Lifeskill: Learn how to present

I’m starting to come down from a bit of a high after presenting at IgniteWaterloo 2.0.

Videos to be posted soon.

A quick shout out to the organizers and all those who presented. A mighty thanks to everyone who attended as well. Y’all should know that we’re starting to plan for IgniteGuelph, June 17th. Not much to look at on this page yet, but stay tuned.

I’ve been thinking a fair amount about how people learn to do effective presentations. I get the sense that most (myself included), learn by watching other presenters, doing a quick search, and then just doing. I’ve certainly found that the more I present, the more comfortable I am, and the better my presentations are.

I’d like to make the case that the ability to craft and deliver effective and engaging presentations should be recognized as a core competency and built into curriculum in secondary school and higher education. I think that presentation skills are as important as numeracy, literacy and writing skills. From what I’ve seen (and I hope I just haven’t found it yet), there are no training or guidelines made available to students. Unfortunately, the exposure students have to other approaches to presenting either comes from their peers (who tend to have similar skills, approach, & experience) or their teachers/instructors (who have a…range…;P).

Presenting is an art and it requires training and practice. People need to know learn how to develop good visuals, to deliver content in engaging ways, to present to different audiences using different media and with different styles, and (I think this is really key), to know how to adjust a presentation to a different style/media/timing on the fly.

I’m encouraging teachers/instructors out there to think about building alternative presentation styles into their course assignments. What about having students do ignite-style talks? If you teach, what about giving one yourself at the beginning of each week? each class? how about once?

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One thought on “Lifeskill: Learn how to present

  1. While I agree that *most* higher ed programs do not focus enough on presentation skills, I’ve found this was one area where U of G’s Enviro Sci program did really well (at least 5-10 years ago when I was there). Communication skills in general were emphasized as core curriculum, and early on we were writing and speaking as if we were “real world consultants”. It helped greatly. In contrast to our peers in other disciplines, we were way ahead of the game (which was painfully obvious when we had to present in our elective courses).

    Now, I don’t mind standing up in front of 30-200 strangers to talk (as long as I know what I’m talking about). However, calling for pizza still scares the crap out of me – good thing for online ordering 🙂

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