microphone

Chapman professor to develop business presentation series for The Great Courses


woman smiling

Jennifer Waldeck, Ph.D.


Here’s good news for everyone in the business world who’s ever sat heavy-eyed in a meeting and thought they might tumble to the floor, another victim of death by PowerPoint.

Jennifer Waldeck, Ph.D., associate professor in Chapman University’s
Department of Communication Studies
, has been tapped by The Great Courses, the nation’s leading producer of premium-quality video courses, to develop a series on business presentation skills. And yes, one of the segments will address those ubiquitous bullet-riddled slide shows.

“There will be one 30-minute lecture on the importance of sensory aides and developing them appropriately,” Waldeck said with a laugh.

Fear the podium? Write about it!


Writing about fear is a good way to manage it, so list on paper everything about public speaking that worries you.

“You’ll see that a lot of them are irrational and unlikely to happen,” Professor Waldeck says.

Replace the negative list with a positive one.

“If your fear is boring everyone in the room, say, ‘Hey I’ve spent all this time developing interesting content, I know my audience and I’m meeting them where they are. I can’t possibly bore them.’”


The aim of the course is serious, though. The Great Courses is expanding from its traditional base of humanities courses into business topics, intent on reaching a new audience, Waldeck says. Although often listed as one of people’s top fears, public speaking is frequently a job requirement.

“Public speaking has become so import to just about everyone’s careers. Even if you pick a technical field and you think, ‘Oh, I’ll never have to talk to a group of people.’ It’s not like that anymore,” she says.

Among the topics she has planned for the series are how to bring the art of storytelling to a business presentation, managing anxiety and crafting a persuasive message for a resistant audience.

Later this spring, Waldeck will work with The Great Courses producers to create a pilot video lecture, which will be used in focus groups to help shape some of the content. The entire series is expected to take a year to produce.

“I’m really excited,” Waldeck says. “It’s an honor, but it’s also just a different way of thinking about the things I teach.”

Headquartered in Chantilly, Va., The Great Courses partners with prestigious organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Culinary Institute of America and the National Geographic Society to create educational content. The courses are regularly featured by media outlets such as
Smithsonian m
agazine, The History Channel and the Smithsonian Channel.

Dawn Bonker

Dawn Bonker

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