Saturday, 25 June 2016

Day 13 #blogjune - Presentation skills

Today Rachel wrote about whether libraries should support/teach researchers on presenting to an audience.  I'm going to take a slightly different path and talk about whether library studies students (or indeed any student) should be taught presentation skills.  I do think this is a necessary skill to have in today's workplace. Even if some think they will never present in public or to an audience or at a conference, there needs to be some understanding that presenting is not just about the above three.  Very, very often nowadays, in the workplace, there is a need to highlight or showcase certain events/happenings/good news stories or provide updates to senior management on progress or make a case for something to proceed.  All of these require presentation skills.  Do all of these require a slide show? Not always...but what if you were asked to use one to support the points you were making? Or if, all of a sudden, you were told the Director was coming to a meeting where you were highlighting your plans for your team? And no, this does not always happen because you are in a management position.  The above examples happened to me when I was in officer roles.  I also know that some interview panels will request that a presentation happen during the interview (and again, this may not always be for a senior role...).  So yes, I do think students need to be taught presentation skills.  In a face to face environment, this may be easy.  Set an assessment, cover expectations, have them do research on good presenting/presenters and then have them present to the class.  But what happens if the student is studying via distance education?
This can still be done.  I have taught units where one of the assessments is a powerpoint presentation on a topic that is covered in the unit.  To go with this, there is a prose piece which is to be written as though the student is talking to the audience (so no formality required).  Although this may not help with confidence in actually presenting to an audience, it does cover off on the areas of text heavy slides, appropriate font to use, correct 'voice' to use, when to attribute and correct attribution and how much information is enough.  I've also taught a unit where one assessment is a presentation to a manager and can be purely audio (with no visuals) or a YouTube clip (including a voiceover on a slideshow).  I find this is an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the importance of presenting, their visual appearance (if they are filming themselves) and how to speak so the text on the slides support what is being said, rather than the slides being *everything* that is being said (which is so often the case).  Sadly, some don't take this seriously, as it is not a real life situation.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that presenting to an audience should also be taught to students?

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