The new HSC English syllabus has brought in a lot of new changes including introduction of the multimodal presentation.
One of the most noticeable (and for some, the most daunting) is that all students of HSC English are now required to complete one multimodal presentation as part of their in-school assessment.
Sounds fun, right…
Well, fear not. We’re here to break down the process of for you and hopefully make it a little less terrifying.
What is a multimodal presentation?
The word “multimodal” has been popping up a lot in the new syllabus and is worth knowing.
It’s not just “teacher talk”, it’s a definition that will help you greatly as you move through the HSC English course.
The way we engage with a text is known as a ‘mode’, for example, reading, listening and viewing are all different types of modes.
Therefore, “a multimodal text uses a combination of two or more communication modes, for example, print, image and spoken text as in film or computer presentations”.
What forms can a multimodal presentation take?
The most obvious type of multimodal presentation is the classic in-class speech, accompanied by some sort of visual aid (e.g. slideshow, handout, etc) to tick that all-important “multimodal” box.
However, this type of presentation is overdone.
Yes, I said it.
I mean, who hasn’t had to get up and give a speech at some point?!
Thus, in the spirit of the new syllabus, a lot of schools are now looking to freshen things up by saying goodbye to the traditional in-class speech and welcoming all kinds of new types of presentations.
In the table below, we’ve broken down some of the most common types of multimodal presentations students may be asked to give during their HSC year. Pay close attention, you might have to give one yourself!
|Multimodal Presentation Type||What does it involve?||Pros?||Cons?|
|In-class speech||Standing up in front of the class to deliver a speech, accompanied by a visual aid of some sort.||Usually over very quickly (i.e. within 5 minutes) so you can get it over and done with.|
Don’t have to worry about video/audio editing.
|Can be incredibly nerve-wracking for some.
Nowhere to hide if you make a mistake.
|Video/vlog||Videoing yourself giving a speech, can take the more casual form of a “vlog”.|
You may also be allowed to play around with visual effects, pictures and sound.
|You can go back and re-record/edit anything you mess up.|
No live audience.
|Some may feel self-conscious watching/listening to themselves on video.
Often requires some knowledge of video editing.
|Audio recording/podcast||Creating a voice recording of yourself giving a speech.||You can go back and re-record anything you mess up.|
No live audience.
You don’t have to look at yourself on screen.
|Some may feel self-conscious listening to a recording of their own voice (I know I certainly do…).
May require a knowledge of audio editing.
|Viva-voce||A relatively casual discussion with 1-2 teachers.|
Can be similar to an interview.
You’ll often be asked to bring in a visual aid of some sort.
E.g. a mindmap or poster and explain this as part of your discussion.
|Not as daunting as standing up in front of the whole class.|
Usually over very quickly (i.e. within 5 minutes) so you can get it over and done with.
Don’t have to worry about video/audio editing.
|Can be intimidating.
Teachers might decide to ask unexpected questions designed to throw you off or challenge you.
How to Ace Your Multimodal Presentation Assessment
Step 1: Get Into the Details
You don’t have to start writing your presentation right away but at least do the following little things to help get in the right mindset for approaching the task:
Make note of the due date & task weighting
Read over the question and look up any unfamiliar words in a dictionary, to ensure you understand it fully
Underline key words of the question – and make sure you are able to define them. Not just literally, in a dictionary sense but also critically too – are there any other ways in which the word or phrase might be interpreted?
Read and annotate the marking criteria. What do you need to do to get a Band 6? Clarify definitions with a teacher or tutor if necessary.
Step 2: Work on Your TEE Table
Next up, start gathering notes on your text/s. You’ll likely be talking about both your prescribed text and a related text so it goes without saying that you should know them well.
Start by compiling a classic TEE table for each text (can link article here?). Rather than having one giant table, which can get unwieldy, consider having separate tables divided up by theme or section.
Consider the following guiding questions as you work through the Effect (effect = analysis) section of your TEE table:
What human experience is being represented? How?
What type of human experience is this? How do we know this?
What is this significance of this human experience – for the character, for the author and for the reader? How do we know this?
Is there anything different or unusual about this experience? Does it reveal any inconsistencies, anomalies or paradoxes in human behaviour? How do we know this?
Step 3: Write Your First Draft
Now’s the time to start writing your first draft.
Your first draft, more often than not, will not be your best work.
Give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts, get feedback on your drafts (from a teacher, tutor, family member, etc) and apply that feedback in writing a new draft.
This process of revision is crucial as it can help you to spot weaknesses that you might not have noticed otherwise – or that you might not have noticed until too late.
Most importantly, don’t let your first draft be your last draft.
As you write your drafts, make sure you are continuously and relentlessly answering the question. Put simply, you will lose marks if you don’t. That question is there for a reason; it’s not just there for decoration, it’s not there as a “starting sentence”… it’s there to be answered!
Have the notification beside you as you write so you can see the question at all times; alternatively, you might write it out on a post it note and stick it on your laptop or you might even title your document as the question itself (radical, I know).
Should I write formally or casually?
Multimodal presentations are interesting in that they’re often caught in the middle of formal and casual writing. On one hand, you want to sound sophisticated, perceptive and insightful… on the other hand, you don’t want to put your audience to sleep.
Try and strike a balance between formal and casual language. Don’t include hashtags or the word “yeet” in your script for example, but also don’t use unnecessarily big and obscure words that do nothing other than make it obvious that you’re showing off.
Let’s consider three examples, writing on the popular prescribed text Billy Elliot…
Daldry yeets Billy as this mirror which we can use to connect with the idea of being an edgy teenager lol #relatable
Billy is posited by Daldry as a specular, empathic character with whom viewers such as ourselves and other audiences across temporal dimensions can find correspondence in the notion of being a transgressive adolescent human.
Billy is therefore positioned by Daldry as a kind of mirror through which viewers can empathise with the paradoxical experience of adolescent rebellion – something we’ve all been through in one way or another.
Which example do you think is the most appropriate for a multimodal presentation?
The correct answer is Example C.
While it is still relatively formal and sophisticated, it is not so dense or archaic that we can’t understand it. It’s easy to follow and easy to engage with, which is what you should be aiming for in connecting with your audience – something that is often addressed in marking criteria.
Step 4: Edit, Polish and Revise!
Help! My script is too long…
One of the trickiest parts about multimodal presentations is their length. Students are usually required to present for somewhere around 3-6 minutes which is really not that long. It’s less writing than the average length of an essay (around 800 words) so you will need to do some chopping.
Consider instead writing more of a mini essay – focusing more so on your time limit rather than word limit.
Need some extra help on editing, polishing and revising your multimodal presentation? Check out our awesome article, here.
Wait, so I’m not just writing an essay and presenting it?
Yeah nah. A lot of students do fall into a trap of writing an essay as their script. However, it’s important you don’t do this, A) because your language can get too formal and isolating for your audience, B) because it can be too long and C) because you’re not being asked to write an essay.
Make sure you adapt your language and structure so that it resembles the text type actually there on your notification. HSC English is about more than just essays, believe it or not.
How the heck do I video/audio edit? I’m not a YouTuber…
You don’t need to be a professional YouTuber to do this. Many programs are incredibly user-friendly and if you’re lucky, your teacher may even run a demo in class.
Popular programs include:
- Final Cut
- YouTube editing software
For audio, a simple voice recording is often enough. Otherwise, your teacher may recommend audio editing platforms such as Audacity or VoiceThread, both of which are incredibly straightforward and easy to use.
What about visual aids?
You may need to submit a visual aid as part of your presentation, depending on the specific task requirements.
Ensure your visual aid is not text-heavy and is not a crutch to your presentation. It should supplement not substitute what you have to say. If you’re spending half the presentation reading off your visual aid or staring at it then you’re doing it wrong.
Ok so I’ve written my script, I’ve recorded everything and edited… Now what?
Go treat yourself to a good chill out sesh. You’ve earned it.
Need some extra help with your HSC English Multimodal Presentation?
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