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A Reflective Commentary on the Preparation and Delivery of the Oral Presentation
The presentation undertaken focussed on an eighty-year-old Asian female who spoke extremely limited English. Therefore any communication barriers needed to be addressed and this was achieved by asking the family to interpret. She is an obese individual who has a Body Mass Index of 30. She has type 2 diabetes mellitus, a right-sided chronic lower leg ulcer and arthritis affecting both knees. Her glucose levels are high because of her nutritionally poor diet. After consultation with the required health professional team she was advised about healthy eating that was culturally and religiously appropriate. Her wound was managed with guidance from the tissue viability nurse and her pain level was assessed and addressed. This assignment will provide a reflective appraisal of the preparation and delivery of the oral presentation mentioned above.
When commencing a reflective learning task it is important to understand the concept of reflection and the values of the reflective process, especially pertaining to nursing practice. There are many varied and valid interpretations of reflective learning; however, it is suggested that reflection is the contemplation of an event or activity that leads to professional knowledge enhancement and if needed, purposeful change to practice (Wilkinson, 1999, p36).
It can be said that one of the main values of reflective learning is that it can bridge the perceived gap between theory and practice by informing and extending students’ thinking in classroom and clinical situations. Reflective learning can also promote critical self-awareness and cultivate an inquiring attitude to both learning and practice. It is suggested that reflective learning enhances critical thinking through discussion, research of others’ professional opinions and use of appropriate literature. Finally, reflective learning skills when applied to practice can help in improving care by reflecting on what has been undertaken, why it was undertaken a certain way and how could care have been improved (O’Regan and Fawcett, 2006, p60, Johns, 2001, p237). It can be said therefore that reflective learning is thinking critically about an experience and learning from it. It is argued that it is often students and newly qualified nurses that are asked to become reflective practitioners. Debatably however, for the best care and clinical outcomes even expert nurses and clinical managers should undertake reflective practice.
As mentioned the presentation focussed on the care given to an elderly obese Asian female who has type 2 diabetes mellitus and has a chronic leg ulcer. Before designing the presentation I felt that the key to a successful presentation was to prepare well. Jones (2003, p96) proposes that “effective presentation can be defined as the ability to communicate a message to an audience in a way that results in a change in understanding or opinion”. Hadfield-Law (2001, p1208) suggests that when preparing effectively for a presentation you should “begin with a purpose”. Therefore, I posed the question “what am I aiming to accomplish and achieve in my presentation.” The intention of this presentation was to convey to the audience the nursing care given and the clinical effectiveness of care, alongside the prioritisation of my patient’s individual care needs. It was important that the presentation also expressed the holistic nature of the care undertaken. One of the key strengths of this presentation was the preparation undertaken before designing it using PowerPoint. However, this was extremely time consuming, but I felt that having a plan of action was imperative to success.
Preparing for the presentation included research into how effective presentations are planned and an action plan of the material that I wanted to use. Although there was a lot of material that could have been used in the presentation, I decided to use the most relevant information to get my message across.
The presentation was ten minutes in length and there was only enough time to convey the main, relevant points. Having said this, keeping the presentation simple and interesting would have helped to capture the audiences’ attention. The main points to be conveyed were placed on PowerPoint as this gave the presentation a more professional impression. It is important to note however that the use of visual aids such as PowerPoint slides should aid the presentation and not distract from it (Hadfield-Law, 2001, p1210). The structure of the presentation included an introduction, the main text of the talk and a conclusion. The introduction attempted to communicate to the audience a profile of the patient and the care needed. The conclusion was expressed in a way that clearly conveyed the message that I wanted to get across.
Another major strength of this presentation was that of time management both in the preparation and delivery of the presentation. I managed to undertake the presentation within the allotted time period. This is imperative as people expect you to keep to your allotted time. If you overrun there is a possibility of people becoming restless and consequently not concentrating on what is being said. Going over the time limit also shows poor preparation, planning and rehearsal.
I found delivering the presentation immensely stressful and my anxiety levels were extremely elevated. I felt that control of my anxiety could be worked on for future presentations. However, I consider that one of my main strengths when delivering this presentation was that I felt that my body language conveyed professionalism and knowledge of subject.
Writing this reflective commentary on my oral presentation has been difficult because of a number of factors. The lack of feedback has meant that I can only relay my views on how the presentation was received and not the views of the audience. Having reflected on the content of my presentation I wondered if I focussed on the patient enough, as her clinical care, personal, psychological and social needs were the focal point of this presentation. I felt that I excessively discussed the involvement of other the health professionals, clinical symptoms and clinical care given, thereby demonstrating the holistic nature of the care undertaken to the detriment of discussing my patients needs more fully. Again, feedback on my presentation would have enabled me to assess and critically analyse this point.
The main learning outcome of this assignment was the realisation of the importance of health professionals working together as a team for the benefit of the patient. Secondly, I acknowledged the effect of giving proper advice on guiding the patient to care for herself. Thirdly, I understood the significance of using appropriate language in communicating with the patient to promote understanding of the situation. Fourthly, I realised the importance of family involvement in the patient’s care. The learning outcomes of the presentation were that of the importance of preparation, planning and rehearsing in order to achieve success and to help reduce stress and anxiety. I have also observed that presentation skills are very useful skills for nurses to learn. It is suggested that these skills can be used to share practice knowledge, influence colleagues and are essential skills for job interviews (Hadfield-Law, 2001, p1208).
The process of reflecting has implications for my future nursing practice. The ability to reflect on the hows, whys and ifs of situations and experiences allows decisions and emotions to be examined for the benefit of both the patient and the health professional. The development of these skills will enable me to analyse decisions in the planning and delivery of care so that any risks have been successfully eliminated. It is suggested that reflective practices either in a classroom situation or in a clinical setting should be undertaken as part of everyday practice and as part of continuous professional development (Wilkinson, 1999, p40). Having said that however, questioning every act to be carried out or already undertaken could lead to uncertainty and low professional self-esteem. So it is suggested that it is important to know when to stop reflecting and when to take action.
In conclusion, reflective learning promotes critical self-awareness enabling thought to precede action such that care is improved for the patient. The ability to critically review past actions is key to the learning process. Reflective learning is a useful skill to develop in a work setting and has potential benefits in the planning and delivery of clinical care. Careful preparation is vital for a successful presentation and a clear idea of the aim of the presentation at the outset is essential to the planning process. Attention to the timing of the presentation is required in order to ensure the relevance of the material and to meet audience expectations. Feedback is a useful tool to improve performance and its absence limits the scope for improvement.
Hadfield-Law L (2001) Presentation skills for nurses: how to prepare more effectively. British Journal of Nursing. 10, 18, 1208-1211.
Johns C (2001) Reflective practice: revealing the heart of caring. International Journal of Nursing Practice. 7, 4, 237-245.
Jones J (2003) Well presented. Nursing Standard. April 2, 17, 29, 96.
O’Regan H and Fawcett T (2006) Learning to nurse: reflections on bathing a patient. Nursing Standard. 20, 46, 60-64.
Wilkinson J (1999) Implementing reflective practice. Nursing Standard. 13, 21, 36-40.
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