We just completed our 5-week Great Presentations class for PhD Computer Science and IGERT students at Columbia University. I was thinking about what the class is really all about. Here are my thoughts:
In our class we don’t simply discuss a checklist of important and useful pointers about how to put together and deliver a good presentation. We actually give presentations of varying lengths. We adjust content and organization; pacing; timing; volume; gestures; movement; visuals; transitions; ends of utterances; gaze; and eye contact. We do it all!
We have the chance to observe and evaluate many different and equally effective examples of how a presenter chooses to organize a story; develop effective slides; and deliver a great presentation.
My primary focus and goal as the Great Presentations instructor is to help students understand that there is no single template for how to be a great presenter, but rather a range of effectiveness. We see that a shy, quiet person is a great presenter just as an outgoing, energetic person is also a great presenter.
So in our class we work on developing the singular unique styles and tones of each student in the group. We want to help each person to be a more excellent presenter using her own individual gifts and personal characteristics.