When you teach English for specific purposes or specific skills in English, your teaching becomes not only about the language. For example, when you teach students to give presentations in English, you also develop their business communication skills in presentations. So, when you teach presentations skills you also develop students’ so-called soft skills.
What things do you need to consider?
First of all, think about your group, e.g. is this course for university students or businessmen? After that think about the syllabus, if it’s going to be a short “crash” course or a long and profound one. Then, consider what topics you’ll include: do they need to practise specific skills or they need a comprehensive course? And finally how students are going to put it into practice right in the course which is quite essential.
How do you structure your lessons?
At the beginning I usually ask students to record a short 3-5-minute presentation on any topic, then we discuss the pros and cons of each presentation. We make notes on good points and on the things that can be improved, both on presentation and language skills. We save them to compare with the final presentations.
Then we move onto the main syllabus. I always include the theoretical part where we discuss the issue, the language, watch the videos of good and bad examples, discuss real-life stories and practise what we learn. As a home task, I ask them to practise a part of the presentation we learn to do and we start the next lesson by giving short presentations. For this part, I ask students to consider if they want to practise different parts of the same presentation (it can be a real one, they need to do in their work, for example) or there’ll be parts of different presentations. If I have a big group of students, they take turns to practise different topics due to the time limit. If they don’t have an opportunity to practise in class, I ask them to record videos of each part, analyse it and do a self-assessment. I always give feedback too. If they don’t mind sharing, we can analyse their presentations in a group.
What topics do you need to include?
I usually create a 10-“How to” lessons and include such topics as (it may vary depending on the group and their needs):
- “How to plan and prepare the presentation” (e.g., an audience needs analysis, tips on rehearsing the presentation, necessary equipment, materials, timing, handouts, seating arrangements, how to deal with stress)
- “How to structure the presentation” (e.g., introduction, key points, conclusion, functional language that can be used)
- “How to introduce yourself and the aims of your presentation” (e.g., expressions used to state your aim, to establish credibility; how to get the audience attention)
- “How to get your messages across, emphasize the points” (e.g., language to communicate your message, explain the points, give examples)
- “How to create visual aids” (e.g., how to create effective slides, the language used to describe and refer to the slides)
- “How to talk about figures and graphs” (e.g., the language used to talk about charts and trends)
- “How to end and recap the presentation” (e.g., tips on making a good final impression, how to create an action plan and summarise the key messages, make recommendations)
- “How to deal with questions and feedback” (e.g., LEVER model; how to anticipate, ask and answer questions; key expressions)
- “How to use body language effectively. Multicultural awareness” (e.g., different meanings of gestures and postures in other countries; how to use your voice; examples of failures and successful use of body language)
- “How to make your presentation great” (e.g., use stories, personalise the message, use humour, stimulate the audience imagination, ask opinions)
How can you assess the result?
At the end of the course, we organise a “real” conference, I ask them to give or record another short presentation, where they work with the audience and receive questions. Then they compare it with the first one. As a result, they can see what they’ve developed and what they need to work on more.
What else do you need to keep in mind?
As I mentioned before, I include videos in each lesson to demonstrate an example for each topic. I must say it’s quite time-consuming to find an appropriate one, however, it’s highly beneficial for students. I use videos of TED lecturers or famous presenters, such as Tony Robbins. I also include videos and materials from “Successful presentations” and “English for Presentations”.
I would also advise to use this kind of courses with students of an Intermediate level or above as they need a solid background of the language. And you always need to give feedback to every student at each stage so they know where they are, what they’re lack of, what they need to enhance, etc.
I hope these are useful tips for you. Good luck with teaching presentation skills!