November 10, 2011

First Entry on Effective Seminar Participation

Workshop tutor: Bev Walshe

Date: 31-Oct-2011

Introduction

This workshop encompassed 3 main areas:

  1. Body Language
  2. Confidence
  3. Language

From the beginning of the workshop the tutor highlighted the importance of our body language and the messages it sends out to others both consciously and subconsciously. This is the 'first impression' and to maximise the perception of confidence to others we should:

  1. Stand or sit up straight but not stiff with relaxed and ready to use arms and hands in order to gesture and liven your language, making you more engaging.
  2. Smile and make eye contact - fundamental.
  3. Try not to sway and move your body too much as this communicates insecurity - so sit back in your chair and hold a good posture.

From body language, you can then build on the communication of confidence. You must take responsibility and be active to encourage confidence:

  1. Engage with the 'strangers' you are going to be working with.
  2. Do not be afraid to make eye contact and maintain it, for example being interrupted and dropping eye contact effectively 'hands over' control to the person who interrupted you.
  3. Breathe using the whole of your chest which will allow you to speak clearly, slowly and project your voice more effectively.

The final area of interest is language and its comprehension and delivery - the way you say it. Use simple, direct language and deliver with a strong, clear projection. The volume should not drop at the end of sentences and the use of pitch, pace and power (rhythm) should be used to engage the listener. Do not make your listener work to understand you and to deliver effectively both in presentation and questioning:

  1. Avoid using words that question your right to speak - i.e. 'I'm sorry but...' 'I'm probably being...'
  2. Be definite - i.e. 'Could you clarify...' 'Would you repeat/go through...'
  3. Think about the language you use to make a point or comment, remain diplomatic - i.e. 'In my view...' 'An alternative view...'
  4. Be clear when you end - don't shrug, be definite and just stop.

The points raised were then combined into an exercise at the end of the workshop where we participated in an informal seminar involving each person presenting information on a different aspect of 'effective seminar participation' - relating it to interesting life experiences. We were split so each person had the chance to participate as an 'observer' in order to see the effects the tutors comments had on improving and highlighting the individual strengths and weaknesses in our communication.

Key points to remember:

  • Good posture
  • Positive voice
  • Clear delivery


Actions Points:

  1. To remember not to allow my body to move too much when delivering presentations i.e. to stop myself from swaying as this can communicate insecurity.
  2. To be definite in my presentation of information and questioning. Not be back down to interruption or question my right to speak.
  3. To end clearly and present alternatives to the cliche 'are there any questions?' For example, 'I'm sure you have plenty you would like to contribute and I would be happy to hear this now.'

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Beverley Veasey-Walshe

    This is an excellent summary, I hope you wrote it to remind yourself of the main points and confirm your understanding – rather than to demonstrate understanding. I say this because the goal is to change your behaviour rather than intellectualise the exercise.
    I suspect it was the former as you have highlighted the features that were of particular importance to you – and your action points are specific and clear.
    I look forward to reading your next blog, with lots of personal reflection on your experiences
    Bev

    15 Nov 2011, 16:22

  2. Dafydd Davies

    Dear Beverley,

    Thanks, I hope to reflect the workshop content in my blogs to remind myself of what we covered aswell as demonstrate how I hope to adapt my behaviour to improve in the future. For action point 1, in my recent seminar presentations I have made a conscious effort not to sway whilst not remain stiff and add some movement to draw audience attention and remain engaging. I have continued to deliver information with confidence and dealt with interruption and questioning, even from tutors themselves, during my presentations effectively as per action point 2. For action point 3, I have found it useful to use my key reference list slide as the clear end point of my presentations. Ending with comments such as “So this is the list of my key references and this brings my presentation to an end” and “This brings my presentation to an end and now I’ll be happy to take any questions I’m sure you have.”

    Regards
    Gwyn

    14 Dec 2011, 11:41


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