Thursday, May 14, 2015

On Team Presentations: a Double-edged sword

On Team Presentations: a Double-edged sword

I didn’t have to use this technique thanks to the seamless slide-making skills 20.109 taught me.

20.109 is the first major communications course in the department, and as such, it gave us the opportunity to develop both written and oral communication skills. At the beginning, I knew the written portion would be the challenging aspect for me, and where I could most improve. However, I also unexpectedly gained a lot of insight from the two presentations we had, the individual Mod 1 Research Article and team Mod 3 Research Proposal.

Comparing the two, there are definitely many differences that make for a more dynamic presentation, as Atissa mentioned. Watching all of our classmates present as teams, it was interesting to note how everyone had progressed from the first presentation. Presenting as a team, however, is intrinsically a double-edged sword, and while it can synthesize the best qualities of the presenters into a skillful, doubly-convincing delivery, it can also be difficult to control and may highlight contrasts that can be distracting or weakening to the overall process. However, in our class, everyone was able to minimize the potential risks and really integrated everyone into a solid presentation.

This team presentation came after my first-ever team presentation in 20.310, so I was very cognizant of the time and the transitions that needed to happen such that everything proceeded according to plan. When I present by myself, I am comfortable quickly improvising or altering my presentation on the go, so I don’t have to rigidly stick to a mental schedule and don’t get tripped up if I forget to say something or if I realize that I should add in a sentence or two I didn't plan earlier based on the flow. However, this is not possible with a team presentation; both people have to know exactly what is going on because there is no way to communicate to each other when it’s live. At the same time, having another person responsible for the presentation creates a system of checks-and-balances; when I work with another person, I want to be ready for every meeting and every mid-point deliverable, which helps a lot with the final product because I treat each progress point seriously. In this way I am much more consistently prepared for the final product than going solo. This benefit balances the potential risk involved in giving up complete control and trusting the other person to also be prepared.

Overall, I really enjoyed the team presentation and felt much more prepared than for our Mod1 presentation. I think it was more dynamic to perform and engaging to listen to. In the future, it’d be great to record the final presentation just for memories!

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