Authentic Presenting

My little first-grader has to give a presentation this week for her school Biography Day and she isn’t a bit disconcerted.  I even asked if she was nervous, though I know I shouldn’t have.  I probed some more and discovered why she has no problem with this activity.

  • No one has told her it is scary to speak in public, so she has no reference to negative association
  • She’s interested in the subject matter and has done everything she can to learn about her topic
  • She has enthusiasm to teach others what she has learned

I think this is the essence of authentic presenting.  We’ve all been to presentations where the presenter simply reads the bullet points on a PowerPoint slide.  It just doesn’t click with the audience.  What if we started doing more authentic presentations?  Here are my thoughts:

  • Don’t submit proposals to speak at every conference.  Select the ones that truly excite you and generate a positive internal response.
  • Don’t try to come up with the most unique, original and obscure topic.  Speak about something you believe in and have immersed yourself in on a regular basis.
  • When you are asked to speak about something for which you are unfamiliar, suggest another topic, decline the invitation, or focus on a small element of the topic so you can become knowledgeable quickly.
  • Use the tools that naturally relate to your topic.  If you are presenting on Web 2.0, don’t use a PowerPoint presentation.  If you are speaking about building communities, involve the audience and your network.
  • Be comfortable admitting what you don’t know.  When it comes time for questions, if you don’t know the answer, admit it.  Provide a resource for contact following the presentation and give the audience the answers they seek.

Be authentic in your presenting and it will increase your confidence and your reputation as a presenter.

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7 Responses to Authentic Presenting

  1. Jo McLeay says:

    True learning from the kids. I agree whole heartedly.

  2. samccoy says:

    Thanks appreciate the post!
    Excellent reminders. My master’s advisor developed that idea with us in our Best Practices class, but I am so global, lol, I frequently need to be reminded.

    Dr. Runyan said you should focus on those topics, projects and goals that you return to over and over again throughout your education and teaching career. Then you build on that focus throughout your career to develop your niche. His was the whole gamut of Effective Schools Best Practices in Teaching and Learning.

    Always reminded me of the geology concept of accretion…building up of crystallized supersaturated solution that makes formations like stalagmites and geodes.

  3. Davis Masuda says:

    What a wonderful thought – “No one has told her it is scary to speak in public…” I love this image.

    As to being authentic – I’ll never forget the first time I veered away from my .ppt and talked about what really mattered to me – an experience that was entirely spontaneous. I spoke from my heart – I even used my right hand on my chest to emphasize the point (also instinctive) – and as I finished my first thought was, “I’ve just lost my job.” But of course the opposite was true…

  4. Sue Waters says:

    After 3 weeks of attending conferences I am being to feel like I have some knowledge on this subject (bearing in mind 3 weeks of this has begun to drive me totally crazy). The problem is not the powerpoint but how it is being used. I don’t agree using a wiki or a ning site makes a Web 2.0 presentation better. But a presentation 2.0 powerpoint does.

    Ban the bullets – bring in the images – remove excessive text – combine with a motivated presenter and now you are rocking. Add to the mix engagement and real conversation with the participants and here we have a good presentation that you have some hope of me listening to. On a side note – I am often asked to do presentations and frequently asked to show everything — which can be overwhelming — we need to be stronger in saying no this is what I will present on.

  5. Pingback: Educational Technology and Life » Blog Archive » links for 2007-10-26

  6. admin says:

    Sue, you make some good points. I can’t imagine sitting through 2 weeks of presentations! I’m still on the fence about “banning the bullets.” I know it’s the latest mantra, but I haven’t had a chance to think it through. Thanks for contributing!

  7. Sue Waters says:

    Yesterday was my last conference (an un-conference) and thankfully it has helped me work out what works well and what doesn’t for me. I really love the unconference style because it is engaging, encourages sharing, collaboration and conversation — really mimics the social networking we do online. Sitting in sessions all day at conferences where you just listen to knowledge coming at you with no interaction is really hard.

    So my thoughts are we really need to ensure we encourage this interaction.

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