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em Aula Expositiva
Gilberto Teixeira ,Prof Doutor (FEA/USP)
You have to give a talk. You know what material you want to present, but how will you do it? You've seen so many bad talks: how do you avoid that? These suggestions were written for a students who have to give short (5 or 10 minute) talks on a topic that they have researched but who may never have given a talk before at university.
Timing is critical
It is extremely important not to go over the time limit. You must be fair to other speakers and to your audience. Everyone hates a speaker who rambles on for too long. It is preferable to finish early than late - an early finish will leave more time for discussion - or even let the class/audience finish early. Speaking about TIME :it is important to respect the schedule of your talk;a speaker or professor that arrives late for the lecture or talk is demonstracting lack of respect for his audience
The ability to present a persuasive argument in a short time is a very useful one, and its use goes far beyong science, so you should treat this exercise as useful practice in gaining or improving that ability. Here you have a limited time. Make each point count.
Text or notes?
Most audiences prefer to listen to someone speaking from notes (or even from memory) to someone who is reading a prepared text, so you should only do the latter if you have rehearsed speaking from notes and you really find it impossible. The great advantage of notes is that you have time to make eye contact with your class. This is very important for effective communication.
In any case you should rehearse your talk against the clock. It may help to rehearse it with a friend who can give you advice - for a 5 minute talk it will only take your friend 5 minutes to listen to it! Rehearsing out loud a few times can make a big difference to the final version of a talk: you will find the awkward phrases and ways to avoid them, and you will find and refine the neatest and most convincing way of putting your case. If you do not rehearse, you will probably find the teacher imposing the time limit while you are still muddling through your introduction.
Start and finish well
Many people find it useful to learn by rote the first and last sentence of the talk. It is important that your first few sentences are clear and confident and proceed without stopping. For a start, this will make you feel confident and your audience feel comfortable. Further, once you have given your audience something to think about, you can afford to pause - the audience will appreciate the thinking time. (It is worth remembering that a pause which feels like ages to the excited person talking may really be only a couple of seconds to the audience.) It is useful to remember a good closing line so that the audience knows that you are finished - it is a bit awkward if you stop talking that the audience is unsure whether you have finished or not. If you can make the last line memorable, you may give them a good line to take away.
Anyone who has ever given a talk in a language that is not his/her native tongue will know how much more difficult it is. For this reason, native English speakers are always very supportive of, and usually impressed by, those speakers whose first language is not English. Your thinking is more important to us that your speaking.
How to show figures or tables or other material that is not easy to put into words? There are several options:
- Blackboards and whiteboards are great for this, but the art of explaining something while simulataneously drawing on the blackboard takes a while to acquire. If you have the time before the talk to put up your material, then these are options. If not, then you may not have time to use them effectively in a short talk. Remember that they are there, however, if you need them to answer questions.
- Draw/write/print on a sheet of paper and hold it up. This works well for small groups, provided that you don't try to squeeze too much information onto a sheet. After you have shown it, you can pass it around in case people want to look at details.
- Handouts. Depending upon the size of the class, you might consider handing out copies of a single sheet of paper. On this you could put small versions of any information you want to display. You might even want to put on the same sheet the references for furhter information. Don't waste paper. First, you don't need a copy for everyone in the class: they can share, and they probably don't all want a copy to take home. Second, don't simply photocopy lots of possibly relevant information and hand it out. Be very selective and restrict yourself to one sheet.
- Overheads. If there is an overhead projector in the room where you will give the talk (there often aren't in laboratories), then a couple of prepared overhead transparencies might be useful. These need not be machine printed: neat handwriting is fine. Do not feel obliged to use an OHP just because it is there: for a short talk it may be distracting.
- Powerpoint. This should not be used for a short talk. For a long talk that involves animations that are central to the explanation, not just decoration, or for short movies and multiple soundfiles, it can be useful. Unfortunately, most users of this technique use distracting animations, colours etc, and it is most widely used in disciplines in which the medium is relatively important in comparison with the message. For this reason, use of powerpoint provokes suspicion in many disciplines, including physics.
- Recordings will rarely be used in a short talk. If you need them in a longer talk, make sure that your casette or video tape is cued to the right position.
- Demonstrations can be very effective, but are often impossible. However, if there is something simple (and portable and safe!) that you can demonstrate, or let the class demonstrate, then this is very likely to make your talk more memorable.
Do not let the length of this discussion of technologies make you think that you must use them. For a short talk, your voice will usually be all that you need to make an excellent presentation.