Thursday, October 25, 2012

My First Presentation Reflection.....FINALLY!!

This nametag made feel more important than what I really am!
Last Monday and Tuesday I attended the ITAG (Iowa Talented and Gifted) Conference in Des Moines. There were over 500 educators, professionals, research experts, parents, etc. in attendance for the conference. It is a massive gathering of some very intelligent people that really make me feel inferior in terms of my knowledge.

 I submitted a presentation proposal about 6 months ago as this was always something that I wanted to challenge myself with doing. It has been a goal of mine, but at the same time I have a great fear of giving a presentation. To make a long story short, my proposal was accepted.

 The title of my presentation was, "Going Global With Coffeechug! How To Go Beyond Your Classroom Walls.". You can view the slides, handouts, and wiki I built for the presentation here.

I spent a great deal of time preparing for this presentation. It underwent about three themes, slides, layouts, and basic structures. I kept changing things because I did not feel it was good enough. I won't go into all the headaches I put myself through, but you can read this post about how I stressed over my handout.

On Tuesday, it was my day to present. I had the last time slot to present. I honestly was not sure about what type of turnout I was going to have. However, the last session really was amped up by the head lady and with about 20 minutes before I was to begin my room was packed. I had a room full of people and thought that this was good. All my efforts were going to be worthwhile. I set a goal of not losing my audience. I did not want anyone leaving during my presentation.

I did what I do best. Tell stories. I gave stories and examples like crazy. Perhaps too much because my 60 minute time slot flew by. I needed more time!!!!!!

I had connected with an amazing teacher from the Philippines who created video of her 1st graders. This video is amazing and a great eye opener about what is happening around the world. It is an eye opener that we are not as cutting edge as we give ourselves credit for! My goal was to give my audience their very first global partner. I wanted my audience to record a short video response to the video for these first graders.

A few stuck around for the video due to me talking too much. We finished and many of them did not want to be on camera. I found this interesting. As gifted educators we are constantly challenging and pushing our students outside of their comfort zone and yet as adults we were not comfortable enough to do the very same thing. Part of this was not knowing everyone, but I figured that since we were talking to 1st graders it would not be a big deal. Very little video was recorded and I quickly had to rethink my plan. I now have my 2nd grade son taking a video into his classroom where his teacher has been kind enough to shoot some video for us to send back to these amazing kids!

So, what did I learn? How did it go?

I give myself a B+. I was very comfortable once I started talking. I want to do less talking and more engagement. I wanted more interaction, but this presentation made me realize that perhaps these audiences don't want more engagement. I created a Twitter hashtag, made a Google Document handout where we could collaborate during the presentation, had a video partner established, and built a wiki for us to further connect. What I found interesting is that nothing developed on any of these levels. I really think they wanted a paper handout and to just listen. That is fine and I need to have this as a plan B next time I present. I need to be more accommodating to my audience. I don't like paper. I don't like to to use paper if I don't need to. I need to remember that not everyone is like me.

I also need to provide more time for questions. I had some amazing questions being asked. The questions drove the presentation. Less content, more time for question and answer. I felt that my audience was engaged. I had a lot of eye contact and more questions than I thought would be asked.

It felt good to present and connect. I am following up on some connections with people who wanted more information. I have already applied and been accepted to speak at the 2012 Global Education Conference in November(time to work on a new presentation) and would like to continue to present and challenge myself.

It was a great experience and a great conference. When I attended other breakout sessions I studied how others presented and how the crowd interacted. I now know that I need to give them the straightforward facts and steps for them to follow. They want specifics. I like big ideas for me to then go back and ponder and create my own path. Not everyone is that way.

Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. There are too many to name, but Amanda(my wife) had to listen to me a million times and helped me stay focused on organized.

Thanks to ITAG for allowing me to present. I only wish I had feedback from the audience to learn more about what they thought.

On to the next one........

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