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EDU 501: Educational Leadership and Societal Change: Presentations and Presentation Skills

This LibGuide is designed to support the new graduate students in their coursework for EDU 501 at Soka University of America.

Adjusting Your Presentation to the Context

Presentations are a common part of graduate school, as well as any leadership role.  To help you prepare for your creative project presentation, this page includes books available at the library, online resources, and some general tips for modifying your presentation strategies to fit common academic and leadership contexts.

As with any document or text you will ever write, you need to decide why you are giving this presentation: what is your purpose in sharing this information?  Being able to answer this question will help you organize your presentation effectively for your audience. 

For instance, if your audience is an academic classroom, like your final project will be, you first want to be sure you have understood the assignment, that you have answered all parts of the task assigned, and that all your work reflects the best presentation standards of your field (for formal presentations, you might use the presentations at the NCPEA conference to help you decide what those standards are).

Choose handouts or visuals appropriate to the assignment and material you are presenting on, and include any research or background information your fellow students will need to connect with your main idea.  In general, your presentation should not be a summary of information everyone learned in the class.  Your creative project, for instance, is your connection to the concepts of leadership that were most important to you: your presentation should reflect your focus or point of view, not the literature's. 

You might also want to provide the class with a chance to participate in your presentation.  Participation can be as simple as asking the audience questions (be ready for unexpected responses!), or if your presentation is about applying the concepts you have learned in class to other leadership contexts, you could lead the class in an activity designed to illustrate this context more accurately for your audience.

If your presentation is for a professional meeting, your audience's needs will be different.  They will be waiting for the information most pertinent to them, and they will usually be pressed for time as they have work waiting for them back at their desks.  

As much as possible, relate the information you are sharing directly to their contexts or needs, and try to avoid including extraneous information.  Activities for engaging with the information might not always be a relevant way to reach this audience, so to-the-point handouts and engaging visuals (to keep them from staring at the handouts while you are talking) might be a better fit.  

One strategy for encouraging participation in these meeting contexts might be calling on your colleagues by name and recognizing them for the work they have done, especially as it pertains to the content of your presentation. 

No matter the context or the purpose of your presentation, be sure to think about the details that will affect how your message comes across. 

You want to be sure your appearance and your language use are appropriate to your audience.  Be mindful of any habits or traits you have that will need to be addressed for your presentation to be effective: do you tend to talk quickly, do you have a unique accent or or lilt to your voice that might make it hard for your audience to follow your speech? Do you bite your nails or blink often when you are nervous?  

Practicing your presentation will often help you ensure that your movements or speech patterns do not distract your audience from your purpose in speaking.  A very good strategy is to present at least once to a fellow student or a peer. You will not only get a chance to run through your presentation, you will also get constructive feedback about what could be improved.

Finally, plan for the worst but expect the best.  Many things can go wrong: there can be technical difficulties, traffic makes you late, or your presenting partner calls in sick.  In the presentation-preparation stage, try to think of mutliple ways to present, especially if something were to go wrong.  You will be more relaxed and should something actually happen, you will be better prepared to work around it. 

Books on Presentations and Presentation Skills

Presentations: Internet Based Resources