Tips for Giving Presentations in EnglishJohanna E. Katchen () National Tsing Hua University() firstname.lastname@example.org://mx.nthu.edu.tw/~katchen/
Who Am I?At NTHU for 20 yearsTaught public speaking course (Oral Practice II) for 17 years, wrote a textbook for itHave given many presentations at international conferences over Asia and Europe (e.g., Thailand, Russia, France, Brazil)
What will we talk about today?Kind of conference and presentation, expected presentation behaviorPreparing the physical presentationHardware and software considerationsPreparing yourself
Observe OthersAttend conferences as a participant to learn about developments in your fieldAlso observe and analyze how other people give papersIf there is a time slot when none of the topics is of interest to you, go and observe HOWDid you see a good presentation? What made it good? What made a bad one bad? How could it be improved?
Kinds of PresentationsLearn about the different kinds of presentationsFirst-time presenters may give posters or joint papers with their professors; your professor can guide you and field hard questions from the audiencePlenary speakers and colloquia speakers are usually more famous ones
Kinds of Speaking OpportunitiesLearn about the conference/eventSome conferences may be more formal than othersSome may expect a different type of presentation or demonstrationExplaining your research to colleagues and students at another university is not the same as giving a conference paperTeaching a class is different
How much time do you have to speak?If you are part of a group, what is the order, the transitions?Who are your audience? How much do they know about what you are talking about? How much background do you have to give them?
To Read or Not To Read?Are you going to read your paper word by word? THIS IS BORING!Why do you want to read? Because you are afraid you will get lost in English.In some fields, reading the paper is the custom, in others reading is forbidden.
Will the people attending your talk have your word-by-word paper in their hands?Is it on paper or CD? (read along while you talk or later?)So why should they bother to come and hear you mumble? Why not stay home and read it at their leisure? If they have questions they can send you an e-mail.
Power Point ConsiderationsMany fields use Power Point for presentations now except for some traditional ones where people are computer-phobicYou can still readeither from the main points on the screen (confident in English) or word-by-word notes you make for yourself (not so confident)
Use of LanguagePut up main points, not detailsDont write full sentences if you dont have to; KISS PrincipleKeep It Simple, Stupid!Use mostly content wordsnouns, verbs, adjectivesKeep the structures parallel on the same slide (notice Ive started with verbs on this one)
If youre worried about your grammar, then using content words is useful for youIf your pronunciation isnt clear, then you can point to key words on the screen as you say them, and your audience will understand youYour audience may be mostly nonnative speakers!
FormattingFont SizeCan the audience read your slides? The default 32 point is set for a reason. Dont go below 28 point. 28 point will probably be legible from the back of the room.This is 24 pointThis is 20 pointThis is 18 point
This example cannot be read by your audience! Its too small and theres too much text
Linguistics, EFL, and e-Learning: Bringing Them TogetherTeaching linguistics in EFL contexts presents specific challenges. Students are required to learn new content in a language they do not fully master. Thus they may face difficulties with content and language at the same time and may find the content opaque due to inadequate language skills. E-learning may provide a means to reinforce students learning by providing review materials in a somewhat different format from the in-class lecture.This paper focuses on the delivery of three linguistics courses taught in English for Chinese students majoring in English at a Taiwan university. Introduction to English is a required course in the first semester with 60 70 students. Students receive three hours of face-to-face lectures each week, delivered in English by a native speaker, but they review material and take practice quizzes on-line using the universitys e-learning platform. History of the English Language is required for a linguistics concentration; while its diachronic nature necessitates more written materials, audio and video files are available on-line for review. Varieties of English is elective, and audio and video clips of English as it is spoken worldwide form the bulk of the teaching materials. The purpose of this session is to illustrate how ordinary teachers can go beyond the presentation of text and develop more exciting on-line materials to bolster students motivation for learning linguistic content. The presenter will also discuss the feedback collected from students at the end of each course in the form of questionnaires.
FormattingFont StylePower Points default is ArialArial is sans serifwithout the little feetSans serif is good for headlines, titles, calling attentionSerif has the little feet; its good for long pieces of text like novels and journal articlesThis is Times New Roman, a common serif font
FormattingSlide DesignPower Point provides many styles; dont use one that is too busy, that interferes with your content, that distracts the audienceUse dark print on light background or light print on a dark backgroundIf you have charts and graphs, dark on a light background is probably better for the audience
Dont put too much material on one slideDont put material too close to the bottom of the slideviewers in the back may have trouble seeing it over other headsWill you include any clip art? Is it appropriate for the level of formality of the conference?For timing, consider roughly 1 2 minutes per slide
Flash Disk or Notebook?Within Taiwan, flash disk is probably okayMake sure any embedded files are in the same folder on your diskOther countries are not as advanced technologically as Taiwanincluding the USA. Will the computer support USB2? Does it have Windows XP or an older OS?
Will you panic if all the Power Point commands are in English?What kind of software are you using? If it is not too common, better take your own notebookMost recent LCD projectors are compatible with most notebook brands (Ive had no trouble in Russia, Thailand, USA with Sony/Acer, but did at Yuanpei with my new Acer)
NOTE: While your notebook adaptor can handle any type of electrical current, the shape of the plug is different in other countries. USA is the same as Taiwan, but Europe and even Southeast Asia are different. Find out about the electricity and plug shape, buy this cheap device and be prepared.To look professional, invest in a mouse pointer.
Content and OrganizationWhen you spend the whole day at a conference, how much do you remember at the end of the day?You are the master of your own content, but how much will you present? Again, keep it simple, give them whats new and significant. They can read the details in the full paper, appendices, on your website.
While each field and conference has its preferences, think generally IMRDIn your introduction, frame your problem as it relates to previous and ongoing research; cite only directly relevant previous researchGive important points of your research procedure/methodologyGive only the relevant resultsTell in the discussion section what the results mean and draw conclusions
TO SUMMARIZE IMRDWhat is the question and why did I bother about it?What did I do?What did I find?What does it mean?Where do we go from here?
What Should I Wear?Young menat least a button-down shirt tucked into your trousersDifferent conferences have different levels of formalityWill there be other events? cocktail party? banquet? job interview?Take your suit jacket and tie just in case; its always safer to be dressed well than to be considered sloppyA little more complex for women
Practice, Practice, Practice Youve prepared your content, written out your notes, and formatted your slides. Now you have to practice.Say your talk aloud and time itmodify accordingly.Give your talk to some trusted colleagues and ask them to criticize and to ask hard questions.
Give your talk in a room with the computer/projector set up and have a colleague videotape you.Watch the video and change what you dont like. Videotape a second time to see whether you have improved.Dont worry about gestures. More practice leads to more confidence leads to more natural gestures.
During the TalkTry to remain calm. It will be over after a few minutes and you will still be alive. No one will throw eggs or tomatoes at you, though they may throw some hard questions. Try to look in the direction of the audience at least some of the time.Speak clearly and confidently. Dont mumble. Dont stand in front of the screen.Use a pointer.
Many native speakers of a language give poor presentations.Many nonnative speakers give excellent presentations.You cant improve language skills rapidly, but you can improve presentation skills with practice.
Slides from this presentation have been posted at http://mx.nthu.edu.tw/~katchen