Feb 08

How to Prepare for an Elevator Speech

By Erin Cooper, Washington State University Vancouver Neuroscience student

From http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/shows/technobabble

From http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/shows/technobabble

You dodge behind a corner and peek around it, keeping your gaze on your target. He has got away from you twice today. You see your chance to make your move towards him and dart out, yet try to remain cool in appearance. Then all of a sudden you are stopped by someone who asks, “Do you know where the bathroom is?” What? Bathroom? You were so focused but the interference has shaken you and now you don’t see your target.

“It’s over there” you say, not really knowing where the bathroom is and side step, hurriedly walking to where you just saw him. Bam! Now he is in front of you and you lock eyes. He stares at you with a suggestion of introduction on his face. This is it, the moment that all of your stalking has led you to. You hear Eminem in your head rapping out lyrics to “Lose Yourself,” the bass line is your heartbeat. You stick out your hand and introduce yourself to the person that might change your life. This is your moment of opportunity and you better own it.

Graduate school interviews, networking, and socializing at conventions are moments of brief introduction, often referred as elevator speeches, which are only a couple of minutes long. When giving this speech, you must be prepared in order to sell yourself or your cause to someone that might influence it. You want to make sure every word that comes out of your mouth is precise and accurately conveys what you want to get across. You might also be literally standing in an elevator next to an unknown person who asks, “What do you do?” This person could be someone you never see again or someone that becomes a pivotal person in your life story. Having a ready-made reply in any case is a good idea.

What makes an elevator speech great is how well it is remembered, not by you, but the person you are communicating with; you want the person to become curious as to who you are so questions will form in their head from genuine interest. Of course embarrassing moments are memorable and not necessarily good for your cause. You want the person to become engaged in who you are and what you do.

From https://www.reddit.com/domain/encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/

From https://www.reddit.com/domain/encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/

Tips and questions to answer when formatting your speech:

  1. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. Think bullet points and highlights; minimum explaining (this might help them form questions).
  2. No jargon (unless the person is familiar with terminology)
  3. Know your audience (Same career? What are they passionate about?)
  4. What is it you are passionate about? Why?
  5. What is your end game, what do you want to communicate? Save the world? Cure a disease? Change a single life? How does this apply to the listener?
  6. Be entertaining with your story, not by telling jokes. Your sense of humor might be unique to you and your friends.
  7. Be relevant. Tangents don’t help and are distracting. While the Shark Rumba cat is adorable, what does it add to your selling point?
  8. Practice! Do you think Andre Agassi became number 1 in his sport without practice? NO!

There plenty of good video tutorials out there to watch and get ideas about how to shape your elevator speech, but I personally like this video. The creator goes into body language as well as format and key points to include. This is another video that will help you understand how to explain who you are and what you do in just a few minutes to a complete stranger.

Remember to practice! You may want to run your elevator speech by a friend, but what is better than the real stress of talking to a stranger? Next time you are in a grocery line, give your pitch under pressure. If you completely biff it, no worries!

 

Feb 07

Why the debate on Autism and Vaccines remains a Controversy…

By Laura Kays, Washington State University Vancouver Neuroscience student

Vaccine Controversy Word Cloud

Vaccine Controversy Word Cloud

A famous study by Andrew Wakefield sparked the debate regarding autism and vaccines between researchers and parents of autistic children. The study investigated an association between the onset of behavioral symptoms reported by parents and administration of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The study purported a link between chronic enterocolitis and the onset of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) following the MMR vaccine. This studied, now retracted, is what sparked many parents to stop vaccinating their children. Several studies have been done since then to evaluate the occurrence of ASD. A study designed by Anjali Jane MD, Jaclyn Marshall MS, and Ami Buikema MPH showed that no association was seen between the MMR vaccine and onset of ASD even in children with increased risk of developing ASD. Other studies showed similar results including the following study, “No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.” This studied was unique in that it looked at the occurrence of ASD associated with the MMR vaccine in a Japanese population as well as the occurrence of ASD after the withdrawal of the MMR vaccine. The study showed that after the withdrawal of the vaccine the occurrence of ASD did not decline. A new interest that sparked among parents against vaccinations, argued that it is not the MMR vaccine itself that can lead to autism but that a preservative, known as thimerosal that is added to vaccinations.  One particular study looked at the safety of thimerosal in vaccinations among infants and found that there was no clear association between thimerosal in vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. Interestingly, the CDC states that thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines in 2001, but was never in the MMR vaccine, the original vaccine of concern in this controversy. Many parents that argue that vaccinations are bad are now concerned about the number of vaccinations that children receive while they are so young. Their concern is so great that in towns such as Ashland, OR, a third of the population does not vaccinate their children. A documentary, The Vaccine War, goes into detail on how these parents risk the possibility of an epidemic breaking out in order to spare their children from vaccinations for diseases that haven’t been seen in years. On the contrary, it is the success of vaccinations that is keeping these diseases from being prevalent in the United States.

This controversy will continue for as long as the argument against vaccinations continues to change.

 

Feb 04

Hash Tags & Retweets: How Social Media Impacts the Vaccine-Autism Controversy

By Imee Williams, Washington State University Vancouver Neuroscience student

Vaccines continue to be a controversial public health issue. There have been numerous studies that have supported no causation between vaccines and autism (i.e. Honda et al., Jain et al., and Verstraeten et al.), yet many individuals and families continue to question the safety of vaccines. Why is that? Scientific illiteracy may be a factor, but where we receive our science and health information from is also critical. Not everyone has access to medical journals or academic literature, so we rely on media sources.

From http://repcapitalmedia.com

From http://repcapitalmedia.com

Hate it or love it, social media has become the center of our lives. We no longer need to wait for the newspaper to be delivered or watch the nightly news to know what is happening in our community or around the world. We are always up-to-date with current events thanks to Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and now, Snapchat. Like anything else, there are pros and cons to receiving our news source via social media. Social media has helped agencies and experts promote and spread important information and data in a timely fashion. However, social media has also allowed non-experts to share misinformation and influence the public opinion of events.

Anti-vaccine activists rely on social media more than ever. Twitter hashtags have become a powerful tool for them to use: #antivax #antivaccine #cdcwhistleblower are just a few examples. Within these hashtags you can find hundreds of organized groups and thousands of users and followers consisting of mostly politicians, celebrities, parents, and so called “health experts”.

In the study conducted by Dixon et al., they evaluated different reporting styles regarding vaccines and autism issues. A journalist may use a style of reporting which they called “falsely balanced reporting” that presents all sides of an issue. This reporting style is beneficial for the reader when evaluating the pros and cons of the issue. However, it can be misleading in the sense that it gives the supporting and opposing views equal weight. They concluded that our attitude towards an issue (i.e. vaccine-autism controversy) is heavily influenced on how a news source reports and interprets the information to the public. Also, this falsely balanced reporting style increased the readers’ uncertainty of vaccine safety and decreased their intention to vaccinate their children in the future.

As scientists and healthcare professionals, we must not turn away from social media, but instead utilize it to prevent the harmful effects of non-evidence based science.

Jan 30

Feed Back to Head Forward

Written by Megan Slaker
Edits by Alexandria Camino

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” –Bill Gates

Feedback is necessary for improvement on any task, whether learning a new skill, clarifying our understandings of a concept, or presenting a talk. Think of a task you do regularly. Feedback will probably help you improve performance on that task. However, not all feedback yields positive results. The ability to provide constructive feedback demands practice, just like any other new skill. I’ll briefly discuss what feedback should generally address, how it should be delivered, and provide a few tips for giving valuable feedback.

TIFirst, effective feedback should address three main questions: 1) Where am I going? 2) How am I going? 3) Where to next? (The Power of Feedback by Hattie and Timperley, 2007). “Where am I going” addresses the goals or objective of the task being evaluated. The goals can be explicitly stated (i.e. a 3-minute thesis competition) or inferred (i.e. a talk at a conference). “How am I going” asks what progress is being made towards the goal. This could include what progress is beneficial or done well and also to critically evaluate what could make it better. “Where to next” provides information on what activities can be done to make additional progress. These should be specific and tangible.

Effect feedback should address:

 Goal → Current Progress → New Progress

Next, as an evaluator, it is up to you to decide what you will evaluate (content, delivery, process, etc.). However, your evaluation should always be clear, concise, and specific. Make sure you pay close attention to the execution of the task you will provide feedback for – if you don’t, how will you know what to comment on and how to help the person improve? Occasionally, there will be more items to be critiqued than not – you don’t need to share everything. Let’s repeat that: you don’t need to share everything. Choose one or two areas that could be improved, offer specific feedback and suggestions to improve upon those areas, and then meet to go over progress again at a later date.

“Feedback, when given well, should not alienate the receiver of the feedback, but should motivate them to perform better.” – Paulo Coelho

Providing critical fTI2eedback can be a challenge when we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings or feel like we are attacking them – the best way to avoid this and still provide critical and effective feedback is to be sincere. As an evaluator, you are speaking for yourself, providing your opinion to help their success. It should be your goal to provide the feedback that will help the other person succeed and deliver it in a way that is encouraging, motivating, and full of d irection and advice. Feedback should be given to help the other person improve and to motivate them to want to improve.

Effective feedback should be:

Clear – Concise – Specific

Finally, a few tips for providing feedback.

1) Critically think about how to help the other person improve
2) Carefully listen to what the other person says and how they met their goal(s)
3) Listen to the feedback that you receive and try to apply it (when applicable)
4) Use words that describe your own reactions to to the task/person you are evaluating
5) Avoid judgment words/statements (i.e. always, never, etc).
6) Use an outline to frame for your feedback so the receiver can focus on the content
7) Practice providing feedback (try with youtube videos)

 


 

Share your own tips for providing feedback in the comments or through social media!

Jan 30

The Whole Universe is Diverse

By Megan Slaker; Edited by Alexandria Camino

 

Nine years ago, a group of friends and I watched the first episode of the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. We enjoyed the quirky humor of four socially-awkward scientists as they learned to interact with the world. Every week, we bonded over an understanding of the characters. The show continued to add interpretations of scientists, across fields of discipline and gender. However, one element that has mostly remained constant is the theme: science vs. the general public. The scientists in the show are super-smart, nerdy, and have difficulty fitting into the non-scientific world (either by lack of social awareness or inappropriate behaviors). This portrayal of scientists is hindering the relationship between science and society and needs attention from everyone to change.

This display of scientists and science hinders interactions between science and society. There is already a clear divide between the general public and the scientists – one group is in the world and the other is holed up in a laboratory. It creates an illusion that science (and therefore scientists) only happen in a lab, with highly controlled environments that do not relate to normal life. We do science in school, but it has no impact in the real world. Students learn scientific concepts that are regurgitated on exams and forgotten quickly – which may reflect the deficient general knowledge of scientific terms and concepts (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/09/10/what-the-public-knows-and-does-not-know-about-science/ – some of these concepts directly influence public policy (vaccines, GMOs, climate change)). Could this misconception be due in part to public perception of science and those that work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields?

Shows like The Big Bang Theory have an opportunity to showcase the diversity and accessibility of science, beginning with what scientists are really like (see “This is what a scientist looks like” Tumblr). The group of friends that I began watching the show with are all in STEM fields: a food scientist, an engineer, a medical student, and a statistical analyst. But their field does not define them. They run marathons, are wives/mothers, husbands/fathers, political activists. They have close relationships with their friends and families. They play and watch sports. They ride motorcycles, play multiple instruments, and go out dancing. They are normal people.

It is imperative that shows like The Big Bang Theory illustrate the diversity and accessibility of science and tackle issues important to both scientists and the general public – job security, work/life balance. However, while these issues can be addressed on the show, the primary goal of the show is to entertain – it is our job (as scientists and community members) to work on closing the gap between science and the general public. It is essential that we as a field and members of society engage our local communities in conversations about scientific advances and inquiry.

 


 

 So what can we do?

Talk with family members.

Explain what you do to your parents, spouses, siblings – help them understand.

Plan (or attend) science talks at local museums, schools, or pubs.

Engage and encourage your fellow scientists to share their work.


 

Share your thoughts and ideas for engaging local communities in the comment section!

Nov 24

Travel Advice for Speakers – Speaking Advice for Travelers

By Janine Castro, Geomorphologist, USFWS & NMFS, Portland, Oregon

yinyang

My upcoming family vacation to New Zealand looms large. As the planner in the family, I am tasked with logistics and general travel organization, as well as corralling the troops to make sure everything runs smoothly. As a seasoned traveler, this should be a breeze…right? That would be true, with one exception – I am traveling with teenagers. My normal laissez faire approach to travel had to be ditched for a more formalized structure that could be imposed on others…

Wading through my newly updated travel checklist, it struck me that my travel list is quite similar to my speakers list – a six-step plan for effective presentations that includes planning, designing, practicing, preparing, delivering, and evaluating. Traveling and speaking might sound completely unrelated, but pearls of wisdom are often hidden in the unlikeliest of shells.

 

Planning

Late last year, I asked my son to choose our next summer vacation destination. It was his senior year of high school, so this trip is really a belated graduation present. After some deep thinking and an inordinate amount of internet surfing, he decided that New Zealand was the place to go. When probing further into his choice, I discovered that his real interest lies in The Lord of the Rings, stunning landscapes, and, very probably, the legal drinking age of 18.

Once we settled on New Zealand, our immediate task was to determine dates of travel. This entailed looking at university start dates, various work schedules, available vacation time, and our travel fund balance. Once all of the constraints were factored in, we settled on a three-week, late summer trip.

Travel Tip 1: Know where you are headed, but more importantly, know why you want to go there and what you want to see. Make sure you have both the time and money available before committing. Put travel dates on your calendar.

 

 Speaking Tip 1: Know where and to whom you are presenting, but more importantly, know the purpose of your presentation and what you hope to achieve. Make sure you have the time and resources available before committing. Put the presentation dates on your calendar.

 

newzealand.com

newzealand.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designing

With a clear destination, travel window, and budget in place, we then focused on: (1) travel to New Zealand, (2) travel within New Zealand, and (3) personal travel essentials. We purchased the airline tickets, booked a rental car, and secured lodging for the tail ends of our trip. That just left item (3) — what to pack. Deciding what to pack requires some understanding of what we’ll be doing on our trip – hiking in inclement weather, swimming in an indoor pool, or dining at an upscale restaurant? Without a detailed itinerary, we are stuck with packing for a wide variety of conditions and are almost guaranteed to over-pack; then we’re stuck schlepping bags through airports and inns.

 

Travel Tip 2:  Ensure that both the beginning and end of your trip are booked and confirmed – what happens in between is flexible. This approach works equally well for a three-day or a three-week trip. Pack light, pack smart. If it’s not essential, leave it at home. Speaking Tip 2:  Ensure that your opening and closing statements are solid – everything that happens in between can be flexible. This works equally well for a three-minute or a thirty-minute talk. Include only what is essential to deliver a clear message – don’t overpack.

 

Practicing

This is the step that almost everyone, at one time or another, skips. After all, I’ve traveled so many times, what could possibly go wrong? This is your chance to test out your “gear”. Is the suitcase too big, too little, too heavy? Do those new boots give you blisters? Do you need a separate backpack for the very long flights and layovers along the way?

Now that you have your packing list, try fitting all of that stuff into the most efficient space possible, and don’t exceed the weight limitations for the airlines. The rugged hiking boots may seem like a great idea until you discover that they take up half of the space in your luggage. This phase is all about making difficult choices to ensure that the important stuff goes in, while the needless stuff goes out.

 

 Travel Tip 3: Pre-pack to minimize extraneous stuff, while optimizing room for essentials. Try living out of that suitcase for a few days – you will soon discover what is missing.  Speaking Tip 3: Practice your talk to minimize extraneous verbiage, and hence provide time to deliver an uncluttered message. Try it for a few days in a row to see how it fits.

 

Preparing

Preparing for a trip goes well beyond packing. Preparing also means taking care of business at home – house sitters, forwarding mail, setting timers for lights – so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation without being haunted by what you left behind.

 

Travel Tip 4: Prepare early. Consider taking an extra day off prior to travel so that you can prepare in a relaxed manner with ample time for final purchases and adjustments. Speaking Tip 4: Prepare early. Consider blocking time just prior to your presentation so that you can prepare in a relaxed manner, with ample time for final adjustments.

 

Delivery

It is time to embark. Leave early for the airport; assume there will be bad traffic and long lines at security. Tell the teenagers that the flight leaves an hour earlier than scheduled and then reward them with a latte and scone at the airport. Do this for yourself as well! Relax because everything that could be done has been done.

 

Travel Tip 5: Be fully present and enjoy the experience. Sure, unexpected things will happen, but you are abundantly prepared to handle whatever comes your way. Speaking Tip 5: Be fully present and enjoy the experience. Sure, unexpected things will happen, but you are abundantly prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

 

Evaluating

After returning home, I try and review my travel checklist to see what needs to be added, subtracted, or modified based on my most recent travel experience. A great strategy is to see what packed items were never used. Perhaps a list of what “not to pack” is in order.

 

Travel Tip 6: While unpacking, note what items you didn’t use and update your list accordingly. Similarly, make note of what you really missed and couldn’t replace while you were away from home. Speaking Tip 6: After the presentation, identify extraneous material that should have been culled and critical information that should have been added. Update your list and use it when preparing for your next big talk.

 

From: terapeak.com

From: terapeak.com

Giving a “Luggage” talk

Think of your next presentation as luggage. Without proper research and planning, you will likely grab a huge suitcase and throw everything into it – just in case.  As you spend more and more time preparing, you will eventually reach the point when every item in your bag is not only necessary, it is mission critical. With finely honed packing skills, you will graduate from that heavy piece of checked luggage, to a small carry-on bag that fits in the overhead bin, to a personal item that fits underneath the seat in front of you – be the envy of your fellow travelers.

How much luggage will you carry on stage?

May 27

Communication Around the Globe: World Science Festival and Pint of Science

Here at Communicatalyst, we look at science communication from multiple perspectives – communicating with policy-makers, students, interested lay audiences, and each other! World Science Week touches all of these audiences, with sessions for kids and teens, broad-interest sessions on science in the movies, and “deep dives” that take a closer look at major scientific advances such as the CRISPR/Cas9 revolution in molecular biology.

Stop by World Science Week, June 1-5, 2016, in New York City. No time to travel? Hold a mini-version in your community.  That’s the model used by Pint of Science; a distributed science festival that wrapped up earlier this week, with events in at least 12 countries. I was disappointed by the lack of Pint of Science events in the Pacific Northwest; in the the U.K., they held dozens of events around the country, with several in London alone. Many sold out well in advance – I should know; I tried to buy tickets last minute!

 

 

May 10

Lost in Translation

Janine Castro, Geomorphologist, USFWS & NMFS, Portland, Oregon

I am sitting in an oversized chair in a hotel conference room in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It looks pretty much like any other conference room, in any other hotel, in any other city. I am part of a team of instructors that are providing bank erosion and stabilization training to Cambodian river managers. Simple enough. But what isn’t simple — the entire training is conducted in English and the audience speaks Khmer. Our slides have been translated into Khmer, and our interpreters instantaneously translate from English to Khmer through headsets. All of the course instructors are well outside of our comfort zones, even though we are very experienced teachers and experts in our respective fields. This novel environment provides an excellent opportunity to dissect various elements of presentations that we often take for granted. I’m going to focus on four aspects of presentations whose importance became glaringly apparent: vocabulary, text, pace, feedback, and humor.

Vocabulary

Every discipline has its own vocabulary – jargon. As good, conscientious presenters, we avoid jargon and acronyms as much as possible. For our Cambodian workshops, we went to the extent of creating a glossary of terms and had it translated for the workshop participants. But what about those everyday words? We discovered that terms like river, stream, and channel do not mean the same in English and Khmer. And I received lots of laughs over the idea of “river training”. But I digress.

Lesson 1: Minimize jargon, but do not assume that common terms have the same meaning for everyone, even if you’re speaking the same language. A “stream” to me is all-inclusive, but to others it means something larger than a creek and smaller than a river. Define all terms, especially in mixed audiences.

Text

translation pic1It’s one thing to say you’re not going to read the text off of your slides, but it’s quite another to have all of your text in a foreign script. I pride myself on my “text lite” visually appealing slides and knowing exactly what I’m going to say as each slide appears, and yet I found it oddly discomfiting to see my few words lose all meaning. When you look at a slide in an unfamiliar script, it is a harsh reminder of how much space that text occupies.

Lesson 2: Become so familiar with your slides that you can speak no matter what language appears. Perhaps you should convert your entire presentation to a foreign tongue and see if you can still effectively present.

Pace

“Instantaneous translation” is a misnomer – it is not really instantaneous. There is a several second delay while the interpreter translates your message. The faster you talk, the further the translator gets behind and is then forced to paraphrase your carefully scripted message. You then become entirely reliant on your interpreter to accurately deliver your message. When I was giving one of my fist presentations in Cambodia, I truly believed I was talking slow. The interpreter starting waving his hand at me – slow down, slow down! With each subsequent talk, I have slowed down even further, and yet it is still a challenge for the interpreter to keep to keep up with me. I started wondering what he was leaving out…

It struck me that this is probably what our brains are doing as we listen to any presentation – filtering for content, trying to figure out what is the most important, and then skimming over everything else. And that’s when we are all speaking the same language!

Lesson 3: Speaking too fast is a common problem when presenting. Leave enough time for your message to be “interpreted” by your audience, especially before moving on to your next topic or slide. For your most important messages, slow down and repeat. Make it easy for your audience to identify what is most important.

Audience Feedback

translation pic2How much do you rely on verbal feedback to determine if your message is connecting with your audience? Do you ask questions, such as “does this make sense?” What would happen if you removed all verbal feedback? Body language, laughter, and eye contact are all fairly reliable ways to quickly assess the impact of your presentation and allow you to make course corrections to re-engage the audience. When you are presenting through translation, it is difficult to evaluate your performance both during and following the presentation because of the time delay, language barriers and, potentially, because of cultural sensitivities (losing face).

Lesson 4: Don’t rely solely on verbal feedback to adjust your talk mid-presentation, or to evaluate your performance once it’s over. Become familiar with body language and eye contact as a less filtered form of evaluation.

Humor

Many of us use humor to reduce stress and to engage the audience. What if all of the humor in your talk evaporated? That is exactly what we discovered – humor does not necessarily translate well, especially when relying on colloquialisms. And some of us have potentially become over-dependent on this particular presentation technique. I’m still wondering how “fish squeezer” got translated.

Lesson 5: If humor is the primary method that you use to engage your audience and reduce your stress, consider working in other techniques that reach another part of your audience. Perhaps relating an interesting story or sharing something about yourself.

 

Apr 26

What makes an oral presentation memorable?

By Arthur Serkov, WSU Vancouver Neuroscience student

lmfdesign.files.wordpress.com

lmfdesign.files.wordpress.com

Everybody has had to at some point get across a message to someone else with the hope that this message will be memorable. The way that this message is conveyed has a critical impact on whether or not this information will be remembered or not, and this depends heavily on subtle non-verbal communication. However, the way that the contents of the message itself are presented has an important impact on engaging the listener, and making the presentation memorable. The most important way to arrange a presentation is with an engaging structure that first hooks the audience, draws them in, and concludes strongly.

The beginning of a presentation starts with an engaging statement that relates to the audience. Hopefully this is something that will make the audience member stop what that they are doing, and focus on what you have to say. This is the hook, and a good presenter will know how to hook different audiences by changing the focus of the message slightly to tune into the interests of the audience.

Once the audience is interested and focused in on what the presentation is about, it is up to the presenter to engage the audience by “ ” to the topic. This is the bulk of the presentation in which the presenter tries to keep the audience interested, yet at the same time tries to explore the topic or issue that they are presenting on. The tricky part here is knowing which aspect to zoom into for each different audience. For instance presenting a basket weaving techniques speech to a business audience that stands to profit from it, or a basket weaving techniques presentation to anthropology students who are fascinated with the process itself.

The conclusion of the presentation should focus on zooming back out and tying in the main message of the presentation with the audience. Here it is important to summarize what has been said in a clear and concise manner so that the audience members can have a simple take-home message that they can easily remember, and be engaged in long after the presentation is over.

Apr 24

Giving a perfect presentation brick by brick

by Samuel VanCleef, WSU Vancouver Neuroscience student

Sam-pic1Sam-pic2In everyone’s life you will have to give a presentation on something whether it is in school, jobs, or even in casual conversations where you have to convey your information clearly, intelligently, passionately, and confidently. However, some presenters still have trouble with these tasks, leading the audience to become confused and lose their interest. In this post I will mainly be talking about how to give a presentation and not on the formation of the speech. This will include topics such as speaking voice, body position, body movement, and so on. Taking these topics into consideration will prevent your audience from getting caught in a twister of confusion.

First of all, if you don’t want to read anything else in this post take this to heart: PRACTICE BEFOREHAND!!! Practice in front of others if possible. This will give you good feedback on your presentation about things you might not notice and gets you used to talking to other people and not just furniture – unless you are one of those people that can give a perfect speech without practicing, which I have met, and they REALLY irritate me when they can do this and I can’t. But back to the main topic. The more times that you run through the presentation, the calmer you will be when you actually present it.

Sam-pic3A good presenter can demand the audience’s attention by the way they use their voice, which draws the audience in to their talk, such as a lion roaring. This is by the presenter almost bellowing their information with a clear voice to the audience in a volume that allows everyone to hear you without feeling like they are being yelled at. This will project the presenter as being affirmative and confident in what they are saying. However, presenters often have voices that are weak and sound like that of a door mouse. This will cause your audience not to listen to you because they can’t hear you and won’t try. So don’t be a squeaky door mouse when talking, but be a courageous lion and PROJECT!!!

 

Sam-pic4Your voice not only demands attention but can also show enthusiasm, humor, or even passion, and it also can keep your audience’s attention. The best way you can convey this is either by utilizing pauses or vocal variety when speaking. When changing your speaking pattern it causes the audience to notice what draws them further into your presentation. This is better than sounding like you’re a robot, where you will have the audience drifting away from your talk and drowsing off in the poppy fields. But you don’t want to add too much variation when you talk. It will distract the audience, causing them to focus on how you are talking rather than what you’re saying. A presenter’s goal is to find a happy medium throughout their presentation that can spell bind the audience to hear what they are saying. Eye contact is another important tool to use when communicating with which you should not talk to the wall or the furniture. One of the easiest ways to do this is by picking individuals that are scattered throughout the audience and periodically, but not rapidly, shifting your gaze from one to the other. However, I use the word “eye contact” very loosely because you do not have to make actual eye contact with individuals. You can instead look at people’s entire face, forehead, or nose/cheek bones. With the use of eye contact, the audience will feel like you are talking to them and not just the group.

Sam-pic5Besides your voice, the next important thing that can create a great presentation is how you choose to orientate your body. This can distract your audience depending on how you use your body. I have seen and given countless presentations where the presenters fiddle with their hands as if they are planning something mischievous. I have also tripped over my own limbs, desks, other people’s limbs, and I have even fallen of a stage flat on my face mid-presentation. If this happens, do not get flustered. You can either make a joke about what happened or just continue presenting as if nothing had happened. Overall, control your body and be able to limit your gestures to the point where you will be able pause with your feet firmly planted in one spot with your hands beside you. This position displays strength and confidence to the audience. However, if you have become stuck in this position for too long, this can cause the audience’s eyes to wander away from you to something else, leaving you to rust away. So keep in mind to have a nice balance of mobile and fixed positions when talking. If you follow these suggestions you will bring the house down on your presentation and hopefully not on your sister.

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