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July 31, 2014

Concluding entry on Presentation Skills

Follow-up to First entry on Delivering effective presentations from David's blog

Over the last few weeks, I have tried to improve different aspects of good presenation skills.

In my first action point, I tried to improve my body posture. I learned from the workshop that good body posture was perhaps the most important component for a good presentation. Having had problems with posture in the past, I tried my best to return to a ‘neutral stance’ as often as possible after communicating. I found that having a better posture helped me come across as more confident and happier to others which in turn made me feel more confident and happier.

My second action point was to practice reading aloud to practice my presentation skills. Althought it felt very strange to read aloud in an empty room, I found the exercise quite useful for timing, confidence and correcting work.

My third action point was to use the ‘must, should and could’ know technique of assembling information in my dissertation work. Althought this was difficult for the purpose of organising a more detailed written work, I found the technique somewhat effective with the help of colour-coding my notes. Thus I was able to re-apropriate a technique for presentation work into a technique for written work.

Despite the lack of presentation opportunities over the last few weeks, I have found that practising the different aspects that make up good presentation skills can be helpful in many other fields of work.

Good posture and reading aloud presentations can be very useful in building confidence in public scenarios. Reading aloud can also help reasses and correct existing work. Using techniques of what people ‘must, should and could’ know about key bits of information can also be useful in organising a large piece of written work like a dissertation. Overall the presentation workshop and the three action points from it have made me feel more confident about public events. I will certainly use these techniques for any presentation I may need to do in the future.


Update to Action point 3 on Delivering effective presentations

Follow-up to First entry on Delivering effective presentations from David's blog

My third action point from the Presentation skills workshop was to use the ‘must, should and could know’ technique behind presentations in my dissertation work.

Despite the lack of presentation opportunities over the summer period, I have tried to use the ‘must, should and could’ know technique in my dissertation research and writing process.

Over the last six to seven weeks, I have found it difficult to attribute the technique to my dissertation work. That said, I believe I have used the technique to the best of my ability. By using colour coding, with highlighting pens, I have found it quite useful in highlighting both what I believe is essential and non-essential information in my Master thesis.

Having nearly finished what I hope to be one of the final drafts of my first chapter, I have found my colour-coded technique of what ‘must, should and could’ be known to be useful in the writing and editing process.

Although the technique is much better suited to presentational work, I believe that it can be appropriated in the above way. After all, my dissertation will be a presentation of sorts which will be judged in a similar fashion to my past presentations. My thesis will be judged on its content and whether I portrayed enough essential information or not and whether I added some interesting extras. This is essentially another way of using the ‘must, should and could’ know technique.


July 26, 2014

Update to Action point 2 on Delivering effective presentations

Follow-up to First entry on Delivering effective presentations from David's blog

My second action point from the Presenatation skills workshop was to practice reading aloud over the last 5 to 6 weeks.

Despite the lack of presentation opportunities over the summer period, I have gone back to look over my MA conference paper from May, in order to practice reading aloud. In addition to my old conference paper, I decided to also read aloud the first draft of my first chapter of my dissertation which I have just completed.

Having practised my presenatation for a long time back in May, I found it very easy to read over my conference paper. On the other hand, I found reading over the first draft of my first chapter a bit harder for I had not read over it as much. That said, reading aloud was very useful for I found mistakes in my writing which I would have otherwise overlooked.

Considering I have no presentations in the near future, I found the experience of reading aloud at home very strange. However, I admit that reading aloud, be it for practising presentations or simply assessing your writing, is a very important exercise in revising work.

It is an exercise which most people do not practice, however, I have learned that it is an effective tool in highlighting mistakes.


July 14, 2014

Update to Action point 1 on Delivering effective presentations

Follow-up to First entry on Delivering effective presentations from David's blog

My first action point from the WSPA workshop on Delivering Effective Presentations was to improve my posture over four weeks.

For years, people had always commented that I had bad body posture. This in turn had hindered my ability to come accross as a confident person towards friends, family and strangers.

However, over the last few years, as I have matured and my confidence as boosted, I feel I have made steady improvements to my overall body posture. That said, it has always been far from perfect and I almost always inadvertently slouch or hunch over whether it be when I am sat at a table or desk or even walking around. Over the last four weeks I have tried to rectify these problems by remaining in the ‘neutral stance’.

Over the last few weeks I feel I have done well in returning to a neutral stance after walking or gesticulating. As someone who has always liked to communicate using hands and gestures, over the past few weeks I have almost always tried to return to a neutral positon. I have also tried to keep my head up and as straight as possible when walking around.

As I have been on holiday for the last week and a half, I have been able to look at friends’ photos of me and see if I have improved my posture or not. Likewise whenever a photo was taken of me I tried my best not to slouch and in stead posed with a straight back and with my head firmly staring at the camera. Of course there were times I could not have done this due to my lack of awareness to the camera. However, I feel that on the whole I have remained in a good neutral posture whenever possible which has improved my overall posture over the last few weeks.

Even when talking to people during my travels, whether they were the mates I was traveling with or complete strangers, I felt that I came across a lot more confident and happier than in previous encounters. I have learned that a good posture can help you come across as a confident and happy person which in turn should make you feel like one.


June 12, 2014

First entry on Delivering effective presentations

Workshop Tutor: Nathalie Dalton-King

Introduction

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.

Actions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. NA

To write a follow up, go to http://go.warwick.ac.uk/skills//blog


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  • Hello David, Thanks for writing such a reflective final entry for the WSPA – what a pleasure to read… by Lisa Faulkner on this entry
  • David, Considering the lack of presentation opportunities that you have had over the past few weeks,… by Nathalie Dalton-King on this entry
  • Excellent extrapolation of the technique, David. I am pleased that you have continued to use it in t… by Nathalie Dalton-King on this entry
  • David, What a good way to practice when you don't have a presentation any time soon. And then of cou… by Nathalie Dalton-King on this entry
  • Hi David, Well done on completing this module and filling in four blogs for this. I have enjoyed rea… by on this entry

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