Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Procrastination and an Awkward Presentation

The protein engineering mini-presentation sounds great in theory; it’s only three minutes long, it’s like giving an elevator pitch without having to talk to a real-life person, and you can record it as many times as you want and submit the best video!

With high hopes and lofty goals, I decided it would be a great idea to start the mini-presentation after lab on the day it was due. After all, I just needed to write an outline, record myself a couple times, and submit a flawless video. I had a meeting from 6-7:30 that evening, but I could finish the presentation between 5 and 6 and have plenty of time to study for the 9.09 midterm worth 40% of my grade, right? But as we all know, expectations don’t always correspond with reality.

Writing the Outline
Expectation: I had already submitted the protein engineering summary draft, so I could quickly model my presentation after that!

Reality: Three minutes is simultaneously very short and very long. It’s too short to include all of the details from the protein engineering summary, but it’s long enough to warrant putting a decent amount of time into creating an outline and preparing for the presentation. It was harder than I expected to choose the most important information to present!

Recording the Video
Expectation: The presentation is only 3 minutes long, so I could record it 6 times and be finished in less than 20 minutes! Six times should definitely be enough to get a perfect video!

Reality: There are at least 5 recordings of me messing up the words circularly permuted enhanced yellow fluorescent protein. There’s one recording that was going well until someone walked by and started watching me. There are some more recordings with awkward pauses that are too long and others that have too many minor mistakes. I also second-guessed myself a lot. Do I sound enthusiastic enough? Am I speaking too fast/slow? Am I including all of the important information? Why are all of these recordings so awkward? After finally making it through an entire presentation, I found that it was only 2 minutes and 40 seconds, so I had to add more content. Finally, after over an hour of recording, I finished a full presentation (admittedly with a couple mistakes) that was 3 minutes and 2 seconds long (win!), and I decided it was good enough.

Submitting the Video
Expectation: I could just quickly email the video to the correct email address!

Reality: I discovered that I needed to change the file type and compress my video before I could email it, which added even more time to what I had already put into the project. I emailed it to my boyfriend first to make sure he could open it and that everything was okay. The good news was that everything was okay! The bad news was that he took a bunch of screen shots of me during the video where I’m making really awkward facial expressions. At least he hasn’t posted them anywhere that I’m aware of… I ended up submitting it at 9, which was an hour before the deadline, but several hours after I had hoped to submit it. Then, I finally started studying for my 9.09 exam!

All in all, I’ve learned a lot of things from this mini-presentation and from 20.109 in general. Here are a few:

   1. It’s never a good idea to start a 20.109 assignment the day it’s due (or even the day before it’s due). It always takes longer than you think it will. Hopefully, I’ll start on journal club slides and Module 2 report earlier and maybe even get some work done on the weekends!
 2.    Embrace the awkwardness. Doing new things is often uncomfortable. The process of completing these assignments isn’t always fun, but the results are very rewarding!

 3.    Practicing actually does make things easier. After completing the mini-presentation, I am (slightly) more comfortable going into my journal club presentation. I’m also a lot faster and better at making things such as figures and captions than I was at the beginning of the semester!

I’m excited to see what the rest of 20.109 has in store for me, but I am also glad there are no more mini-presentations!

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