Perhaps surprisingly for a nation who are supposed to be shy, the Japanese are quite big on getting each other to stand up and make speeches and whatnot, including in social occasions like company group bonding sessions and goukon group dates. Perhaps for that reason, universities seem to be very fond on getting students to give graded presentations at the end of the course. The results are very mixed, from inspiring and surprisingly good to headslappingly bad, including the inevitable few people who ignore everything that has been covered in class. So this year I’ve decided to add some straightforward rules to the eliciting, error correction, choosing good advice etc of my more TEFLy presentation materials. Would be interested to get people’s feedback, as it’s my first time trying something as anti-CELTAly direct as this:
You will pass the presentation and get a good grade by producing a presentation that has the characteristics below (most important top)
- Communicating your ideas well (easy to understand, a good clear voice, explaining difficult terms, explaining more when people don’t understand, a logical overall structure, stressing important words, setting out what you’ll say, etc)
- Content which is new to the audience
- Content which is interesting to the audience
- Spending most of the time looking at the audience (not at your notes or PowerPoint)
- Moving your body (using gestures with specific meanings, moving where you stand, pointing at things on the slides, turning your body towards different parts of the classroom, pointing at people who ask questions, etc)
- A topic which matches what you were told about suitable topics
- A topic which is narrow enough to be covered reasonably well in five minutes
- Stating a concrete and achievable aim
- Efforts to make it interesting (range of intonation, hook, use of images, etc)
- Asking at least two questions per day during other people’s presentations (= about one question per four presentations)
- A range of different support for your points (statistics, quotations, interesting facts, personal experience, diagrams, etc)
- Simple but effective PowerPoint (minimal text on each slide, the right number of slides, only necessary and effective visuals, little or no ClipArt, little or no animation, etc)
- Good improvisation (commenting on other presentations, giving further explanation when people don’t seem to understand, etc)
- Use of longer presentations phrases (for choosing who will ask questions, explaining visuals, ending, etc)
- Use of original presentations phrases (rather than just reproducing exactly what you learnt in class)
- A hook which gets the audience’s interest (especially if it does so in a way that makes sure you keep their interest over the length of the presentation)
- Spreading your eye contact around
- Avoiding repeating language (from earlier in your presentation and from other people’s)
- Language which is suitable for the audience, e.g. the right level of formality/ friendliness
- Suitable use of pauses, to aid comprehension and interest
- A clear explanation of how the presentation is divided into sections (two to four main sections, plus an introduction and summary/ conclusion)
Also highly recommended:
- Spend some time standing on the opposite side of the screen
- Notice (from body language etc) when people aren’t understanding or aren’t interested and respond effectively
- Mention previous presentations
- Limit questions to the audience to rhetorical questions (clearly no response needed) and surveying the audience (clearly response needed such as raising their hands)
- Print out your PowerPoint and look at that rather than the screen while speaking (except when pointing at the screen)
You will lose marks or fail the presentation part of the course for doing many of these things (most important top):
- Preparing a script rather than notes (no full sentences are allowed in your notes or PowerPoint – the teacher will check!)
- Memorising a whole script and reproducing it word for word from memory (as this is a presentation not a speech, and this always makes you difficult or impossible to understand)
- Being difficult to understand (all difficult language and concepts should be explained – in English – as you use them).
- Translating rather than explaining (no use of Japanese at all is allowed).
- Obviously not having rehearsed your presentation.
- Simple errors which you could have easily avoided like spelling mistakes on PPT.
- Too much on PowerPoint slides, especially text written as full sentences, irrelevant data and anything which is too small to see properly.
- Repeating the same few simple phrases (“Any questions?” “Any questions?” etc)
- A presentation and/ or language which isn’t suitable for this audience (however suitable it might have been for another audience)
- A presentation topic which isn’t related to what kind of topic you were told to pick
- Being under three minutes or over about seven minutes (please time yourself when you are practising)
- Spending most of the time looking at your presentation notes or the PowerPoint rather than the audience.
- Not being able to answer questions which were obviously going to be asked by someone (please prepare for the Q&A by predicting likely questions and thinking about your answers)
- Using the same starting and ending phrases as everyone who presented before you.
- Using phrases that you learnt in ways that don’t match the situation (e.g. saying “Can I have your attention please?” when the audience is already quiet or “Thanks for coming to my presentation” – which is not why your classmates are there!)
- Unnecessary non-English text, on graphs etc
You won’t lose marks for:
- Being nervous (if it isn’t because of lack of preparation or insufficient practice)
- Needing thinking time (when answering questions etc, as long as you aren’t silent)
- Having to correct yourself (as long as it is only when what you said might be misunderstood – don’t correct other language mistakes)
- Making mistakes when attempting to use complex language such as longer presentations phrases
- Grammar mistakes (apart from really obvious ones on your PowerPoint)
- Needing to explain something again a different way
- Going off topic (as long as it is relevant)
- Not being able to answer questions that you couldn’t have predicted would be asked
- A light-hearted and informal tone such as being ironic and using jokes (as long as the topic and delivery are suitable for this audience of your classmates)
- Technical problems
- Not getting many questions (as long as you make an effort to elicit more)