B5 - 'On-the-spot': Building Confidence in Presentation Skills for Research Students Using Improvisional Exercises

Day Day 1
Code B5
Start time 16:40
Room Surrey
Work with Doctoral Researchers

Lynne Crook, Academic Support Manager (Research), University of Salford

Workshop overview: 

Public speaking and presenting is often a source of anxiety for students (Bodie, 2010). This is even more so for some research students who may be giving important conference papers. While many institutions offer support for 'presentation skills', they often focus on practical considerations, rather than feelings of apprehension which students report.

Improvisation can help to provide a way for research students to actively explore presentation practices which they may find unfamiliar or threatening. Improvisation also provides other related performance based skills, such as an awareness of body language and engaging with an audience (Halpern, Close & Johnson, 1994).

This will be a practical workshop, based on sessions at the University of Salford. It will introduce participants to the use of improvisational techniques to improve confidence in public speaking for research students. There will also be space to discuss how such approaches could be incorporated at other institutions.

Workshop topics covered: 

  • An introduction to the skills and attitudes that improvisation techniques can develop
  • Summaries of feedback from research students on their issues with public speaking and experience of improvisation based sessions
  • Practical activities based on techn

Themes covered: 

  • Innovations in doctoral training programmes; new modes of delivery; delivering at scale, doctoral training centres/ partnerships, Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) and other cohort-based models

Workshop outcomes: 

By the end of the workshop, participants should have: 

  • Have an awareness of the aims of improvisation and its applications
  • Have further understanding of the hurdles facing research students in terms of public speaking
  • Have experience of undertaking practical exercises to combat performance anxiety and enhance speaking skills
  • Have explored the application of these exercises to their own practice


Information, practical exercises and discussion. Participants should expect to engage in improvisational exercises which may require some physical movement.