Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making an Impact, Making it Memorable

To wrap up the semester, our AP English class was required to give a group presentation as a final.  Groups of 4 were assigned a different "lens" under which to dissect Frankenstein and then present their findings to the class in a memorable way.  But to the point: although I believe my group had a successful run, there are quite a few things that I learned that I wish I had known before we embarked on our project.  But that in itself is success because learning is the ultimate goal in any class.

After each group had their turn to present, we all took time to answer questions and write comments about each other's projects.  My group read over our audience's responses and drew some meaningful conclusions about making a memorable and impactful presentation.  I think these points are worth sharing, or at least writing down somewhere for future personal use, so I figured this place is as good as any.

The first step to making an impactful presentation is having something worth presenting- something for your audience to learn and use in the future.  These were two (sometimes tough) questions we had to answer about each other's presentations: What did you learn? How will you use this information in the future?  If your audience can't answer those two questions, why did you bother presenting?  Not trying to be harsh, but seriously.  Give your classmates a reason to sit up and really pay attention.

The next part to this, making your presentation memorable, will help with the paying attention part.  Our class  had quite the array of presentation techniques- some much more effective than others.  I remembered many groups by the class engaging activities they included at the end of their presentation.  Some had review questions but the best were the get-out-of-your-plastic-seat activities.  Aside from my own, the best activity (and most memorable) was dressing up a few brave classmates as Frankenstein's creature to the best of our abilities.  It was fun for the class and helped emphasize the presentation's point.

Another stark difference between presenters were those who stood in front of the class and gave a big ole speech and those who didn't.  Sure, those who recited speeches probably did their research and understood what they were talking about but these presentations struggled to engage their audience.  Their presentation had information but little was remembered afterwards.  In my opinion, the better presentations included a skit, costumes, a visual aid, or, my favorite, a funny video.  Not a video off the Internet, but a homemade video where the students in the back of the class branch out of their comfort zones in front of the camera and let their inner Hollywood shine.  Our humor-attempting video was what most remembered the best about our presentation.  But the other most remembered aspect of our project came at a bit of a shock.

The simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  That stuck with our audience.  When designing our project, my group needed a way to describe how Mary Shelley copied ideas from other authors, transformed them into her own, and combined them with her own.  I suggested making a PB&J and use it as a metaphor for Mary Shelley's process.  My group gave me doubtful looks but couldn't think of anything better so we rolled with it.  And it stuck like peanut butter.

Next time you give a presentation to your class, be nice to your classmates- teach them something useful and make sure they remember it.  Do yourself a favor too and have fun with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment