Ideas on presentations exercise?

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  • Jasper
    12 May, 2016 at 19:54
    • Total posts: 3

    I give 1 to 1 business english lessons to someone who needs to be able to come up with a quick answer when an audience member poses a question during a presentation in English. Clearly, this puts his fairly advanced language skills under stress.

    Can anyone think of an exercise I can do with him that would enable him to practice dealing with interruptions or help him to improvise a reply?


    24 May, 2016 at 9:43
    • Total posts: 279

    The best way to deal with this is using his real presentations to practise. Take it step by step, like this:

    1. Take a part of one of his presentations, look at it together and brainstorm all the possible questions that an audience member might come up with.

    2. Now brainstorm outlines of answers to all of these questions.

    3. Think of some different ways he can start and finish his answers to these questions, so that you have a “bank” of starting and finishing phrases that he can use. (Often thinking of a way to [u]start[/u] an answer can be just as challenging as the answer itself).

    For example:
    (To start)
    – That’s an interesting question, let me answer it this way…
    – The best way to answer that is to say that…
    (To finish)
    – Does that answer your question?
    – Okay, we were looking at…

    3. Roleplay that part of the presentation with him as the presenter and you as the audience member. You interrupt at appropriate times with the questions you’ve brainstormed and he practises with his prepared answers and the starting / finishing phrases.

    These first 3 steps should give him the confidence to know that he can do it – he has the knowledge (from the answers he came up with during brainstorming) and the language to start and finish his answers.

    The key now is to [u]gradually[/u] make it less rehearsed and more spontaneous, and to make him see that he can get his answer across in a number of different ways – if he’s an advanced learner he should have the [u]range[/u] of language in order to do this.


    4. Firstly, maybe prepare some answers together but take away the written answers so he doesn’t have them to refer to.

    5. Next, make the brainstorming of his answers a shorter session so that he only has the outline of answers in his head.

    6. Next, brainstorm some answers, but throw in one or two questions you haven’t brainstormed.

    …and so on, gradually taking away the crutches as he gains confidence. The final step is, of course, for you to act as an audience member with questions that you haven’t prepared together. But you have to get there gradually, building his confidence at each step.

    Hope that helps.


    25 May, 2016 at 18:45
    • Total posts: 3

    This looks like excellent advice – I’ll definitely try what you suggest with my student.

    Best wishes from Mexico City.

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