Professional development workshop: Presentation support for senior design students

Reify Media workshop about audience

Reify Media works with adult learners in university and corporate settings on audience analysis, presentation skills, and more. For one department at NC State, Reify Media team members helped train, coach, and evaluate seniors preparing high-stakes presentations.

NC State’s Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISE) Department matches teams of senior students with local businesses, where they are given an authentic problem to solve, using what they have learned in their classes and labs during their 4-year tenure at the University. The partnership results in students making a formal presentation to business executives, demonstrating their potential solution to the company’s problem. Occasionally, the partnership also results in a job offer.

ISE students are well-versed in the technical know-how of industrial and systems engineering, but are less confident in the communication skills required to present their project findings to company executives. These students needed a framework of effective communication principles, resources to help them create engaging slides, and feedback on their presentation delivery. Ideally, this help would not only prepare them to ace their Senior Design project, but also prepare them to present information effectively in their future employment.

Reify Media created and delivered two live workshops to help ISE students master their Senior Projects. The first workshop was focused on audience, with attention to audience analysis, purpose and topic development, brevity, presentation communication skills, and information architecture. The second workshop focused on presentation visuals, with attention to best practices for slide development and presentation delivery with visual aids. These sessions included not only in-class activities and practice, but also quick-reference printables to help students prepare for future presentations. Additionally, Reify Media attended two rounds of student presentations and provided personalized feedback to students on both the content and delivery of their project findings.

These students are now prepared to demonstrate their proposed solutions to the executives of their partner companies. The process of creating, practicing, revising, and perfecting a presentation will serve them well in the future, and might even help land them their first job.