In this first part of our Presentations miniseries, we look at the use of presentations. We discuss some of the times when you may need to present. Finally we talk about the benefits of doing presentations!
Presentations – love them or hate them, as a student you will have to present at some point. Whether it’s talking about your group science project, describing a ToK issue to the class or sitting with your English teacher and talking about Shakespeare, we all have to present.
Some of the common formats for presentations include the following:
- Presenting as part of a topic assessment (such as in film, where you may have to discuss a movie you’ve watched as part of the analysis module).
- This could be group or individual presenting
- Your teacher may ask students or groups of students in your class to explain topics to each other as a teaching / learning exercise
- Presenting research you or your group have done in science
- Giving a foreign language presentation to help you with language skills
Here are the 3 main reasons you would be speaking in front of others:
1) Teaching Other Students
Almost every student gets asked to present as a way to help her or him learn and teach others. This is usually to:
- Help you learn more about a subject you are studying, by researching it independently
- Help your class learn – after all, it’s interesting to watch your friends teach, isn’t it?
- Explain one main idea. This could be talking about a big concept in philosophy or a process in science.
If you want to be successful in this kind of presentation, you will have to do extended research, use an exciting style and you may have to present from multiple perspectives. Presenting from multiple perspectives means looking at an issue in different ways. Imagine you’re talking about a historical battle between the British and the rebellious Americans. If you’re teaching other people it may not be enough to simply state the facts. You may want to talk about how these facts would seem to the American forces and to the British. You may even want to jump between individuals in those societies and explain how they would interpret the events at hand.
2) Persuading Your Class / Teachers
This means you want to convince the audience to do something. It might be that you want to win in a ToK debate. Or maybe you’re discussing an issue in history and you have been chosen to take a particular perspective and defend it. Whatever the case this means that you need to make people agree with you.
How can you do that? Well there are basically three skills you need to master:
- Confidence: To make someone accept your perspective you must seem sure of it yourself!
- Clarity: People have to understand you if they’re going to agree with your point!
- Emotions: In many cases, particularly in subjects like ToK, you may have to manage emotions – both your own and the audiences’. We’ll be discussing this a lot more later in the series!
This is the big one for most IB students. Being assessed by presentation can be scary, but it can also be to your advantage if you learn how to handle the situation.
Usually if you’re doing an assessed presentation you will be given a percentage score which then contributes to your overall grade in that subject.
Teachers also usually give practice presentations to help you hone your presentation skills before the real exams.
I remember when I did the IB; a lot of students didn’t put in the effort for practice presentations. I guess that made sense to them at the time because presentations take a lot of work and practicing talking about Othello when the exam won’t be on that play might seem pointless.
Don’t fall for this trap. Practice presentations are necessary if you want to do well in the real exam. If you don’t work for practice, you won’t be as good at presenting as the other students in your class (and the world!). If that happens you won’t do as well in the exam. Simple…put in the hours, get the IB points.
But what is the point of doing presentations? Why are we even asked to do this kind of work…and how can it help you?
- Presenting is a great way of learning
Every IB student will have exams at the end of the 2 years, and presentations are a great way to prepare for these. Your research will contain information that you will use in the exams. This will give you an advantage over other students.
- Boost your confidence speaking in front of others
Everyone needs to speak in public sometimes. Whether that’s for your university course (most unis require this), for a meeting at work, or because you need to give a speech at a wedding, everyone has to talk. Working hard and doing well during presentations is a great way to practice this.
- Stand out from the crowd
Most people are afraid of public speaking. In fact, it’s the number one fear amongst students. This gives you an opportunity. If you can practice the thing most people fear and become good at it, you will be able to stand out. You will literally be outstanding – and this is a great way to pick up points.
In this article you’ve learned about the types of speeches, as well as why we have to do them. We’ve also talked about some of the benefits of learning to present, and how this can help you later on. In our next instalment you will learn about how to make your presentations effective, so that you can pick up as many marks as possible when you’re assessed.
Read Part 2: Preliminary Research and Time Management