Make Presentation Day Less Boring And Actually Engage Your Students

The classic teacher stands and talks and the students sit and listen is an aged teaching strategy that doesn't work with today's students. That being said, presenting is still an essential part of teaching. This could be you as the teacher presenting to your class or students presenting to their peers. Presentation day is not something we have to resent, instead it can be a tool to engage your students. 

1. Start with a strong introduction

The first five minutes of class are the most important because they set the tone for the rest of class. On presentation day, you need to do something that will get your students excited to learn about the topic or topics being presented on. Have your students do an activity based around your central topic for the day. Get them asking questions so they are eager to learn what you will be teaching.

If your entire class day is centered on students presenting projects, there are a few different methods you can try. In the first five minutes of class have all of the topics that will presented up on the board. Don't say anything and wait for your students to ask questions. This will get them talking about the topics they see on the board and be interested in what is being presented. Find a way for students to be interested in all of the presentations they will be seeing. 

2. Be clear and concise

A problem both students and teachers have is trying to feed too much information at one time to the audience. Don't shove so much information onto one slide–that will just make students overwhelmed. When presenting to your class, keep your slides simple. Each of your slides should have one main point with all other information on the slide having to do with that point. Be clear and concise and provide information in a way students will understand it. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to students.

All of these points hold true for student presentations. Students often struggle with piecing slides together for fear that they are doing too little or too much. Direct your students to focus on main ideas. Other information can be present on their slides, but they do not have to state it. Students shouldn't be reading directly off of their slides, instead, they should be using their own prepared dialogue to talk about the information they are presenting. They should summarize their main points and leave additional information to what is on their slides. 3. Make it professional

Both students and teachers should have presentations that are well made. Use the same fonts, colors, and graphics throughout your presentation to create a cohesive look. Students in the audience will immediately notice when there are errors on a slide or when the whole presentation lacks visual appeal or looks sloppy. The second students notice something like that you have lost their attention on what you are saying and now it is on making sure other audience members see the same thing they do. 

Often times when teachers are presenting, it is for students to take notes on. Visuals are a great way to break up text and make your presentation more visually appealing. Use images, videos, and infographics to illustrate your points and make them more memorable. Don't have visuals just to make your slide look nicer. Tell students that visuals should enhance their meaning and have a purpose on the slide. 

When presenting you should be making eye contact with your audience. Make a point of scanning the room and looking at different students around the classroom when you are presenting. Instruct students to do the same. Looking at the audience you can see who is engaged and who isn't. Direct a piece of information directly at them to get them back into your presentation.

A professional presentation is practiced. This is the number one issue that teachers face on presentation day; students haven't taken the time to learn how their presentation should be presented. Give your students time to practice. This will ease their nerves and help to be more engaging speakers when they are doing their final presentation. 

4. Manage your time wisely

It's important to be mindful of your time when giving a presentation. Don't try to cram too much information into your presentation. Instead, focus on delivering your key points in a clear and concise way. This is important for both students and teachers. You don't want your class having to listen to you talk for an entire class period. Break up your presentation with activities. After teaching new concepts from your presentation have an activity prepared for students to complete on the new material. Allow students to work together so they can be engaged with each other instead of working in silence. Planning out how long each portion of your presentation is a key part of being able to manage your class wisely and keep students engaged. 

When you have assigned a presentation to students, give them a time range of how long it should be. This will give them the freedom to choose what they focus on and how long they can do it for. You don't want students spending too much time on one slide because people begin to lose interest. 

5. Make your audience active participants

Turning your audience into active participants during a presentation is a powerful way to enhance engagement, increase retention, and make your message more impactful. When students are actively involved in what you are presenting, then they are always engaged. Here are a few ways to turn your audience into active participants: 

  • Ask Thought-Provoking Questions: When presenting, ask a question to the audience. Allow time for students to share their insights or invite a group discussion. Another strategy that teachers can use is to ask a question to a student directly. This will not only engage that student, but the rest of the class as well. 

  • Polls and Surveys: Utilize audience response systems or online polling tools to gather real-time feedback from your audience. Display the results and use them as a basis for further discussion or analysis. After presenting some information, invite students to ask their classmates what they think or if they have any questions. Students can include a QR code on their slide so classmates and even you can take an online poll or survey while listening in on the presentation.  

  • Incorporate Multimedia: Integrate multimedia elements such as videos, images, or audio clips that relate to your topic. Videos are often used because they offer a nice change of pace to your audience. When presenting to your class, incorporate a video that is both entertaining and informative. Encourage students to do this in their presentations as well.

  • Provide Handouts: Distribute handouts or worksheets that accompany your presentation. These materials can include guided questions, activities, or spaces for note-taking. Having your students take guided-notes will keep them engaged in your presentation as they look and listen for the answers to their notes. Tell students to create a handout that goes alongside their presentation. This handout could be additional information or a list of questions they want their classmates to answer. 

By implementing these strategies and adapting them to your specific presentation style and audience, you can transform passive listeners into active listeners and participants, fostering a more engaging and impactful experience for everyone involved. Read more ways to engage students in Hacking Engagement Again.

Main post image by Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels

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