Monday, May 14, 2007

What to remember while preparing for Presentations?

This is one of those topics that should be written about 'pronto'

Soooo, I had to make a presentation today... on a subject very alien to me.... in front of people whose knowledge/ experience was daunting.

I spent the whole of yesterday (apart from Kick-boing and talking to family and other important beings) trying to make sense of the paper I was to present. It took much more time than anticipated.
Lesson 1: The most touted trick is to BE PREPARED. And one can never under-emphasize its importance.

I spent too much time trying to understand. And too little time on the actual presentation.
Lesson 2: Don't lose focus on the goal. You have to ultimately present it. Its a very good idea to understand, but unless you are going to teach it or unless you are going to be held accountable for every word that emanates from your mouth, it is important to balance the time well between understanding and preparing.

I started the ppts too late.
Lesson 3: Start ppts early enough (especially if you have less (in my case, NO) experience in making them). The ppts are really important (though not as important as your talk... but they do cover up for a lot of things, and they, most importantly, serve as hints to YOU).

Understand the audience.
Lesson 4: Again, a common idea. But its true. Your presentation should be tailer-made to the audience, and if it is a small focussed group of people then you have no excuse for not customizing it appropriately.

The audience is understanding
Corrolary to Lesson 4: When the audience sees that you have made an effort and you are trying to put accross a point, they nod. (They were exceptionally nice to me). So don't go with the mind-set that 'they are out to get you'.

Lesson 5: Unless you imagine the audience and go through the presentation with the slides, you have conquered only 20% of the battle. (80-20 principle?). When you present it to a dummy audience, you realize that the slides are not in the right order, the matter does not flow right, it doesnt sound convincing, some things are not clear, some things are redundant. You might come to a point of editing every slide until the ppt is nowhere close to what you had initiallly made. This is a good sign.

Become the audience
Lesson 6: Present to yourself. Do you follow it? If YOU don't, there is very little chance that anyone else will!

The slides
Lesson 7: Big fonts. Big images. Less words. Fun words. Flowing concepts. Intersperse with questions. Don't make them very animated and fancy (perhaps a personal preference here).

Time yourself.
Lesson 8: Either you will get too excited and finish it early, or you will start being repetitive and take too long. Ideally, be prepared for either case. Have some 'extra slides', just in case. I didn't, and the audience was so smart that I thought I was saying redundant stuff, and ended up skipping some slides. Finished it earlier than expected. Not a bad thing, but its a good idea to do justice to the paper/matter that you are presenting.

Be prepared for the actual presentation
Lesson 9: Definitely don't be late. Coz you are going to realize that you forgot the 'adapter', and now you cant connect the projector to the computer. Some nice soul will offer his laptop, but you won't have a pen drive. Another nice soul will offer a pen drive. Now you realize that your ppt is in KeyNote (a Mac presentation tool) and it wont work everywhere. So you have to convert it to a pdf. Basically, there may be initial hurdles. And unless you trust the stars to be aligned in just the right order at the right time, be prepared for the actual presentation and the technicalities.

Google the paper!
Lesson 10: Very very important. Most of the questions the audience shoot will be anwered by the Google Search results of the first page. It is very important to know some background (defiitely not a good thing to not know when and where the paper was published).

Have an opinion
Lesson 11: Your presentation may be unbiased, but eventually in one way or the other you will have to evaluate/compare/critique the paper (and so will others want to do it). Ideally your presentation should not put the paper in a bad or good light. But at the same time, you should have an opnion on it.

Smile before you begin
Lesson 12: Its a presentation after all!

My audience was reallly good. Although they obviously knew a lot, they interestingly and attentively heard it. They put forth lots of questions (some of them I was embarrassed to not know... hence the lessons :-) )
In the end, the instructor and another student praised me.

Final lesson: Appreciate genuinely. It helps ALOT.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Earlier it wa all happiness interjected with periods of loneliness.

Now it is all loneliness interjected with periods of.... loneliness!

As I was explaining my student the code during office hours, she was amazed by some of the super-basic tricks. She didn't know that 'tabbing' can help one browse thru the directories and the up arrow gives the previous command. She was amazed.
I realized that I was in the exact same position just 5 months back.

I then realized, I am jsut accumulating some information. But is it simply appending stuff to the data repositiry residing in my head, or is anything being appended to the knowledge/wisdom repository as well?

I hope so... But I think not.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Last Weekend

was gooood... what with ma and pa here... and oter events/people.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder... and the legs go weaker :)

The dance was good. The audience was fun (P and S cheered alot.. Ma says she did too.. btu didn't hear THE voice)

The color thats 'totally in' is Tango Red
The lines of Dhoom2 that are totally in:-
and when love comes your way
you'll know its here to stay
you'll steal the chance 'cose you're
the thief of hearts yeah
you'll win with a galance
walk away with your romance
there's no more ther's no backing out now

There were many other things that were 'totally in'.

Learnt new lessons:-
1. Expressions are probably the most important part of the dance.. If you enjoy dancing, others enjoy watchin
2. What goes around, comes around.
3. If you correct your students, they will correct you too :)
4. Tongue is the strongest muscle of the body
5. Reading is often more thrilling than watching.