Presenting materials and introducing ideas is an essential part of our teaching profession. Similarly, our students should learn how to communicate messages or opinions eloquently in front of an audience. No matter what they choose to do for a living, public speaking is undoubtedly an important life skill that we should help learners possess during their school lives.
During the past few years, I have attended numerous talks in ELT conferences and professional development courses. For me, it’s always interesting to observe speakers’ versatile presenting styles, pick the elements I like and adapt them accordingly so as to improve my own presenting skills. Every presentation is unique. I’ve come across very gifted speakers and highly engaging talks to less compelling ones where the audience felt completely disengaged and bored. This has made me wonder: What are the secrets to a successful presentation? Is good presenting some kind of innate talent or is it a skill that can be eventually acquired with lots of practise? How can a speaker stand out by giving a memorable presentation?
Whether we are teachers, teacher trainers or students keeping an audience focused and inspired can be quite a challenge. Quality content is vital but only if delivered confidently with the aid of the right presentation tool, will listeners not switch off!
I’d like to recommend three impressive online presentation tools we can all use as good alternatives to the conventional yet always useful PowerPoint :-)! Their main asset is that the presentations you create are stored online ‘in the cloud’ and are accessible any time any place. Thus, there is no need to worry for USBs or other data storing devices!
1. Prezi is a great online whiteboard where you can insert text, images, sound, diagrams, files and You Tube videos. There is also a PowerPoint Import feature that enables you to bring your existing content directly into your prezis! What’s really special about this tool is its 3D zooming canvas. While presenting you can zoom in to examine the details of your ideas or zoom out to show the overview. This way, presentations are more dynamic and non-linear. Prezis can be edited, shared via email, embedded online or downloaded to your PC! Moreover, you can find reusable educational Prezis, if you don’t feel like making your presentation from scratch. There are free or billed student and teacher Prezi licences to choose from. Prezi is available in the App Store for ipads or iphones for those of you who love to work ‘on the move’ too :-).
Have a look at the presentation an intermediate student of mine made using Prezi to get an idea of what you can do with this tool. His task was to present a synopsis of the first Shrek movie, its characters, embed his favourite scene as well as share some movie trivia and rate it!
2. Google Drive
Most people would now be familiar with this lovely tool offered by Google! Among others, Google Docs lets you create powerful presentations with text and different kinds of media while collaborating remotely with other users in real time. One of its few limitations is the fact that users can’t add music to their slides. Presentations can be embedded in your own website or shared with an e-mail link.
Below is a presentation two of my CPE students created with Google Docs. Their ‘aim’ was to inform and convince British people and the British Museum about the Return of the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece in only 10 slides!
3. Empressr is a free online storytelling tool that allows you to create, manage and share rich media presentations online. It lets you quickly import images from Flickr, Google, Yahoo and Photobucket. In addition, you can upload a PowerPoint file to Empressr and use its slides as pictures or as a fully editable presentation. Your presentations can be kept either public or private. Embed your Empressr into your blog, your favourite social network page or share it via email and impress :-).
Here, I’d like to share the list of presentation guidelines I give to my students. This is also the link to a You Tube video they find very useful since it highlights some of the key techniques Steve Jobs used to employ in his knockout presentations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-ntLGOyHw4
- Make sure your content is relevant, engaging& to the point!
- Organize your talk well: “Tell them what you’re gonna tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.” (George Bernard Shaw).
- Prefer a clear layout and plain templates.
- Dark backgrounds with light fonts or the reverse are more legible and pleasing to the eye! Remember to use images, flowcharts, audio or video to complement what you have to say and make your visual stories more impressive!
- Colour your voice and don’t speak very fast.
- Smiling with the right dose of humour will help make your talk more captivating.
- Rehearse a lot to gain confidence and feel relaxed.
- Keep eye contact with your audience. Avoid reading out from a script.
- Allow time for questions at the end.
- Finally, remember that the ‘soul’ of your presentation is yourself! So, take a deep breath and do your best :-)!
Can you think of any other handy tips we can share with our students so that delivering a presentation can be a less stressful and more enjoyable experience? What are your dos and don’ts when presenting?
Let’s enrich this list together 😉
All the best,