Presentation Lecture

English 101 - Project 1

Now that we’ve delved into writing and research practices, we’re going to take a brief foray into the world beyond words. In Unit 3, we talked a bit about multimodality in communication — using multimodal forms of communication can help you present information to audiences who might not want to read a long paper.

When we talk about presentations for a class, there are two major types to consider:

  • Online Presentations such as recordings, videos, and slides.

  • In-Person Presentations such as slides, talks, and discussion groups.

Both types of presentations use the five multimodal modes, but often in different ways. Depending on your choices of technology and the availability of an in-person conference space (coronavirus really limits us here), you have to make choices that will optimize your message. In this lecture, we look at the main multimodal concepts, and then some ideas for how to use them.

Here’s a quick reminder of the five professional modes of communication:

  • Linguistic: anything using words

  • Visual: anything your audience can see.

  • Aural: anything your audience can hear.

  • Gestural: any use of hand gestures or facial expressions

  • Spatial: the arrangement of the other modes in relation to each other.

Steps for Presentation Preparation

Step One: Choose Your Platform

Here are some quick approaches you can use — any of these would work well for the project:

  • Podcast or Vlog: You can simply record yourself with a camera or voice recorder, and then talk about your project.

  • Blog or Social Media Channel: You could arrange your articles into an online blog, and then add some images or a cool layout to add visual attention.

  • Video or Slideshow: You could put together slides or animations, and then add a voiceover to narrate the images. Or find some music to highlight the words and images.

Step Two: Focus Your Work

Again, I’m not looking for “perfect” or “professional” presentations for your Project 1. Instead, I’m only looking for you to think about how you’ll use multimodality to present your information:

  • Choose a Manageable Amount of Information. You do not need to present all the information from all your Project 1 articles. In fact, you shouldn’t. It’s better to either summarize the main ideas or simply focus on a single article that you feel is the most interesting.

  • You Don’t Need to Use Every Multimodal Mode. There are five modes, but you only need to use the ones that work best for your presentation. A podcast would only use linguistic and aural modes, or an infographic would only use the linguistic and visual modes, or a video might only use the linguistic and gestural modes (assuming you’re just talking to the camera without slides or other visuals.)

  • Almost Every Presentation Requires the Linguistic Mode. Although difficult, it is possible to create a video or infographic that doesn’t use the linguistic mode — that would be a good project for international audiences speaking multiple languages. However, it’s usually much easier (and better for English 101) if you use either written or spoken words to convey key information about your project.

Key things to remember:

  • Information Is Important! Make sure you are sharing something new that your audiences might not be familiar with. Your presentation should teach us something.

  • Keep It Interesting! You’re not a teacher — your presentations don’t need to be boring like mine! (j/k . . . I hope . . .)

  • Keep It Focused! You don’t need to overload your audiences with information. Say what’s important, and then that’s it. A presentation for English 101 is not a research paper, especially if you have an in-person presentation.

Step Three: Share Information and Be Yourself

I know, this seems like “typical” BS advice. Lots of people say “be yourself” when they mean “be what I want you to be.” That, however, actually hurts multimodal presentations. With a presentation, you want to show your personal interest — you want to share the information that you personally find important. As you do your presentation, I recommend imaging a friend that you’re talking to. In a nice, conversational voice, just tell your friend some interesting things about your project, and you’re done!

In-Person versus Online Presentations

In-Person Presentation Advice

Some things to bear in mind for in-person presentations:

  • Time Limits Are Strict! Be sure to know how much time you have, and then focus your information to fill that time and don’t go over.

  • Rehearsal Helps! Even just talking over ideas to yourself on the way to school can help focus your thoughts.

  • There’s Usually Time for Questions! It’s okay to leave out “important” information from your talk. Cover the most important points, and let your audience decide whether to give more details on certain aspects.

  • Talk to Your Audience, Not Your Slides! Make sure you look at your audience as you speak. Make sure the sound of your voice can reach the back of the room.

  • You Can Often Use Videos! If you hate public speaking, you can often prepare a video for your presentation (at least for my sections of English 101). However, you should always check first.

Online Presentation Advice

Some special tips for online presentations:

  • Online Presentations Have No Time Limit! In-class presentations are limited to 5 minutes — for online presentations, you have no time limit.

  • A Super-Short Presentation with Great Material is Okay! A well-designed two-minute video might take several hours to create, especially if you’re using slides, music, and animation, so it’s okay to have a super-short presentation. The time the presentation lasts is less important than the information you share with your audience.

  • All Text and Images Works for Online Material! You can create a website for an online presentation. Or a series of images to go with your articles. Or split one of your articles into a long series of tweets. As long as your format makes sense and you provide good information, that’s what matters.

  • You Do NOT Need to Post Your Materials In Public! For this project, you’re only required to share your presentations with your classmates. As long as you have something that can be shared on Canvas, you’re good!

  • You Do NOT Need to Use an Actual Online Platform! Let’s say you want to do a blog, but you don’t have Blogger or WordPress. No worries! Just put together your blog posts in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

  • You Do NOT Need a Complete Presentation! Want to make an animated video, but don’t know how? No worries! You can put together slides and a script, and then explain “this is the storyboard for a cool video idea.” Again — ideas and information are more important than mastering the multimodal modes. Plan the presentation that you want to make, and don’t worry about making it “right.”

As you can see, there are a lot of different approaches you can take. The key takeaway is that you are simply sharing useful information about your topic, and hopefully helping your classmates see why you find it interesting.