When I attended the history symposium for the first time on Friday, I had few to no expectations. All I knew was that this was where students would be presenting the fruits of their labor from their senior seminars, without having any inkling of the mechanics of this.
One of the things that surprised me the most was how similar the presentations were to the ones we gave in our 297 class. In a way, the presentations were less serious than I was expecting, with students having interesting visual in their backgrounds, and sliding jokes into their speeches.
The presentation that stuck with me the most was probably the first of the section I attended. It was, in my opinion, the most accessible to a historian unfamiliar with the topic, and the most intriguing. The presented argument was clear, concise, restated throughout the presentation, and fairly well argued, with quotes from the examined subject woven throughout. (I fully admit that this preference might be virtue of the order of the presentations.)
The two presentations after seemed to me to be just as good, but a bit more confusing.
Presentation #2, while interesting, seemed to focus a bit too much on historical background, and not enough time arguing a point. Even now, I can’t remember the specifics of this person’s topic.
The final presentation, though intriguing, was less impactful because I failed to understand all of the moving parts of the political machine described. This presentation, conversely, would have benefitted from more historical context. Even so, the point (from what I understood) was well-argued.
One moment that stuck in my brain was when one of the subsequent presenters referred to Kaiser Wilhelm as the “President of Germany.” This illustrates the necessity of knowing the background information of your topic, and preparing your speech so you know it back and forth in order to avoid any verbal slips.
I’m glad I was able to get a sneak preview of what to expect for my senior seminar, and to get a sense of how to be a more effective presenter!