I’m very pleased to be helping set up an online community for presentation skills as part of the DIAL project.
I am an ideal guinea pig for any experimentation. I have been terrified of public speaking for as long as I can remember and run very rapidly away from any video camera pointed in my direction.
I set up a social enterprise called Speaking Out to get people like me more comfortable with it, drawing on the more informal and conversational environments that are more common in the social enterprise and digital worlds.
I have also been doing a Teaching and Professional Fellowship called ‘Speaking Out as a Creative Student’ to find out what students find difficult and then develop practical ways to help them, particularly in relation to student enterprise & employability (I work with SEE). It is pretty clear that a large number of students find it hard – in a survey of 160 students, almost 70% described themselves as at least a bit nervous to very nervous. (The full report is due to be published soon.) And I have no doubt there are many staff who also feel the same.
Even if you don’t get nervous, there are plenty of things that can help improve the content and style of how you speak.
For the DIAL project, we are focusing on digital literacy and presentation skills. This could be how you use online tools to help create presentations (eg Prezi), using video conferencing software (Wimba, Skype) or putting your slides online (Slideshare).
We are kicking off with video… Out of 16 scenarios, ‘being filmed while speaking’ rated as the fourth most nervewracking, only marginally behind ‘speaking without preparing’, ‘formal presentations (examined)’ and ‘presenting in front of a large audience’ – and more nervewracking than ‘formal presentations’, ‘speaking without notes’ and ‘pitching your work to a potential client’.
A big question is: How do we counter the fears that creative students or staff have when speaking, whether it is in front of an audience or in front of a camera? We want to create a comfortable and open environment where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and thoughts.
Then there are all the skills you might need for taking video clips: How do you use Flip cameras or your smartphone to make videos? What video editing software is available and how do you use it? How and where do you upload video content?
The general outline of the project is:
* Pull out some of the resources from my Fellowship project that would be useful – for example, we made a series of video clips with presentation skills top tips.
* Look at the different elements that you might need to make a video from start to finish, from technical skills to improving confidence and structure of short presentations, drawing on the collective knowledge and experiences of the University staff and students
* Create a hub where we can find practical resources and videos about presentation skills, where students and staff are sharing online material and tips
* Beyond this pilot, look at the other elements of presentation skills and digital integration into arts learning.
Another big benefit of creating this online community is the opportunity to discuss the topic of presentations skills. A surprising finding for me from the Fellowship research was that simply speaking about the subject with others increases confidence, as the feeling that ‘everyone is in the same boat’ makes you people feel more comfortable.
So we’re very keen to get this subject out in the open and for people to discuss and add to it, and I am looking forward to contributing to the building of this community…