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Ausgabe 2007 04

Presenting in English - Workshop Kreativität in Wort und Bild

The Workshop „Presenting in English“ provides students with tips and tricks on successfully giving presentations in the English language.

It's becoming more and more common at universities that students must give presentations in English. Furthermore, employers are expecting students to be fluent in English. These skills are often tested in job interviews. Most students are able to understand English texts, but giving presentations in English is often problematic. The workshop „Presenting in English" covers the basics like introduction methods, effective openings, survival tactics and commenting visuals. Students are taught certain phrases and expressions that will help them become more confident when they give a presentation in English. And of course, lots of exercises will let students apply the covered topics and get more practice.

Presenting in English – Practice Makes Perfect

The workshop starts by covering introduction methods and guides students all the way to the closing of presentations. How you begin your presentation depends on how formal the situation is. A simple „Good morning everybody“ may be enough. Other audiences may prefer a formal „On behalf of the University of Augsburg, I would like to welcome you to today’s talk.“ When you give a presentation in English, clarity is very important, particularly if there are non-native speakers in the audience. It is essential to state the purpose of your presentation near the beginning. Then you should give a short overview of the presentation and state how you want to handle questions.

In a good presentation, what you say – the content – is much more important than anything else. That doesn’t mean that you can ignore simple rules. A clear structure helps guide your listeners. When you move on to your next point or change direction, tell the audience. So-called signposts are more effective than long explanations of the structure of your presentation. Signposts include: „to move on,“ to digress,“ „to expand,“ „to summarize,“ or „to conclude.“
Another important topic is the introduction of visuals. Names like „pie chart,“ „bar graph,“ or „table“ should be common knowledge. It is also the speaker’s duty to highlight significant parts, comment on the visual and / or draw conclusions. Many times non-native speakers encounter difficulties when presenting in English. There are several survival tactics that can help. For example:

Facts are wrong: „Sorry, what I meant is...“
Talking too fast: „So, let’s recap that...“
Forgotten something. „I should mention ...“
Too complicated: „So basically, by saying ... I mean ...“
Talking nonsense: „Perhaps I didn’t make it quite clear that...“
Don’t know the English expression. „Sorry, what’s the word / expression I’m looking for?“
Sounds wrong: „Let me rephrase that.“
No time: „Just to give you the main points here:“

There is no magic to presenting in English. It is a fact, though, that just memorizing all possible verbs and phrases isn’t going to help. Students need to practice giving presentations in English. How good they are going to get depends on them. This workshop is intended to provide students with the opportunity to sharpen their English skills and become more confident speaking a foreign language.

Heinze, N. (2007). Presenting in English - Workshop Kreativität in Wort und Bild. w.e.b.Square, 04/2007. URL: http://websquare.imb-uni-augsburg.de/2007-04/4.


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