Reflections

9 12 2008

            Now that my presentation is over, it’s appropriate for me to reflect on what I’ve learned and can still learn. Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts:

 

1.         On Software:

In order to make my presentation more visually appealing, I put a lot of time into developing images. To do this, I needed to learn how to take advantage of my computer’s various capabilities. My favorite feature turns out to be one of the simplest—the Grab feature. I had to have my professor show me how to figure it out, but once I saw how it worked, I have been cutting all kinds of images, both for my class presentation and other (more fun) things such as Christmas wallpaper. Indeed, a whole new world of getting and manipulating images has opened up to me just from this one feature. Before I used Grab, I was limited to what I found online. Now, I can find just the right image for myself.

            The other area I’ve learned most about is getting movies into PowerPoint. This was frustrating at first, until I got several different software elements that allowed me to rip movies and edit them. I needed several QuickTime products and MPEG Streamclip; I also use Mac the Ripper and iskysoft (although this one is now superfluous) as well as iMovies. In fact, once I got the films ripped, iMovies was essential and fairly easy to use. I’m still not sure if I’m violating some copyrights, so I try to limit ripping to movies I own and/or will use in a professional capacity.

2.         On Technology:   

While this technology has its positives, it is more expensive than I anticipated, and it takes a while to learn. Thus, putting together a 15-20 minute presentation took as much time as writing a paper, and I was still tinkering with the final product minutes before the final time.

            I’m also not sure now whether WordPress is something I’ll continue, at least while I am both working and matriculating full time. I can see myself doing some sort of blogging once I get done with school and want to have a presence online, but there is a lot of discipline involved, and I am not sure anyone would be interested in reading what I have to say. I guess there’s a certain self-confidence, or perhaps even self-indulgence, required to blog full time. I do find the journaling aspects helpful in terms of gathering information, but I do this already on my computer, so WordPress is not essential.

            I also realize just how visual we have become as a society. Part of me rebels against this as it correlates to a less literate society; I definitely do not want to encourage laziness in an audience, nor do I want to preference images over texts. Some of our readings have discussed this. At the same time, I want to be current and relevant, and engage my audience in an interesting way, so I do want to use both texts and images in creative ways. This class has helped inspire me to find ways to do so.

3.         On Presenting:

While my presentation went okay, I was really impressed by those who did not rely so heavily on papers. I envisioned mine more like a conference paper, yet those like Jonathan and Chris were able to do the same without such a hindrance. I was reminded of my colleague, DawnEllen, with whom I have presented at several conferences. She typically speaks more extemporaneously, using only notes or an outline and opting for lots of images (especially film clips). She always knows her subject so well, and is engaging, that it works for her. I hope that my next conference paper will more along these lines.

I was reminded how sometimes things beyond our control can limit us. For instance, I would have preferred to stand closer to the screen, but the room configuration prohibited this. I also meant to bring a reading lamp but forgot it, so some of my clips were not as easy to see as I would have liked. In addition, my handout was a last minute contribution, and I should have thought more about it earlier. I did, though, practice a number of times reading through the paper and timing it, and that I did fairly well. I always stumble a bit—don’t we all?—when in front of others, but audiences usually accept this.

These are all good things to be reminded of, and I appreciate the ways these elements will work together to make me a better presenter. I know I am more interested than ever in exploring ways to put punctum in my presentations (if such is possible—can punctum be planned?), and that is certainly a good thing.

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