When the class decided, a month or so ago, to structure the Discussion Leader presentations as small group discussions repeated several times as opposed to one presentation to the whole class, I wasn’t too happy. When it comes to public speaking, I’ve always held to the belief that you get up there, power through it and get it over with. It’s kind of like removing a band-aide; you rip it off in one swipe rather than peeling it off carefully and prolonging the pain. Well, I’m happy to report, that removing this band-aide didn’t hurt one bit.
The small groups were a pleasure. Everyone was so attentive, insightful and engaged that the discussion became more about the group than about me presenting to them. I felt more relaxed as each group came and left and thoroughly enjoyed the give and take each discussion provoked. The time went quickly, although I never felt rushed, and I feel I learned a lot about what it takes to lead a productive discussion. The audience had a lot to do with it, and perhaps that’s the key.
I found the visual approach of putting the slides together was very helpful in my preparation. As I was trying to find imagery that represented the message I was trying to convey, it made me more conscious of injecting my own thoughts and opinions about the subject rather than just reporting the facts of the article. While finding imagery that would help my audience better understand the material, I gained a better understanding myself, making it easier to apply my own insights about the subject.
Finally, Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds is a fabulous book and was extremely useful in my preparation. I wish I could have delved into it more thoroughly. I plan on implementing this approach more so in my final project and in future presentations as well. Speaking of the final project, which is in front of the whole class this time, I believe this experience will help when those pre-presentation jitters rear their ugly heads. Perhaps this time removing the band-aide won’t hurt so bad.