Presentations strategies

Presentations – Before, During, and After.   speaking your mind

“Alice is Danish. When presenting her ideas in group crits she describes feelings of being trapped. She finds that she has complex ideas in her head in Danish but struggles to articulate these ideas in English. The effect is to speak a lot, giving the impression of confidence, but the reality is that she feels she is just talking around the more delicate or sensitive aspects of her work – she is only able to remember everyday vocabulary when speaking, especially when under pressure.”

Suggested strategies:

Before the presentation

  • Ensure you are aware of the purpose and aims of the presentation. These aims should be available in written format, on CANVAS, in advance of the presentation.
  • Practice your presentation at home or with other students. Speak out loud, and keep to the allocated times. You can also practice your presentations at the weekly Speaking your Mind group.
  • Create short notes, maybe on separate cards, with key vocabulary to remind you what to say. These notes can be in your first language if necessary. It is not a good idea to read your notes directly when presenting. English is a stress based language – it is very difficult to stress the correct words in a sentence when reading directly from notes.
  • Would it be useful to ask other students for written questions prior to the presentation?
  • Most presentations at GSA are for the purposes of gaining valuable feedback from tutors and other students. If the presentation is assessed, it is worth having a look at the assessment criteria for the presentation in advance, which should be available on CANVAS.
  • Structure presentations – look for any examples or information on how to structure your presentation on the brief or on CANVAS. A structure which identifies an introduction, includes the main sections to be covered, and allows for a summing up at the end, will enable your listeners to have expectations of what they are likely to hear, and therefore are more likely to understand you.
  • When possible, it’s a good idea to prepare short written statements or outlines of what you intend to say about your work prior to presentation day and make these available to your tutor. This means that if you get mixed up or forget vocabulary, your tutor can suggest questions to revisit areas that might have been missed or require clarification.

public speakingDuring the presentation

  • Do not read directly from notes. English is a stress based language. It is often difficult for listeners to understand meaning when reading from a text as it is very difficult to stress the sentence correctly. Instead try using flash cards, key phrases or reminders of key vocabulary.
  • Record your presentations for further study and analysis. Audio? Film? This gives you the opportunity to listen again to any verbal feedback, and also to review the language you have used.
  • Consider the format. If the presentation is about your own work, sometimes your audience might speak first, students and tutors might make suggestions or make observations about your work. This is an opportunity for you to agree or disagree, or partially agree or disagree with what is being suggested.
  • If you get mixed up or forget vocabulary in one section of your presentation, when you have a clear and previously agreed structure, there is opportunity for you to “start again” in the next section

After the presentation

  • Why not pair up with another student and assist each other to record questions and then discuss the main points and questions following the presentation.
  • If presentations are causing you distress, consider discussing with your tutor for support or alternatives.

Next page: Strategies for Studio briefings