“ The whole is often greater than the sum of its parts ”. I didn’t understand the meaning of this sentence until I finished my TED talk presentation. As one member of “ The Fast and the Furious,” I am proud of my group. Although we are all non-native speakers, we tried our best and we improved from the previous presentation. I realized that groups make better decisions than individuals because different perspectives, constructive deliberation, questioning, and critical analysis can result in better solutions and performance.
Group projects can help students develop specific skills from collaborative efforts, allowing students to delegate roles and responsibilities to make a group function effectively, which also can improve students’ speaking in public.
- Group function productively
Firstly, I learned how to make a group work effectively during our group discussion. Our first group meeting was very inefficient because we suffered from a lack of purpose. While we had an overall idea of what to do, there was no specific day-to-day goal or setting of a personal target. All the team members began to feel bored or indifferent toward the rest of the team and lost interest in the concept as a whole. At the end of the meeting, our group did not finish any of the professor’s requests. In order for our group to function productively, we chose a team leader and divided our topic into five parts: government point of view for insuring driverless car, history of the driverless car, drivers point of view, the hardware of car design, and finally, some of other technical aspects. The leader asked each person to be responsible for one part and to prepare for the next meeting.
We had an unforgettable and effective second meeting during lecture, because every group member did some research about his part at home, contributing to the group interaction. We demonstrated support for one another as we accomplished the second-meeting goal, which shared basic research with other group members. Finally we delivered good results on time. In order for me to play a better role in my group, I expect the group to value my individual contributions, to address behaviors that compromise group productivity, and to divide the work equitably among members. Group work helped me learn how to work with people outside my circle of friends, including those who have different backgrounds and experiences. For example, All five of us improved a lot in terms of communication skills. In the final meeting, we exemplified a sense of team loyalty and helped members who were experiencing difficulties. For example, one of our group members made some Powerpoint slides in a wrong format. Instead of blaming him we helped him to correct the problem together. When students are trying to explain things to each other, to debate an question, or to justify a conclusion, this kind of teamwork helped to achieve a better result.
- Improving students’ speaking in public
Secondly, once with properly structured, group projects can reinforce social skills that are relevant to both group and individual work. We did not know each other at the beginning since we just randomly picked a topic： “insuring driverless cars”. I was shy until my group members encouraged me to talk more and talk loudly in front of other people. Finally, I presented on the stage about other technical aspect with full of confidence. I am not only learned from my group but also from watching other classmates’ work. The most important skill I learned from my peers’ talk is how to engage audiences in a presentation . For a good presentation, a speaker’s task is not to grab attention but to actively nurture the audiences’ attention and transform it into engagement. As a typical Chinese student, the lack of confidence of showing myself is always a big problem for me, which makes me feel nervous during each presentation. Because Chinese education produces excellent test scores, a short-term outcome that can be achieved by rote memorization and hard work, but it does not produce a citizenry of diverse, creative, and innovative talent.
I learned a lot by watching one of my classmate’s presentation. He did a good job in respect of engaging audiences. He shared a personal story about a car accident happened to his father, which immediately attracted audiences’ attention and resonated some people with the same experience. From his talk I learned that we shouldn’t be afraid of presentations. Sharing one or two stories about how you failed at something and what you learned in the process makes it easier to engage audiences. Disclosing an event with some emotional fallout not only builds trust but also gives your audience the chance to get to know you better.
In conclusion, For the non-native speakers who will take ENG119 next semester. If you have the same fears as me in terms of presentations and group work, I hope you now know how to make group function efficiently and how to communicate with other group members.