First entry on Delivering effective presentations
Workshop Tutor: Nathalie Dalton-King
In the Delivering Effective Presentations workshop, we were taught some basic techniques to improve the way we presented content and in turn, ourselves.
From the beginning we were encouraged to build our confidence in a very interactive and teambuilding environment. Our first task was to present a short 30 second presentation on the different types of presentations and their purposes. My group worked well together and distinguished four different types of presentation (lectures, political speeches, small meetings and sales pitches) and two main purposes (to teach and to persuade).
After the presentation we were taught that body language, eye contact and vocal projection were the most important aspects behind any presenter’s pitch. Posture and gestures are particularly important because they communicate far more to audience than speech. The workshop outlined that during a presentation, at least 80% of communication is through body language. This statistic was particularly enlightening for, having just done a presentation a couple of weeks ago, I did not realize until now how important body language was. We engaged in a few exercises in order to improve our body posture and we were taught that after making gestures we should always return to the ‘neutral posture’.
We were then taken through the structural process of making a presentation. The workshop highlighted the basic structure of introduction, main body and conclusion was imperative for a coherent presentation. Before creating a presentation, content should also be separated from what the audience must, should and could know. This allows a presenter to gauge what is most important about their presentation what is perhaps less significant. Additionally, a presentation should also make the most of multisensory aids such as visual, aural or kinesthetic content. From my own experience I believe that presentations with many pictures or photos and very little text are generally the most engaging and interesting.
Finally, we were shown the key to performing a successful presentation. The key things to remember were: know why your presenting, know your audience, have a plan B and practice as much as possible. Having done my MA conference presentation two weeks ago, I found practicing my performance at home was necessary in order to not exceed the maximum time of fifteen minutes. As practice, I read my presentation aloud for the first time which was a far more productive experience than I had on previous presentations. After delivering my fifteen presentation a bit quicker than I originally wanted to, I learnt that timing is crucial. I found Professor Nathalie Dalton-King’s comment that most people will resent you for going on too far, (particularly around lunch time and at the end of the day) humorously accurate.
To round off the workshop, we were given ten minutes to prepare a presentation on ‘Why I chose History’ before delivering it in front of two people from the group. Being an MA History student myself, I found it quite an easy presentation to create and deliver. However, the presentation at the end of the workshop was still an important exercise that taught us more than anything, that practice is the key to a successful presentation.
Action Point 1 over the next 3 to 4 weeks will be to improve my body posture.
Whether it be practicing presentation or simply conversing, I want to improve my posture in order to come across better to both my friends and strangers. I will try my best to return to a ‘neutral posture’ as much as possible.
Action Point 2 over the next 5 to 6 weeks will be to practice delivering presentations aloud or in the mirror in order to improve my vocal projection & pace.
With no more presentations to do, I will try rehearsing my MA conference paper and perhaps my Dissertation’s first chapter as a practice for future presenting.
Action Point 3 over the next 6 or 7 weeks will be to put the ‘Must, Should, Could know’ technique into practice for my dissertation work.
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