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Chapter 10. Practice Skip It at Your Ris... > Conducting Productive Rehearsals and...

Conducting Productive Rehearsals and Reviews

The following suggestions apply to both the presenter and the evaluators.

  • Agree on the ground rules. Let all participants know what procedure is to be followed, when comments are to be made, and whether to ask questions. I recommend having the speaker give the presentation without interruption, either in full or one segment at a time. Much time is typically wasted during dry runs with continual interruptions. Hold comments to the end of a segment or of the entire presentation.

  • Distribute materials to reviewers. Distribute evaluation forms and copies of visual aids.

  • Make the presentation. Often presenters show the visuals and merely state, "Here, I intend to say . . ." This process exercises only the visuals, not the speaker.

  • Conduct the evaluation. The key to success is maintaining a positive environment, not always easy when one's best efforts are being dissected. Presenters and evaluators both must work to keep the environment productive. Use of a moderator to conduct this part of the dry run may be helpful.

  • Give an overview evaluation as well as an evaluation of specific parts. With extensive feedback, the speaker may wrongly conclude that the whole presentation is a disaster and needs to be redone completely. An overview helps keep the proper perspective.

  • Comment on strengths as well as deficiencies. If the emphasis is almost exclusively on the negative side, the presenter may over-correct and discard useful material or practices.

  • Offer specific observations, not vague generalities. This greatly facilitates communication among the parties. "The organization needs work" is not particularly useful to the presenter. "I was confused by your first two points. I think there is some duplication there," gives the presenter something specific to look at.

  • Offer alternatives wherever possible. One of the strengths of evaluators is that they offer a different perspective from the speaker's. It is much more helpful to a speaker to see a quick sketch of an alternative to the concept presented than just to hear, "I thought chart four was too busy." This places a greater burden on evaluators, but it is a justifiable one.

  • Address the minor but focus on the major. In the process of detailed analysis, it is easy to spend a disproportionate amount of time on relatively minor flaws. If all the attention is given to improving the speaker's eye contact and reducing the number of "uh's," the fact that the presentation completely missed the mark because it was at the wrong level might be overlooked.



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