Oral Presentations: How to Make the Most of Them
Information is Power! Can Oral Presentations Help English Language Learners Succeed?
By Robyn Sorensen
Oral presentations are a popular mode of communication, and the language learners of tomorrow are learning to use them as well. Your students can be the next generation of speakers of English.
Oral presentations are powerful tools for making connections with their audiences. To develop quality oral presentations, English language learners should learn some simple ideas. Here’s a quick overview:
Establish a Narrative
Situated in the driver’s seat of the storyteller’s car, your English language learner (ELL) takes the lead in the presentation. As an ELL, she or he uses specific storytelling tools to help others remember what was said, how it was received, and how it fits together with other facts. This drives home the message, propels forward the course of the story, and makes the presentation interesting.
Use Real Life Context
With voiceover or narration, ELLs use real-life, context-dependent content to make their message more compelling. They make real-life connections between their words and action.
For example, in her lecture or presentation, your ELL will reference the topic’s previous oral presentation and tell the audience how she or he related the topic to real life.
Typically, a large audience is ready to sit and listen. Avoid talking over their heads, walking through the audience, asking questions, or commenting on the audience’s sense of the presentation (because a common error among ELLs is hyper-observation). Language students should have enough confidence that by the time the audience’s attention wanders away, they’ll have the information they needed.
Be Short and Sweet
Elling can seem like a marathon. Use your ELL’s ability to listen and process quickly to shorten the overall message, while delivering more impact at once.
Quick one-sentence, two-sentence, or even one-minute summaries of events can capture the audience’s attention. They’ll remember how he or she explained these moments, and to how they connected these events to more facts, figures, and related topics in the present time. This can lead to a successful follow-up question.
Have a Purpose
This is an important example, because not all of our students have the opportunity to know the background of a specific topic. Sometimes, we can’t tell all the story, and it needs a purpose. If the purpose is to give the reader or speaker the relevant factoid, action, or personal touch, there’s no better way to accomplish this than in an oral presentation.