A good presentation is three things: substantive, clear, and engaging. I trust any student at Stanford University to create substance for a presentation. Yet many students, myself included, struggle to be clear and engaging. We may fear that our jokes won't go over well or that our core arguments won't come across seriously; failure in these critical moments of our presentation will ultimately compromise both the clarity and audience's focus. I struggled with these problems when writing my presentation, which focused on the concept of kairos (or the opportune moment) in the life of Steve Jobs. The way I approached this problem was through practice. I practiced for hours on end; each time I reached a point in my presentation that was not sufficiently interesting or clear, I would revise it until that particular part felt OK, and then I would practice it again. Ultimately, I found myself building the concept of kairos that I'd studied in the life of Steve Jobs into my own presentation. I constructed moments in my presentation where I would slow down, and then emphatically and carefully would state something that I hoped would come across as profound. This kairos made my presentation both engaging (it caused the audience to pay attention) and clear (it made my core statements concise and my media minimalistic). Indeed, kairos ultimately was responsible for the substance, clarity, and engagement of my presentation.
Course: It's About Time: Seizing Opportunity in Rhetoric, Writing, and Performance
Instructor: Kelly Myers
Doug Safreno is a Computer Science major of the Class of 2015. He is from Woodside, California, and attended St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco where he was President of the Speech and Debate team. Doug's interests in Computer Science extend to analyzing the important characteristics of talented and world-changing individuals.