Interpersonal meaning and audience engagement in academic presentations

A multimodal discourse analysis perspective

Authored by: Gail Forey , Dezheng Feng

The Routledge Handbook of English for Academic Purposes

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138774711
eBook ISBN: 9781315657455
Adobe ISBN: 9781317328100


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‘Start with a quote’, ‘start with a hook’, ‘capture the attention of your audience in the first few seconds’ and many other ‘tips’ can be found about how to give a good presentation, and there are a plethora of websites, YouTube videos and textbooks offering tips for better presentations (; Duarte, 2010; Gallo, 2014). Academic presentations (APs) are a key mode of sharing information both in the workplace (Evans, 2013; Kline, 2003) and academia (Ventola & Charles, 2002; Hood & Forey, 2005; Thompson, 2003). Students’ presentations are often a form of assessment and studies related to student presentations have discussed group and individual performance (Chou, 2011), the projection of identity by the speaker (Zareva, 2013) and L1 versus L2 perceptions of APs (Zareva, 2009). At a postgraduate level, studies provide insights into such features as dissertation defenses (Me┼żek and Swales, this volume). For example, both Recski (2005) and Wulff et al. (2009) examine the discussion section (DS) of the dissertation defense and demonstrate the high stakes nature of APs. APs are high stakes for both students and faculty; that is, students’ presentations are linked to assessment and grades, and faculty presentations are informally assessed for their contribution to the field by their peers. For faculty members, APs are an integral feature of their annual workload, and these presentations may range from an invited plenary, informal seminar, parallel paper presentation to a large or a small audience. Due to space, we focus on APs given by academics rather than students, and suggest that the features identified in faculty APs will have currency and value for students and other public speakers.

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