Doing a presentation in front of an audience? It can make anyone nervous. Speaking in a foreign language in front of other people? It’s a challenge even for those people who can speak quite well in any foreign language. Being videotaped? I think everyone begins to behave differently when he or she sees a camera with a little red light glowing on it. Receiving questions after your presentation? Okay, you are prepared well, you know your slides, and you know what you want to say, but you don’t have any idea what questions you'll receive. During my career, I’ve had to make several presentations and now I will tell you about how I did it in the States a couple of months ago.
The course went on and it was quite hard, but still interesting. The more I spoke in front of my dear classmates, the more self-confident I felt. I began to hope that the presentation wouldn't be such a problem. Then this hope became assuredness. I wanted to make my presentation as good as possible considering the main point of the whole course and the lectures was to develop our presentation skills. I began to prepare for the presentation three weeks beforehand. I made the power point slides and I tried practicing the presentation aloud to myself. However, it was too long and I realized that I would have needed at least 60 minutes instead of the allotted 30 minutes. In addition, I wanted to give enough time for my audience to ask questions. I reconsidered my slides, cut out some of them, and reduced the amount of explanation for each slide.
Then I gave the slides to one of my American colleagues to check them. I think this is important even when someone wants to make a presentation in his/her native language. My colleague checked them and, a few days later, she called me to let me know that I could meet with her and listen to her comments. Well, she didn’t have very many comments, but the comments she did give were correct. As I am not a native speaker, I don’t always feel the slight difference between two words or phrases. After getting some feedback, I feel that it’s nicer or smoother. We went through my slides one by one and we stopped at the last one. She began to smile and laugh at me. “I think, if you want to make this presentation professional, this word is not appropriate. Maybe in other places it’s okay, but for this presentation you should change it.” I was wondering to myself what was so funny. Come to find out, there was a word “assessment” that I abbreviated as “ASS.” She told me that this word means something a little different. “Oh my God! You’re right”, I said. So I changed it to “ASSMNT” instead following her advice. Think it over. You make a good and professional presentation and there is a vulgar or slang word on one of your slides. It can ruin what you’ve built up. Thanks to my kind colleague, I avoided this pitfall.
I was ready for the presentation again. Our program manager told us we could not use power point for technical reasons. I wasn’t happy as my slides were great. I needed a plan B. I chose the main charts from my presentation, enlarged them and put them on Flipchart. The charts were still too small, but I printed them as a handout for my audience.
I still felt that I needed someone to review my presentation, so I asked another American colleague to listen to it. I took my presentation to her and she listened to it. During the presentation, I looked at her reaction and I thought over the whole thing again. She liked my presentation and gave some good feedback. So I was ready for the presentation according to plan B.
I knew my presentation well enough and I only needed to read 2-3 hard sentences. In my opinion, if the lecturer reads the presentation word for word, it can make the presentation boring. I wouldn’t have believed it, but I enjoyed being in front of an audience. I felt that they found my presentation quite interesting. As I wasn’t reading too much, I could keep eye contact and I saw their reactions and smiling faces. It was amazing. At the end, I got a few questions. Because I prepared excellently, I had no problem answering them. The feedback was very good also. My dear South African classmate asked me, “Attila! It was great, but when did you have time to put it together?”
This presentation was a kind of final exam. In the future, I’m going to remember this event with happiness and smile. I'm still grateful to my American colleagues who helped me. It meant a lot to me not only for this presentation, but for my future career as well. Thank you very much again!
Gardeniafly’ was so kind as to review my entry again. She is not searching new students anymore. But I can recommend someone else, or you visit Italki.
Doing presentations in a foreign language can be one of the hardest things in the world! Like Attila said, even if you make a presentation in your native language you still have to practice it and review it. Doing this in a foreign language can be really nerve-wracking. If any readers of this blog need practice in giving presentations in English, me and the rest of the italki teachers are ready to help you!
Bye-bye! And Happy New Year!