Shannon Bennett, Student
On January 9th I gave my virtual presentation for Lecturing Skills Including Preparation. I was very nervous. More nervous than I have been in a long time, mainly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my audience. That to me was the biggest hurdle. Not being able to gauge my audience’s reactions.
In the middle of the course we were given the assignment of picking a topic for our virtual presentation. As it was only 30 minutes long I knew that I would not be able to go very in-depth, but I didn’t want to do just a how-to or a beginner’s lecture. That just isn’t interesting to me and I wanted people to want to come hear me lecture. I chose to speak on a subject that I had personal research experience in, Virginia Chancery Records.
Staying within the course guidelines proved to be difficult for me. However, it made me think in ways that I had not before and also made me have a few ah-ha moments. When I was writing my presentaion handout it was very difficult to keep to the page limit. In the past when I have given a lecture I would essentially provide a multi-page outline of everything I was going to talk about. I did this so people didn’t have to take notes if they didn’t want to. However, after reading the lessons in the course I can see how a 1-2 page handout is so much nicer. For my handout I wrote about the history of these records, where to find them, and why they are important. All things that I covered more in-depth during my presentation, but written out succinctly in an easy to read format.
Creating the slides for the presentation was fun. I like doing creative, artsy things so this was right up my alley. Making sure the slides followed the assignment guidelines for structure, font size, colors, and format was challenging but it made the presentation look very put together. I can be very particular with the way things I create look and it was hard to not be too much of a perfectionist. There was a lot of work to do pulling this together and I didn’t want to spend an extraordinary amount of time fiddling with the placement of items on the slides.
I struggled with keeping my presentation to the 30 minute time limit. In fact, because I know when I get excited or nervous I tend to talk fast, I built in some “padding” to my notes. I have to have a crutch, I am just too paranoid that I am going to blank on something even if I know the subject inside and out. Fidgeting in front of people is also a problem I have, so having note cards or a pointer in my hand helps me concentrate and not fiddle around with stuff. On the notes I prepared, just in case I lost my place, I filled it with points that could be added or cut to get as close to the 30 minute time frame as possible. Even then, I think I ended 5 minutes early and I blame that on my timer being off. Yes, I set a timer on my computer so I knew the time, but you have to set it correctly for it to work.
Practicing the presentation multiple times was crucial for many reasons. For example, if something were to go wrong I knew how to recover. Also, by practicing I know where I am in the lecture at all times and how I can speed things up or slow them down for the time allotment. Finally, it makes you sound more confident, because frankly you are; you have the presentation down which makes you less likely to feel lost.
Needless to say I am now hooked and want to lecture and teach more.