Proper communication is an integral part of everyone’s daily lives.
It is through communication that people have the opportunity to express themselves; how they feel and what their thoughts are. Without good communication, people will most likely misunderstand each other and create conflicts. It is therefore important that people acquire good communication skills in order to establish positive relationships with others. One of the most common activities inside the classrooms is presentations, which are usually done in groups. From a functional perspective, “we join groups because groups are able to accomplish things that individuals cannot accomplish when they work alone” (Stewart, Manz, ; Sims, 1999, pp.5-6).
This is entirely different from that of an individual presentation wherein the person works alone for the project and does not have to deal with others just to come up with a good presentation. Group presentations require brainstorming, discussion, and constant communication among the group members. This is not very difficult if the members share the same insights on the topic at hand or have known each other for a long time and do not have any problems sharing and speaking out during discussions.
However, the same cannot be said when it comes to groups who have no similar interests and have just come to know each other when the group was formed. I happened to be a part of the group where the members did not really know each other that well. The whole class was instructed to form groups but at the end, there were four students who did not belong to any groups and I was one of these students.
“A team is more than a number of brilliant individual advisers. It is a group of people who understand each other, who know individual strengths and weaknesses and who co-operate with one another.” (Margerison ; Mc.Cann, 1992, p.
10). The tutor advised us that we form our own group, which we did. While the activity is solely dependent on us as a group, I believe that the tutor plays an important part in our success or failure. “At the beginning of a group work task, for example, issues relating to the management of aspects of the group’s interaction, in particular the level and nature of support for groups when not just intellectual, but relational difficulties arise, should already have been considered and strategies formulated” (Burdett, 2007, p.57). Our first group meeting was held after the class. It was then that we decided about the name of the assignment.
I have to note that only two members pitched in their ideas while the other two merely agreed to what was being suggested by the first two members. Our topic was divided into four parts, one for each member. Each person was responsible for researching his or her own part of the assignment to have a contribution to the presentation. After the first meeting and after everyone was done with their individual research process, we contacted through emails. Our contributions were sent to a member who was responsible for putting all the information together for our presentation.
The second meeting involved us checking our Power Point presentation. We made sure that we had everything covered in our topic. At the end, we decided when our next meeting should be. The third and last meeting was short. We discussed our presentation and our individual parts in the presentation. There were no new suggestions from the members at this time.
Personally, I had numerous insights regarding the group work. The first of these is the insufficient number of meetings that were held for the group. Although we had nothing much to say by the end near the presentation date, I still believe that we lacked the opportunity to bond together in order to become comfortable with each other. It would also been helpful if we had the chance to work and research together as a group so that everyone knew what was going on with the assignment.
Assigning parts made it easier for us to research but it also meant that we had limited knowledge in the presentation since we only focused on our individual parts. We also should have met when the other member was creating the Power Point presentation for the group instead of us sending the information to her and letting her do all the work. I also have to note that our group did not establish any goals. These are essential whether they are personal or group goals because these allow people to have an idea on where they are going.
“A clearly stated objective gives the team members confidence that they are moving in the right direction, and allows the team to assess its progress along the way” (Wee & Morse, 2007, p.1). Personal goals will allow a person to improve his or her communication skills as a group member. Group goals, on the other hand, will make it easier for the members to determine if they are doing the right thing or need to evaluate their work better. “Teams are an extremely valuable tool for a company if they are constructed to operate effectively and are motivated and given clear objectives” (Mackay, 1993, p.
2). Another problem that I had with the group was that we did not have any leader. There is no doubt that leaders play an important role in groups. These people are the ones that the rest of the members look up to and listen to regarding what needs to be done. The leader brings the whole group together. If this person proves to be ineffective, it is most likely that the group will fail in their goals.
If this is how it is with an inefficient leader, what more if there is no leader in the group. This can present chaos and confusion among the group members on whose idea should be followed. However, having no leader can also mean that the team sees each other as equals and that everyone can suggest or recommend something, which the group can decide upon. Because we did not know each other very well, we had troubles trusting each other. Trust is a significant part of a group because this will mean that the members have established a relationship with each other. This will make the group perform better and become united for the sake of their project. “Trust comes from being truthful, and truth-telling on all levels is the norm for high performance teams. Trust also arises when there is congruence among team members-when team members consistently do what they say and say what they’ll do” (Bowen, 2008, p.
2). Trust can lessen the worry that each member will have when it comes to making sure that everyone will do what they are supposed to do. Due to the small number of our meetings, we did not have enough time to practice for our presentation. I know that a factor in how we are graded is how we present our work to the class.
While we do not really have a problem with this because we did our own parts for the assignment, we were not able to view the presentation as a group and make a plan or an outline on what is going to happen during the presentation. This vagueness can affect how we present our work since it can make us unsure of ourselves and appear as though we are nervous when in fact we are not. We also did not have the opportunity to share with each other and bond as a group. As a result, I was not able to share that I have fear of presenting in front of an audience. My group assumed that everyone can do the presentation and that each member can act professionally at all times. Bonding would have given us the chance to share personal thoughts and insights.
This will not decrease my fear of presenting but the support that I will receive from them will make it easier for me to do the presentation. I have to indicate that not all the things that happened during this group work was negative. There were also things that I learned in the process. One is that a group cannot work without the cooperation of everyone in the group. If one member decided that he or she did not care and did not perform the research on the topic assigned to him or her, it is most definite that the group will fail in the assignment. I also realized that although working alone is better, working with groups can help build my social skills and can allow me to interact with people who are completely different from me.
I do not believe that my group failed in this assignment. Admittedly, we did have our share of problems with each other and within ourselves but I do not think that we are the only group who experienced this. However, I think that my group and the members still have a long way to go to improve in terms of working with a group and presenting work in front of a large audience. I think that it is important for people to bond and get to know each other first before even working together. This will make them more comfortable with each other and will allow them to open up and share what they want to say within the group. It is also better if the members regularly update each other with the progress of their work. The group should take the time to meet and discuss the research and future problems that they may encounter as a group. It would be a good idea if the members get together and practice the presentation process or at least know the flow of the presentation so that they would not appear unprofessional while in front of the audience.
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