Teaching presentation skills
Developing presentation skills is important for students on many types of English courses. Most obviously relevant to trainee teachers and business students, in fact many other types of courses aim to help students to communicate effectively to a group audience using a rich mix of spoken language, body language, voice projection, audio-visual aids and a structured approach to organizing the presentational materials and content.
It is vital that TESOL teachers and business English trainers are not only good presenters themselves but that they can also provide activities that will develop these presentational skills in their students.
Most business English courses will include strategies to help students acquire presentational skills by clear guidance and provision of activites to practise these skills in the classroom.
For some students, the development of presentational skills is an explicit goal while for other studetns of English it is an excellent opportunity for participants to practise the language they have been learning in a realistic situation.
How to develop students' presentational skills
You will probably find it best if your component on making presentations builds up gradually from short 30-second presentations to fully developed 20-minute presentations using PowerPoint or other presentation packages. How much time you spend on this will depend on the needs of your participants of course. If the focus on the course is on telephoning, you may not include this at all.
It is very important that the language of presenting is looked at as well as the manner of presenting. There is no point expecting course participants to start to present with out some input in terms of language. This can be done in a range of different ways, but one way might be to look at examples of presentations in written form, on audio tape and on video. The participants could pinpoint ways in which the presenter
- introduced the presentation
- stated the objective of the presentation
- made the first point
- moved from one point to another
- reviewed what had been covered so far
- summarised the main points
- concluded the presentation.
These could perhaps be fed into the programme over a number of sessions.
It would be best to approach presenting in a number of different stages:
The participants could work in pairs; each takes 30 seconds to present to the other, taking a different viewpoint on a topic. Television provides children with a stimulating learning environment. Television destroys children's imaginations. The trainer should move around checking out as many as possible in the time available. There is likely to be brief feedback from the participants afterwards, and comments from the trainer. This initial task would immediately focus on the introductory language that they needed and the language input could start here.
At a later stage, the pairs of participants could each be given a topic (perhaps on pollution, alcohol) and asked to prepare a 2-3 minute presentation for their partner. As always, there should be general discussion and feedback from the participants and the trainer. The advantage of pair work is that it would keep everyone active and avoid too much wasted time with people having to listen to others' presentations.
Each participant could be given a topic and asked to prepare a short 2-3 minute presentation. These could be presented over the course of a few days so that not too much time was spent on these in one session; this could become a little dull. There would of course be the normal discussion and feedback after each one. It is worth just noting here that the participants should be encouraged to be positive in their comments (even when they are picking up on an element that needs to be improved) and any feedback from the trainer should be positive and practical.
The participants work in pairs to give a 20 minute presentation (10 minutes each). Since they will very often have to work with others when giving a presentation at work, it makes sense to do the same on the training course. Include comment, discussion and feedback as usual.
The next page provides detailed guidance on various aspects of making effective presentations for business and training.