Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Rachel Robinson Strategies for giving more effective presentations October 2019

Difficulty: 0


rachel is today's presenter Rachel

Robertson teaches at the University of

Leeds in the UK and leads the academic

study skills module for foundation year

students who are preparing for their

undergraduate degree courses

she's previous previously taught English

in Spain before relocating to Japan

where she worked at the British Council

teaching a range of courses and she was

also an examiner and an exam trainer for

both Cambridge English exams and IELTS

and then after working several years in

Japan Japanese universities teaching

academic reading writing seminar and

presentation skills

she returned to the UK to take up her

current post at the University of Leeds

so I shall unmute you Rachel and over to


hello Thank You Simon and I hope

everybody can hear me okay so as Simon

said I'm Rachel Robinson and I'm based

in Leeds in Yorkshire in the UK and we

have very beautiful weather today for a

change but a little bit chilly but very

pleasant so welcome to today's webinar

which is focusing on presentation

student presentations before I move on

to the overview I'd like to just show

you or talk to you a little bit about my

context I'm based at a UK University and

I work with the very young students

foundation year students for about 17 18

years old and it's a very high-stakes

program for them and it leads them on

into their undergraduate studies

hopefully here and in the UK and we

cover a lot of academic study skills in

in the foundation year reading writing

speaking and listening and of course

today I'd like to talk a little bit

about presentations so briefly I'd like

to focus on some of the issues that

students have with presentations in my

experience and some of the strategies

that I've been trying to incorporate in

order to help them become better

presenters so that's really the focus

for today now many students when they

come to the UK they're looking at

improving writing skills grammar

spelling paragraph writing and they have

to take lots of written exams of course

this is very important for their studies

however sometimes it would seem that

sorry I just go back to that slide

sometimes it would seem that they focus

on a lot more on these written

assignments and not quite so much on the

speaking skills perhaps this is because

speaking is not a permanent record or

perhaps it it seems easier certainly

many students arrive here and they're

fluent in the language but this perhaps

might not be the only thing they need in

order to be successful with their

presentations for example I'm sure many

of us have been in a situation where

students have put lots of time into the

preparation they've spent a long time

making slides they've they've got all

the data everything they need they start

the presentation it's an assessed

presentation suddenly the time is up

perhaps they've lingered too long on one

of the more detailed slides but suddenly

they're out of time and this could be a

key assessment for them so it's really

important that they think about how they

can work with this so a few ideas I've

had about why they find timing difficult

perhaps they're just really trying to

cram too much information into the

presentation rather than choosing and

selecting the key points that need to be

addressed another issue of course might

be organization they're not quite

getting the information in the in the

best order or perhaps they're the

balance of information is not quite

right and lack of practice I think a lot

of time is very often spent preparing

the slides but not much time practicing

another issue I think is how the

presentation is delivered so not just

what the students are saying but how

they how they're conveying the

message and a key issue of courses eye

contact and this might be because again

if they have a lot of information on

their slides they're really using the

slides as note cards so they're focusing

on the are on the screen and then not

having much of a rapport with the

audience they're not making any eye

contact so this is very often quite

challenging for certainly for the

students that I've I've taught and I've

worked with so this could be because

they lack confidence it could be as

we've said because they have just too

much information

perhaps they can't remember it or they

have it all on the slides they want to

read the slides and I've put here lack

of language but by that I mean lack of

presentation language or skills using

the language in a presentation so for

example transition phrases are really

useful and I think key for helping the

speaker and the audience to to follow

the presentation really helps with

organization fillers perhaps if if

students forget what they want to say or

they want to go back to something it's

really important I think if they have

some phrases that they can use to do

that efficiently and of course

familiarity with key words now if

students are working giving a

presentation in the language which is

not their own or they're using quite

technical words then they really need to

be familiar with pronunciation for

example so just to summarize those first

key points I think timing and delivery

together could really be improved with

more practice but the question I've been


working towards trying to answer over my

teaching with students is how can we

encourage them how can we guide them to

do this they're very keen to produce the

work and the slides but perhaps they

don't really focus too much on the

practice so there is some of you may

have heard of the Pecha Kucha approach

to presentations which really focuses on

timing and design of slides and this was

something that began I think in Tokyo in

2003 a couple of architects have been

sitting through lots of rather long

boring presentations and wanted to

breathe life into the presentations and

the conference's that they were

attending so they decided to introduce

this time limit 20 seconds for each

slide and they also put this together

with the idea that less text or indeed

no text on the slides would make would

help the presenter to to convey things

more naturally and to have an impactful

image rather than lots and lots of text

in words so this results in a very

speedy presentation hopefully very

impactful very visual and keeps the

audience focused and they worked with 20

images and 20 seconds for each slide

here are some key words or again again a

summary of a Pecha Kucha it really

focuses on organization visual impact

and some people refer to it as a

lightening talk in the business world I

think lightning talks are one of the key

skills that they need to develop and

this has really spread in the business

world but also in

in academic circles as well and various

research has been done it really

emphasizes how important it is for

speakers for presenters to be clear and

brief so really kind of limiting the

amount of time they speak but not

limiting the message so how can we use

or having to utilize this approach

perhaps with our students so again this

is something that I'm experimenting near

that practicing with students that I'm

teaching at the moment

on the foundation year they have quite a

lot of skills to focus on spoken

undreamed of course seminar discussions

group work essays reports writing self

reflections and of course individual

presentations as well so in the past we

we worked on essay skills writing skills

and we always of course used pair work

and room work in the class but it wasn't

really until the end of the course that

we actually asked them to do an

individual presentation after many weeks

really of studying so we've really been

experimenting with how we can get the

students to to do more impromptu

presentations presentations relating to

written assignments and other tasks so

rather than just waiting until the end

of the year so this is just a few of the

ideas that we've been experimenting with

so we've used the Pecha Kucha approach

to presentations both slightly adapted

adapted it to suit the different tasks

that we want to use to do so for example

in the first week of the semester

we can ask students to give a nice brief

self-introduction it's not too scary

because they're talking about themselves

it's not too long it's only three

minutes and they can talk about their

hobbies or their hometown but it's just

introducing them very slowly to some of

these skills of thinking about timing

and limiting them in terms of the number

of slides they can use as well as

hopefully giving them a little bit of

confidence early on in the course later

on in the course students are working on

preparing a written essay and we ask

them to give a short presentation about

their essay plan so that that helps them

to organize in their mind what the key

points are but again it's also giving

them more practice they're standing up

in front of the class we give them a

time limit we give them a small number

of slides we guide them in terms of not

putting too much text on the slides and

then they have another go at the

presentation similarly for a seminar

discussion of course we're working

towards a seminar discussion but before

that we have lots of reading and

preparation so if we can ask the

students to speak about some of the key

points that they've been working on

that's more presentation practice and

even when we do get to the final

assessed presentation we can still ask

them to give a brief outline of what

they will be talking about in their

assessment so just so that they get an

idea of what they want to say how they

want to say it and we can give them some

feedback on that which i think is quite

valuable for them we show them how to

set the timing for the slide so we said

that with the Pecha Kucha style of


it's very short snappy slides can be set

for 20 seconds 30 seconds a minute

whatever we want to choose and but then

we obviously have to explain that to the

students and it's not really too

difficult I don't think if they're using

the PowerPoint they can select to

progress the slides on an automated

timing rather than on the mouse click

which is what what we traditionally used

to do usually and this really focuses

them on the timing because that's really

crucial before they start making the

PowerPoint we go back to a bit of

old-fashioned pen and paper and give

them a kind of a template or like a

storyboard so this helps them to

visualize the slides all together so if

students very well they're very capable

with the technology they go straight in

start making the PowerPoint they're on

the computer they're designing the

slides suddenly we find they've got 45

slides so it's going to be too many and

it's probably not very organized and

it's probably not a difficult to

organize 45 slides so if we give them if

we keep this brief for example only six

slides their first self-introduction

presentation they can look at the slides

on paper and just make a a note of what

they would like to have on that slide or

what they imagine putting on that slide

it could be some various images pictures

or they might make a note of some of the

phrases that they want to use and

particularly at the beginning various

transition points at the end so just to

remind them a little bit of what they

want to include there

and I think if sometimes the students

sort of think well you know can we not

just get on with making the PowerPoint

but if they take the time to organize

and visualize and plan the story if you

like how's it going to start what might

be the main points how is it going to


then this should help them when they

actually come to design design the

salaah needs of the PowerPoint and this

was just an example that we used for the

self introduction the brief introduction

that they were doing at the beginning of

the semester that's an example I think

at this point is important to remind

students that preparing and practicing

is really so important and to tell them

that practice is not quite the same as

memorizing a talk now that's not to say

that maybe sometimes they need to do

some memorizing or there may be some key

facts or dates they have to remember

memorize for certain tests or certain

work but I think in terms of giving a

presentation it's much better for the

students to be familiar with and

confident with what they want to talk

about rather than simply just memorizing

sentences and great reams of text the

danger is of course memorizing this this

technique might work for a presentation

that's only one or two minutes but when

the students progress and they're having

to give perhaps 20 minute presentations

for some later assessments as they go

through this work through their studies

they can't really memorize such a long

talk and I think it would actually be

quite dangerous because they may then

start forgetting

I forget what they want to say they

forget what the next point is and they

come across as not really being terribly

confident in their topic so we really

try and discourage the students from

memorizing or from learning by heart we

do allow them obviously to have note

cards with a few key words and key terms

as they're giving their presentation but

if they've spent the preparation time

then they should be familiar with their

topic and there are many different ways

that they could perhaps do a bit of

practice outside of class for example

they can record themselves on their

phones and they could either do this

just by they could just record their

voice or they could you know film film

themselves so that they can get an idea

of sort of eye contact and

facial expressions and so forth

of course practicing with a partner or

another classmate is a nice way to build

up students confidence without throwing

them in front of the whole class

to begin with it's nice just to practice

with a partner and to get some

constructive feedback

perhaps the partner can time them or

give them some suggestions regarding

delivery style gestures and so forth

PowerPoint itself offers various

functions such as rehearse and record

excuse me so if students have made their

they've made the PowerPoint they've not

given the presentation yet but they need

to do this crucial practice stage they

can actually use the PowerPoint to to

record and to time themselves and to go

back and rehearse and just to check

themselves how how long they're taking

and how it's going to work out another

idea is making a screen

I think there is some screencasting

software that's available free online

and it allows the student to record

their voice and slides together and then

they can play it back listen to it and

look at the slides at the same time and

they can they can assess if they think

they've done a good job if they've used

transition signals and it's just a nice

way to to build a bit more confidence of

course many of these suggestions

students may find a little bit

embarrassing at first you know

presenting in front of a friend or a

partner but it really pays off I think

when they come to do the final the final

presentation note cards as we mentioned

previously can be quite useful for just

reminding students of the quinoa on says

they're working through their

presentation but really not encouraging

or allowing them to write great long

sentences or text another activity we've

tried with the business students you may

have heard of Dragons Den I think in in

America in the u.s. I think it's called

shark tank or sharks tank where speakers

have to pitch a business idea for three

minutes and they have to make it really

impactful and memorable and they have to

be very enthusiastic and confident and

with business students it's it's quite a

nice idea to to use in the classroom

because the other students can be

dragons and when they've given their

when the presenters have given their

business page then the dragons can start

asking their tricky questions and

challenging the

business plan so and I think that's a

really useful skill that well not just

business students but students in

general and maybe people in general can

transfer to outside of the work outside

of the classroom into the workplace so

really transferable skills

comments from colleagues now various

colleagues have tried this technique in

various different forms with various

different groups of students and

generally the feedback has been quite

positive particularly one one colleague

said that the presentations were far

more engaging and well rehearsed so not

memorized but practice so the students

were coming across as being a lot more

confident and another colleague came up

with the and said that

Pecha Kucha format restricts the

students in terms of time and therefore

I think this it makes it forces students

to be more creative because they only

have a short time or they can only use a

few slides or they can only use images

they can't use lots and lots and lots of

text to explain their ideas and

sometimes these limitations and

restrictions really bring out the

creativity in students so 10 benefits of

using this style of presentation with

students I've tried to just come up with

a few of the key points that we've

touched on today fewer slides forcing

students to be very careful when they're

selecting what

want to focus on and what they want to

talk about if we don't have a limit then

they will try to include everything

again focusing on images really

encourages students to think about what

what they want the message to be for

this particular slide and I think that

helps also reinforce their own

understanding of the topic or the idea

they want to talk about if students only

have images or those only images but

mostly images rather than text then it

helps to stop them from reading aloud

from slides so hopefully this will

encourage more eye contact with the

audience as I've said today I think this

sort of approach to presentations can be

used in lots of different scenarios lots

of different teaching contexts another

colleague of mine guess students just to

stand up for a minute and talk about a

picture PowerPoint karaoke I think it's


where the students don't actually have a

lot of time to prepare but they're

having to talk about an image but I

think this style also works well for

assess presentations as well as ad-hoc

presentations as in the class obviously

Pecha Kucha style presentations are

short so they're more likely to be

practiced and and by that we mean if we

set students a presentation for 20 min

you know they must do a 20 minute

presentation probably they're not going

to practice it very much whereas if

they're only doing a three-minute or a 5

minute or 6 minute presentation then

perhaps they will they will be more

likely to practice it it will only take

them a few minutes to practice it so

they might do it two or three or four

times I think the great thing about

having a timed presentation prevents the

students from running over particularly

and when the SS when it's an Assessor

presentation they really need to

conclude their presentation in a timely

manner if they don't reach that their

conclusion then this will impact on

their organization gray and if you like

so it's really a useful tool I think for

encouraging students to to think about

timing to make sure that they get to the

end of that presentation

from a teaching from a teacher's point

of view I think shorter presentations a

little bit easier to manage and to

schedule of course it depends on

people's individual teaching contexts

but certainly for larger classes I think

it's a little bit easier to timetable in

shorter presentations than longer

presentations of 20 minutes for example

as I said earlier in the presentation

this style can be integrated into other

tasks so it doesn't have to be only an

Assessor person tation it can be for

different activities at different points

throughout the course so I think it's

quite flexible in that respect and

people can can use it how they want to


shorter presentations can be more

memorable and effective than longer more

detailed presentations as I said with if

students don't have a limit for the

number of slides they use and they and

they don't have a time limit then I

think it could be a bit dangerous

because be rather long and perhaps not

as effective as it could be if it was

much shorter in fact so I think it's

something to experiment with and see how

it works in different classes in terms

of transferability

I think presentation skills in general a

really key to the workplace and of

course petra culture formats or better

culture style is certainly becoming more

popular at conferences very often some

of the big conferences will have petra

culture evening where presenters will

use this style so in some I think it's

quite a multi-modal approach so it's not

just the written word you know it's the

voice gestures visuals and it requires

creativity I think to to produce a

really effective presentation and it

really focuses students on being concise

and being selective with what they want

to include and in order for it to be

successful they have to be organized and

in order to achieve this they really

need to practice but not memorize their

presentations so a couple of questions

perhaps for us to think about generally

do you think that students and people in

general spend enough time preparing

their presentations and do you think

that students

people in general spend enough time

practicing their presentations so for me

these are these are two questions that I

often think about when when I'm working

with my own students and we're talking

about presentations and how to improve

their skills and really that brings me

to the end of my presentation for today

so I'd like to just say thank you very

much and I wonder if there might be a

few questions that were able to take

from anybody lovely thank you thank you

very much

really good Rachel I've noted down a few

questions already but if anyone has any

further questions please put them in the

questions box and they're send it to us

and I shall have a look through them and

yeah plenty question oh yeah I

definitely agree somebody said I wish

everyone could do Pecha Kucha is I think

I've done two in my life and they were

terrifying but if you can if you can get

through them and do them you can do


it really does focus you as you said so

that's a little bit some questions here

M do you have any tips on audience

engagement when students are speaking

how do they engage the audience I think

well one thing is we can ask students in

the audience to perhaps think of one or

two questions that they would like to

ask about at the end of the presentation

so that's probably quite a useful one

and the other way it depends what the

what the situation is but if we're

practicing presentations and we're

looking at how to improve

perhaps we could ask one student to in

the audience to look at my contact and

another student perhaps to look at

gestures and another student to comment

on the visuals and the slides so I think

there are different ways that we can

that we can do that yes yeah another

question here how do we boost students

confidence so they don't need their


I suppose again it just comes down to

the preparation does it practice doing

it more often well yes and this is what

I was what I'm hoping to do with the

students working with at the moment is

really just to build up slowly and so I

I work with students over two semesters

so it's quite a long period of time that

I see them but when they arrive you know

that a lot of them fairly good at

English but really quite shy and not so

confident so if if we can get them to

talk about something they know like

their hometown or their hobbies then

that really just it just builds up from

there so the following week we can get

them to give a little very brief summary

on something they've read perhaps and

just building it up so that when we come

to the big assessments sure how can we

help students with vocabulary for

presentations I think that just means

the language like the transition between

the sides slides etc and somebody else

has written a very similar thing on you

know phrases to use or lexical chunks do

you have any resources or any tips or

how would you teach yes well we when

they're sort of at the preparation stage

they're designing their slides we do

well we try to elicit from them what

phrase in them they might already know

because some of them do know some

phrases that they can use but we also

have a bank of phrases so for example

firstly let's move on moving on to my

next point is so we we give them a few

of these phrases and tell them to use

just a few of them so that's all of them

sure what about somebody say good

students prob'ly start and end their

presentations what are appropriate ways

of doing this in terms of introductions

we usually ask them to

introduced them sir I also give their

name and tell us briefly what they're

talking about and we also ask that why

why they've chosen this topic and

sometimes give them a topic so they

don't have much choice but if they have

a choice and say tell us you know why

why are you chosen this why are you

interested in it and that kind of sort

of eases them into the main body of the

presentation and then we try and give

them some pointers with structure as

well so perhaps they need an overview

perhaps first main point second main

point and then moving on to the

conclusion so phrases such as to

conclude a really important fairly

simple I think for students to grasp but

really important in terms of the

audience following the presentation

great just a couple more what are the

parameters that you use to assess

presentations when that when the

students are talking what do you look

for what's a successful and well we look

at language so as we said have they used

some useful transition phrases and also

that covers perhaps topic-specific

vocabulary so if they're talking about a

particular topic I don't know climate

change for example have they used some

vocabulary related to climate change and

have they used it correctly and have

they pronounced it correctly so we look

at language we look at delivery are they

confident do they make eye contact we

look at task achievement so have they

actually this is this is for the formal

assessments have they actually done the

task that they were supposed to do and

we look at visuals as well so visual

impact yeah so I think those are the

criteria we use yeah

somebody just an individual request

somebody's asked if we could go back to

the slide before the Dragons Den


just there that's it yes there's another

comment as well made by somebody one

activity that they find successful is

something that is in a like a game show

it's called just a minute so speak for

one minute and they're not allowed to

pause or repeat anything I think they're

just saying that's a good fun way of you

know make it a game you can make it a

bit more lighthearted yes yes definitely

I think that's really important is to I

mean wherever possible you know make it

fun and engaging and so they're not so

the students are not too stressed or too

worried about it yeah yeah yeah but

that's another question that how to

overcome nervousness while we do

presentations but I don't know I get I

guess it's um I guess it's practice

again is it

well practice but again different ways

of doing the practice so I mean they can

they can perhaps only record themselves

or do things at home but also in the

class we can set it up so that they're

working only with one partner so they've

only got one person to feel embarrassed

in front of it's not the whole class or

we could have small groups as well so

maybe a group with three or four

students so I have a class of about 18

or 20 students so I split them into

groups of four or five and then each

group you know there's one person having

you go into presentation and the other

people in their little group commenting

and giving some positive feedback

hopefully or constructive comments it

means that they're not so so I've come

just because there are several of them

are doing little presentations around

the room yes I mean that helps a lot

fantastic well I think we'll we'll let

you go now we'll no further questions

but thank you very very much for that

thanks for that session Rachel and

thanks again to everybody that's

attended especially if you've attended

maybe although most of these



The Description of Rachel Robinson Strategies for giving more effective presentations October 2019