This semester is shaping up to be very different than the previous semester. There are still plenty of pages to be read, group projects to be done, and critical issues to explore, but in addition to all of that, we now have to rate our fellow cohort members on how well they did a book report.
Yes, a book report.
It is bad enough that I chose a book that is 800 pages, but having to listen to 20 other reports on books about organizational leadership is torture. The two reports we heard tonight were good, even if the books were not that interesting. My problem is that after class, the professor asked us to write two comments on a note card to give to each of the presenters. One side was a comment of something that the presenter did well, and the other side was one thing that the presenter could improve on.
Everyone who knows me well knows that I have no problem sharing my opinion, but in the case of these presentations, I feel it is unfair for me to judge. The books that we are reading cover a lot of material, and it is hard to fully explore all of the topics in 15 minutes, and with the ever changing guidelines from the teacher, it is really hard to set up an effective presentation. I had plenty of good things to say to both of the presenters, but found it very difficult to find something constructive to write for improvement.
Do I mention the lack of in-depth analysis for each category of effective leadership? The presentation was only 15 minutes, and one of the categories alone could have taken 15 minutes to explain.
Do I mention the lack of visual aid? The professor told us that we should not rely on PowerPoints and fancy visuals to get out point across.
Do I mention the 19 page outline when the instructions say 3-5 pages? The outline is really good, and it allows me to skip reading the book, but still be able to reference it in a paper or essay I will eventually have to write. He took the time to give us all the info he thought we would need. The other outline was only 3 pages, and still very good, but I would have to read the book to really be able to use it as a reference.
In the end, I went with some generic comments about slowing down when speaking and having some sort of visual aid for those of us who learn better with pictures. It feels like a copout though, and I am not sure I will enjoy the 20 other critiques that I have to do.
I also dread the ones that I am about to receive. I know “tone down the sarcasm” will be written on at least one card.
If this is not a graded comment card, I say that every “improve” comment should be silly and fictional – focusing on the appearance of the speaker!
1. I think it would improve the presentation if you combed your hair…the messiness was distracting.
2. I think it would improve the presentation if you wore a brighter color…the neutral palette made you blend into the desk and wall and it was hard to see you.
3. I think it would improve the presentation if you shaved…the bearded look is a trend that is fast coming to an end and I was distracted by the remains of dinner that lingered in your beard.
Of course, this only works for your amusement. And for your continued safety in the course, your cohort should be warned that all improvement comments are fictional!