Defending final year projects is a good time to expose undergraduates to public speaking; students are put forward to present a case before a deliberately mute panel that do nothing but give a mean face, a fast gaze hidden behind spectacles and flipping pages of a document handed to them as though they were saying ‘what does he even want to say’. In the midst of this short drama is You, standing right before them, not sure if to read from your document or say the lines you have rehearsed until someone amongst them says ‘ yes young man, can we hear you’. Then you hear yourself introducing yourself and on and on. That’s what the atmosphere looks like and sometimes even tougher but one thing can make you scale through and that is public speaking skills.
The art of public speaking is learned and as a matter of fact, good practices will foster the learned skills. Final year project students who fumble before their defense panel lack public speaking skills; this thing is an art and more tasking than sundry chitty-chats. Why; because you’re going to be doing a lot of things simultaneously as you speak; from the content and method of presentation to your body language and all. I just want to share some nuggets about public speaking and how it will contribute positively to your final year project defense.
This is about presenting your final year project before a panel and your contemporaries alike; so you have a live audience already. Now, what is in your final year project that will make everyone want to listen to you? Here is what to look out for:
· Your content should be factual
· Must be engaging
· Must have a message
Your content should be factual
For every statement or argument you posit, you must back it up with a convincing reference and cite instances. You have to do this to demonstrate your level understanding and faith you have in your research outcome.
Must be engaging
While presenting your research case before the defense panel and your course mates, the factual points you keep digging up will certainly engage their interest. Before you know it, you see members of the panel flipping back and forth the papers to confirm what you have just said; One might even ask you “Do you have what you just said in this book?” lol. This is the aspect of a speech while the audience raise an applause for you and hear someone say, exactly!
Must have a message
Your research topic is a message, your problem statement is another message, your research objectives are messages, your research techniques are messages, the research findings are messages and your conclusion is also a message. As far as your final year project is concerned, these are what the message is about; there may be no need for long reads and unnecessary narratives knowing that other persons are waiting to get in after you.
Methods of presenting a public speech
There are four methods of presenting a public speech;
Using this method, you present a public speech reading word to word from a script. Well, presenting your final year project to a defense panel does not call for this method, else they will question your ownership and input to that research work. Most of the time, people who hold public offices adopt this method.
You can’t possibly use this method for your project defense. This method of public speaking is one that is uncalled for or let’s say, not prepared for. Someone is called upon and asked to say something to the crowd; there and then, the person starts thinking and talking at the same time; the popular phrase associated with impromptu speech is ‘at the spur of the moment’ ‘cause you think on your feet and at the same time saying it.
Memorized public speech is a direct opposite of manuscript method of public speaking; You cram the entire content of your speech and present it to your audience without a script. This is mostly used in debate, recitation or some exceptional cases. You not need to use this method while presenting your research project.
This is it! This is the method that is highly recommendable while presenting a public speech. Using this, you combine manuscript and memorized methods; this implies reading a view point and explaining your perspective off-hand. This is the most widely used method of public speaking and likely the best of all.
Manage your space
Good public speaking skills demands that you make judicious use of the stage or podium especially while defending your final year project. There may be no need for walking about except when necessary but try not to turn your back on the defense panel.
Know your audience
As long as your final year project is concerned, your audience here is the defense panel and your course mates. Knowing it’s an academic exercise prompts you to know the sort of language to use, to cite references when necessary, to take cognizance of punctuation and ofcourse prepare your mind for what’s coming.
Be mindful of your gestures
Using the right gesture or nonverbal cue for the right word makes your presentation worthwhile and for an academic atmosphere, do not use a gesture that is strange or socially applied because your audience are very sensitive. Also bear in mind that some nonverbal cues are specific to some set of people; if there is need to apply them, do them the favor of explaining what you mean.