Evaluating Mediated Presentations
You can ask students to do mediated presentations in two ways:
- Synchronously: presenter and audience are in the Zoom chat at the same time
- Asynchronously: presenter records the presentation ahead of class and posts it, and the audience can watch the presentation on their own time.
Regardless of the choice you make for the format, your evaluation of the presentation will have many of the same elements seen in face-to-face presentations.
WHAT’S THE SAME?
Many of the principles of good presentations will carry over to the online format. For example, excellent presentations should still:
- Provide relevant information
- Be well organized
- Keep your audience engaged
- Use visual aids that rely more on images than text
- Use visual aids that are a supplement, not a replacement for the verbal presentation.
Even with a mediated presentation, the way students present information is important along with the content they are presenting. Verbal and nonverbal delivery matter.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT?
AUDIENCES CAN ENGAGE WITH SPEAKERS DIFFERENTLY
Speakers can use chat windows and discussion spaces to get more instantaneous feedback from audiences. They can also more easily provide supplemental resources by giving links.
Part of a mediated assignment might include providing the class with materials in advance of the presentation. A mediated presentation might also include discussion leading, which could utilize the “hand raising” and other features of Zoom.
ORGANIZATION BECOMES EVEN MORE IMPORTANT
Because the audience is not physically present and they clearly have an electronic device in front of them, it’s easier than ever for them to get lost. Speakers should be extra deliberate in providing a roadmap for organization and then referring back to that road map to keep people on track.
THE ENVIRONMENT IS MORE ADJUSTABLE
Speakers have more control over the environment than they would in a classroom. They should be sure their background is as professional and simple as possible to avoid distractions. They should use adequate lighting. While the ideal is to have lighting from three sides (one above, two that are more to the front and side), speakers should be sure they can be seen and that there is not a light source directly behind them. Light sources directly behind a speaker tend to put them in shadows.
Speakers also have more flexibility about how they are seen. Ideally, they will position their camera and themselves so that they are visible from approximately the waist up and take up the majority of the screen. If possible, they should stand up for the presentation as they would in class. If they cannot stand up for some reason, they should be in a stable chair that doesn’t roll or spin to reduce distracting movements.
TECHNOLOGY IS VITAL
Even more so than a presentation that requires PowerPoint, presenting via Zoom has the potential to expose problems with technology. Students should be sure to test all of their equipment before their presentation begins.
NONVERBALS TAKE ON NEW FORMS
Many of the nonverbal characteristics faculty look for in person can be evaluated in mediated presentations, though the form may look different. Typically, people recording themselves (or participating in a Zoom meeting) look at images on their screens. Because cameras are usually positioned above the screen, they look like they are looking down throughout the presentation. Speakers should be encouraged to look at the camera regularly (if not consistently) so that they are making “eye contact” with the audience.
Gestures are still important online as they help make the speaker connect to the audience. Speakers should be sure their gestures are visible within the frame.
Suggested Evaluation Criteria Specific to Mediated Presentations
- Was the presentation recorded in a professional setting? Did the speaker eliminate distractions to the best of their ability?
- Was the presenter thoughtful about lighting, framing, and body language?
- Was the presenter wearing appropriate attire?
- Did the presenter eliminate disruptions on their end of the connection?
- If the presentation was done asynchronously, was the recording accessible to the audience in a timely manner?