Planning Student Presentations

Laura Goering

Over the years I have discovered two major problems with student oral presentations: 1) students seriously underestimate the amount of preparation it takes to give a good presentation and 2) the students in the audience are not sufficiently engaged to learn from their peers.


To address the first problem, I first ask the students to brainstorm about the worst presentation they have ever been forced to sit through and we write a list of no-no's on the board. The list is usually quite long, ranging from lack of substance or poor organization to speaking in a monotone or using verbal fillers like "um" and "you know." We then, of course, discuss what makes a good presentation, and I hand out the peer evaluation form we will be using, which seems to summarize what they have just come up with. (see below) I also remind them to think about the very last thing they plan to say, as I have found that even good speakers don't always give enough thought to how they plan to end the presentation.


During the presentations themselves, students rate their peers using the evaluation form and I give them 5 minutes at the end to write their comments. I require them to write their names on the forms, but I tally the numbers and type up a summary of the comments for the speaker along with my own evaluation. In a large class it would be easier just to use anonymous forms.


In addition to filling out the evaluation forms for each speaker, I require that each student in the audience come up with at least one thoughtful question or comment. In a small class you can make time for everyone's question; in a larger class I ask for volunteers and then call on students who might tend to tune out.


Here is the evaluation form I use, which you are welcome to use or modify.

Class Presentation Evaluation

Name:

Presenter:

Topic:

1. Subject. Was the presentation informative? Did it have a clear focus? Was it well researched?

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7
poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . outstanding

2. Organization/Clarity. Was it easy to follow? Was there a clear introduction and conclusion?

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7
poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . outstanding

3. Preparation. Had the speaker rehearsed? Was s/he in control of the sequence, pacing and flow of the presentation? Did s/he make effective use
of notes, without relying on them too heavily?

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7
poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . outstanding

4. Sensitivity to audience. Did the speaker maintain eye contact with all members of the class? Did s/he give you time to take notes as needed? Did
s/he repeat the main ideas more than once? Did s/he make effective use of pauses, gestures, change in pace and pitch?

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7
poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . outstanding

5. Visual aids. Did the speaker make effective use of handouts, overheads and/or the blackboard? Were overheads or board writing large enough
to see easily?

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7
poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . outstanding

If you have any more questions, or would just like to talk this idea over, feel free to email lgoering@carleton.edu or call at x4125.