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A bad case of procrastination

  1. Sep 15, 2009 #1

    Moonbear

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    In case the students here thought it only happened to them, I have a bad case of procrastination right now. I have a seminar to give on Thursday morning, for a graduate level course where I'm supposed to be providing a "good example" of how to give a presentation, and I haven't even started putting my slides together. Ugh! I've been online about 2 hours, just NOT feeling like working on this thing and wondering why I agreed to do it (oh, right, because I THOUGHT I had more time this week, because I THOUGHT I was done teaching in one course as of last week, because I THOUGHT I had a current copy of faculty assignments in the courses...the other faculty in my department, including my dept. chair, also suffer from bad cases of procrastination, and these last minute changes in assignments are driving me nuts).

    I'm half considering walking in without any slides and telling them what my own mentor told me once...you should know your material well enough to give a talk even if you don't have your slides (that was from the days when we had slide projectors and sometimes the AV staff or volunteers at conferences managed to drop the whole carousel and all the slides in it moments before a talk, or would have them all loaded upside-down, and were scrambling to put them right-side-up as you were giving the talk). I guess that should apply to computer gremlins eating the powerpoint file too, right?
     
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  3. Sep 15, 2009 #2

    lisab

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    I've come to realize my best presentations are in a casual, non-scripted, off-the-cuff style. In fact, I'm not going to use PowerPoint for the next few talks I give...I think I'll do better without it.

    But I have faith in you Moonie, your talk will be just fine...it's always the deadline that gets the job done :biggrin:!
     
  4. Sep 15, 2009 #3

    turbo

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    You don't always need slides or graphics. If you want to make a point graphically, you can whack out a couple of axes on a blackboard or whiteboard and make your point. Lectures worked really well for a long time. Did Newton have digital aids?
     
  5. Sep 15, 2009 #4

    dlgoff

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    Any way you could just pour out your knowledge in front of the old fashioned chalk board?

    Edit: dang turbo. beat me to the punch.
     
  6. Sep 15, 2009 #5

    Moonbear

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    No, chalk boards wouldn't be sufficient for this particular talk. I wish. I need to show some actual results with graphs, error bars, etc. Afterall, I'm supposed to be demonstrating how to give a seminar, not just spending an hour talking off the cuff.

    But, I'll probably be fine. I think I'm not so motivated because I've given similar talks so many times before that I'm bored with the subject, so just need to grab a bunch of slides from those talks, add in a different set of background slides to illustrate some points I want to make about critically evaluating controls, and selecting the right animal model, which are not things I usually give in seminars not meant for students, and it'll be ready. Still, I keep wanting to just go grade homework instead...which really tells me how much I'm not enthusiastic about this particular talk.
     
  7. Sep 15, 2009 #6
    You are procrastinating right now. Perhaps this thread should be closed to help you focus on track.
     
  8. Sep 15, 2009 #7
    Ahh, you beat me to it....EVOOOOOOO - close this thread - please.:blushing:
     
  9. Sep 15, 2009 #8

    Astronuc

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    Well, I and others had to qualifiers on a chalkboard. Five faculty members could ask us any problem from dozen+ courses we had during upper level and MS program. They'd simply pose a question or have describe some theoretical aspect of a nuclear reactor operation, and we have to write a PDE or a set of PDEs (nuclear diffusion/transport theory, heat transfer, fluid flow including 2-phase, . . .), describe bc's and ic's and then work through to a solution. You either knew it or you didn't.

    But then again, color slides are so much nicer for showing trends in data, especially 3-D plots of x,y, many z.

    I too dislike giving the same presentation, and I've finished some presentations either the night before, or the morning of, or during the talk just before mine. :biggrin:
     
  10. Sep 15, 2009 #9
    when you can't get started, sometimes it helps to begin at the end and work to the front.
     
  11. Sep 15, 2009 #10

    Pengwuino

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    March out and say "Here is a list of things NOT to do in a good seminar" and just point to yourself :biggrin:
     
  12. Sep 15, 2009 #11

    Moonbear

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    It's okay, I figured out now what I'm going to do to make this talk different. I gave one this summer that has most of the data I need, and another last year that has the rest, so I can yank out data slides pretty quickly to put it together (with the one this summer, I put my slides together in a day, and then only looked at it and rehearsed the morning of my talk, and it went very well anyway...actually, I got a lot of very positive comments on the talk and it inspired a lot of discussion with people after the session was over).

    I decided to fill in the rest of the time I have actually talking to the students about things they often have to rely on individual mentors to convey, not always with the same quality, which is how to actually put together a good presentation. That's something I can prepare quickly and have fun doing. I can put in a slide with some hideous colors and tell them not to distract their audience with unnecessary colors...use color to highlight key points, not just because you have a million to choose from. Same with things like animations. I can turn and talk to the board/screen to make sure they understand to talk to the audience, etc. So, I'm going to blend some research and some actual advice on how to give a presentation...essentially, spell out the thought process of what to put into slides.

    Okay, now I'm excited because I'm going to have fun doing this differently than I usually give a seminar (that's the fun of giving one to an audience that is primarily students).

    Sometimes procrastinating out loud works to quit procrastinating. Even if I didn't take the advice to do it all as a chalk talk, bantering about "old school" talks did help get some ideas into my head about all the old advice people have given me along the way that has improved my own talks. Unfortunately, I don't know the classrooms well in the building where I'm giving the talk, so can't rely on easily accessing the board while a screen is down, but will keep in mind keeping that as an option if the room is set up right. I'm not going to give the whole talk as a chalk talk, but I might think about a point that is easily demonstrated on a board and use it to show them that they don't HAVE to be slaves to PowerPoint for every talk they give.

    Okay, thanks folks, time to go get busy putting together a talk. :smile:
     
  13. Sep 15, 2009 #12

    Moonbear

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    :rofl: You read my mind!
     
  14. Sep 15, 2009 #13

    drizzle

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    I bet there’s something behind this whining? :biggrin:


    don’t worry you can handle it, it’ll be a piece of cake :smile:.
     
  15. Sep 15, 2009 #14
    I have a file for you on presentations that I got from an email from my department. PM me your email address and I'll forward it your way.
     
  16. Sep 15, 2009 #15
  17. Sep 15, 2009 #16
    I love the idea of demonstrating what not to do by doing precisely that, Moonbear. Sounds like fun! I want to come watch.
     
  18. Sep 16, 2009 #17
    maybe a suggestion for the next speech,

    Ladies and gentlemen good ..*appropriate part of the day*..; As you can see, I did not switch on this magic light contraption, because I have come to the conclusion that I'm better off without. I kept noticing that the audience used to have a hard time deciding where to look, to that big beautiful light show, or to me.

    [Especially males,]

    [But in the end most of them decided to study the inside of the eyelids.] :uhh:

    So to save you from that dillema, there is no dog and pony show so you all can watch me.

    :uhh:

    Well it was worth the try.
     
  19. Sep 16, 2009 #18

    Borek

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    Have you never finished your presentation during YOUR talk? It is called improvisation :smile:
     
  20. Sep 16, 2009 #19

    Monique

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    How about giving a presentation and not having a clue what your own next slide is going to be. That's a classic case of not being prepared.

    If I had to take a presentation course, I'd like to know how you can best warm up an audience to participate with you. I've had to give a (pretty dry) genetics lecture to students, four years in a row (explaining the formulas of recombination and genetic mapping). It is really dependent on the students how much you get out of such a presentation. I really try to get them to think and come up with the solutions themselves, but last time I only got blank stares for every question I asked.

    In that case you really don't know whether they understand what you're talking about or whether they're just too shy to come up with an answer in front of a large group of people. I just continued to answer my own questions and spell it out for them, but it would have been better to get some feedback from the group.
     
  21. Sep 16, 2009 #20

    Moonbear

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    Now, THAT I can help with. If you think the lecture is dry, nothing is going to convince the students differently. So, one starting place is to work on acting skills to sound more enthusiastic.

    To address lack of responses to questions, first try allowing an uncomfortably long silence for them to answer questions. Sometimes they start to "crack" if you do that, and once they get in the habit of realizing you expect them to answer, they'll pay more attention and participate more. If you always answer for them, they will take the easy way out and just sit there until you offer the answer. One of the other faculty I work with tries to ask students questions in lecture, but she never waits long enough for them to respond. If she doesn't get an immediate response, she answers for them, and they just turn their brains back off again. Once she does this a few times, even the really enthusiastic students who usually answer questions give up, they assume all the questions are rhetorical.

    If nobody is willing to try and you've given them enough time to think about it, give them some choices of answers, something to help them narrow the options to just two or three choices, and then ask the class to vote by raising hands (I always make the last choice, "Who can't decide?". Even shy students will raise their hand as part of a group. If nobody participates, you are stuck with an apathetic bunch of students. If most of them know the right answer, they are a shy bunch. If a lot give the wrong answer or vote they don't know, then you know they are not understanding the material well enough to answer questions.
     
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