NM: When trying to incorporate hands-on elements during lectures I like to break those things down into small and simple demonstrations. It is very difficult to do both an expansive didactic lecture and a worthwhile hands-on topic. When there is more time for presenting both, I like to teach first about the hands-on section by providing a background knowledge of the science or physiology of the topic and then provide physical examples to reinforce the ideas specifically taught.
TH: For straightforward equipment or skill demonstrations online, an additional high-definition web camera can capture close-ups or alternative angles to guarantee adequate visualization to all attendees and increase understanding. Just be sure to test and place the camera before your presentation. Adjusting a camera mid-lecture is distracting. As for encouraging hands-on participation of attendees during online presentations, many tactics exist. One tactic is to share access to an equipment list with attendees before a lecture. During the lecture, instruct attendees to use the equipment or readily available items to complete a skill.
MC: Presenters at WildMed conferences often have incredible experiences and stories to share. How do you effectively weave in relevant personal anecdotes and background to reinforce a topic while remaining accessible to the audience and not turning the talk into a “travel slideshow”? (Many of us have seen these talks and been guilty of this as well!)
AP: I think this probably centers around intentionality. Did you mean to tell this story at this point in your lecture? Why? To support a point or add credibility? To get a laugh from your audience? To invite a back-and-forth discussion of some kind? If you know why you’re using the story, you can transition into it, control its content and duration, and transition back to your presentation afterwards. I think it’s the unplanned stories that sometimes meander a bit.
TM: I sometimes use personal anecdotes to answer audience questions or when they are directly relevant to the subject we’re discussing. But globally, I keep these brief, a few sentences, and make sure they tie in closely to the content of the talk.
VC: Some personal experiences will help drive home the importance of the lecture topic and help keep people engaged. But remember, the goal is to teach a wilderness medicine topic, not convince your audience that you have had great experiences. Keep the stories for the campfire.
TH: When and if you do share an experience, keep it relevant and share just enough detail. Be conscious not to pass on biases. For online presentations, the opportunity to connect with individuals in a meaningful way is often lost. Plan to stay longer after the presentation to encourage follow-up from your audience. If you are on someone else’s platform and time is an issue, schedule a meeting immediately after your online presentation.
MC: Over the past year, virtual presentations have become a necessity and are likely to remain part of WildMed education. Based on your experiences, how have you been able to adapt your presentations to an online format and keep your audience engaged?
TH: Start with the mindset, objectives, and tactics you normally would for an in-person presentation and think creatively about adapting them to the online environment. Then, consider the various digital tools available to enhance your presentation further. Such digital tools may be an additional web camera for skill demonstrations, live annotations on an image, Mentimeter
to create a live audience-based word cloud, or uploading your PowerPoint slides as your virtual background in Zoom
. The online presentation platform, allotted time length, and audience interaction capabilities must also factor in. Find out which platform will be used and adjust your presentation accordingly. If the chat function is all you have, then plan to ask questions and allow time for the audience to type in answers as you read a few of their submissions out loud and comment. If time and platform capability allow, utilize breakout rooms or ask a participant to share their thoughts and experience.