– Distressing ratio

I just walked back from giving a short lecture across campus. It was a 20 minute performance, complete with (a) slides that articulated and illustrated common issues that students struggle with in writing a technical report and (b) enthusiasm.

As I walked back, I added up the time spent looking again at the batch of reports and my summary comments; making 14 slides, with examples from student writing; and mentally rehearsing. Time? Seven hours.

Sometimes I’ve heard professors tell students it takes an hour of preparation for every one minute of presentation. I did not spend 20 hours on my talk today, although perhaps all the time spent reading & commenting on the papers that led to this talk counts for preparation.

This makes me realize, though, that some professions (all?) are like icebergs: most of what one does (as a teacher, writer, dancer, bass player) is hidden from the people we work for (students, readers, fans, audience).


Post script: Later Jimmy asked, “How many people were in that lecture?” I answered, “Fifteen students and one professor.” And he reminded me to include those numbers in my ratio, which in turn reminded me that it’s not all about me and my experience!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s