Last week I co-presented a talk with a colleague at the Learning for a Sustainable Future – Teacher Conference in Delhi. It was my very first plenary presentation and there were hundreds of attendees. We were presenting our initial findings from piloting a new assessment approach (with behaviour libraries within a smartphone app) in a project we are working on in the south of India.
Here are some quick reflections with presenting to a large audience in this format for the first time.
WWW (What went well)
- We went after someone who did a fairly high-level talk on the assessment approach we were piloting. This really helped our presentation because many of the attendees came to me later and said that it wasn’t till they heard our experiences from the field that it all made sense to them.
- We incorporated a task for the teachers to try their hand at crafting their own criteria, which helped make the session a bit more engaging.
- We’d done a shorter version of the same presentation for a group of policymakers the previous day which helped us anticipate questions.
- We constructed our presentation in a way that was of value to both teachers who are familiar with approaches to assessing non-academic skills as well as those who were completely new to the topic.
EBI (Even better if)
- We made it less impersonal. I reckon we kept it a bit business-like. We could have throw in some humour and perhaps taken advantage of the fact there were two of us on stage and engaged in a more natural dialogue rather than “you take this slide, I’ll take this one.”
- We expanded on our experiences and shared more anecdotes because the audience seemed to respond to stories far more than factual information.
- We made it even more relevant to the audience who were mostly K12 teachers. This was a bit challenging because we were merely reporting from our project which looks at assessment from the perspective of project outcomes rather than tracking progress of individual learners (which is of course what teachers are interested in). It may have been worth exploring how the teachers could have used the same assessment approach with their own learners.
During a subsequent talk, I noticed that the erudite looking woman sitting in front of me had dropped her notepad. When I was passing it back to her, she suddenly realized that I looked familiar and she said “great presentation” and then added “I shouldn’t say this, I’m a teacher after all, but you have a sexy voice.” Nonetheless, I’m dreading the prospect of watching myself (uggggghhhh) whenever the video gets uploaded to YouTube.