Contributing to Seminars
The main way in which seminars differ from lectures is that their success relies on a lot of effective two-way communication. Unlike a lecture you will not spend the majority of the time listening to one person speaking. In the best seminars, all members of the group are equally committed to listening actively and putting forward their ideas clearly. The combination of speaking and listening will help you to develop a more critical approach towards your subject.
It is essential that you develop and demonstrate good listening skills not only for seminars, but for any aspect of life that involves working with others.
How do you know whether you are a good listener?
If you know that you are not a good listener or would like to improve on your listening skills start by considering your responses to the following points:
Being a good listener is a basic requirement in engaging in effective discussion.
Active listening means making a determined effort to be a good listener,
really thinking about what people are saying and trying to produce a response
to it, for
Try not to be too worried about the quality of your contribution. It does not need to be perfect - they rarely are! Other students and the lecturer will be pleased that you have contributed. Remember that the way you express your ideas and opinions orally will improve with practice.
Lots of people get anxious at the thought of speaking out in a group, especially when you do not know the others that well or do not feel fully confident about the topic. The best way to overcome this anxiety is to JUST DO IT. Build your confidence by participating as much as possible. Very few people are born with the 'gift of the gab' and those that are do not always make much sense. Most confident speakers have worked to develop their style. By learning a few simple techniques you'll be able to use seminars to develop strong oral communication skills that will stand you in good stead in any situation where you need them.
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