John Hughes is the co-author of a new video course from OUP called ‘Successful Presentations’. On 25th January, he hosted a webinar on this topic. In this post, he sums up the key points of managing presentations in the classroom.
Preparation before the presentations
Among most people’s list of most stressful situations, speaking in public comes at the top or close to it. This level of stress is magnified when a presentation is being delivered in another language. So the preparation stage is crucial. Use it for students to check their English and to build their confidence. You’ll need to input useful phrases such as ‘Today I’d like to talk about…’ and ‘Now let’s move on to…’ but language input also means providing individual students with key vocabulary for the topic of their presentation. Next you need to give students preparation time including rehearsal time at outside of class. Remember that students might need strategies for preparation at home. One useful technique is for students to work in pairs and practise in front of each other.
During the presentations
On the actual day that students give their presentations, prepare the classroom beforehand. Make sure students have all the equipment and technology they need AND that it all works. As the teacher you need to make notes for feedback but also sit back and enjoy the presentation as an audience member with the rest of the class. The other students who are listening in the audience should also actively participate. That means more than sitting quietly. They should think of questions and comments for the speaker. You can also focus their attention by giving them a task to do while listening; for example, they can write down one thing they like about the presentation and one thing they think the speaker needs to work on.
After the presentations
Students need feedback and there are different ways to handle this. One option is to meet students individually and give comments. If you have filmed the presentation, then you can also pick out certain sections for feedback or the student could study the video after class. Using a formalised feedback form is also useful at this stage so that there is a clear focus to the feedback. Alternatively, you could talk generally with the whole group about all the presentations and discuss any common issues that reoccurred; this will obviously work well with groups who are familiar with each other and have a good rapport.