LECTURES AND PRESENTATIONS

Speaking to a group as an audience is a long-established method of teaching and demonstrating. It is particularly useful when conveying information or giving an explanation that people need to hear. In working with groups, it has tended to be discarded as an inappropriate method of engaging people and working with them.

However, it does have a place in the facilitator’s repertoire of techniques. Each of the Resource Packs has extensive topic notes, overhead transparencies, and handouts that can be used to support presentations.

Method

It is more appropriate to think of presentations in terms of giving input to a group where one person holds the attention of all the others for a period of time. Possible situations where such input might be desirable include:

• When demonstrating how something is done so that participants can do it for themselves;

• When conveying information or instructions for a group of participants;

• When summarising the discussion of several groups for the benefit of everyone in a plenary session;

• When wishing to demonstrate or exercise control over all the participants together.

Because participants are not engaged directly in presentations and input and are usually passive observers and listeners, the presentation should be as short, focused, and relevant as possible. Twenty minutes is the absolute maximum that should be used for this type of activity.

Other ways of engaging the group audience in the input are to invite them to ask questions; to draw examples from their experience; to involve them in practical aspects of any live demonstration.

All input and presentations benefit from good forethought.

The following tips for presenters may be helpful.

• Know your material – read it through and don’t attempt to talk about something about which you know very little. This quickly becomes obvious and undermines your credibility. If you can’t find a suitable external resource person, find out if one of the participants is knowledgeable about the subject. If you have to do it yourself, admit that you are not an expert in the subject at the beginning rather than demonstrating it during the presentation!

• Make sure you have all the material to hand – OHPs, handouts, and any extra notes you may need.

• Use illustrative examples – either from your own experience or from others’ experience. This helps to make your points clearer.

• Speak clearly and put your interest over using your voice Nothing is worse than a monotonous presentation.

• Do not speak for more than 20 minutes without a break for questions or comments.

• If there is no time for questions, explain why at the beginning.

• Deal with interruptions politely but firmly – unless you have asked for people to raise points during the presentation.

The following checklist may also be used when preparing a presentation or an input.

Checklist for Preparing Presentations

• Are you using presentations and input for those occasions when other methods will be more useful to the participants?

• Have you limited your input to no more than 20 minutes?

• Does your input have a clear beginning, middle, and end?

• Do you always keep to simple key points?

• Do you support your input with a clear handout?

• Do you know your own body-language mannerisms and how these affect your presentations?

Source: Adapted from Participatory Learning and Action: A Trainer’s Guide.

Examples of where presentations and lectures might be used effectively

• Outlining models or theories.

• Describing practices or approaches.

• Outlining legislation or policy.