If you think some professors can be stiff in front of a classroom, you should see their students! Many university STEM courses require students to give presentations. Few seniors can present well, and some students even leave graduate school with lousy presentation skills, hence professors who give uninspiring and even off-putting lectures. There’s considerable overlap between presentation skills and acting skills. Nancy Houfek, Head of Voice and Speech for the American Repertory Theatre, has given some wonderful workshops on Teaching as Performance through the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning of Harvard University. The first two videos in this Boc Center series (http://tinyurl.com/dxqxhv8) feature Ms. Houfek’s workshops. The videos were designed for professors, but when your STEM students present they become teachers, so these videos would be appropriate to share with them as well.
The topics addressed include:
- Teacher/Presenter/Actor preparation
- Landing your energy
- Audience engagement
- Addressing stage fright
- The use of breath
- Taking pleasure in words, even technical ones
- The use of metaphors to address different learning styles
- Waking up the body
- Opening up the voice
There’s even an illustrated guide to the workshop exercises that could be adapted for your STEM classroom: http://bokcenter.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic650252.files/actguide.pdf Break a leg.