This week has been a whirlwind! Fortunately, I can always find a few moments of down time during even the busiest of weeks to read the latest public speaking and presentation articles and blog posts. Duarte’s Katie Gray wrote a fascinating article called “Do Learning Styles Teach Us Anything?” and included a beautiful infographic as well as some insight into how learning styles relate to presenting. As a college instructor, my life changed as soon as I realized the connection between teaching and public speaking/presenting. Gray says, “You can use learning style research to get ideas about how to present your information in different ways, depending on your audience. They may not be limited to one style, but you can take a logical guess about which style will work best” (Source). Certainly, I teach Public Speaking to Film, Recording Arts, and Show Production students quite differently than I teach Professional Communication and Presentation to Entertainment Business and Music Business students.
Gray adds, “Knowing your audience makes being a presenter—or a teacher of any kind—more interesting. If you had to give the same presentation or the same lecture repeatedly, without altering it for the audience, your job would be pretty boring. So relish in the task of knowing your audience and using your presentation to treat them like a hero—by making a deeply personal connection, not just a bullet list of main points” (Source). This is fascinating to me because most teachers at my university DO give the same lecture repeatedly without altering it, and my students asked me about that very thing in class today. They said, “Our other teachers say they give the same exact lecture the same way month after month after month. Do you do that, too, Mrs. Rister?” Well, as Gray points out in her article, if this is your approach to teaching and presenting, you’re not growing; you’re not focused on your audience; and you’re not having any fun… you can bet your audience isn’t having any fun either!
So can we do anything to change that? Ethos3 offers a solution in “If You Don’t Know Where You Are, You Can’t Get Where You’re Going.” This article proposes that we work on developing ourselves a little bit at a time, a little bit more each day, so that we’re flexing our creativity and intelligence.
The instructors I referred to above CAN push themselves to add new information every time they teach a lesson. They could take student critique seriously and ask students genuine questions to help the course and the instructional team grow. They could ask for advice from other colleagues or industry professionals. They could focus not just on mastering their subject or content area but also on presenting that content in a learning-centered, student-focused, audience-driven way.
Ethos3’s article suggests, “Only those who are satisfied with their current level of success, influence and ability are content to believe the myth that they’ve reached the apex of their abilities. The best among us simultaneously acknowledge their strengths while striving to push to the next level. The only way to do that is to constantly measure and assess performance and progress” (Source). If instructors used this advice, they could grow their lessons each month. “Maximum effectiveness” would never be reached, and instructors would never be satisfied because they would focus on learning, growing, changing, and doing more. If we had colleges and schools filled with people like this, imagine the impact we could have on students’ lives. The thought challenges and inspires me!
What great articles on teaching and learning did you read this week?