As faculty design their syllabi for the upcoming semester, they consider how to have students demonstrate the vast knowledge they acquire throughout the semester. Enter
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
public speaking skills
Instructor: “OK class, this semester we’ll be giving presentations.”
Students: Collective groan
Instructor: “AND…you’ll be providing each other with feedback.”
Students: Deep sighs and suspicious glances around the room, wondering if they can trust their peers
Does any of this sound familiar? So many professors require presentations and peer feedback in their courses. Indeed, effective oral skills, well-designed presentations, and quality feedback are attributes that employers typically want from graduates. However, these skills are often expected to exist without appropriate support and training.
In public speaking classes or classes where there are oral presentations, students often enter these environments with a bit of anxiety and trepidation about speaking in front of others. Providing in-class activities as early as possible in the semester, that allow students to share things about themselves in an informal and positive environment, can not only help contribute to their public speaking comfort level, it can also lead to community-building throughout the course. As the class progresses, students exhibit a greater likeliness to support each other, relax around each other, and even feel like they’re getting to know each other better.
Since about 2000 I have been associated with the global organization Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) that promotes student engagement in the communities for the betterment of our lives. SIFE is appealing because it invites teams to come, first, to their regional competitions, where each team in about 25 minutes has to impress judges (usually sponsoring firms’ upper-level management) with the team’s projects, but also with the quality of vocal and visual presentations.