Building Up to an Audience

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ATISSA BANUAZIZI: when you're teaching students to communicate orally effectively, giving them a real living large audience ups their game considerably. Obviously, like, nobody wants to do a bad job in front of their peers in front of a group. And obviously, that's important because it replicates the kind of talks that they're likely to be giving, say, at conferences. However, it may not be wise to throw them in the deep end right away. And a lot of times in classes that do have an oral communication component, that's what happens. You know, somebody isn't necessarily an experienced speaker. And their first experience of it is an end of the semester presentation.

And that's very, very difficult for a lot of students. So what I think has worked really well in this class is giving them that practice over and over again in a slightly safer setting, where it's just a couple of people. When they give the original practice oral presentation it's not even graded, so it's safe to fail. And that sense of safety and that sense of really building up stage by stage your skills is what gives them the confidence to be skilled communicators by the end of the semester. You know by the time they finish 8.13, there is nobody in the class who doesn't understand what they need to do to make their presentation work. You know, the moment of going into the conference room or the classroom and standing up in front of their peers, that makes it possible, that makes it maybe even fun.

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