PROMISE *WEBINAR* “Confident Public Speaking” Feb. 15, 2012, 1-2PM EST

PROMISE is hosting Barrett Whitener, public speaking expert, on Wednesday, Feb. 15.  Mr. Whitener will be presenting a lunch seminar on UMBC’s campus, but those who are unable to come may join us via the web. This year, we are attempting to provide more professional development opportunities for a greater number of participants through use of online technology.  Our PROMISE alliance of UMBC, UMB, and UM College Park may soon increase to include all universities that serve graduate students within the University System of Maryland. As part of our PROMISE Pathways grant from the National Science Foundation, we are investigating new options for training and community building.  Therefore, we are presenting the seminar and simulcasting a webinar.  The webinar will be an online version of the seminar.  Participants who join us online will be able to see the slides and hear the speaker.  Participants who come to the “live” seminar will have a chance to interact with Mr. Whitener in person. Both the seminar and the webinar are free. To attend the seminar in person on UMBC’s campus (lunch is included at no extra cost), login to MyUMBC and click “I can attend”.  Students who aren’t from UMBC may also attend; we ask that you RSVP as a comment on our PROMISE Success Seminars website post for this program. If you cannot attend in person, you may join the webinar via your computer from any location. Anyone, from any location, may join us!  Register for the webinar here.

The focus of this seminar will be “How to prepare oral and poster presentations.” 

Published by Renetta Garrison Tull

Dr. Renetta Garrison Tull is the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of California Davis. She previously served as Associate Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives at The Graduate School at UMBC, and was Professor of the Practice in the College of Engineering & IT. She was Special Assistant to the Sr. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Director of Graduate and Professional Pipeline Development for the University System of Maryland (12 institutions). She is the Founding Director of PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) –, and Co-PI for the USM LSAMP. Her research on global diversity in STEM continues, and she is an international speaker, covering nearly all continents, for groups and conferences such as the World Engineering Education Forum, the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies, and the Pacific Sciences Congress. Her personal website is: Connect with her on Twitter: @Renetta_Tull;

10 thoughts on “PROMISE *WEBINAR* “Confident Public Speaking” Feb. 15, 2012, 1-2PM EST

  1. The “Confident Public Speaking” seminar was truly helpful in preparing my future presentations. There were several aspects of preparing academic presentations that I simply did not know at all. The first aspect involved how to prepare your presentation. Typically, I prepared it in the order in which I was giving it. However, the proper way to prepare it is to start with the take home message, main question, money slide, supporting slides, common ground, exit line, and finally title. The two minute per slide guideline was also another thing that I never did. Before Wednesday, I have spent up to seven minutes on a slide, analyzing multiple graphs, statistical analyses, and data interpretation. Not only was this too much information on a slide, I lost my audience completely. Another aspect that I was unaware of was the importance of highlighting the take home message in the conclusion. Usually, I summed up the results of my experiment in the conclusion, unaware that my audience probably forgot the main purpose of my research.

    I definitely found this seminar helpful and was successful in using these tools when I met with my adviser on Friday. I am confident that I will be able to become a polished presenter because of this seminar.


  2. I agree with Jared. I enjoyed the seminar very much. The order in which to prepare the presentation was a very helpful tip. I also didn’t think to explain a slide before I show it to the audience. When Dr. Whitener did this, it made a difference in how I understood the information. In addition, after his presentation, he helped me with my introduction for my NSBE tech talk at the end of March. Overall this was helpful not only for graduate school presentations, but public speaking in general.


  3. The PROMISE webinar “Confident Public Speaking” led by Barrett Whitener was a great learning experience and I’m glad that I was able to attend. Barrett certainly held my attention throughout his discussion as he broke down the process of creating a presentation in what he defined as the “Hour Glass Format.” The main point he conveyed was that the presentation order of our research information will not lead to an optimal expression of our work to our audience if it is the same as the order in which we prepared our information. Mr. Whitener made it clear that after first presenting our title, we should engage our audience’s attention by laying out the “common ground” – identifying a broad-scoped issue, explaining how our work relates to that issue, stating why our work is important, and ending the section with our main research question. A “money slide” should follow (if we are making an oral presentation) to explain the most important portions of the research, accompanied by any slides that may support the main focus. Our presentation should end with a brief take home message followed by an exit line that formally concludes our talk.

    I have to note that I was pleased that Mr. Whitener shared how to appear on top of things through an example where he played two different presenters presenting the same work. It’s also nice that he handed out printouts that covered the topics he talked about. Taking in all of these points made by Mr. Whitener helped me pick out a few weaknesses I’ve had in some of my previous presentations. Thanks Mr. Whitener!


  4. Barret Whitener was a phenomenal speaker and his presentation left me with many useful tips for public speaking. He structured his presentation very similar to how a typical scientific talk should be done. He made the presentation very easy to follow and began by asking his audience to approach every presentation from the “inside out” and to start with establishing a common ground. He emphasized that presentation fundamentals should be arranged with the take home message first, then a main question, money slide, supporting slides, common ground, exit line and finally a title slide. Dr. Whitener provided us with several examples to show concepts such as, important images, main questions, delivery methods, and sample introductions. It was very interesting to compare his approach to my typical method of preparation. In particular, he emphasized a “money slide” that will highlight the entire presentation. This method should not be too distracting but it would allow you to be direct and specific. He also used prep statements to refer to a particular slide for better interpretation, which can be very helpful for audience attention. He also used a very helpful diagram to identify a common ground that ultimately helps to identify the main question. At the end of the talk, Dr. Whitener opened up the floor for a small question and answer session to cover a variety of topics. One question I thought was very helpful was how to approach presentations of a longer length meaning presentations up to 30- 45 minutes. His response to longer presentations was to approach each main question one at a time and follow the “hour glass format” for each one. The hour glass format is an effective tactic and was compartmentalized into three portions: the introduction, data, and a resolution. Dr. Whitener concluded his talk with twelve ways to making a successful public speech which ultimate will help every student.


  5. Barret Whitener was a very eloquent speaker who gave us some pretty important tools on how to prepare a presentation. I really appreciated the way he digested all the information for us, and gave us very explicit examples of each and every one of the steps we needed to take in order to eloquently portray a possibly complicated piece of information to an audience that might not be familiar with the topic. Also, the “tricks” that he showed us on how to present ourselves in a way that shows we are knowledgeable of the material were very interesting, especially the one where we are supposed to introduce the slide before we talk about it so that the audience doesn’t get distracted with the figures once it comes up. Two things that did surprise me from his talk were the fact that there should be two minutes per slide and that it is perfectly OK to have some “black slides” in between our talks. First, I have always been taught that there should be a minute per 1-2 slides, which apparently is a potential source of distraction for the audience, plus it might seem like we are going over the presentation too fast. Second, I have never seen a speaker just stand out in the front and speak without any source of audiovisual material, especially not in a scientific talk. Nonetheless, I think that all his points were very valid and backed up with real examples. I will definitely try his method next time I have to do a presentation and see how it goes.


  6. Although I was not able to attend the Confident Public Speaking Seminar, after talking with my BD peers (Jared, Melissa, Josh, and DeLauren), I was able to acquire some knowledge. I learned that it’s good to organize a presentation from the “inside out.” This means that when you’re creating your presentation start with the main message and supporting details then work your way out to the title (for example). But your presentation order is actually almost the opposite of the order you create things in. Another important point was to keep in mind your time constraints. It’s good to try keeping each slide within two minutes because you don’t want to lose your audience or ever go over time. Keep in mind how much you can comfortably present and how much your audience can comfortably absorb. You also want to rely more on your verbal relay of information rather than relying on the information that is on your slides. Be sure not to crowd your slides with too much wording or pictures (there should really only be one picture or diagram per slide). Although, don’t assume people know what you’re trying to convey. To help people follow along present your data in chronological order (remember that the audience is coming to see your data interpretation) and use a laser pointer. I definitely feel like I was able to learn a lot from the seminar – even though I wasn’t able to be there in person – and I feel I will surely use this information to present in the future.


  7. The PROMISE webinar led by Barrett Whitener was an excellent, easy to follow presentation about confident public speaking. I had always prepared a presentation in the order that I would present it, which usually lead to problems such as having too many slides or not having a clear focus, so it was interesting when he discussed the proper way to make a presentation. He suggested starting with a “take home” message and then developing a main question. This really helps you concentrate on what you want the audience to get from the presentation. With this said, it is never a good idea to assume that the audience will automatically understand the message and it is definitely not a good idea to pack the slide with too many words either. I also learned that it is a good idea to keep each slide within two minutes to keep the attention of the audience. It also never occurred to me to introduce a slide before showing it. This is highly effective when the slide is a picture. I liked that he addressed how to deal with presentations that are over 30 minutes in length. He introduced the hour glass format, which breaks down each main question into 3 sections: introduction, data interpretation and resolution. Although I have never had the privilege to give such a long talk, I know that the hour glass format, as well as all the other points Mr. Whitener addressed will be useful in the future.


  8. I felt the talk given by Barrett Whitener was very informative and well delivered. The tips he gave during the presentation were very clear and helpful, especially his advice about preparing a talk around the “take-home” message. I have heard this before and I’ve given that advice to students that I have taught. However, I have had the privilege of seeing a presentation that followed that advice so well. It was clear in the presentation that he followed his own advice and gave a very good presentation. Typically, presentation tips are given in the “good vs bad” format. It was helpful to learn from the perspective of “effective vs arguably more effective”. Also the hourglass format was a helpful diagram for bringing all the presentation together while maintaining the overall message. I will definitely use the tips presented during this talk in my own presentations.


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