Everyone has been there at one point or another. It’s the first day of class and your professor loudly and happily announces that there will be a required oral presentation at the end of the semester. I used to think that they announced it only to see an entire classroom shift into a state of panic and horror. What other reason could there be to assign such a lengthy and terrifying project?

Recently, I have learned that my thoughts were pretty far off. I had that moment of panic and horror at the beginning of this semester when my research professor announced that there would be a final presentation based on a potential research study. I’m sure that every member of the class had the same thought process that I did. I’ll just throw together a 10 slide Power Point and it will take me all of about an hour to finish the entire project. Then the professor decided to add a twist to the project. No electronic devices were permitted for the project. No Power Points, no Prezis, nothing requiring an outlet, period.

At that moment everyone’s head started scrambling for an answer. How would we complete any kind of presentation without those things? Is that kind of task even possible? That was when I realized that most everyone in my class had no idea how to communicate without the crutch of electronic media.

My group and I embraced the adventure and set out on a mission to ace the entire presentation. We went to the store and bought glue sticks, poster boards and construction paper, all the while remembering doing the same thing with our parents in middle school. Yep, it had probably been that long since I had touched construction paper.

We finished the project and didn’t lose a single point. We had some time to reflect after the presentation and we all had the same thoughts. It was interesting to see how much our entire class relied on electronic media and modern sources to communicate. Sure, we can connect on Facebook and tweet every concern or thought that crosses our head, but do we have real interpersonal relation skills to communicate face to face or in front of large groups?

Ultimately we decided that maybe our research oral presentation wasn’t all that bad. In fact maybe all oral presentations aren’t that bad. They force us to continue communicating the old fashioned way: with our real live voices. Someday that skill will make us more marketable in our chosen field.

On that note, I’m off to communicate with the books because there is a lengthy finals week ahead!


Are you interested in the field of communications in general? Check out other posts about communication here