When I was in graduate school, I often heard the axiom “the best dissertation is a done dissertation.”

As a pragmatic individual, I acknowledged the wisdom and practicality of that statement. As a detail-oriented perfectionist, I didn’t want to do anything but the absolute best.

I’m still a detail-oriented perfectionist, but I have learned to better balance my perfectionism with pragmatism. That means that I do my best, acknowledging that

  • Time is a finite resource,
  • Complications will arise, and yet
  • Deadlines must be met.

I was reflecting upon this as I was preparing a module introduction for a class that I am teaching. It was a presentation on presentations (very meta). My perfectionism was at extreme levels because the presentation was for a graduate course for future professionals, and I believed that the presentation had to be a perfect model of the genre.

I storyboarded. I began shooting footage (of myself, which is not my happy place). I did screen captures of processes to include. I designed a theme.

Then life intervened. Although the wildfires on the West Coast were nearly 1,000 miles away, the sun in Lubbock started taking on an ominous red halo. Soon after, the air quality went from “Good” to  “Poor,” to “Unhealthy,” coming dangerously close to “Hazardous.” 

What does that have to do with video production? A lot more than you might think.

The air quality affected my voice to the extent that there was a marked difference between earlier voiceovers and more recent ones. And no amount of allergy meds and eye drops would make me look less itchy and red.

But deadlines had to be met. So I revised my original presentation plan drastically, which meant I couldn’t do the “live” presentation with the eye contact and body language that I had wanted to use as part of my communication strategy. I also had to accept that I couldn’t re-record every voice over for consistency. 

The video is in no way perfect, but it is done. And a done presentation is a better resource for my students than no presentation.

Perhaps that’s a more important lesson for my students than any of the concepts I covered.

In any case, if you are curious, the video, with all of its imperfections, is linked below. The presentation is for experienced presenters who know the general best practices, such as limiting slide text, using only appropriate and necessary graphics, and pacing. For this learner population, I framed the discussion as a learner-centered approach that influences technology and design choices, including guidance for designing for accessibility.

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