Guidelines and suggestions for class presentations
Professor Bob Broad
(Updated March 9, 2005)
In nearly all of my classes, I require my students to
conduct substantial research projects in the area covered by the course. This is because as a student and a
teacher/professor, I found doing sustained, in-depth, to-be-published research
is the activity that created the most challenging and profound learning. Most of my students report the same
I also typically require my students to make class presentations
based on their research projects. There
are several reasons for this:
act of presenting one’s research while the project is still in progress
often clarifies insights and highlights further possibilities for
to others gives you the chance to see how well your audience understands
your project and how interested they are in your question and your
to others allows you to hear from them their questions, suggestions,
resources, and other suggestions that should prove helpful to you as you
finish your project.
I very purposefully do not
give my students a set format to follow in creating their presentations. This is because the creative and critical
thinking you do when you decide how to compose your presentation is not only
good for you (builds character, makes you smarter, etc.), it helps you
understand your project better. Plus,
the variety and surprise makes the presentations a lot more enjoyable.
That said, below I list suggestions and guidelines that may
help you as you create your presentation.
class presentations last about fifteen minutes. Plan your time carefully and practice
your presentation a couple of times on a real, live, human audience.
a few minutes (3-5?) orienting your audience to your research topic and
your research question.
- Use multi-media
in your presentation. Include audio
(music and/or spoken voice), video, PowerPoint, the www, photographs,
paintings, drawings, posters, handouts, bibliographies, disco lighting, or
whatever else will get your audience excited about your project.
at least half of your presentation time for getting your audience actively
involved in wrestling with what you judge to be the most challenging,
provocative, or rewarding issue/ question/ angle of your topic. This is the part where you, the
presenter, STOP talking and your audience starts talking (or writing, or
performing, or whatever)
writing-to-learn and writing-to-think as a strategy to get your audience
talking. For example, ask them to
write for one minute their thoughts or questions
about your key question or issue or problem before you ask them to start
If you are excited about your presentation and prepare it
thoroughly and creatively based on your substantive research, you and your
audience (and your professor) are sure to enjoy and learn from it.