Okay, so, for the past two weeks, I have been working on a presentation. Women in Engineering (WIE) is a program being hosted here at Tech next week. It entails high school girls from all over being shown the wonders of higher education in technical fields. I approve. I and my partner, PK, are supposed to talk for an hour or so about light and polarization.
I love giving presentations. Some people like roller coasters, I like to get up in front of a bunch of people and tell them about something. I know, I need help, right? ^_^
So anyway. PK is from India (I feel that this relates because he has never encountered American high schoolers). He is in the same research group with me (he, a grad student, I, an undergrad). I was ostensibly asked to do this presentation because I am a girl, and therefore able to present the right image to the audience (i.e. girls can do techy-stuff and enjoy it). I am of the opinion, however, that I may also have been included as a culture buffer/translator (PK is pretty easy to understand once you've listened to him a bit, but it is impossible to catch the difference between "reflection" and "refraction" when he says those words). Anyway, I feel that I have a pretty good idea of the best way to keep our dear audience from completely zoning out. Namely, to stay "up" in vocal inflection, don't get lost in trying to actually explain too much (we're pretty much teaching them stuff they won't have the math to truly understand. Just trying to show them what can be in their futures), and to focus on, "Hey, look at this demo! Isn't this cool! Look at the shiny lights!" High school wasn't exactly a long time ago for me, and I know even my nerdy self got bored pretty easily.
PK, however, is very convinced that they will be attending with the intent of "learning." I hate to break his little bubble. ^_^ But on the other hand, I agree to an extent. We should try to make sure they leave with a bit more info than they had when they came in.
What's frustrating me is our different speaking styles. I prefer to find ways to engage the audience. I'm aware of them at all times. I like to respond to blank stares or giggles or whatever. I don't like talking at an audience, I want to talk to/with them.
PK is more of the, "here is the information, do with it what you will" type. So when we practice, I get urges to cut him off when it's his turn to talk because I feel he is being too clinical. It's rude of me, especially when we have already established the points at which we will each speak.
Sigh. There isn't much I can do about it right now. Tomorrow we will do a more solid run-through, and hopefully I can gently critique him. He does have an understanding of how to engage the audience (he came up with an idea for, in our last demo, pretending that he and I have an argument about how an experiment will turn out, and to have a student come "settle" the dispute for us). I just need to figure out how to engage* it more often.
*I am aware this is the third time I've used "engage." I didn't feel like opening a thesaurus. Deal.
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