Practical Presentation Skills (Research Skills C-1)

Mark WEEKS Associate Professor

Department: Institute of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Class Time: 2019 Spring Wednesday
Recommended for: Graduate School Common Courses

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Course Aims

The central aims of this course are to help students/researchers in any field to:
1. acquire skills in preparing logical, clear and persuasively effective academic presentations
2. develop confidence and competence in delivering presentations in English
3. gain skills and confidence in communicating both within a research field and with researchers from other fields.

Academic presentations are an increasingly important activity in global research communities and in connecting researchers across fields today. In an informal atmosphere supporting open communication, I want to show that it is possible to enjoy sharing ideas in English. The first step is to think deeply about why we're speaking, what our main point and aim is. The next is careful preparation based on the key principles of logical clarity and persuasive support.

Key Features

Most of us are stressed by the need to give presentations about our research, especially if it's in a second or third language. This course attempts to deal with that from the beginning by creating a, friendly, interactive atmosphere in which students are not afraid to make mistakes.

Secondly, at a cognitive level, I have students examine closely why they are presenting, and help them realize that a presentation is not usually an end in itself; a research presentation generally has the functions of disseminating results or progress, garnering useful feedback, perhaps making useful contacts. In short, a research presentation is not usually an exam. Even if our research is going to be "tested" by some in the audience, that should have the constructive effect of improving our research. ake it clear to the students that when they present in class, they should focus on getting useful feedback, which doesnt necessarily mean entertainin With that in mind, I mg the audience but keeping them interested and facilitating understanding through clear organization and delivery of material. So that raises what is definitely a central issue of the course, making a logically clear and persuasive case for an idea through the presentation. That means supporting a clearly stated thesis and cutting incidental material within a strictly controlled time frame.

The other important issue I've discovered is giving plenty of feedback. I help students individually on request as they prepare their two presentations for each course, particularly with structural and slide design issues. I give detailed feedback after their presentations, along with somewhat less detailed (but nevertheless very useful) feedback from fellow students. The goal, I tell them, is not to produce a faultless presentation, since that is almost impossible, but to improve through consideration of the feedback and through experience.

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Course Schedule

Most lessons include a short interactive lecture by the instructor on themes listed below, with related group or class discussions and exercises. Here is a tentative schedule:

1. Introduction: various aims and pleasures of presentations
2. Reducing nervousness, finding your main idea and significance
3. Creating logical flow, considering the audience's knowledge and motivations
4. Effective slide design principles
5. Delivery: voice, body language, interaction with slides
6. Question time strategies and language
7.1st presentations
8.1st presentations
9.1st presentations
10. Communicating at the right level for different audiences
11. Editing and delivery techniques for adapting to situations
12-14. 2nd presentations
15. Course review

* Students give 2 short presentations of 7-10 minutes using their own research or other research material. Individual consultation is offered during preparation and detailed feedback is given to support improvement.


Participation 60%
Two presentations 40%
* Students are required to attend a minimum of 10 lessons in order to receive credits for the course.

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Lecture Handouts

Presentation Skills/Techniques (PDF, 4270KB)

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Page last updated August 1, 2019

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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