Using Lightning Talks to Improve Confidence & Presentation Skills

How a faculty member boosted leadership and communication skills by implementing a presentation activity into a course.
empty chairs in a theater

Using Lightning Talks to Improve Confidence & Presentation Skills

Submitted by Jason Corcoran

empty chairs in a theater

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

What challenge, problem or motivation inspired you to make one small change?

We wanted to find a way of boosting the students presentations skills beyond just creating and reading off a slide deck. Things like eye contact, pacing, taking complex information and making it accessible to a general audience. The course was Canadian Health Systems first year grad cert.

Tell us about your one small change:

In our health analytics class, we wanted to boost their presentation skills so our last assignment was centred around completing a lightning talk. So basically what this is, is a short 5 minute presentation – they are limited to having a few slides with minimal text and the slides focused more on pictures. The emphasis is on the presentation rather than reading slides. It is important for students to practice their presentation skills so they are more concise. They can take any topic they are interested in – to bring that topic down to a concise small presentation. I showed them a video example that I did as part of a 3 minute thesis competition – I also had Sidney Shapiro present an example.

What was the result of your one small change?

I feel like the students really improved their presentation skills. They had a lot of practice and preparation and they were engaged in the process and seemed more engaging with the audience. I would definitely do this again next semester.

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