Today was my university’s History Symposium day where the seniors of the History and American Studies Department presented their HIST485 papers. The session I went to had three students giving presentations, and I found there to be a mix of presentation styles at this session.
The first presenter was very clear with what their thesis was, presented their argument well, and had a mostly clean slide show presentation. However, this presenter also was very informal in their presentation language, using lots of filler words and used the word “things” to describe an object or concept. This presenter also did not conclude their presentation very well. While the second presenter was a bit more formal in their speech, they still used filler words too much and were not clear on what their paper was about. However, the third presenter provided an interesting slide show and presented their topic clearly. While the third presenter did use filler words too many times as well, their overall presentation was the best one of the session. I found I was more engaged with their presentation and enjoyed listening to their topic more than the first two presentations.
Even though I only found one of the two presentations interesting to listen to, I still found attending the session to be helpful. Seeing the certain mistakes the presenters made helped me be aware of ways I could improve on how I give presentations. I can be sure to try and cut out filler words when I talk, can make sure I have note cards on hand to prevent awkward silences between sentences, and (of course) I can be sure I will practice my presentation more than a few times before I have to present.
Despite the mistakes I found with most of the presentations, I could still tell that a lot of research and hard work was put into these final papers. Each topic was interesting in their own right, and I’m sure it was just that some of the presenters were nervous at certain points and that’s what caused some mistakes. Being nervous is nobody’s fault and that does not take away from the fact that they all worked very hard this semester on their papers. I congratulate them all for completing their HIST485 papers!