Feedback from a Great Presentations Student

A year and a half after completing my Great Presentations class at UCSB, Claire Phillips sent me this email with her thoughts about the class’s teaching/learning dynamic. I appreciate hearing what she has to say — especially now that she has had a chance to apply a few Great Presentations ideas in her work. ~ By the way, Claire is an environmental scientist and writer. ~ Thank you for your insights, Claire!

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Hi Janet,

I was just reading this article on Brainpickings about a book called Focus (by Daniel Goleman), which debunks the 10,000 hours-to-master-a-skill myth. He argues that the quality of the time spent mastering a skill is far more valuable than the quantity of time, and quality times includes mentors that provide meaningful feedback.

“Goleman identifies a second necessary element: a feedback loop that allows you to spot errors as they occur and correct them, much like ballet dancers use mirrors during practice. He writes:

‘Ideally that feedback comes from someone with an expert eye and so every world-class sports champion has a coach. If you practice without such feedback, you don’t get to the top ranks. The feedback matters and the concentration does, too — not just the hours.'”

This article really identified the genius in your teaching method for me, especially for the presentations class. I think one of the big reasons we were all jumping ahead so quickly in our presentation skills was because we analyze and provide feedback multiple times every class (as well as receiving feedback, of course). And the process of identifying what worked and what didn’t in live time helped those lessons sink in so much more profoundly.

I also think that verbalizing and discussing the critiques imbues a lot of confidence in everyone. At my new job I have had complete confidence (and gained my colleagues’ confidence) in my analysis of presentations because I have both a full understanding of the elements and am comfortable with the language to communicate those elements.

Anyway, I was just struck by that while I was reading the article and I thought I would pass it along!