Often enough, those who face the reality teaching or of having to present a paper before a group of well educated people for the first time, experience the feeling of anxiety. In some people the level of anxiety can be so high that they feel unable even to begin to prepare the material, some even postpone thinking about it until the last moment and then face those scary moments previous to and during the presentation. A good presentation of the material requires three levels of preparations. Here are some tips on how one can go about to give the best of oneself in teaching or presenting a paper before an experienced audience.
1. Remote preparation
Ask yourself the following questions to get things moving:
- What must I do in order to prepare myself sufficiently (not too much and not too little) to do what I have been asked to do? How much time and energy do I have to reserve for this assignment. Learn to say “NO” to those things that may unnecessarily occupy your time. One who prepares ahead saves on time, energy and nerves.
- Who can I go to for suggestions or help in the material I need to prepare? Who could be available and competent to offer me help or suggestion in this regard?
- What instruments of help can I consult (books, web pages, PowerPoint presentations, articles etc.)?
- How to find a delicate balance among what I wish to – have to – am able to present?
Prepare a presentation schema that would help you discern the difference among the three (wish to- have to- and am able to)
Try to have clarity for yourself on what is the major scope, the central message and the essential content of the material that you need to present to the group. Try to explain to oneself and/or to another person what you wish to communicate to the group.
Be clear about the actual situation for presentation: which place, what means of communication, what time length etc. you would use for the presentation.
Use methods to attract attention of the group (use of concrete examples, change of style, simplified and clear language, etc. Inform yourself on different methods of teaching and communication. Not all methods are equally useful for the presentation of every material. The way of presentation is equally important as the material presented.
Prepare yourself for the worst case scenario of possible technical malfunction during the presentation. Ask yourself what you might be able to do to improvise on the disadvantageous situation and prepare materials with that also in view.
2. Immediate Preparation
Use relaxation methods to relieve yourself of possible anxiety. Dress yourself well and feel confident. Tell yourself that on the material that you are to present you are the expert, as you have read considerably and are well prepared. This does not mean you need to be foolishly arrogant as there may be better informed people in the group.
Prepare yourself with the required materials slightly in advance that you are not caught off guard with any technical malfunction that may ruin your presentation. Check the mikes, laptop, video projector, screen etc. in advance. Be prepared still for the possible technical snags and improvise on the spot as you already thought about it in the remote preparation.
Pray silently before you begin or if the group is willing pray together.
3. During the presentation
Pay attention closely to the time limit, the reaction of the audience – for example: signs of boredom etc.
Respond adequately to interruptions, difficulties and misunderstandings from the audience
Respond adequately and maturely to difficult, stupid or aggressive questions
Be as precise as possible when you explain any work that participants may have to do as part of your presentation
BABU SEABSTIAN CMF