Thursday, September 27, 2007


This is a pretty simple concept: every other Thursday is my day to blog. It's written on my calendar, so you'd think it would connect before mid-afternoon when I can't get to my computer. Heavy sigh. Well, I'm typing as fast as I can to actually get this posted on Thursday.

My topic today is, How do you learn?

I'm doing a presentation for a sister RWA chapter in Bellevue, Washington on October 9. I'm still working on the presentation and probably will be tweaking it up to the day I leave.

I'm asking you to help me with the presentation by giving me your feedback on what you like to see/hear/experience at chapter meetings.

-- How do you learn best? By hearing something? By seeing something written down? By doing examples? Or a combination of these?

-- Do you like to do writing exercises? Listen to craft or how-to presentations? Or would you prefer an inspirational speech? (I've already decided my topic, so I hope you answer this one with what I'm doing!)

-- Do cookies or chocolate help you concentrate on the presentation? Or are they just a bonus? (You don't really have to answer this one, but maybe I should try out one of Lori's cookie recipes!)

How about those of you who have made presentations? What are your tricks to calm your nerves? Picturing your audience in their underwear? Just jump in and get it done? Take a deep breath and learn with your audience?

Other words of wisdom? Thank you!


Paty Jager said...

Great topic, Genene! And I may use this as I get closer to putting together a couple of workshops!

I learn best by all of the mentioned ways. I don't always hear everything, because I'm thinking, so I like to have it on paper as well. And examples are always awesome.

I do and I don't like writing exercises. Sometimes if I feel put on the spot, I can't think. Or I'm still digesting what was said and now you want me to write??? But I love hearing what other people wrote.

When I spoke to the Redmond Writers, I passed out things as I talked. First it was a list of places on the web to find information, and then when I talked about promotion I handed them my pens and the chocolates wrapped like playing cards. They loved getting these items. I think if you can give them something it reinforces what you are saying and at least lets them move their arms. LOL

As for calming my nerves- I've realized if I talk about something I know and have prepared, I don't have trouble speaking. Not nearly as bad as I thought I would. Not sure if this is good or not. I don't really see the audience. I kind of look over their heads and focus on what I want to say and not so much the people staring at me.

Good Luck! I know you will be awesome!

Karen Duvall said...

Good luck, Genene, with your presentation. They can be really fun to do. I've attended many myself, and presented a few, so maybe I have some pointers that might help.

How do I learn best? For me, it's by doing. So "learning" in a workshop doesn't happen for me very often. Too many distractions and my mind tends to wander. So it's important to have handouts for those of us that are mildly ADD. 8^)

Don't ever read verbatim from books, and if you do, keep it to a paragraph or two, no more. Reading aloud is the kiss of death for a successful presentation and guarantees a few snores from the audience.

Make eye contact!! Talk to everyone like they're your friends and you're just having a conversation, one-sided as it may be.

A writing exercise might work, but make it short and keep it to only one or two. Not everyone likes to write in a classroom situation.

Use charts and other visual aids to break up the monotony of a speech. Interact with the audience... a lot. You can give little quizes and toss out candy or other prizes to anyone who answers. That sharpens people's attention.

One fun thing someone did at the conference I just attended was to put her business card on all the chairs before people were seated. On the back of just one was a gold star and whoever got the card with the star got a prize. And she also had a drawing at the end. People like to win stuff.

Personally, I prefer panel presentations, where there's more than one presenter. It can make for a livelier discussion. But that's just me. When I go to conferences, I rarely attend workshops presented by a single speaker unless I've heard them speak before. On the workshop evaluations at the Colorado Gold, the most common complaint was that the presenters should have had some training first.

So there you have it, Genene. Good luck with your talk!

Lori Barber said...

Good topic Genene! I learn best with a combination of all three... hearing, seeing & doing. I love handouts. It allows me more time to focus on what the speaker is sharing, instead of speed writing. I'm not wild about on the spot exercises which errupt a colony of knots in my stomach, but I love to hear the examples of others and often glean great ideas from them.

If done well, I enjoy listening to craft or how-to presentations? They can really motive. The key is to know your subject well. Don't read something you're going to give us in a handout. Note cards are fine but don't read your entire presentation. Talk loud enough for everyone to hear you. Talk slowly and repeat important key elements. Smile and make eye contact with your audience. A sprinkling of light humor is also nice. A personal tidbit or short story that applies to the subject is also nice and allows us to see the real person. Allow for a question and answer time.

Dress comfortable, this includes your shoes...and don't forget the deoderant! Don't wear perfume. Some might find it offensive or be allergic to the scent. A breath mint before you begin can also add a measure of confidence...just don't spit that baby across the room in your introduction. Just before you begin relax your neck, shoulders, arms and legs. Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself I'm hear to have fun and share something I feel pasionate about. Remind yourself you're talking to a group of friends who are there to support you and uplift you.

Personally, I like the added touch of something to nibble on. Just remember some people don't like chocolate or are allergic to it...but they can always take it home to their family. I'd be glad to share any of my recipes.

I know you'll do great Genene!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

All great suggestions so far, Genene. You'll be well prepared for your presentation.

From a teacher perspective (and from a student perspective) here are the things that have worked for me:

1. Involve your audience as much as possible. Get discussions going. Get them out of their comfort zone and involved in teh presentation. Never EVER read anything to them. Use eye contact, ask questions, talk to them - don't lecture them.

2. Use examples they understand. When I was teaching junior high kids, they had no interest in velocity and torque. When I applied it ot a basketball game though, it made a lot more sense to them. Same with writers. I absolutely HATE when I go to a workshop and presenters start using examples from their own books. Most likely, 90% of the people in that room haven't read that author's work - unless they're Nora or Stephen King or Nicholas Sparks. So if you aren't those people, use examples everyone will know. In the Michael Hauge workshop I took this summer he used examples from numerous popular movies most everyone in the room had seen. And it helped to look at those movies - not his - and see the points he was making. Totally worked.

3. If you give a writing exercise, don't put people on the spot to share. Nothing alienates people more than being forced - or coerced - into sharing something they don't want to share. I, personally, hate sharing what I write in front of a group. Others don't care so much.

4. Refreshments are a good way to relax people. Chocolate puts people at ease. I say go for the goodies.

Alice Sharpe said...

All these are great suggestions and ones we should all take to heart for upcoming workshop. No one likes writing exercises, it seems. I can never think. People around me are scribbling out the most amazing stuff and I can't get one word. Makes me feel like a dolt.

The only advice I have to offer I am taking from a friend who has given a lot of talks. She always reminds me that everyone in the audience is asking themselves "what's in this for me?" So handouts, prizes, stuff like that is perfect because it is giving back to the audience.

Genene said...

Wow! Awesome suggestions! Thank you to everyone. Makes me want to hear presentations from all of you. Now I'm looking forward to our conference even more.