Thursday, 30 June 2016

Day 14 #blogjune - Presenting to an audience

Yesterday I wrote about my thoughts on students being taught presentation skills; today I thought I would cover what I learned in the process of teaching myself how to present.

I had to learn presentation skills myself.  I was accepted to give a presentation at a national conference and, after I was accepted, realised the magnitude of what I had let myself in for.  I had never presented, never really observed anyone present and had only been to 1 or 2 conferences.  To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement.

I set myself some tasks on how to actually present well to an audience (well, I hope I succeeded here!) and started to observe how people engaged with others.  This was internally (staff meetings etc), externally (board meetings, forums, seminars etc) and so on.  I found I didn't have to actually go to a conference to learn what engaged people and what made them lose interest.  Some of my key recommendations are summarised below:

Think about what is important to you when giving your presentation. Is it:
  • Engaging with the audience?
  • Reading your paper out loud?
  • Stimulating discussion and debate?
  • Being remembered?
Observe presenters.  Look at:
  • how they speak
  • their style
  • their interaction with the audience
  • what you like/don't like
Engage with the audience
  • Poll them at the start
  • Speak TO them, not AT them
Ideally, your presentation, if it is formal, should contain 3 parts:
  1. paper for publication
  2. presentation notes
  3. Slideshow
These suggestions have helped me prepare for over 50 presentations, so they do work.  Hopefully they can help you as well :)



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