Posts Tagged ‘public speaking’

‘The One when Christina becomes a Public Speaker!’- Reflections part 1

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. Such a wise phrase that you can magically experience the moment you overcome your fears and meet a challenge that seemed unthinkable before!

Last April, I was given the opportunity to step forward, out of my personal comfort zone. My dear friend and colleague Isil Boy invited me to give a talk about my digital storybook ‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’ at a great conference in Istanbul, Turkey. (#Educational Technology Summit ’15)

At first, I was delighted! On second thought, I panicked! It was a really busy period for me at school and I had little time to prepare. On top of that, I would have to speak in public before colleagues for the very first time!

For some unknown reason, I’ve always dreaded public speaking. As a child, I used to be so shy that I even avoided being photographed! I would feel very uneasy when I had to deliver a poem in front of an audience at school celebrations. I still remember my mum helping me memorize the words and rehearse with me until the last minute!

Of course, over years my studies abroad along with my job have helped me face this feeling of stage freight to a great extent. Yet, when it comes to speaking at conferences, you can’t help but have some butterflies in your stomach…

In this case, hard work and positive thinking were my only means to make my stress work to my advantage! Although, I was really nervous before the speech, the moment I started speaking, I felt an unexpected euphoria. I was genuinely happy and proud to be sharing my experience of making an educational App with other teachers! Seeing the smiling faces of my dear friends Dimitris Primalis and Hanaa Jaber in the audience encouraged me to go through with this too!

Snapshots of ETZ 2015 Conference, Istanbul.

Snapshots of Educational Technology Summit, Istanbul 31st May 2015.

ETZ 2015 was a very successful event with a big variety of speakers and interesting talks. Two weeks later, I also had the unique chance to co- present with my sister and co-author of the App, Marina, at the 22nd TESOL Macedonia- Thrace Northern Greece. Once again, we both felt very welcome at this teacher- friendly and well- organized conference.

152X152You can download a pdf version of my presentation slides from the box widget on the right bar of the blog. Additionally, if you wish to use Dylan& Lydia in class during the next school year, make sure to download the Handbook I’ve written for teachers.  It includes supplementary, photocopiable ELT activities, games, DIY crafts and recipes that your students will enjoy!

Selected moments from our presentation @TESOL  Macedonia, Thrace.

Special moments from our presentation @TESOL Macedonia, Thrace, 28th March 2015.

At this point, I’d also like to share with you some personal thoughts regarding public speaking and the reluctance many of us feel to find ourselves in the spotlight. I do know many remarkable colleagues who are held back from presenting at conferences because of their fear of exposure.

Judging from my experience as a public speaker, this fear is kind of foolish. If you rationalize it, you’ll realize that as teachers, we expose ourselves to our students on a daily basis. Students can often be a much tougher and judgmental audience than our colleagues. Who hasn’t had to deal with completely unmotivated, sleepy or naughty groups of students?

Speaking before colleagues has so many pros! For starters, this type of audience is there by choice! As teachers, we are all in the same boat. We share similar anxieties and problems so learning from each other and picking up new ideas are absolutely vital!

For those thinking to themselves:

-‘I fear criticism:

-Well, no one can actually escape this no matter what.  Of course, constructive criticism is always welcome and absolutely necessary! However, nasty comments and people with negative energy are part of the process too. Accept that not everyone will like you or what you’re saying and that’s ok! If you have something to share, go ahead and do it. You’ll be the first to benefit from the experience and feel awesome when you hear that a colleague has found your ideas relevant and useful!

‘There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing’ -Aristotle

– ‘How can my presentation be successful?’

– For me, the key to success is practise. ‘Practise makes perfect.’ It takes a lot of time, effort and self- correction to improve and feel confident as a speaker. It’s really important to know what you are about to say very well. Watching other renowned speakers in action can also do wonders! Copy the things you like and create a style of your own. Below is a list of inspiring videos for you to watch:

-‘What if I lose my words or make a mistake?’

Shanthi’s super survival tactics are here to help you deal with ‘emergencies’ when presenting in English. Plus, don’t forget that mistakes are part of being human!

Finally, if you’re thinking about presenting at an upcoming conference but are still hesitant, you may find this quote useful:

‘Opportunities don’t often come along. So when they do, you have to grab them’.  -Audrey Hepburn

For me, this has surprisingly been a very enjoyable and self- liberating experience. Many thanks to all the people who helped make this a memorable experience!

That’s all for now! Here’s to those opportunities that help us grow and truly discover ourselves!

Best wishes,




Presentation Skills- Presentation Online Tools

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:

  • 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,