Practice makes perfect! Or at least it makes for more effective presenting…

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

Most people agree that presentation skills are important, but effective presentation skills are even more important. But how does one improve their presentation skills?

The first time I ever gave a presentation was my first week of university. It was in my college’s biggest lecture hall and in front of about 100 people. It was terrifying. There is no better way to describe it than that. My voice shook, my words stumbled and the palms of my hands greased.

It was a short, five minute presentation, though I have no idea how long I spoke for. It could have been a mere two minutes, or ten. I was just glad to get it over with and honestly didn’t care if I spoke well or not – as long as it was over.

It was times like then, and this is something I even still think about, that I wish I had the chance to practice my presentation skills at a younger age.

Confidence

My first presentation was when I was 17 years old and my issues ultimately came down to a lack of experience which resulted in nerves and no confidence. Now, I see teachers from across the United States tweeting their students’ wonderful 30hands presentations, and these students are as young as kindergarteners.

I firmly believe that there is a direct correlation between effective presentation skills and confidence. How do you build confidence in a task? And how do you implement effective techniques to engage your audience longer?

Through iteration.

It is a concept that has been put to design thinkers who agree that iterative prototyping positively affects self-efficacy towards a task (Dow and Klemmer, 2010). They say that for design thinkers, the “small wins” of iterative prototyping lead to greater confidence as the design process proceeds.

With 30hands Storyteller Web and 30hands Pro, it’s incredibly easy to be iterative thanks to easy edit features and narration tools. The narration tool in particular is a really cool feature for young learners to record their script, listen back, and make changes as they see fit. Actually listening to recordings of their own voices can help students spot mistakes, memorize information and develop their communication skills such as their intonation. 

A Deerfield Elementary School student in Lexington, SC, presents with 30hands! Pic: @BrookeBscott

Communication

Communication skills and presentation skills also go hand-in-hand, with both traits having an impact on the other. Communication development is especially important in young learners.

Learning to communicate is key for children to interact with persons in their world and have their needs met (Gooden and Kearns, 2013). Communication skills for young learners include gaining the skills to understand and express thoughts, feelings and information.

By presenting with 30hands,  learners of all ages and levels are developing their speech and writing skills as well as their vocabulary. It also helps them spread their ideas so to make a large impact.

This is not only done through words, but body language. For instance, Gihan Aboueleish of ICF International says that 90 percent of our personal communication calls for involvement. 

Looking at people for five to ten seconds before looking away shows involvement.

Presentations can help students learn this type of engagement through practice, and these skills will benefit their school work too as well as provide them with valuable life skills. 

A child who is good at communicating verbally will also find it easier to produce written communications, and thus will likely perform better in their school exams and written assignments (Kumon, 2016).

Portfolio

Students can also add 30hands presentations to their portfolios and share them with classmates, teachers and parents.

It’s incredibly easy to do this. All they have to do is publish their presentation as a video with either 30hands Web or 30hands Pro, and then share the link to whatever portfolio tool used by the school. The advantage of doing this is that the learners will be able to see their progress in one place, as will teachers and parents.  

We don’t expect perfect presentations on first try. In fact, we don’t ever expect perfect presentations. But improvement through iteration is something we strongly believe in, and portfolios can act as strong evidence for this.

Learners will make mistakes, as does everyone.

It was Vincent Van Gogh that once said: “Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”

Presentations can act as evidence of all those times students fell down and got right back up again, strengthening their confidence, communication and presentation skills in the process.

Happy presenting… and iterating!

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Check out our popular Digital Storytelling product for iPads, 30hands Storyteller Pro, and our new browser-based version for laptops and Chromebooks, 30hands Storyteller Web!

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