“Fortune favors the prepared mind.” by Louis Pasteur.
Too often oral presentations are assigned without sufficient or even any support or teaching. Somehow many people just assume that students will figure out how to present or will learn by doing. Then too, in other cases, the support is given shares tips or generalizations like the one above which directs you to prepare but gives little or no help to do so. This article builds upon the initial article written about the concept of considering the oral presentation as a production. In that article, the key factors of Moment, Medium, and Message (3Ms) served as key factors for understanding the immediate needs of a presentation. Here we go further to investigate key elements of planning needed to approach an oral presentation in order to effectively deliver the desired message, with the chosen medium in the prescribed moment.
Considering the Production
Not every presentation allows for extensive plans. Moreover, most students will argue a few assignments are of great enough worth to demand that much effort. However, the presenter must at least understand the basics of what is involved as part of the commitment to presenting. These minimum standards set a baseline on which more effective presentations can be built. On the other hand, the lack of these minimal plans will make completing the presentation more difficult. Adopting the perspective of the novice student presenter allows us to consider the many unknowns they might face. I want to push them back from the moment of presenting to consider the production of the experience that they create at that moment along with the planning to achieve it. Then stepping towards production begins by considering: Conception, Costs, and Consequences (3C’s).
Considering the experience
Looking at the charge given provides a good first step when envisioning expectations related to the presentation. The three areas we consider deal with the conceptions, costs, and consequences (3C’s) related to the assigned or accepted task of making the presentation. Often a student’s view of these things does not match that of the educator. If the presenter cannot align things clearly with the target or the judge this mismatch negatively impacts the effectiveness of the presentation to attain the desired goal. Moreover, an unrealistic or mismatched assessment of these ideas produces stress and potentially leads to problems as the actual performance approaches. Now let us consider each of the 3C’s (Conception, Costs, and Consequences).
Conception deals with the need for students to understand what the performance and thus the experience entails. Some students will focus upon the assigned task (if one was given). Too often this only leads in a vague picture of what should be done or to misunderstandings. Many students default to coverage to content as the guide for the experience. They only consider how they feel and what will make the presentation end by conveying the facts and information related to the topic. This initial conception may lead to consideration of the experience of the target audience, the message being conveyed and the goal of the presentation beyond reporting. Student preconceptions of what it means to present and what the teacher, audience, or other judge expects fundamentally colors the resulting presentation. Moreover, the presenter’s own conception of their role, responsibility and investment also weigh heavily in the successful outcome.
Another key factor to consider are the variety of costs, both real and opportunity costs, that the student may have to invest. In the article about resources entitled BITES (Lipuma, 2020) I discussed some basic categories students should consider when engaging in tasks. An oral presentation has demands on human capital as well as time and effort. Many students perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine the highest grade for the lowest effort or at times, the minimum needed to pass or get the work done. However, with skills like oral presenting, not investing the time to learn the essential skills or develop effective strategies for creating presentations may lead to student’s continual poor performance. In addition, this repeated lack of preparation and lead work can have them become fearful of presenting as they only see the risk rather than an opportunity to practice and develop and expand their own human capital.
Finally, the student must understand the risks involved with the oral presentation and become aware of the consequences both implicit and explicit. For many, the main consequence equates to the points earned. A less direct consequence deals with the social stigma and pressure of being the focus of attention. Another area of concern relates to the opportunity cost and what the consequences related to not spending time doing other work may entail. Returning to the idea of the cost-benefit analysis, many students do not consider the consequences of procrastinating or incompletely preparing for the task of an oral presentation. Until failure presents them with unrecoverable situations, they ignore the consequences of their action or inaction. The window of planning for most students is less than a week and at busy times may be less than a day or their next class. All of these potential and real consequences exist and need to be considered.
Helping students to be aware of their own conception, the costs, and the consequences of an oral presentation will aid them to prepare and perform better. For educators, this begins with a clear assignment aligned with the lessons, resources, and assessments. However, there is only so much this reflective practice provides for students. Depending on their age and maturity, spelling out these factors early and often helps scaffold the work. When paired with the breakdown of the expected performance; moment, Medium, and message, the 3 C’s help move students into a more structured production process.
If you want to cite this blog article, please use the following:
Lipuma, J., & Leon, C. (2020, July 22). Presentation: Conception, Costs, and Consequences (3C’s). James Lipuma’s Blog. https://www.jameslipuma.com/presentation-conception-costs-and-consequences-3cs/
If you want to download an accessible PDF copy of this blog article, use the following link: https://www.jameslipuma.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Presentation-Conception-Costs-and-Consequences-3C’s-James-Lipuma.pdf