Poster Presentation: Audience Role

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Because successful communication depends on collaborative efforts between communicator and audience, your role as an audience for the poster presentations is as important as your role as speaker. Consider these three components of the audience role:

anticipatory listening. Since speakers typically structure some time for audience participation, you need to anticipate this opportunity. For the poster presentation, view the posters in advance of the presentation if possible. Make mental notes about questions you want answered or questions that might stimulate the speaker to fill in more details on the documented event. Follow the guidelines for interview questions, forming questions that elicit narratives, clarify purposes, tap the speaker’s personal perspective, etc.

active listening. How can I benefit from this presentation? How can I connect it with my own interests and experiences? How can I become a better communicator by observing this presentation? What should I be preserving from this presentation? Is the speaker’s message reasonable, well-documented from reliable sources? What are the speaker’s major biases? By thinking about such questions during the presentation, you become an active participant in a silent discussion that both engages you and raises valuable issues for later discussion. Part of our civic responsibility is to listen to others critically, skeptically, open-mindedly, to explore information with fairness and diligence. Practicing such responsible listening on all occasions prepares us for those times when issues are particularly important.

ethical listening. Empathize with the speaker. Given the stress associated with public speaking, do whatever you can to put the speaker at ease. Show with your eyes, facial expression, and body language that you are interested in the subject matter and respect the speaker’s work in putting together this presentation for your benefit. A laugh, a smile, a confirming nod—these simple responses can encourage and calm a speaker. If a speaker seems in trouble, think immediately about ways to help. If there are distractions (videotaping, camera flashes, technical difficulties), maintain your focus on the speaker. If a speaker freezes, you might politely ask for permission to ask a question in advance of the Q and A period; then follow with an informational, nonthreatening question. If a speaker is in physical distress, offer immediate support and aid. If a speaker has failed to attract a minimal audience for the presentation, join that group. If a speaker says something blatantly inaccurate or offensive, raise the issue during the Q&A period but in the spirit of open discussion, not confrontation. Otherwise your silence in effect condones offensive speech.

Details

  • On the day of presentation, arrive early if possible and observe the posters closely. Decide which presentations you most want to attend.
  • Once the presentations begin, they’ll shift every five minutes. With two-minute presentations, two-minute Q&A periods, and a minute to re-form groups, it is a tight schedule. Move between groups efficiently. Help keep the event on schedule.
  • Expect some visitors to drop in for the presentations. Faculty are interested in some of the WOVE activities in ISUComm classes and may join our event.
  • If you have not identified yourself on your poster, mention your name as part of your presentation.
  • You will be given a quick response evaluation form on which to mark your first, second, and third choice for best posters and best poster presentations for each day.
Submitted by Don Payne, Iowa State University, for"Creating and Assessing Posters workshop, May 30, 2006