Rock climbing and presentation feedback

I went indoor rock climbing last night with some people from Friends of the Earth, which is something that I haven’t done before. We started off with basic climbing and belaying (holding the rope for someone else in a nutshell) and I went up first, although it was a bit trickier later on because the person I was partnered with was bigger and heavier than me so lowering him down almost resulted in me leaving the ground! Afterwards I had another chance to climb as we were there with more experienced people, and I managed to do a grade four route, which is about two levels higher than what we started on and further than any of the new people managed. I’m not sure if this is something that I want to take up on a regular basis though. I really enjoyed climbing and bouldering (the latter being a wall that you crawl across rather than up, and you don’t need a harness) and I seem to be about the right weight and build for it (being light helps, because at the end of the day you’ve got to pull or push your own weight up), but on the other hand I have so many commitments that taking up climbing would mean dropping something else.

In other news, I got the feedback forms for my core seminar presentation returned to me today. My overall mark was only 60.9%, which I’m really disappointed with (it’s just about good enough to warrant a merit). Looking closer at the individual sections, I seem to have got high marks for delivery and answering questions, but I got absolutely hammered on the content section—most people only gave me 5-5.5, which is a pass mark. The comments were interesting to read, some people picked up on the handout text being too small (I’ll spend more time fiddling with that if I do something like this again—this was the first time I’d used OpenOffice Impress and I basically just printed out the ‘handout’ tab that it produced) and most people actually said they enjoyed the presentation. Other positive comments were that I kept eye-contact with the audience and sounded very confident when I was delivering the material.

However, I was a bit disappointed to see low marks accompanied with comments along the lines of “I like books, down with the machine age!”, which is such a small minded viewpoint and not an objective way to mark work, and also completely missed the first point that I made which was that everything I was going to talk about would be aids to research rather than wholesale replacements of existing methods. Such a response wasn’t entirely unexpected though, as I knew I was going to have an uphill struggle presenting this sort of topic. Incidentally, something which I also found strange was how different my style of presentation was to that of the other students. Everyone so far has sat down and more or less read from a pre-written script, whereas I stood up, used slides and, whilst I had a good idea of what I was going to say, the actual words that came out of my mouth were being made up on the spot to a large extent. I’m not sure if this made any difference to the marks I got, but it’s something one or two people mentioned afterwards.

Overall then, the general feedback seems to have been “plenty of style, very little substance”. Obviously I’m on the wrong course, should quit immediately and go get a career as leader of a political party instead. 🙂

Anyway, I’m off to Oxford first thing tomorrow morning, which should be good fun and perhaps an opportunity to relax for a few hours as I’ll be away from computers and therefore unable to check emails and be asked to do stuff.

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