairness, two of my colleagues went out of their way to complement my presentation, and that they took away the two main deliverables (that student research projects should be run by the board, and that I’m available on campus to answer questions). I checked in with my boss and she, too, agreed that the presentation was not a failure as I saw it. I know that my perception of how things went will be dramatically different than how others perceive me. Nevertheless, I know that I am capable of doing much better and the main culprit of my failure was because I didn’t practice out loud before the talk.
Here is the list I generated:
Everything that went wrong (and why):
- Didn’t practice the slides
- Didn’t build the deck (it was pre-made and sent to me; building the deck would have made me more familiar with the content by necessity)
- Too rushed
- Unstable speaking patterns (rambling ticks)
- Poor intro
- Poor conclusion
- Didn’t plan my transitions
- Didn’t know how the transitions were set in the slide (i.e. need to click to reveal text)
- Missed content from the page.
- Had to look at screen to figure out where I was
- Didn’t know I’d have to hold a microphone (I knew this from past All Faculty meetings, but I should have anticipated it)
- I was holding the mic and the presentation remote – my hands were full
- Didn’t pause to calm down or collect my thoughts
- Bad presentation but saved with good will from prior relationships with faculty + my position (junior to the faculty)
- finished in 8min or 15min.
- Didn’t have a firm point in mind that I wanted them to take away from talk.
- Didn’t edit slides to remove non-essential content
You can’t win them all, but it’s important to know where you go wrong so you don’t make the same mistakes again.