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August 29, 2008

Student Guidelines for Formal, In-Class, Oral Presentations

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29 August 2008

Dear ENG 121 Students,

Confused on what to do for the upcoming "Formal Oral Presentation" that each of you will need to do for ENG 121? My guidelines, borrowed freely from the University of Hawai’I at Manoa's Dr. Leon James's “Instructions for Oral Presentations," are below. Use my modified guidelines however (thanks Dr. James!) for our course. The first . . .

. . . presentation is coming up--good luck!


Guidelines for Your Oral Presentation – ENG 121


You will be required to give one oral presentation, as scheduled on the assigned topic you chose on the first day of class. Your grade will be made up of 10 points for this presentation, which is 10 percent of your grade (Each Percentage Point= 1 out of 10 possibly “earned” points for the assignment.  There are 100 total possible points to earn for the course).


After your presentation, if you request it, you may receive feedback from the instructor during office hours. This will generally include your grade, what you did well, and a critique of what you still need to improve on regarding rapport with the audience, voice quality, and communication aids you might use to get your points across. You will need this opportunity to speak in class as you will have to do it often while in college.


1) Read through the assigned material for your presentation, take notes, and think about it for a few days. Then discuss the content informally with someone. Explain what the main concepts are. See if you can define them without your notes. Note the reaction, and the comprehension or misunderstanding.


2) Create an outline of your presentation that can also serve as your Handout. Be sure to bring enough copies with you (enough for me, your 18 classmates and yourself). Your Handout should also include helpful Web links that deal with the topic you're presenting.


3) The Outline should have the following title lines:


Outline of My Oral Presentation:  type a title of your choosing here

This is a presentation of (give the title of the original book, the author, the particular chapters, the pages, etc.) by your first and last name.


Class Handout and Proper Attire:


Bring a copy of your Outline to class as a handout for everyone in the class.  Remember that in addition to presenting your material, you are also presenting YOURSELF.  On the day of your presentation, dress appropriate as a young academic/young professional (which is what you are) giving a formal presentation to his or her peers. The “Business Casual” standard is an appropriate guideline (think, Bill Gates)—no hats, short trousers, athletic attire, or otherwise flashy accessories that would offend or distract your audience from the presentation.  If you want to make a good impression, this formula is good advice to follow for ALL of your other classes as well.  If you need guidelines on the specifics of “Business Casual,” see Virginia Tech’s site on the topic here: [http://www.career.vt.edu/Jobsearc/BusCasual.htm] and/or Judith Gumbiner’s article on the subject here: [http://career-advice.monster.com/business-etiquette/Whats-Business-Casual-Attire/home.aspx]


5) One way to approach your presentation would be to select 3 concepts or principles from the assigned material -- ideas that you find worthwhile to consider. Since you only have 10 minutes to do the presentation, after your introduction, that’s about 3 minutes per concept.


6) First, distribute the handout. Wait until everyone has one.  While the handout is being distributed be sure to come to the front of the room and face the class so that all students can see your face.


6) Second, introduce yourself by saying something like, "Hi, my name is First name, Last name, and my presentation today covers pages xx in the book called xx." Be sure to look around the room to everyone while you do this. Be sure to speak with a loud voice that carries to the next room.


7) Third, state what the three concepts on the handout are and define each concept in one brief sentence. Be sure to look at everyone while you do this. Be sure to define all three concepts before you start again with concept 1.


8) Then, start with concept 1:


(i) Explain again what is the concept, idea, or principle. Enlarge upon the definition using your own words--do not quote the original. Do not read your notes. Look up and around and speak spontaneously, as prepared. If you practice and prepare sufficiently, you won't have to read your notes at all.


(ii) Now give your own opinion about this concept. Why did you pick it instead of the others (there were still blank ones left on the sign-up sheet)? Do you agree with the readings (or, if it’s advice about writing, do you find them helpful)? Look around the room as you say this. When you practice before your presentation, be sure to look around the room as you practice.


(iii) Now, if this is a presentation about writing, give an illustration or specific example of how you can use the concept in a practical way.  If this is a presentation on an article reading, discuss briefly the larger psychological and cultural significance of the concept or principle you are presenting. Do not forget to do this. You need to think about it ahead of time, of course. Use more than one illustration if you can squeeze it in. Be sure to look around the room to everyone while you do this. Keep your voice strong and loud.


(iv) Search on the Web BEFOREHAND to see what you find about this topic or a related one. Briefly mention what it is. Be sure to put the Web links in your handout. Briefly mention what they are and where they come from (are they reliable sources—are they from, for example, University Writing Centers, etc.?).


9) Now move on to concept 2, then concept 3. Repeat the four sub-steps with each. Monitor your time carefully. You only have 3 minutes per concept. Move quickly from one to the other.


Be sure to keep looking around to people’s faces while you talk, not just to one or two faces. It’s good to maintain eye contact for a couple of seconds, then move on to the next face. Be sure to speak with a strong or loud voice, addressing yourself to the person furthest in the room.


You can consult your notes as often as you want to, but do not read them.


Stay within your time limit of at least 9 minutes (or, you will be penalized points) and no more than 11 minutes (or, you will be penalized points).


*Study the Assessment Tools listed below. It lists the criteria by which you will be graded.


10) Practice is key to giving a good presentation.  Do not read your notes--learn them so you can talk while looking at the audience. Look around the class as you talk. Do not talk to the instructor--look at the students and make sure you maintain rapport with the audience. Looking directly at people's faces is very important for rapport. Make sure your voice is very loud, louder than normal. This is very important.


11) Make outline notes for yourself, not full sentences, so you will be making up the sentences spontaneously as you talk. This helps you to stay in rapport with the audience. The skills you practice here are the same that will make you successful on your job.


12) When you finish, the instructor will tell the class to ask you 2 or 3 questions. Be sure you maintain a strong voice while you are answering.


13) The instructor will give you feedback after class by office appointment if you request it.


Specific Learning Outcomes (What We Hope to Achieve with This Exercise)


Students will be able to practice and achieve the following:


·        Compose and deliver public, formal presentations on assigned topics in a classroom setting

·        Dress appropriately for an academic or otherwise professional environment for one’s peers.

·        Effectively create, organize, and support ideas in oral presentations

·        Delivering an oral presentation on an assigned reading task and adding argument support elements (illustrations, Web links, examples)

·        Maintain effective rapport with the classroom audience (eye contact, voice modulation)

·        Listen to and answer adequately, questions from the audience

·        Utilize effective delivery techniques when giving an oral presentation

·        Use visual aids and techniques (handouts, etc.)

·        Make use of interactive techniques (making audience participation requests)

·        Remain within the assigned time limits



Oral Communication Assessment Criteria (How I Will Evaluate Your Score):


·        Did student prepare a coherent handout, and included some Web links? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student follow each step and sub-step of the instructions? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student adequately define each of the three concepts using their own words? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student illustrate each concept with specific examples? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student adequately discuss either the relevance or the larger context of each concept? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student show evidence of being well prepared and organized? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student establish and maintain rapport with the audience from the beginning? (if not, deduct 1/2 point)

·        Did student look around the room to all the audience members? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student speak spontaneously /avoid reading? (if not, deduct 1/2 point)

·        Did student stay within the stated time limits of not less than 9 and not more than 11 mins.? (if not, deduct 1/2 point)

·        Did student dress appropriately for the formal presentation (business professional)? (if not, deduct 1 point)

·        Did student listen to questions and respond appropriately? (if not, deduct 1/2 point)


How To Be A Good Audience Member (You are STILL Being Graded for General Participation)


·        Speak at least once in every class (it’s a community responsibility). You can ask a question or make a comment.

·        Look at the speaker and act like an audience (avoid looking down for long periods). This makes a big difference to the speaker. Do not read or write while the presentation is going on! But it’s OK to write down questions to ask while you're thinking of it.

·        Give others a chance to speak if you have already spoken more than twice.

·         Make comments that address the specific topic of the day in this research seminar. Do not tell personal stories.



These guidelines adapted freely from:

James, Leon.  “Instructions for Oral Presentations.”  University of Hawai’I at Manoa.  Fall 2004.  1 September 2008 <http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/LEONJ/leonpsy21/g21-oral.htm>. [My thanks and apologies all at the same time, Dr. James]

Posted by lhobbs at August 29, 2008 09:56 PM

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