June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
26.916.1 - 26.916.14
Improving Engineering-Student Presentation Abilities with Theatre ExercisesOne of the main impediments to improving presentation abilities is self-consciousness: thepresenter’s/speaker’s fear of looking foolish in front of a crowd of people. Content-centeredpreparation (i.e., knowing the material and shaping it appropriately for a given audience) canhelp with this problem in theory, but in practice the physical reality of a critical audience oftennegates such preparation – in other words, emotion overpowers logic. Thus, presenters (andespecially novice presenters) need more practical, more physical strategies for controlling andworking with their fear. This paper describes one such strategy wherein engineering studentsparticipate in exercises from the world of theatre designed to prepare the voice and body foronstage performance, an activity that correlates naturally with delivering professional technicalpresentations. For this project, students completed a pre-survey about their to-date presentationexperiences and overall public-speaking confidence followed by an interactive workshop on thetheatre-based exercises mentioned above. They then completed a post-workshop survey on thesesame concepts before giving their first presentation of the semester in a technical-communicationcourse. Significantly, the workshop was conducted by a theatre professor (one of the currentpaper’s authors) who began his career with an electrical-engineering degree and several years ofexperience in industry. The paper discusses the philosophy behind this strategy, including areview of existing literature on the topic; the pre- and post-surveys’ contents and studentresponses to them; full details on the workshop activities, including photos of the participants inaction; and the students’ subsequent presentation assignments, including any notableimprovements in their performance.
Brocato, J. W., & Barton, A., & Agee, K., & Dechert, E., & Carlisle, G. (2015, June), Improving Engineering-Student Presentation Abilities with Theater Exercises Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24253
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