Two weeks ago, I gave my practice presentation on the research I had done for the RBA below. The day after that, I went into San Francisco with my sister to a Ben Folds concert. I happen to be a big Ben Folds fan, but until then, I had never seen him live. Which is apparently the big deal about him. I’ve listened to a lot of his live stuff, and an important part is the now standardized audience participation where the audience fills in for other instruments, expletives, and general sound effects.
I thought my first presentation went okay until I watched it again and thought about how I felt about it. I don’t think I was having any fun. I don’t think I was excited, and I imagine it’s a lot harder to get other people excited about a topic when I myself am not giving a particularly exciting presentation. So taking a hint from Ben Folds, I decided to go risky with my presentation and push for audience presentation. The first time I explained the Turing Test with a graphic, I realized how difficult the details were to bring out and show the importance of various aspects for a relatively simple test. I might as well actually run a Turing Test, then.
So that was one slide down. And when I thought through the rest of my presentation, there wasn’t anything I needed the slides to do for me. When I decided to switch my Chinese Room explanation into a better contextualized isomorphism I could talk through, I didn’t need that either. So in a flash of insanity, I decided the night before to completely rewrite my presentation without slides and with tangible examples, including a high stake ploy with Jonathan’s MacBook.
I probably wouldn’t recommend rewriting a presentation the night before, as you end up in a world of hurt if the examples fail, and at the very least, have to read my presentation with transcript in hand because I didn’t threw away all of my practice runs for a single lucky go. Regardless, I feel a lot better about how that went as even when I make crazy changes, I trust my instincts to know what problems I’ve had. My first presentation was basically my RBA wrapped up into oral format. After getting feedback from that, I realized some of the mistakes I made in translations, but even further, I realized some of the gaps I had left in my RBA and places where that didn’t quite get my intent across. Even though I feel like my writing style is largely just me talking through my fingers, there’s still another gap between actually having to talk to real people and discover what’s happening there.
So with a second chance, I probably would’ve done things a lot differently in writing and presentation, but that’s purely by value of having iterated over those drafts and hindsight. I think I’m okay with that, though, because I love editing.
Here are the videos for my presentations to watch, if you want:
Practice presentation part 1:
Practice presentation part 2:
Final presentation part 1:
Final presentation part 2: