Once again, I am writing as part of a term long, 5 part, assignment for my Introduction to Professional Communications course. You may have been tuned in to read about citing and plagiarism, my CRAAP test error log, or writing about my midterm. There was supposed to be one more before this one, but my father passed away suddenly and I had to travel to Cranbrook BC to handle that. But that whole thing is a whole other topic that I will be writing about at a later day, when I can face it. Anyway, I suppose my 5 part assignment is now a 4 part. Oh well; enjoy.
In my first week back, we were instructed to do an oral presentation on something, anything, to demonstrate a number of the communication methods we’ve learned this term. Things like understanding basic methods of communication, creating a clear and concise message, and understanding beginnings, middles, and ends. The goal is to equip us for speaking on a topic which we understood, and in a professional setting… I think 😉
What I loved about this assignment is the freedom to cover any topic we want. The only restriction was it could not exceed 2 minutes (which was probably a good call on the teacher’s part, because I could have done a 2 hour video about the importance of permaculture methods for farmers in the Amazon rain forest, and it would have been hella compelling), and it couldn’t be on a derogatory subject, which I want to make a joke about, but everything I’ve typed out makes me sound like a closeted fascist which I do not want to convey in any way.
So, 2 minutes on anything we want. This was not an easy choice for me to make as there are so many things I could share on. I decided that the message should be something along the lines of a teaching moment, which really doesn’t narrow down what I could speak on. I also was feeling very passionate about certain subjects, like, I don’t know, the need to do some end of life planning if you have kids or a single item of value. Or the value in officially filing for divorce after 12 years of separation, or the importance of not letting your emotions get the best of you, or about how addiction is a serious disease, not to be taken lightly. Basically, all the topics that immediately came to light were those that made me mad or sad about the death of my father, mostly mad. They would not do when trying to convey a professional message, because I would get worked up and angry or take up the full 2 minutes trying to choke down tears.
But as I was brainstorming various ideas, I remembered a conversation I had with my teacher when we were discussing how to move forward with my classwork after having to miss a few weeks due to my father’s death. She mentioned something about gardening. I couldn’t (and can’t) remember exactly what it was, but it helped me to shift focus away from the topics that were immediately eating at me to speak on.
I thought about permaculture, or replacing your grass with food, keeping a garden journal, and a number of other subjects. I went through each of the plants I have planned for my garden this year (and boy, do I have plans) and when I got to my strawberries, I had a mini eureka moment. Strawberries are the plant that gave me the courage to actually have a garden, and I could share about how you shouldn’t give up on something just because you keep failing, because eventually, you will succeed. If that isn’t the most inspirational talk I can give in 2 minutes, I don’t know what is.
It took me a very short time to write the first draft, and I even had Cecilia (daughter person) hanging off of me as I wrote. But I had to write quickly, as I had a limited time where Jim (husband man) would take Cecilia out for a walk and my makeshift office in my dining room (because my office is currently filled with my late father’s belongings as I sort through them). I took about 75 minutes to record, and record, and record again and again before I got a take I was happy with. I cannot begin to count them, because some I only got two sentences in before I fumbled. The first few practice ones helped me realize that what I had written was about 45 seconds too long, so I had to do a few rewrites in that time. And, at one point, I sneezed about 5 seconds from the end of a perfect take. My video count was definitely over 40.
I also had a goal of imputing some photos on the side of the video as I spoke (think about a newscaster with that fun little corner photo as they talk); but once I took the completed video into video editing software I realized I had no idea how to do that, so I nixed that idea.
I had personal troubles with some of the recordings. I’m working through some pretty rough feelings around my mother right now, following my father’s death (we haven’t spoken since my daughter was born, and she made it a little worse these last few weeks) but I felt including her (because including my youth) was an important aspect of the presentation. It took me a few tries to mask my anger with her in my voice.
Generally though, I was very comfortable with recording myself; I’ve spent enough time on Zoom this last year to not have an issue with being on film. Watching myself back was a different story though.
The way my computer films is that while it films you’re basically seeing yourself in selfie mode; but when the recording ends, the video is flipped, and it’s like seeing yourself backwards (even though selfie mode is really the backwards thing) so it took me a little bit to get over my own aesthetic issues with that.
I did notice, while watching myself back, that my eyes were all over the place. Admittedly they spent a bit of time reading what I had written, but they also are probably the most vain part of me, so they spent a lot of time watching myself on the screen too. Ultimately, though it was a guideline to have your eyes on the “audience” I decided that with the limited time I had, not having my eyes on sight was a hit I was okay taking, all things considered.
Had I taken more time (this was completely on me; I indicated that I would not need an extension for this particular assignment because I honestly forgot that my quiet working space had been taken over), I likely would have rehearsed and committed the short piece to memory (I’ve won awards for my performance poetry, I can recite with the masters), I would have taken more time to write something a little more lyrical, and I would have done more, appearance wise, than stick on a bra and a clean shirt. Maybe I would have even put on real pants.
All in all, I was pretty happy with how my presentation turned out, considering there was a short iteration where I would have angrily ranted about how everyone should get a flipping will done.