Presenting in English has become important in any field in the 21st Century. There was a time when standing at a podium and reading from a script was good enough. Then, came the invention of the PowerPoint slide show. Presenters didn’t have to say much, just show slides for people to read. In today’s world that is not enough. To be an effective presenter, one must master all that media has to offer. With English evolving as an international language, it has become even more important for our students to be able to effectively present in English. Not only do they have to master the language as a good speaker but present well made slide shows that include good graphics, video as well as proper text which enhance their talk (not replace it).
In my conversation and listening classes I have my students work towards an ultimate goal of a major presentation. The theme of the presentation is based on the individual class interests. I have found that by constructing my lessons around achieving this goal:
1) the students will work toward improving the intelligibility in their speaking skills,
2) they learn the importance of using good graphics and other media in enhancing their presentation as well as how to use it effectively,
3) they learn to use the written language to effectively communicate their ideas in their presentations,
and 4) by conducting the mandatory question and answer period after their presentations, they learn and practice their conversational and listening skills.
I love using TED talks to achieve this ultimate goal with my students. We usually begin by defining the theme of the presentations. Then I have my students find TED talks on this theme. Sometimes, I will choose the talk when there is limited time. We review the talks and very often I will have my students actually use the transcripts and practice performing the talk. This helps them begin to identify how a good talk should be and gives them vocabulary and volumes of language to help them express themselves in their presentations.
Next, they learn how to choose and research their topic. They are required to turn in a written paper on the topic to go with their presentation. This ensures that they are well versed in their topic so they may conduct their Q&A properly. I have the students make mini-presentations of different aspects of their topics as a lead to the final complete presentation. With each mini-presentation, their skills are peer critiqued and discussed. We look at the media chosen and discuss if it was effective or extraneous. They are assessed for intelligibility in their speech by their peers.
I chose TED talks for my students to study because I have found that these are some of the most effective presentations. In these talks, my students begin to assess what makes a good speaker or not a good speaker. They can identify what made the speaker interesting and compelling to listen to. We can assess whether the media chosen to enhance the talk was effective or not. For this goal they are required to read:
TED talks – 10 Tips for Better Slide Shows
Harvard Business Review – How to Give Killer Presentations
Using these TED talks they learn volumes of vocabulary and idioms. Most important, they can find talks in almost any subject or theme.
Talks by brilliant kids and teens – 14 talks
Inc.com – Guide to Improve your presentation skills