Saturday, October 06, 2012

How to Teach our Learners Good Oral Presentation Skills - an #ELTchat summary

My suggested topic for the #ELTchat on 3rd October was:
How can we teach our learners good oral presentation skills? (for general English, business English, academic English – anything!)

 Presentation image
As always, the pace was fast and furious and it was only while trawling through the transcript for this summary that I discovered all of the threads.  I’ve been doing these chats since January 2011 and I’m still amazed at what can be achieved in 140 characters over an hour amongst a bunch of dynamic and passionate educators!

Stages and phases
One of the early chat threads was about the stages or phases of teaching presentation skills.  There was a little disagreement here as to whether the skills of content research and preparation were included, but it seemed to depend on the educational context.
Some of the suggestions were:
  •  presentation skills development cycle of present, analyse, reflect @teflgeek
    revised through discussion and brainstorming with @cioccas, @PatrickAndrews, @yitzha_sarwono and @MrChrisJWilson  who threw up ideas such as: anticipate, discussing
    to: research - drafting - presentation - analysis - reflection
  •  I love TBLT for presentations - here's how I do it, here's your task, now decide what you need from me to succeed - @yearinthelifeof 
  • plan, practise and perfect (verb, not adjective!) - @worldteacher
  • Divide & conquer. 1st provide warm-up. For adv. intermediate I presented a 4 line poem as a choral reading. Then did a QA. - @jankenb2   
  • perform task analysis on overall assignment. Break down subgoals. Speaking & novel lang & planning & present = 4 subskills - @jankenb2    
  • I treat presentation like essays - first draft; changes; reflection; second draft; changes, feedback &; reflection; final draft; reflection - @theteacherjames   
  •  I think this is good practice.  Also perhaps students need awareness of purposes of presentations @PatrickAndrews
In my own context, with learners from a variety of backgrounds and with different experiences of education, researching the topic and putting the content into some sort of structure are also skills we work on when tackling oral presentations.  Others agreed and added:
  • Often research will lead to students acquiring vocab through reading - @PatrickAndrews    
  •  … if you know it is well researched then it provides confidence when presenting? -   @MrChrisJWilson 

Models - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
Using model presentations was commonly agreed upon as necessary preparation:
  • I like to do a lot of pre-presentation analysis. Look at examples, analyse what works & what doesn't -  @theteacherjames
  • Start with a model - ss will then have an idea of  what's expected - @yearinthelifeof:
  •  I think giving an idea of what's expected through modeling is a great way to start - @yearinthelifeof   
  • I think it's essential. How can you know what to do unless you see someone else do it first? - @theteacherjames  
  • but I tend to do input on good and bad presentations reactively rather than initially - @teflgeek  
 TED Talks – there was a whole sub-conversation around TED Talks
  • @Marisa_C started by suggesting some TED talks can be great examples of what a good presentation ought to be ... but @cioccas and @teflgeek thought maybe they might be TOO good and a difficult model to follow  :-)
    But it was agreed that TED talks can be useful, quite varied and great for advanced Ss - @PatrickAndrews &  @Marisa_C  
  • @theteacherjames  pointed out that they all have subtitles and put forward an example of a TED talk he’s used: Teaching Business People to Tie Their Shoes complete with lesson plan!
  •  @theteacherjames  also suggested that the TEDed ones might be more appropriate?
  • @cioccas kept pressing the point that she wanted to  show Ss something they think they could do themselves as well as expert presentations and  @teflgeek  suggested The Office and to video your DoS giving a teacher dev seminar.....  ask for feedback from the students!
Another thread on models discussed the purpose of the presentation, eg, Academic vs Business presentations:
  • Also not quite sure it is easy to define what is good - academic presentations are different from business ones  - @PatrickAndrews 
  • Makes sense then to fit model of good to needs of Ss - if academic or for business -  @Marisa_C  
  • Also within those, there can be different functions - eg explaining, persuading - @PatrickAndrews
  • So we agree that criteria may be different depending on the target audience? - @Marisa_C   
  • Agree criteria may be different. CAE prep includes moving to outcome, active listening & responding - @MarjorieRosenbe   
For more model presentations see also the list of videos in the links below.

Speaking skills
Naturally enough, a lot of the discussion centred around speaking skills, summed up nicely by @Marisa_C: All the great ideas you have presented and notions of rehearsing, notes, peer evaluations and more good for all kinds of speaking.

The development of speaking and pronunciation skills in the context of teaching oral presentation skills brought out many facets, specifically:

Technology tools:
There were suggestions for tech tools for speaking skills development:
  • My Brainshark an excellent tool for getting students to practice oral skills- @teacherphili and seconded by @Shaunwilden
  • PresentMe is also good, simpler - @teacherphili    
  • Education Anywhere might also be a good option for this type of thing.-@michaelegriffin   
  • Voxopop is a great online recording tool where all ss can leave recordings - in a thread - in a group private or public - @Marisa_C   

Recording the student presentations was also deemed of high value:
  • Recording presentations (audio or video) is very useful as part of the 'drafting' process - @theteacherjames 
  • Get them to record themselves and listen on their own or with peers - insert pauses where missing - @Marisa_C   
  • webcam for reflection - @BobK99 
  • webcam also good for sharing - self reflection and peer feedback and means can all be done outside classtime - @teflgeek 
Recording of student presentations brought up the issue of saving and sharing online:
  • yes, FLIP cameras = great. simple and effective. Ss generally love to film each other as long as don't publish on YouTube - @teacherphili  
  • Can publish on you tube but then "duty of care" issues.  There are "link only" settings on you tube I think @teflgeek   
  • and can make yr own group or stream of videos that can be for private viewing i think @Krisawal: 
  • the UNLISTED videos option on YouTube is great for student uploads  @Marisa_C 
  • THERE is AN 'unlisted' option so videos not generally searchable or 'private'  @teacherphili   

  • Get them to write out transcript of preso and mark down pauses one / for short pause two // for longer pause - breathe!!! - @Marisa_C   
  • I did a whole lesson recently about the spaces between words & sentences, and why they are there - @theteacherjames    
  • It might be a good idea to get them to time pauses in a good presentation - @Marisa_C   
  • Yes, they can be surprised by what they see. Also useful to look at the reasons: humour, drama, time to think etc.- @theteacherjames 
  • I use Aragorn's speech from Lord of Rings to show learners how to slow down and use pause as a tool - @teflgeek   
Given vs New information:
  • @ Marisa_C shared her "Given vs New" info lesson
  • Given/new and theme/rheme are very important, I think -     @PatrickAndrews    
Voice projection:
A few of the #ELTchatters had some experience with voice training, as singers ( @Marisa_C, @BobK99,  @MarjorieRosenbe) and passed on some tips:
  • We include voice projection, too - needed 4 our Asian students! - @worldteacher  
  • Deliver your talk to a wall. Voice amplifies, talking to the wall is an exercise in voice projection - @Marisa_C   
  • Distant wall? My conductor always tells the choir to sing to someone in the back row. - @BobK99   
  • or a mirror - @BobK99  
  • talking to a wall will be easier ) mirror is the nest step of training - @waykatewit 
  • or a webcam, phone or other camera - @teflgeek & @BobK99 
  • Another exercise is using your two hands - cup your ear and join palms - a natural amplifier - @Marisa_C 
  • That's why I remind them to breathe. @MarjorieRosenbe 
  • Classroom layout in our uni means we can present in one room to people in another (or on the landing!) - @worldteacher   (I’D like to see photos of this!)
  • Sts experiment with voice projection - how much/accurately can their classmates hear? - @worldteacher 
Importance of Rehearsing:
  • Also seems to me that practice makes, if not perfect then at least, better  - @teacherphili   
  • We also practice establishing rapport with audience by using VAK language - @MarjorieRosenbe   
  • What is more important? Comfort in front of audience or quality of content. I think one goal at a time - @jankenb2   
  • You mean not anxious or afraid? I think rehearsing is key - @Marisa_C   

Notes, or not to Notes
One area where we found differing opinions was on whether students should be using notes when delivering their presentation
  • When doing sts presentations I don't allow them to read from notes or slides. They need 2 practice before in order to speak freely. - @MarjorieRosenbe   
  • I don’t agree with that, we often use notes in real life so why prevent them in class - @Shaunwilden  
  • Ed Milliband's recent conference speech!! without notes!! - @MarjorieRosenbe
  • But many academics yawn inducers when just reading out their slides - @Marisa_C   
  • I allow notes - just don't let them read the whole thing.  Making notes is a skill in itself. - @worldteacher   
  • Think short notes are a good idea but need to be short. - @PatrickAndrews
  • It depends on if they just mumble from notes, or use them to effectively speak (as reminders) - @waykatewit  
  • Notes yes! Have had Ss do whole thing from memory (rote), can be painful -@cioccas 
  • ...  yes - and stilted with lots of eyes to the ceiling as they struggle to remember their words!! - @worldteacher   
  • ... ...Or they just spew out the words without taking a breath! - @cioccas  
  • Oh yes I wasnt saying be a lecturer, but notes are useful not least as an aide memoire - @Shaunwilden
  • If it requires notes then- A)  talk is too long, B) is more than 5 slides....No & no - @jankenb2
  • ... But I teach business people and they have to make 20/30 min presentations. - @theteacherjames    
  • Notes simply calm them down/ They may not really need them. Psychologically - @waykatewit      
  • But reading notes verbatim and mispronouncing words is awful as well. Put key words on cards to help. - @MarjorieRosenbe 
  • Yes, only if the notes are true notes, not narratives. Important distinction - @jankenb2  
  • Yes, too often prez=Brain-dump with slides!  - @BobK99   
Feedback & Assessment
Other issues discussed were on how to give feedback - teacher, peer and self - and the creation and use of assessment criteria and grids. 
  • Feedback from peers as well as from the teacher is very important - reflecting on others helps their performance. - @worldteacher  
  • But Ss only allowed to give positive feedback. I give corrections - @MarjorieRosenbe  .
  • I encourage them to tell each other what they liked & would like to learn to do. See feedback form in In Business - @MarjorieRosenbe   
Students create the feedback and/or assessment criteria: 
  • Embed peer feedback/assessment. Get group to agree own success criteria before to promote ownership - @BrightAire
  • Agree that students should decide on the criteria on which they are evaluated, with guidance of course - @theteacherjames 
  • Encourage them to have high expectations of themselves and each other. - @BrightAire
… from watching models:
  • Groups create an assessment grid based on a presentation they choose  - TED, Harvard - then share - @annehodg   
.. from their own worst presentation:
  • One thing I’ve done is give Ss task of giving "worst presentation ever" ...then work out criteria - @michaelegriffin
  • Have done this as well. Make them give feedback on what went wrong & how they felt watching. - @Marisa_C
  • Right...It seems much safer (and fun!) to start out trying to be bad - @MarjorieRosenbe
… and on a learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE):
  • Due to time constraints what about Ss putting their prezis on Blackboard & then have peer reviews online? - @Julian_LEnfant   
  • Putting presentations on Blackboard is a great idea. For live presentations use - @yesseniacgr   
The Audience
Another major thread was on how to keep the rest of the class engaged while students give their presentations.  

Some of the suggestions linked to peer feedback:
  • My main problem with student presentations is keeping other students interested - @teflgeek   
  • Give them something to do - some kind of evaluation sheet or a worksheet to force them to take notice! - @worldteacher   
  • Ss make notes and then interview the presenter to clarify details after the presentation - @waykatewit 
  • It's tricky getting them (a) to focus (b) be critical of their peers - @teflgeek 
  • Evaluation sheet of some kind  e.g. posture, voice projection, pron... - @Marisa_C
  • I like to have students responsible for giving comments/filling out rubric - @michaelegriffin
  • Yes, can be a problem in EAP classes where students are studying different subjects.- @PatrickAndrews   
  • Have you tried proposing Ss do interactive presentations? A bit like workshops- @yesseniacgr 
  • Why not do it at different lessons? Critical one time, just asking questions another - @waykatewit   
  • Focusing on something they want to learn from speaker is helpful - @MarjorieRosenbe 
  • Give them job to do. Write  one new fact or most interesting bit or new phrase or word - @MarjorieRosenbe  
  • Ask every student to have one question to ask at the end. They don't know who you'll pick. - @theteacherjames  
  • Giving them a task is important - keeping them on task and NOT worrying about their own presentations even more so - @teflgeek
But how to keep students interested without forcing them to listen:
  • I think SS should be GENUINELY interested, not MADE to listen :) @waykatewit 
  • Ideally - yes, but not always possible! -  @worldteacher   
  • How do you go about generating genuine interest??? - @teflgeek    
  • By picking really interesting topics? by raising their interest before every new presentation? - @waykatewit
  • Ask learners to select topics of interest then allocate these topics to the learners who didn't choose them?  -  @teflgeek   
  • I once asked Ss to #weet their questions and comments during a presentation using an appropriate hashtag  Worked well! It was in Saudi Arabia. All Ss had blackberries, iPads or similar device kept them engaged in what was being said - @teacherphili   
  • As extension have Ss give presentation & for feedback, ask audience to select intended objective from a prepared list? - @jankenb2 
  • Maybe by encouraging pre-listening tasks? - @PatrickAndrews  
  • Tough to make them interested, depends on the pres. Attentive more realistic. - @theteacherjames  
  • Attentive - yes.  Interested - if they're not, they need to be encouraged to say why not - constructive feedback - @worldteacher   
  • They should want to listen. Choosing topics they want can help or giving them task. - @MarjorieRosenbe 
  • In EAP context, topics should be based on needs and presenters interests rather than interests of audience - @PatrickAndrews
… which led to ideas for other speaking activities, such as debates and discussion:
  • Actually, oral speaking is easiest as argumentation topic. We all have thoughts and beliefs. Select good debate topic like TV & kids - @jankenb2     
  • Fun idea. Use dice for discussion - even numbers are pros & odd numbers cons. Ss make number of statements according to number on dice. -   @MarjorieRosenbe 
  • Using scribe to report back what was said can be very helpful. - @MarjorieRosenbe   
Presentation tools: Powerpoint , Prezi, etc.
Only a few mentions of presentation slides:
  •  PowerPoint/Prezi etc. should be used as a tool not a crutch- not just reading slides. - @Julian_LEnfant  
  • Prezi is great but more complex.  A good Prezi is the one by David White on residents and visitors Visitors & Residents: The Video - @teacherphili    
Other techniques for teaching
With so many skills discussed in the chat we were reminded of the importance of teaching one skill at a time 
  • I find two many foci in presentation overwhelming.  I do  one improvement at a time, several times - @waykatewit   
Pecha Kucha
  • With my advanced Ss and student-teachers I use PKs - 20 slides 20'' each but can start with 5 or Beauty of PKs is that they need to be rehearsed-so they can be used as an end of term/course project & for assessment purposes too - @Marisa_C  
Speed dating
I shared a link to an article from The Internet TESL JournalOral Presentations in the ESL Classroom Using a Technique Similar to Speed Dating which brought this fabulous response from
  • That is my favourite technique. I call it Speaker's corner, SS in the 4 corners present, then those who listen ask them questions, then I give feedback. That happens 4 times, ones presenting rehearse the same 4 times, better & better, the ones listening will hear 4 speeches. Ss make notes and then interview the presenter to clarify details after the presentation in a great variety of ways. Tried and tested. Will write a post in my blog today. @waykatewit 
and this:
  • Speed presenting, great idea. A bit like snowball vocab or storytelling.-@MarjorieRosenbe
Doing your student's presentation yourself
@MrChrisJWilson started a thread by posing the questions: Have any teachers "done" their students presentation? I've never tried it but suspect it could help.”  He then went on to explain how he thought it could be done:
  • Well they give you the content of the presentation and you deliver it (to them) so they can see what you do. Then they can then critique what you do and gain some confidence for doing their own. Or it might set a bar they can't attain? @MrChrisJWilson 
A couple of others had ideas for this too:
  • I have, sure. They write draft, we correct, I present, they observe, they try -  @waykatewit    
  • I do if the topic is broad enough to allow for other choices. Example: Topic = transportation issues. My demo? Seatbelts - @jankenb2
Other tips:
  • I've also got Ss to do digital story to prepare for their presentations - covers lots of points without the stress of presenting - @cioccas   
  • Great activity in CLIL book. Students choose topic but others write the questions. Have to think on their feet to answer. - @MarjorieRosenbe   
  • For adv-intermed I ask each Ss to A) endorse a Turkish product B) present sales on hypothetic product- 5 slides+1graph & research ++ - @jankenb2  
  • Also give your Ss links for finding good images - @Marisa_C   
  • I also do presenting for specific target audience. Sts say at end which audience it was for and why.  - @MarjorieRosenbe   
Some suggestions for tackling nerves were also shared:
  • I would like to add that being mindful is a good way for Ss to prepare themselves for presentations. Seems to me that getting Ss to be relaxed before they present is half the battle - @teacherphili   
  • Tackling anxiety? Lots of practice & build up to the main presentation slowly. - @theteacherjames  
  • Internalizing content via self-selection of "known" works well too. - @jankenb2    
Cultural and pragmatical considerations of presentations
Late in the chat @jankenb2 asked:  How culturally defined is the idea what makes a good presentation? Can a great presentation in one culture be considered poor elsewhere?
  • I know audience reactions differ culturally! - @teflgeek   
  • Good question about culture. For me a good presentation keeps me awake & interested & I learn something - @MarjorieRosenbe   
  • This is why I like to have the Ss help develop the criteria and choose what they think is important/good - @michaelegriffin
  • I guess culturally there is a lot of difference, even simple things like where to stand - @feedtheteacher   
  • I think different cultures have different rhetorical styles, so this would affect presentation organisation - @teflgeek   
  • Perhaps not necessarily defined only by culture but context and register of presentation too - @Krisawal
And then there was a discussion about the linguistic aspects started by @Marisa_C  How about the linguistic aspects of introducing, outlining, connecting, moving to a close. Isn’t it also important to teach those?
  • That's where I start. We look at the different sections & language. There is argument that NS don't signpost. When students signpost well I point it out to others. Could also have Ss listen for that language. - @MarjorieRosenbe 
  • Yes, process is pragmatic instruction too. Each culture defines presentation criteria. Also differentiates for purpose. - @jankenb2  
  • ...same in writing - but they do so lexically or in other ways  - @Marisa_C   
  • Yes, I also do a class analysing the phrases used for linking ideas, intros, outros, rhetorical questions etc. Necessary for higher level learners to sound slick and professional - @theteacherjames    
  • They also need to sound convincing. And get idea across that they believe what they are saying. - @MarjorieRosenbe     
  • Perhaps a phrase bank or something like a poster on the wall as visual reminder in class while a student is presenting? - @Marisa_C   
  • And while we are teaching the pragmatics of oral presentation skills in English, Am or Euro, also teach how to give socially accepted feedback. - @jankenb2     
Links shared:

· How to Give a Good Presentation - video made by ESL students (shared by @cioccas)
· @sandymillin 's Diigo Library of YouTube Presentations  "And here are some links to good/bad presentations I've found on YouTube. My fave is"Life after death by PPoint"
· Teaching Business People to Tie Their Shoes (complete with lesson plan!) (shared by @theteacherjames )

Oral Presentations in the ESL Classroom Using a Technique Similar to Speed Dating an article by Gilda Martinez in the The Internet TESL Journal (shared by @cioccas)

Terrific Australian resource (DVD + worksheets) for teaching presentation skills to intermediate ESL learners:(shared by @cioccas)

Video made by @Raquel_EFL's class

Speaking skills parctice
· My Brainshark (shared by @teacherphili) "an excellent tool for getting students to practice oral skills" @Shaunwilden Agreed, my brainshark is an excellent tool, one thing about Web is that there are lots of ways to practice speaking #ELTchat
· PresentMe is also good, simpler.

This was shared on #ELTchat's Facebook group after the chat by Giselle Santos This could be a good chance for practice =)"
Deeyoon: A Site Where You Can Debate Anyone About Anything — On Live Video
Debating skills? Now there's another possible future #ELTchat topic!
Prezi example: Visitors & Residents: The Video  @teacherphili    

Acronyms & Abbreviations
I'm a bit obsessive about use of acronyms and abbreviations in groups where it can't be guaranteed they are known by all. I am a little more lenient on Twitter given the 140 character limit, but felt I needed to provide a key here on my summary post for anyone trawling thorugh the chat transcript (I had to search for some of these, and guess some, so please let me know if I've got any wrong!)
  • Ss – students
  • Ts - teachers
  • CAE - Certificate of Advanced English (??)
  • CEFR - Common European Framework of Reference for Languages 
  • CLIL - Content and language integrated learning
  • EAP - English for Academic Purposes
  • ESP - English for Specific Purposes
  • GPE - General Proficiency English
  • PK - PechaKucha
  • TBLT - Task Based Language Teaching
  • VAK language - Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic language
Thanks to all participants and especially our fabulous  moderators@theteacherjames @Shaunwilden @Marisa_C @BrunoELT 

Finally, I hope I haven’t misquoted anyone or attributed comments to the wrong people.  The categorising and selection of tweets reflects my own interests, so I apologise if I've misplaced or left out something you think was vital to the discussion.  I find the process of pulling together a summary from the #ELTchat transcript fascinating, but also fraught with potential error-making!  I get lost in the threads and may have referred to a comment out of the correct context.  I've also done a little editing to make comments easier to follow on a blog, and hope that I haven't made any errors which affect the meaning.  I’d be happy to correct anything that you bring to my attention (via comments below) .