Some Presentation Tips and Observations – From a Middle School Teacher and from A Social Media Meet-Up Speaker

I teach speech as an adjunct professor at a local community college, and do plenty of speaking, in front of many different kinds of audiences, as a key part of my professional life.  And, I teach presentation skills, provide speech coaching, and some speech writing.  In other words, communication issues, especially those connected to speaking and presentations, are a key part of “what I think about.”  (In another piece of my professional life, I also present business books synopses and synopses on books on social justice and poverty)

So, I am always on the lookout for insights about, and models of communication.

Here are a couple of observations “worth pondering”:

#1 — A Middle School Teacher Incorporates Public Speaking to deal with “Upspeak,” and Issues of Self-Confidence:

On The Atlantic site, I read this fascinating article by Jessica Lahey, Why Middle-School Girls Sometimes Talk Like Babies – And how teachers can respond.  Ms. Lahey is a former teacher (now a correspondent for The Atlantic), and was dealing with girls’ use of “upspeak” in this article.  She described her strategy:

I incorporated a lot more public speaking in all of my classes. I taught my students to stand on both feet, hips square, chests out, and shoulders back. I invited the drama teacher come to class and teach them how to take up space with their words. He taught them how to breathe deeply, from the diaphragm, to project, and to be ready to speak before they open their mouths. All of my students benefitted from these lessons, but my babytalker more than anyone else. Her classmates and teachers started listening to her.

Note this simple, brilliant summary:

stand on both feet, hips square, chests out, and shoulders back…

And note the results:  Her classmates and teachers started listening to her.  Success!

#2 — A Local Professional Creatively Presents His Material at a Social Media Meet-Up

I attended a Social Media Meet-Up Group this week.  The speaker was Steve Kuntz, who works as a Project Specialist for Neiman Marcus.  His topic:  10 Tools to Propel Your Business & Increase Productivity.  Now, I’m kind of from an earlier era than most of the folks at this gathering.  In other words, they were younger than I am.  (More and more people these days seem younger than I am…).  There were iPads and SmartPhones out all over the place; folks capturing pictures, and no telling what all was being pushed out on Twitter, InstaGram, and other sites I am woefully behind the curve on.

So, because of my “a little-bit-old-school” ways, I may simply be ignorant about how the “new folks” do things.  But, to me, Steve used a couple of strategies that were different – and innovative.

Handout from Steve Kuntz - click on image for full view
Handout from Steve Kuntz – click on image for full view

#1 – His handout was only and simply a list of links to sites.  Click on the photo of his handout, and you will be able to read the list of sites to check out.  Each link was included in one of his slides.  In other words, his handout was not to “follow along” with, but simply to have at your fingertips all of the links he pointed us toward.

#2 – He put his slides up on slice share, and gave us the link – in advance.  Because he did this, I looked at his slides on the screen, but also on my iPad.  This meant that I could go back and look again at a slide that I wanted to check out a little more carefully while he had moved on to other slides.  I found this incredibly helpful and valuable.  And, of course, now we all have his slides to refer to refer back to on slideshare.  (Here’s the link to his slides).

So, here’s your “advice” for today.

First, master the old school skills:

stand on both feet, hips square, chests out, and shoulders back… (and use vocal variety, and verbal punch, and good gestures, and…)

Second, tackle the “new school” tools of technology…

(especially if you use slides, consider slide share, and “different” kinds of handouts).


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