Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oral Presentations

What makes a great oral presentation? To answer this question I would like you to take a look at a few excellent presenters. The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference is an annual event that brings together innovative people to give 18-minute lectures on "ideas worth spreading" including topics on science, politics, culture, technology, entertainment, art and other areas of high interest. You can view hundreds of these talks by going to the TED website. I have selected two speakers I would like you to watch.

In this first presentation, Ed Ulbrich uses compelling visual aids to enhance his talk about making a computer-generated 80-year-old Brad Pitt. Pay attention to how his use of gestures and body language help engage the audience:

In this second presentation, Barry Schwartz talks about the importance of wisdom. Although he is reading from a text, his eyes spend more time contacting the audience than glued to his text. Notice how his facial expression and intonation enhance his talk:

The third presentation is not a TED talk. This is a presentation about giving presentations by Garr Reynolds, an authority who keeps a blog on presentation zen.

In conducting research for your presentation, you might find some interesting podcasts related to your topic. Check here for some academic and radio sources. Here is a list of useful dictionaries to help you find the specific terminology. Google News assembles articles from 25,000 news sources. For archived articles, I recommend you become a member of the Bibliothèque nationale (near the Berri-UQAM métro). You will have to go in person to get your membership and bring proof of residency in Quebec; once you have a membership, you can search a wide range of archived periodicals online for free, and, of course, check out their catalogue for books, magazines and recordings. Finally, remember to cite all of your references using MLA documentation style.


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