The course: Preparing Presentations
Giving presentations was probably one of my weaker skills when I started my certificate in Professional Communication. I’m an introverted person and my past presentations have suffered because of my lack of confidence.
The course Preparing Presentations provided some excellent strategies toward overcoming my nerves and giving more effective presentations. The strategies I found most helpful were using vocal techniques to enhance verbal delivery and analyzing audience needs in order to appeal to both emotions and evidence.
I had some experience with vocal techniques because I trained as a singer when I was a teenager. In this course, I expanded my knowledge of these techniques and learned to apply them to speaking. We talked about pitch, speed, volume, inflection. I learned how to pay attention to my own speech to see how I could improve my verbal delivery. I also learned to be aware of and eliminate filler words like “um” and “like.”
We also talked about analyzing our audience and planning a presentation that would appeal to that audience. One strategy is to appeal to the audience’s emotions. We learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The most effective presentations appeal to the highest levels of need: belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Another technique is to appeal to evidence. This can be achieved by including statistics, facts, and expert opinions to a presentation.
Through these techniques, I was able to improve my confidence as a public speaker.
I structured my presentation around three key advantages to working at UVic: advancement opportunities, benefits packages, and community engagement. Out of these three advantages, I created a mnemonic: ABC. The mnemonic was intended to both make it easier for me to memorize my presentation and summarize the main points of my argument for the audience.
While planning the presentation, I tried to think about how I could appeal to both emotions and evidence. For my appeals to emotion, I thought about what people need in a job–to feel connected to others, to make a difference, to be rewarded, to have opportunities to grow. I focused on the ways that working at UVic could nurture those positive emotions. I also bolstered the presentation with appeals to evidence. I provided facts about the learning and development opportunities available and the benefit packages offered. I also brought in statistics about the students, staff, and faculty at UVic and noted that it was named one of the top diversity employers in Canada.
I worked to modulate my pitch, tone, and speed to make my voice more engaging. To help with this, I tried a few vocal exercises like sirens and tongue twisters (my favourite is “unique New York”) before my presentation.
Revising was an interesting process, since I have now left UVic for a career with the provincial government. I had to re-evaluate to make sure I was still engaging authentically with the audience and really believing what I was saying. But even though I left to pursue another opportunity, I still believe UVic is an incredible place to work.
During revisions, I made my first line more engaging to capture audience interest immediately. I also improved the transitions between the different sections. For example, I used “but money isn’t everything” to lead from talking about benefits to talking about community engagement.
To connect further with the audience, I added more of my own experiences to the presentation. In my original presentation, I told some of my own story in the advancement section, but didn’t mention anything personal in the benefits or community sections. For my revision, I added anecdotes about my use of my extended health and dental benefits and about the ways I engaged with the community at UVic.