First Entry on Effective Seminar Participation
Workshop tutor: Bev Walshe
This workshop encompassed 3 main areas:
- Body 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:
- 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.
- Smile and make eye contact - fundamental.
- 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:
- Engage with the 'strangers' you are going to be working with.
- 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.
- 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:
- Avoid using words that question your right to speak - i.e. 'I'm sorry but...' 'I'm probably being...'
- Be definite - i.e. 'Could you clarify...' 'Would you repeat/go through...'
- Think about the language you use to make a point or comment, remain diplomatic - i.e. 'In my view...' 'An alternative view...'
- 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
- 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.
- To be definite in my presentation of information and questioning. Not be back down to interruption or question my right to speak.
- 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.'