Valuable lessons were learned…

At UQAM, one of the required activities to achieve the Ph.D. is to complete a seminar for the department, which I bused into Montréal yesterday to give today.  As I have been reading and thinking about presentations in science lately (including Presentation Zen, the great book by Garr Reynolds), I spent a long time working on the visuals for my talk and doing my best to create a talk with a coherent narrative and a sound logical structure.  Having arrived in Montréal yesterday, it occurred to me to actually – well, you know – practice the talk I had spent so long on.  Now, I don’t usually have timing troubles with my talks, but when I practiced it last night I came in way over time.  And I mean well over time – to the tune of at least a half an hour if not more.  Much panicked re-arranging and paring-down ensued, ending with me cutting nearly a quarter of my slides.

I had to practice the talk several more times over the evening and then again in the morning, and then race into the lab to give the bloody.  Of course, due to a series of awesome coincidences – including my talk apparently being scheduled during a large training session which soaked up most of my audience – I ended up giving my talk to a mostly empty room.  Add to that a MacBook which has developed a new and exciting habit of randomly rebooting without warning and a projector that flickered on and off in a stochastic fashion, and it was a pretty stressful couple of days.

But I can’t complain too much:  the talk went off okay and was received well, I passed the “course”, and my advisor tells me that my thesis is ready to submit.  So despite the issues, it’s been a good couple of days.

One thing that makes me a bit sad, however, is that many of the slides I had to cut contained illustrations from my wife;  her work greatly enhanced the visual presentation of the work, and it’s a shame that no-one got to see some of them.  With that in mind (and following up on this post), I’ll wrap this up with a few slides from the cutting room floor and a couple that were actually in the talk.

The incompatibility slide.

A slide about the incompatibility assumption in producer-scrounger games.

A slide about the patch discovery rate in producer-scrounger games.

The scrounger convergence assumption in producer-scrounger games.

And one of my favorite slides of the whole talk:

A slide I used while I was arguing for the importance of spatial processes in social foraging.

Ooh, and one final one that I can’t forget:

And a slide introducing a model I worked on about foraging and animal personality...

(Note:  she gave me permission to post these, so please don’t rip them off.  If for some reason you think that they could be useful to you, drop me an e-mail).

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