Presenting was… hectic. We had some technical difficulties, though we were able to wrap them up during my presentation. Still, I think it went well. Some tips for people prepping their first presentations:

*Read your presentation out loud to yourself repeatedly. Time it. One of the big problems that other presenters had was simply going over time. A little more careful prep work would have totally removed that worry. Because of our technical issue, I was really worried about time, too, but I got a compliment on my calm demeanor in the face of techie adversity and I wasn’t noticeably late, so it’s all good.
*Take a watch up to the podium with you. I meant to, was startled by tech issue, forgot and regretted it.
*Make eye contact as much as possible.
*When you practice your presentation, figure out just what works, not just for you, but for that presentation. Be rigorously, brutally honest. For example, I usually create an outline, make a Powerpoint that follows the draft and then practice out loud a few times. This time, however, my presentation was full of theory, my responses to those theories, others’ responses to those theories, my responses to the responses… NOT the kind of thing that one can reliably get right each and every time off the cuff. So I read from a written paper. A friend presented an interesting topic without a written outline and ended up giving a bit too much weight to a minor point at the end by accident – which she then got some pointed questions about. She told me later that she wished she had written something down. On the other hand, other presentations less based in critical theory were successfully delivered informally, and at least one presenter that I went to see read a paper in such a quiet, accented, mumbly voice that I barely caught anything. It varies.
*Use criticism/questions constructively. I mean that in the sense of “not destructively. If people ask you a critical question that you have trouble answering, all it means is that they have thought of an angle or weakness you didn’t. An angle you can now follow in your research, a weakness you can correct before you publish. And really, presenting a paper with a weakness is nothing. Presented papers are often “in progress”, meaning at varying states of research. I’ve always assumed that there ought to be a weakness in a presented paper.
*When answering questions, answer quickly. If the answer is, by the nature of the question, extensive, offer to go over it in detail later. You’ll be presenting with other people, and it’s generally polite for everyone to get at least one question. Don’t take up all the Q&A time.

So, how did it go for me? I got a few compliments (yay!), a pair of interesting questions (yay!) and a suggestion for how to expand my paper (should I use it for my dissertation) with the concomitant suggestion that if I did expand it, a certain journal might be interested in publishing it (double yay!). All in all, a successful hour and a half.

Aside from the actual presentation, I was able to go to a great party (that I’m not, in retrospect, sure I was actually invited to), hang out with friends I haven’t seen in awhile and visit Grad School town, which was all sorts of fun.



M-, a friend of mine, has made a fun computer game that mildly parodies the Princess Maker series. If you haven’t been introduced to Princess Maker, the basic idea of each of the installments is that you have been gifted with a seven-ish year-old child (by a goddess) and have to raise her. When she gets to her teens, you find out how she turns out. Results include things like queen of hell, princess of the kingdom, magician and nothing much.

M-‘s version was originally made as a present for his girlfriend (a Princess Maker fan) and is called Princess Faker. There’s a bit of gentle humor as far as the original is concerned – for example, the original lets you feed your daughter pills that enhance her bust, which gets taken to rather comic extremes in the parody. M- is a budding game designer, and he’s come up with a fun way to pass the hours.

Without further ado, here it is.

And yes, I know I’m late on a post about my presentation. There’s so much to mull over, and I’m suddenly busy again. What can I say, it never ends.

An embarassment of riches

A lot of things have been happening recently. I started a new job awhile back, which is going well. I’m back in the non-profit world, working on educational events again. I get to use my Japanese a bit (and have learned just how pathetic my Japanese really is). Last week, however, was the tops. We were involved in a trio of events that all seemed to go well. The most rewarding for me, personally, was a three-day conference that brought together experts from across the world to discuss a Troubled Nation. In those three days, I had all sorts of fun, informative experiences – including witnessing a prominent television anchor prove that he can, indeed, tell a story and hearing a respected previous presidential candidate expound on TN with a depth of insight I had not realized he possessed. Though the majority of the conference focused on bringing together foreign thinkers who had not had a proper opportunity to discuss the issues before, interactions with prominent officials in the government and the IMF led me to believe that the impact of the event may extend far further than we had intended.

That’s all that I can write at the moment, but I will follow up in a few days with a discussion of my first conference paper presentation. (Also last week!) I will say this, though: When I first began work after college I was young, green. I may have felt like I knew what I was doing, but I was also feeling insecure about making even the slightest mistake. A small mistake or misunderstanding felt like a failure. In a way, going off to grad school has helped my non-academic career very unexpectedly. I now feel secure in both my abilities and my failures. If I make a mistake now, I do not feel as though I am guilty of some crime; I simply move on. Get the work done. It’s a healthier attitude, and it keeps me more engaged with my work.