Recently I started teaching a class for presentations. As I have never taught such a class before I spent time looking at university approved textbooks and spoke to teachers about how they go about teaching such a class. This particular class is a different kind of class, as it is task-based. Technically it is a speaking class, but the focus of the course is for students to learn to give presentations in English. Students need to give a few presentations in the class and the final test is for each student to give a longer presentation in their groups. The final speech could be as long as six minutes. In order to prepare the students, I have three main goals. The first goal I have in the class is for the students to help evaluate each other. I want the students to listen to each other, not only because it is a source of input but I want them to compare their speeches and learn what makes a good speech. However, in the past when I tried to do this, I found that students did not give constructive criticism to other students, and were easy to praise other students.
I have wondered why that is. Perhaps I asked them to evaluate too many things at once, and instead I could make a worksheet for the students and only ask for them to evaluate no more than two points at a time. Here are a few that I think I will focus on in the course:
Do students look at the floor? Do they talk to other students and face them? Do they just read from a paper or notebook?
How is their pronunciation? Are they easy to understand? Are they too quiet? Are they loud enough? Do they speak too quickly?
Are they nervous? Do they face other students? Do they look confident?
Another goal I have in the course is for students to be better at writing. It must be daunting for them to have to give a speech for six minutes. I think writing practice will help them with learning vocabulary. Also, I think they need to learn the parts of what makes a good speech. At first I will focus on the introduction. I want the students to speak slower as it makes them appear more confident, and will also make it easier for other students to understand. So they need to introduce themselves, state which department they belong to and to say what they will talk about. Later they will need to have a few main points.
The third goal is for the students to have visual aids. If they want to use Power Point, that is fine, but not all students know how to use it. As an alternative, making posters is fine too as long as they are clear and are easy for other students to read. An advantage with posters is that it gives the speaker something to look at, but it replaces notes. I want students to avoid reading, and want them to maintain eye contact with the audience. Also, I think that it must be tiring for students to listen to each other without being able to see something to help them understand what the speaker is saying.
These are a few points which I think teachers need to focus on in order to get better at making presentations. Repeated practice is really the most important part, but getting constructive feedback from other students helps a lot as well.
Stafford, Mark. (2012). Successful Presentations: an Interactive Guide. Tokyo: Cengage Press.