Category Archives: Question of the Week

Presenting vs. Facilitating

When I was a full-time classroom teacher, I had several opportunities to present at various local conferences. As I’ve expanded my horizons in the education world, so have they expanded in the presentation world. I present for my work at Southern Methodist University and in my capacity as a Discovery Educator Network STAR, at various regional and national conferences.

I have a presentation coming up in South Padre, Texas (TSTEM Best Practices Conference) this month for work, and one in Austin, Texas (TCEA) in February for the DEN. My initial thought was that none of this was anything new and I wouldn’t really need to do all that much prep work for these presentations.

The reason I write this post is that the more I thought that way, the more I wondered why I really thought I could get away with doing the same old same old.

So I’m asking you to answer some questions from the perspective of an audience member, NOT as a presenter (as I’m sure many of you are):

1. What types of things make you want to stand up and walk out of a presentation?

For me, the dreaded “death by PowerPoint” is first on my list. Next is when someone is presenting a topic that was part of teacher training 101.

2. What opening activities or experiences excite you about the rest of the workshop?

As in my classes, I try to start workshops with some kind of a hook – sometimes it is a story that explains the reason we are all there, but more often, it is some kind of an activity or thought exercise.

3. Would you prefer to be presented to or to have a speaker facilitate discussion?

Personally, I prefer to have my audiences be a very active part of my session. I also prefer to be in sessions where I am allowed to share. We can all learn something from each other. Unfortunately, it seems that many audiences don’t really want to do that. What are your thoughts?

I appreciate your time in answering these questions, as I have decided to completely redo my presentations to try to encourage more audience participation so the sessions don’t turn into a 45 minute nap for everyone!