We're a little crazy, about science!

Day #225: Class presentations

Presentation

For the past week we have been utilizing online resources so that classes can continue while we are all social distancing. While this is means that we mostly use Zoom, we also have message boards and other resources that we can use. However, these resources are sometimes a poor substitute for in person classes. This is especially apparent when we have certain assignments for the class, such as a group presentation.

So what do you do when you need to make a presentation. There are several different options to solve this problem. Zoom, skype, hangouts, etc. all offer the ability to share your screen. This works, but our instructor opted for a different approach. We needed to create a little video explaining our work. This means instead of doing it as a group, it’s more of an individual assignment, but it also means that if you screw it up, there is a record of it.

Being the high anxiety person I am, screwing it up was not an option. We had seen some examples of previous groups doing this part of the project. We are just doing it earlier, normally the video for the project comes at the end when it is complete. So I knew what to expect and had some ideas about how to improve on what everyone else had done.

First, I created my slides. The instructor in her wisdom provided a template, this was a huge help since it meant that I didn’t have to get creative, sometimes having a path is nice. Once I had my slides done, I shared them with some of my labmates via hangouts. When I had their approval, I decided to correct the first of two major improvements I thought could be easily addressed.

I wrote a script, seriously. It was a simple solution becuase as we watched the videos other groups had made, it had become obvious that they were talking through their slides as they went. That doesn’t mean that I am saying their presentations were bad, but it offered a way to improve that didn’t take a whole lot of work. Did I mention I’m high anxiety? In any case, I wrote out a detailed script with what I wanted to say and more importantly when to change to the next slide so I could focus on reading the script and not have to worry about what slide I was on.

The second big issue was the audio for a lot of the presentations was… lacking. This was an expense type fix, but because I didn’t have a dedicated microphone setup to do this project with anyway, I needed to get one. One fancy microphone later I was ready. Okay not fancy exactly, but a dedicated microphone to record the audio for the slides. Let’s say it was semi-expensive (at least in my opinion) it was under $50, which judging the price ranges for a microphone that puts it somewhere at the lower end of the spectrum. Now I have that microphone problem solved for future video projects at least. It was a good investment that will get used and the microphone itself worked well, so that made me happy.

I must have reviewed my slides and script about a dozen times, at least! Then it was time to record the presentation. This is where it all fell apart. I wanted to do it in one clean recording, it was going to be perfect. The reality however, I fell flat on several occasions. I stumbled over my words, jumbled words, added words that weren’t there. Hell, I even created some new words. There was also a few lines in my script that I decided didn’t flow as nicely as I wanted them to so I needed to change them. I recorded so very much, after a while I was dying. I decided that I had to record several different chunks and piece the best together at the end.

Two hours of recording later (at least!) and I had the video recorded. Luckily it only took about 45 minutes to get the video edited and pieced together. I have to say it came out fairly seamless! I would share, but I cannot right now and I’m just slightly embarrassed by everything I do in life. If it gets loaded to the classes website, I’ll think about sharing it. I wouldn’t say it is a “good” video, but I did accomplish the things I wanted to fix in our video, namely the audio is clear and there aren’t any major fumbles of my words. There is a brief pause or two and while it is annoying to me, I don’t think it is very noticeable to the person watching.

That’s the life for a PhD while in a pandemic update for today. Stay safe, wash your hands, and if you find yourself making a video for class, don’t be hard on yourself. Trust me, it doesn’t help.

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