By Career Advising Fellow, Danielle Golinski
My presentation experiment is a wrap! For the past 3 months or so, I have been conscious of my presentations and my prep for these presentations. It was a mid-year check in goal of mine, and learning how to captivate audiences, sustain their attention, and wrap up with engaged smiles was a realistic goal that I wanted to test out. My process and results!
First, I recorded myself giving a presentation and then I watched it back! I was actually pleasantly surprised. I barely used presentation fillers, and if I did it was an infrequent ‘um’ (this one will always get me!). I found myself asking questions to the group of students, and getting responses back. I found myself even repeating the question back to the student to make sure that I understood the question correctly and so that others in the class could follow along as well. Although I didn’t pace too much in front of the classroom, I did move around a bit and I didn’t block the screen. I told personal stories and experiences which I believe connected well to the students. Additionally, I included part so the presentation that went like this:
- Tell them what you are going to tell them
- Tell them
- Tell them what you told them
It is a magical formula I tell you! I believe in the power of 3’s (as the research states)! At times during my presentations during my experiment, I would include mini check in points, which involved 3 questions or 3 points of take away. I also tended to do this as well, so that if students failed to listen throughout the conversation, they could take at least 3 things away at the end. More, it was 3 simple, easy to remember things too! Whether they rhymed or had a sequence together, it was more than just a speckling of 3 random tid-bit facts. And as the research states, people are more engaged at the beginning and at the end of the presentation, than anywhere in between, and if you switch things up into “chunking”, it will stick even better!
What did I learn from all of this? That it actually takes time, preparation, and thought into pulling a presentation together. It is more than just standing in front of a classroom, preaching, it is best when it is turned into a conversation. The best “presentations” I’ve given (and I actually just had one about an hour ago), is when I had my powerpoint in the back of me (just in case), and we all engaged in conversation and group discussion. They let me know about the things that they wanted to learn about, and then we talked about those things. I was still able to rope in my experiences, stories, and pieces of advice and professionalism into these conversations, but it was more than just a “here, this is what I think is important and you’re going to listen”. Rather, it was a “let’s all learn together and learn from each other and actually have a fun time doing it.” Overall, this mini-experiment has been extremely helpful in my professional future as I know that presentations will be inevitable for myself. I am super excited about this and I’ve actually enjoyed the experience of stepping in front of a classroom and sharing stories. Could I see myself doing it every single day? Probably not! But, do I love it when I do it? Absolutely, and this is all that really matters in my opinion!