Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule an appointment?

You have several options:
1) use our online scheduler,

2) stop by during our walk-in hours, and we'll do our best to assist you, or

3) email us at apheatwole@smcm.edu for assistance or additional availability. 

E-mailing or stopping by are the best options if you can't make any of the posted hours.

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Meet the Tutors:

Sam

 

Sam Cameron

Major: History

Minor: Educational Studies

 

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Resources for Speaking and Presenting

Use the links below to view links to resources on each topic.

Getting Started 
The Role of Rhetoric 
General Tips on Presenting and Speaking
Using Electronic Presentation Tools
General Tips for Speaking in Class
Instructional Resources (for faculty)


Getting Started:

  • Rice Online Writing Lab--This site provides lots of tips for designing a presentation and considering audience, occasion, and style. 

     
  • "Overview of Effective Speaking"--This is a one-page pdf handout from Stanford's Oral Communication Program that provides tips on getting started and an overview of how to organize and deliver presentations and speeches.

 

The Role of Rhetoric:

  • Silva Rhetoricae--A comprehensive site about rhetorical theory. While this site is largely devoted to classical rhetoric and terms, some aspects (such as the role of ethos, pathos, and logos) may be useful.



General Tips on Presenting and Speaking: 

  • Garr Reynolds's Presentation Tips--This extensive site breaks oral expression into three steps (prepare, design, and deliver) and provides tips and resources for each step.

     
  • Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are--A fascinating TED talk about the messages conveyed by body language. This talk gives pointers about how to make more mindful decisions about body language and how certain postures can actually make speakers feel more at ease while giving presentations.

  • "Everything I Know about Presentations, I Learned in Theatre School"--In this September 2007 article, Darren Barefoot provides numerous tips about designing and delivering presentations and highlights the similarities between presenting information and theatrical performance. This article generally discusses strategies in the context of their application to PowerPoint, but many could be adapted or applied to other types of presentations.



Using Electronic Presentation Tools:

  • "Don McMillan: Life After Death by PowerPoint"--This entertaining YouTube video highlights common user design errors in PowerPoint through a presentation that intentionally commits all of the mistakes. 
     
  • Introduction to Color Theory--This site provides an over view of color theory and may be helpful to those designing electronic presentations or visual aids.

     
  • Changing Color Schemes in PowerPoint--This link gives a brief tutorial on how to change the color scheme of a PowerPoint presentation.

     
  • "PowerPoint is Evil"--In this September 2003 Wired article, Edward Tufte's outlines some of the limitations and potential misuses of PowerPoint.

     
  • "How I Made My Presentations a Little Better"--In this 2007 article, Merlin Mann lists some brief tips for improving PowerPoint presentations.

     
  • "Challenging the Presentation Paradigm"--In this 2009 post on Professor Hacker, a blog featured by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Ethan Watrall gives an overview of Prezi and considers it as an alternative to PowerPoint. Although this post is primarily geared toward instructors, many of the conclusions may be useful to others.

     
  • "Use Haiku Deck for Simple, Elegant Presentations"--In this 2013 post on Professor Hacker, a blog featured by the Chronicle of Higher Education, George Wiliams gives an overview of Haiku Deck and considers it as an alternative to PowerPoint.

 

General Tips for Speaking in Class:

  • How to Work in Groups--A list of tips from the University of Pittsburgh for how to work in groups and divide speaking responsibilities equally.

     
  • Tips for Speaking in Class--A great list from Smith College with strategies and techniques to be prepared and comfortable speaking in class. Although some of the recommendations are geared toward Smith, most fit well with the classroom culture at St. Mary's.

 

Instructional Resources:
This section is primarily intended for instructors who are looking for ways to integrate oral expression practice, familiarize students with the OEC, or develop delivery skills.

  • OEC Scavenger Hunt: This 1-page activity is designed for instructors to familiarize students with the OEC. Students can open the pdf and complete the activity on their own in about 10 minutes. The prompts lead students through the OEC section of the Writing Center site and then has them consider ways in which they could use the OEC.

     
  • OEC Resources Guide: This 2-page activity is designed for instructors to give students an introduction to some of the resources listed above. Students can open the pdf and complete the activity on their own in 20-30 minutes. The prompts direct student to look at specific resources on this page and introduces some techniques for planning and evaluating presentation skills.

     
  • FYS 5th Hour Oral Expression Analysis: This 2.5-page activity is designed to allow instructors to capitalize on the oral expression component of 5th Hour requirements. Many 5th Hour activities take the form of lectures or talks on campus, and this activity allows students to analyze the speaker's delivery methods (use of body language, visual aids, etc.) and evaluate whether those methods enhance or detract from the speaker's message.

     
  • Oral Expression Assignments: A list of different types of oral expression activities (in other words, things to assign besides speeches and presentations) from the University of Pittsburgh. We would also recommend student panels.

     
  • Customizable Oral Expression Rubric: A customizable rubric that allows instructors to score students on both delivery (volume, pace, eye contact, vocalized pauses, body language, use of visual aids, and "other") and content (content categories to be specified by the instructor). Categories and point scales can be adjusted by the instructor to suit the needs of particular assignments or classes.

     
  • The 30 Second Game: This is a great way to help students feel comfortable talking in front of each other, and the game allows them to practice delivery. The goal is to have students speak extemporaneously for 30 seconds on a topic without using vocalized pauses (um, uh, like, you know, etc.) and without using overly distracting body language (fidgeting, leaning on the podium, etc.). Over time, students realize just how easily certain mannerisms detract from their delivery, and they learn to be more mindful.

    Directions:
    1. Explain the rules and the purpose of the game, emphasizing the fact that the activity is intended to be a fun, informal learning experience. Then, ask for a volunteer.

    2. Ask the class to generate a topic (the simpler the better--the focus here is on delivery, not content).

    3. Have a volunteer attempt to speak on the topic for 30 seconds without using vocalized pauses or distracting body language. Have the class point out immediately if the student makes an error. Then, either allow the first volunteer another chance, or move on to the next volunteer.

    Once students learn the basic idea, it's easy to use an extra 5 minutes of class to play a quick round, and students polish their delivery skills over time.

 

  • Table Talk: This is a great way to help students practice informal oral expression, and it's a brief activity to use once a class or once a week. The idea is to have every student share something (related or unrelated to class) in order to build confidence and practice speaking. In this unintimidating, ungraded context, it is sometimes easier to call students' attention to issues of volume, speaking rate, gestures, vocalized pauses, eye contact, etc. As the semester goes on, consider gradually increasing the formality of the activity by having students speak for longer periods of time or at the front of the room.

    Some possible Table Talk topics: Students could share a prank they've pulled, the best or worst vacation they've taken, a favorite quote (related or unrelated to the course), their favorite book, a current event, etc.