Sunday, January 18, 2015

Meeting People Where They're At

The workshop today about presentation and TV skills was really helpful to me. I’m glad we got these presentations before we started working on our own presentations because this has definitely given me a good place to start. Without this guidance, I would have definitely been the person trying to stick every statistic on a PowerPoint and reciting every fact I’ve learned in my research during my presentation. I’ve done presentations before, and for some reason, I never even considered what the overall impact of my presentation style was. I always figured the more factual a presentation was and the more information I throw at people, the more convinced they would be of my argument. After today, I can clearly see why that’s erroneous. If people want all the details, they can read the 20-page paper I took the time to write. A presentation should be more about conveying and clear and easy to digest message for an audience within the time allotted.

The feedback I got from Stephanie and Al as well as the mentors also really helped me to better organize my own thoughts for this presentation. I know I have all these facts and research in my head, but the challenge is picking what is the ESSENTIAL point I want to get across, not just in my presentation but also in my paper.  In 7 minutes (or 20 pages), people can’t possibly learn everything that’s taken me months to comprehend, but they should at least come away from my presentation knowing why and how my topic is a pressing women’s human rights issue and know some ideas of how to go about solving it.

Something Al pointed out to me was that my topic wasn’t something that most people would obviously see as a women’s human rights issue, in that most people think about people in prison as just criminals, so who cares, right? While a huge part of my research has been examining how popular representations of crime and criminality can obscure the true nature of who is actually in prison, the idea that most people wouldn’t initially get my topic almost completely didn’t cross my mind. I completely intended to just launch in to all the evils of the prison system and mass incarceration without any contextualizing. Now I know that a big part of my presentation will be setting up women’s imprisonment as a relevant issue, humanizing the women I hope to represent in my research, and offering easy to understand solutions, using my best practice non-profit model and other global examples.

Being an advocate, especially in an international and not as academic setting, will require me to make my message more appropriate to different audiences. I want to be able to meet people where they’re at but also lead them to a hopefully radically different understanding of the topic of women in prison.



  1. Yes, Al made a good point. We have been conditioned as a society to look down on prisoners, regardless of the crime. It is also scary for people to face the fact that our judicial system is deeply flawed and not necessary just. You have a big task to humanize these women.

  2. Have you ever visited a Women's Prison to experience the atmosphere first hand? I would suggest trying to get an appointment to visit the Women's Prison in Raleigh sometime soon. It will make your presentation more authentic and personal.