Presentation Skills and Strategies
1. Analyzing Audience and Locale
2. Organizing Contents
3. Preparing an Outline
4. Visual Aids
5. Understanding Nuances of Delivery
6. Kinesics – Proxemics – Paralinguistics – Chronemics
7. Sample Speech
What is a presentation?
You make a presentation when you speak to or write for an audience on a topic that is of interest to yourself and the audience as well.
When you speak to an audience to make a presentation, it’s called oral presentation.
A presentation can be academic-oriented or work environment-oriented. As a student of a UG or PG course or as part of your research, you may present papers in competitions on areas of interest to you, in national and international conferences on areas suggested by organizers. As one aspect of a work environment, you may present papers within your organization and outside your organization.
What does a presentation require?
(a) one individual or a pair¬who ¬speaker[s]
(b) speaks/speak ¬act
© with a purpose ¬why
(d) to an audience ¬whom¬listener[s]
(e) on a given topic/content¬what
(f) at a given place [venue] ¬where
(g) in an organized fashion ¬how
(h) on a given time and day ¬when
© Why do you make a presentation?
purpose : share information/knowledge
learn form audience
gain experience as speaker
purpose : interest audience in a concept/model/equipment
expect change in perception/attitude/behaviour/action
example: Does Chapter Two of Bhagavad Gita make sense to today’s
Is SMS giving a new shape to the English language?
New procurement procedures
How will the new tax law affect our profits?
Steps needed to reduce noise on the lines
purpose : receive information/knowledge
widen knowledge span/gain wisdom from speaker
wish to know the views of a speaker on an area of their interest,
learn to appreciate a speaker’s perception or perspective
gain experience in listening
(d) Who is the audience?
Audience refers to people—laymen, specialists or professionals. No speaker can speak to an empty hall/ auditorium/room. Obviously, listeners are central to an oral presentation.
If you want to talk about a topic that interests you, you may go ahead but there is no guarantee your audience will listen to you. If they didn’t, you couldn’t blame them, could you? Your aim is communication, you wish to share information or knowledge, you wish to pass on a few instructions, you want listeners to take a few precautions. All these are possible only if you take into account interests and expectations of your listeners.
Whether in your college or a host college, as a student, you will be talking to students and faculty who can understand and appreciate your presentation. Experts may be invited to judge the quality of your content for prizes, awards or certificates. In national or international conferences, you may have, as your audience, experts, scientists, technologists who will be keen to listen to what you have to offer.
As a professional in a work environment, you may be making a presentation to
· your top management in their offices
· foreigners in their offices or in a conference hall
· the public in, say, exhibitions
· prospective purchasers during product launching
· agents in sales promotion
· officials in their offices or in yours.
(e) What can be the presentation content?
The content or the subject matter can be academic. As a student or as a research scholar your presentations may relate to theoretical concepts or models, inventions or discoveries, innovations, improvements on available models or equipment.
As a professional in a work environment, the content can be technical, less technical or non technical. Your presentation may have as its theme
· production, sales, marketing, profit, budgeting, policies
· business arrangements, mergers, buyouts
· a new product or an improved version
· profit to be earned by selling your product
· matters related to license, regulations, tax, audit.
(f) Where do you meet your audience?
The meeting place [=venue] can be your office premises, hotels, your institution or institutions hosting an event. As a presenter, you need to, as part of presentation preparation, take into account things like venue space versus audience size, acoustics, lighting, seating, ventilation/air-conditioning, power supply.
(h) When do you make a presentation?
The question must sound funny to you. You may be thinking: where is the need for this question? Very often, the day and the time are fixed by event organizers and so you may not be in a position to have it changed. If your presentation is part of one day’s activity, you must of course make the best of it.
However, if you do have a choice or you are given a choice, choose Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, and time between 10 and 12. The reasons are as follows: Monday, being the first day of the week, workers may be thinking about pending work and the work for the week. Friday, being the day before the weekend, participants may be thinking about the weekend. In the first hour of the event, it’s likely the audience is not ready yet mentally; in the hour before lunch, if people are thinking about food, you can’t blame them, and during any hour after lunch, listeners are either sleepy or tired.
(g) How do you make a presentation? [steps and strategies]
You need to make a presentation in an organized fashion. In other words, you need to go through certain steps:
· get ready for presentation
· make the presentation.
· topic selection
reading · read for the topic
1. preparation writing · take notes
· write outline
· make first draft
· edit [revise]
· prepare visuals
· speak before a mirror/ friends
practicing · listen to reaction
· make necessary changes
speaking –oral presentation
listening –tackling question hour
Preparation [get ready for presentation]
Step one : topic selection
Step two : source choice
Step three : ideas collection
Step four : ideas organization
Step five : content development [organizing contents]
Step six : content sequencing
A presentation is a one to several communication. In such communication, this is what generally happens:
Presenters wish to present their ideas at a venue. There they face a large audience and so finish the presentation and allow questions if time permits. Otherwise, there may be either too many interruptions preventing the message getting across in one piece or there may be no questions at all. The latter is more likely, and the audience is silent for fear of being laughed at, for not being given a chance, for not being allowed to have a dialogue. Or because they feel that there is no point in asking questions. So they go through the presentation and allow questions at the end.
But you don’t want to be one among the many, do you? You want to be special. You want your audience to remember you. You want your audience to leave for home with the satisfaction of having listened to a good presentation. You want your audience to mull over your thoughts and to use them for gain—personally or professionally. You want your audience to benefit from your presentation, to act.
Well, you then need to go through these steps:
Step one—Topic Selection
You need to know who your listeners are, their age, their interests, their expectations, their attitude [willingness], their knowledge/experience level in relation to the field from which you’re going to choose the topic.
Strategies for successful presentation
Analyzing your audience
· Who are your audience? Are they students, professionals, specialists, parents,
women, lay persons, children, village folk, foreigners, general public?
This will help decide the content and its focus and the language to be used.
· What is their relationship with you? Are they strangers or are they known to
Thos will determine the level of formality in language and tone.
· To what age group do they belong? What are their interests?
This will reveal interest differences and help fill any communication gap and help shape content
· Why are they coming? Why will they listen to you? What are
Receive information/advice/suggestions/new interpretations, listen to an expert
talk, compare notes, have a debate, be persuaded/convinced, see to
professional treatment of the topic.
· Will they come of their own accord/by compulsion/due to circumstances/as a
This and the previous question will indicate audience attitude and level of mental readiness.
This and the previous question will indicate audience attitude and level of mental readiness.
· If a topic is already given to you, what and how much do they know about the
This will define the range and depth of your treatment of the topic.
· If no topic is suggested, what topic should you choose?
You’ll have to ask your host the area or the theme that your audience need or wish to listen to.
You may even ask for a topic of their choice.
· Will the audience listen to a topic they don’t know much about?
You need to ask the organizers.
· How relevant will your topic be to the audience?
Again your host should tell you about their mental readiness: will they switch off or listen?
In addition to knowing your audience, you should know about yourself: who you are, what you are, what you know, how much you know, how tuned you are to the topic and the audience (your attitude and motivational level), and so on.
· You are not only a person; you are also many people. What are you going to be to
your audience: a professional, a specialist, an elder, a foreigner, a parent, an
official, a superior, a philosopher?
Once you know who you should be, you can decide the level and the focus of the content.
· Are you a stranger or are you known to them?
The level of formality in your verbal and nonverbal beahviour.
· What is your age?
If there is a mismatch between yours and the aundience’s you’ll need to make adjustments.
· Why should you speak?
You need to know your ‘why’ in order to adjust it to the ‘why’ of the audience.
· How good are you as a speaker?
What is the quality of content and expression? How inventive are you? How good are your
presentation skills? Can you draw and hold the attention of the audience? Do you speak in
monotone? Is your voice loud enough for everyone to hear in case there is no electronic aid?
Do you speak fast or slow? Can you keep to the time allotted? Do you keep distance and stay
at the lectern / podium and move in the midst of audience (of course depending on the strength
of the audience)
Both these analyses will tell you how close or distant you are to your audience and accordingly make necessary adjustments or improvements.
Analyzing external factors
· What’s the occasion for the presentation?
Is it a celebration, festival, inauguration/valedictory, educating, expert talk or informing?
· At what time of the day is your presentation: morning/afternoon, before or
after a meal, after a day’s hard work, towards the end of the day?
Your motivation level and that of the audience depend on this.
· Is your presentation the last one or last but one?
If this is true and if you want the audience to pay attention, you’ll need to cut short your
presentation and probably distribute handouts in the hope they’ll read them in their free time.
· How long are you going to speak?
The shorter and the neater your presentation is, the better the audience’s reaction. Unless of
course it is a technical conference where all or most members are highly motivated and come
from long distances to listen, to learn.
There is one more vital aspect of your personality that you must make sure it will not trouble you at the time of presentation.
t is the fear of facing strangers, the fear of facing nothing but silence from the audience, the fear of being exposed, the fear of not being able to get feedback, the fear of failure. It’s natural to have a certain amount of tension/stress for this is necessary for action, but when you are not sure of your abilities, this tension increases and becomes fear. If you aren’t careful, this fear can eat into your confidence, and all efforts of preparation will go waste. So don’t worry too much about inexperience or lack of audience response. Believe that you can make a good presentation, and you will.
Analyzing the locale
· Where are you going to speak: open ground, closed a/c room, a large
auditorium, a long hall or a small room?
This will give you an idea about venue space versus audience size, acoustics,
· How are the seating arrangements: fixed or free, comfortable or not, number
of exits (for people to leave if necessary without disturbing others)?
This will affect listeners’ attitude, seeing you as you speak, your moving among the audience
· Is collar mike available?
This will enable you to move closer and away from the audience as necessary, to reduce the
eye contact distance.
· Are visual aids available: overhead projector [OHP], slide projector,
TV/video cassette player, audio/CD cassette player, film projector, flip
chart? Are photocopying or duplicating facilities, facilities for laptop
So you can use these facilities as you see fit.
· Do you have to take into account any noise factor in and around the speech
location: a/c noise, generator noise, construction work noise, traffic noise,
chats/gossip wafting through open windows or people being visible while
moving to and from in the corridor?
· Will there be a question session at the end?
Even if there isn’t, make sure you provide this if only to indicate to them that you want
These three analyses will help to decide the topic and make it specific enough [see ‘your specific purpose’ under ‘why do you make a presentation?’ on a previous page]
Step 2—Source Choice
The topic selection is over. Now, you need to gather information relevant to the topic before you organize it for presentation.
Where do you get the information from? The first source is yourself. Sources other than you are journals, books related to topic, even newspaper supplements, and of course the internet with its unbelievable wealth of information. Your friends, colleagues, superiors, experts can also help you.
Step 3—Ideas Collection
Sit down at your reading table, take a note pad, think about the topic, jot down the thoughts as they occur to you; after a few hours or days, you are likely to feel that what you’ve written down may not be enough material. Besides, knowledge is getting added every moment to every branch of knowledge or activity. This knowledge you can get only from other sources.
You’ll need to do a lot of reading; you may need to visit libraries or borrow books from libraries, turn the relevant pages of journals and magazines, gather data and information from the internet.
Now you’ll read for content—ideas, concepts, philosophies, samples, examples, statistics, graphics, charts. As you read, you need to skim, scan, study, evaluate [accept/reject] in order to note down the essence of your reading sources. You may also decide to use an author’s statements as quotes. In which case, you need to write down name(s) of author(s), title, publication date, publisher’s name.
Now you can put your ideas on paper. You can do this in a structured manner or in a free patterning. In the first one, you decide how you wish to treat the topic and put this treatment in titles and subtitles. Or you allow your mind to wander freely and to write down thoughts as they occur.
Step four—idea organization
Preparing an outline
You’ve selected your topic and the sources. You’ve done your reading and compiled enough information and data. Now is the time to give your collection a shape. You can do it in three ways:
· ideas map
· index cards/cue cards/note cards
· a full paper
You can make a map of ideas; arrange clockwise main ideas that spring from the central idea/thesis in a logical sequence with their subordinate ideas using key words with an example or two.
You can use readily available cue cards or make some [size 4”X6”] and write key thoughts in readable size and their links with illustrations.
You can also write out a full paper. Now you have to structure your writing. You need to classify and categorize. From among the thoughts gathered, you have to take out
· main ideas and use them as topic sentences for paragraphs
· elaborations, explanations, samples etc. as major and minor details as part
of each paragraph.
It’s also good to think of titles, subtitles appropriate to the divisions of the topic.
Step five—Content Development (organizing contents)
This is the next step in writing a full paper. This includes developing/organizing the content in the form of paragraphs into three divisions:
[i] introduction [ii] body [iii] conclusion. Without an attractive ‘introduction’ and a suitable ‘conclusion’, the presentation would be like a body without a head and feet. The presentation needs an introduction as the head because the body will be lifeless without it. It also needs a closing as feet because there can be no landing, no arriving without them. You couldn’t let the audience float around, could you?
This is not only essential but also desirable for various purposes. It should be infectious enough for the audience to catch your enthusiasm, honesty, sincerity and vitality. It should arouse the curiosity of the listeners, it could even excite them. It should also provide an immediate mental atmosphere congenial to further audience involvement and activity.
The opening words are the most important. They can unlock closed minds and they also lock mind into listening posture.
· Involving audience
You can begin informally: “Only the other day Mr Bhaskar—he’s there among you—and I were engaged in a heated discussion on the problem of future governance of India. This presentation is only an extension of it.” The audience are likely to realize the significance of the presentation.
· An engaging question
“Can you name someone who is a champion today and an embodiment of concentration, determination and skill?” A question to which members of the audience are very likely to respond with names. A nod, smile, uh-huh could be your feedback. But before long, you may say, “ I have in mind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Now friends, both of them have shown steel in moments of stress and made a name for themselves in today’s professional tennis world. Stress is your master only if you allow it. This is what I’m going to speak about for another twenty minutes. Hopefully, we’ll have an engaging question-hour session.”
· A mind-reading technique
You can use mind-reading technique by beginning with a statement that might reflect the audience’s preconceived notions on your topic: If I were a member of the audience this afternoon, I might be expecting the topic treatment with the sole reference to minorities. However, with your permission, I propose to look at the topic from a different angle which I hope you’ll consider seriously moving along with me, if not agree with it.”
I’m sure your audience will unlock their minds and become receptive.
· A rhetorical question
· Shocking the audience
It’s a question for which an answer is neither expected nor given because it is implied in the question: “Can we get rid of politicians?” [I can bet you’ll see some amused, some with raised brows, some mouthing the answer.] “But what would you say if I were to say: “We could”? You may think me crazy but hear me out, will you?” Now you’ve used another strategy: shocking the audience.
· Doing the unexpected
Your opening words: “Let me begin with the conclusion…..” will make most members sit up.
· Current News
You can quote a front-page headline relevant to your topic. Those of the audience who have read the news would like to hear your line of thinking. Those who didn’t might like to hear it and how you interpret it.
· An appropriate quotation
You’ll be indicating your width of reading. So some members might decide to listen to you.
· Appreciating the audience for their continued stay
You might say something like this: “Friends, it’s 2.30 in the afternoon; we’ve all had a heavy lunch, thanks to the hosts, and this is the fourth afternoon in a row for you and yet you are here. I say this because this deserves a special mention under the circumstances.” Or “I’ve been allotted half an hour. But I think I’ll take only twenty minutes so that we can all leave earlier. All of us have some shopping to do, haven’t we?” Such accommodation from you will bear fruits.
Unless these are appropriate to your topic or unless they make the audience smile, you’re treading dangerous ground. But if you are clever, you might manage with something like this: “ Well, friends, this anecdote has nothing to do with the topic, but I thought I needed a breather—I wanted to see if I could hear my voice, and of course you were engaged in seeing the link. Thank you for that and let us be together for a few more minutes.”
After any of these or other openings you may think of, you should next ensure your listeners traveling with you by telling them where and how you’re leading them and where you want them to arrive. In other words, you should provide an overview of the presentation which can include general or background information; you can also indicate how you’ve organized your presentation.
This is where you develop your main thoughts into sentences and paragraphs. You deal with each main thought in one paragraph developing each with major and minor thoughts that emerge from the main thought.
· Structuring the body
From the two samples that follow, I hope you can get an idea of how we compose paragraphs:
Sample 1: thought link between sentences
We speak, we listen. We write, we read. When we speak or listen, when we write or read, we are communicating.
Writing and reading go together because we generally write for someone who will read what we’ve written. So, writing and reading require minimum two persons—one to write and one to read. Letters [personal, official, business], SMS, e-mail, fax, fiction, short stories, poems, [auto] biographies, non-fiction, articles [newspaper, magazine or journal] are all written to be read.
Writing/ Writer initiates or begins the communication and the reading/ reader continues or responds to the communication. This may stop with reading or may go further when the reader decides to write to the writer about reactions to the content, its presentation, the language and style, thought clarity and so on. The writer then may agree or defend the writing.
We write because we want to inform. We wish certain sections of society to benefit from the knowledge we possess in a field of activity or a branch of study. We write because we want to respond. We wish authors to consider our critiques. We write because we may have ideas or suggestions or solutions that have not occurred to the writers. We write because we want to share our thoughts. We wish readers to consider our line of thinking on a topic of some importance at a State, national or community level.
As you can see, the passage on ‘communication’ has four paragraphs. Each paragraph is composed of several sentences, and each sentence is composed of several words. There is also a good mix of short and long sentences in each paragraph, and of short and long paragraphs.
The topic of the write-up is ‘communication’. All the paragraphs talk about communication in its written form. Let’s see how these paragraphs are built. This will help us understand how writers construct their paragraphs.
This paragraph is brief because its intention is just to introduce the idea of ‘communicating’.
The writer uses this paragraph to make us think of ‘writing and reading’ as two parts of one act. [The theme of this book is ‘editing writing’.]
The first sentence expects us to think of these two acts as one whole act. The second sentence is a natural elaboration of the first sentence when it mentions two people as necessary partners. The third sentence provides examples of writing. The second and the third sentences develop the first sentence, don’t they? So, the first sentence of this paragraph is known the topic sentence because it tells us the topic of the paragraph. It prepares us for the sentences that follow.
This paragraph describes very briefly the process of communication between the writer and the reader.
The first sentence tells us about initiating and responding. The second goes further to say that response is not obligatory. The third sentence indicates what the writer is likely to do on receiving a response from the reader.
Like in the previous paragraph, the first sentence is the topic sentence and the other two explain the process a little further.
This paragraph gives us the reasons for writing.
All the seven sentences contain reasons. In other words, they do explain or elaborate the several reasons for writing but they are not doing this for any particular sentence in the paragraph. In other words, there is no topic sentence in this paragraph. The topic is implied: Why does a writer wish to write?
From this discussion, we can understand that there is a pattern in paragraph building.
What is this pattern? Or how is a paragraph organized?
1. A paragraph is a group of sentences.
2, One sentence conveys the topic of the paragraph; the rest
elaborate, explain, expand, exemplify the topic. They compare,
contrast, argue for or against an idea; sometimes, they even
paraphrase [repeat] a thought when the writer considers it
necessary. Thus the rest of the sentences contain major and minor
details of the topic.
3. A paragraph has a topic sentence [main idea derived from the topic
the writer has chosen to write about]. Generally speaking, the first
sentence contains the topic and the rest of the sentences are
related to the topic [paragraphs 2 and 3 of ‘communication].
However, it is possible that the topic sentence can appear at the
middle or the end of the paragraph; it is equally possible that the
topic is implied or to be understood from the information provided
in the paragraph [paragraph 4 of ‘communication’].
4. Each sentence is well connected to a previous sentence with the
help of expressions known as ‘sentence connectors’ like ‘however’,
unity and coherence
You have now some idea of the structure of a paragraph. Let’s talk about two other important aspects of a paragraph.
Unity and coherence are the two aspects. Unity means that everything is essentially related to a central idea. When one sentence of a paragraph expresses one main idea and other sentences develop this main idea with major and minor details, we say the paragraph has unity. When all these sentences are linked logically or when the relations among these thoughts are made clear, we say the paragraph has coherence. When the sentences of the paragraph reflect unity and coherence, we say the paragraph has clarity.
In the next page, two paragraphs are used as illustrations to help understand how a topic of a paragraph is developed into major and minor details to achieve unity.
Structural link: main idea major detailminor detail
1.The computer can become a threat to man. 2. It can endanger his survival and privacy. 3. It also offers excellent encouragement for unethical or criminal activities. 4. It can worsen the unemployment problem as employers prefer the computer and the computer-controlled robots to humans for obvious reasons. 5.The information storage facility the computer provides has led to collection of personal information about individuals and storage of this information in data banks by several employing agencies. 6. If care is not exercised during data gathering, data integrity may suffer. 7.That is, questionable or imperfect methods may be employed; 8. as a result incorrect or incomplete data may be stored, and this may become permanent source and used for any given purpose. 9. Such use of defective information could affect an individual’s peace, happiness or career ambitions. 10. Besides, no individual could have private life; 11. his life would be an open book for anyone to read. 12. More importantly, there is this lurking danger that anyone, with the right password, could enter the data bank, add, delete, or change the data to his liking to create false or misleading data. 13. Even money in banks is no longer safe from theft or manipulation. 14. Anyone can add, delete or change monetary transactions and thus erase and rewrite the data; 15. of course, such fraud would be detected but only days after the theft has been committed. 16. If this is criminal, an unethical activity is the unscrupulous piracy of software.17. It is possible for anyone to make unlawful copying and still escape punishment.
When you write an article or an essay, it will contain a lot of sentences. These sentences develop the topic by breaking it into some or several main thoughts and by breaking each of these main thoughts into several major and minor details.
In the paragraph, S.2 and S.3 are extensions of S.1. S.4 and S.5 elaborate two parts of S.2. S.9 expands on the kind of danger expressed in S.2. S.10 and S.11 elaborations of the second part of S.2. S.6, S.7, S.8, S.12, S.16, and S.17 expand and elaborate the ‘unethical’ aspect of S.3. S.13, S.14 and S.15 talk about the ‘criminal’ aspect of S.3.
· Linking sentences
Sentences and paragraphs should be linked to each other at the structure [physical/visible] and thought [in the mind] levels. How do we do this? With the help of cohesive devices which are also known as ‘linking words’, ‘connectives’, ‘sentence connectors’, ‘transition words’ or ‘cohesion markers’. We can divide these connectives into two groups: 1. coordinating 2. subordinating. Here is a list:
1. coordinating connectives [These link two independent sentences]
1.1 addition [of information]
also, and, and then, besides, further, furthermore, moreover, additionally,
in addition, not only….. but also, both ….. and ……., similarly, likewise, so, therefore, too
1.2 sequence [the order in which things take place or should occur]
first, in the first place, next, second, last but not least, last, finally, ultimately,
in the end
hence, namely, that is [to say], thus, for instance, for example, indeed, regardless,
it is true, in fact, of course, after all, specifically
therefore, hence, consequently, for that reason
or, either……or, neither…….nor, whether…….or
1.6 condition, exception
under these/such conditions, or else, with this condition/exception, otherwise
in the same way, likewise, similarly
but, still, however, and yet, nevertheless, conversely, on the contrary, by contrast,
on the other hand, otherwise, regardless, even then, even so, whereas
2. subordinate connectives convert a main clause into a subordinating \
after, before, since, till, until, when, while, as soon as, as long as, by the time,
if, only if, unless, provided that, on the provision that
though, although, even though, despite [the fact that], in spite of, even if
because, so, since, in that, in as much as
so that, in order that, for fear that
as, as though, as if
more…..than, as…….as , so…..as
· patterning the overall sequencing
This is the pattern for process description. You speak of what happen first, what happens next, what follows next and so on. You can use this pattern to describe how a situation or problem developed especially when you wish to set it against a historical background. One drawback of this sequencing is that you cannot indicate which facts are more important. However, you can overcome this in your conclusion by stressing the more important ones.
This is the most common pattern used. Here you divide your presentation into titles and subtitles according to importance.
¨cause and effect
In this structure, you start with reasons for an occurrence, say a workers’ strike, and then examine their effect or influence over related areas.
State, define, describe the problem and go on to possible solutions to different aspects of the problem.
¨from specific to the general
¨general to the specific
For example, if you want to talk about the promotion policy of your organization and how it has affected workers, you can start with instances to show good or ill effects of the policy and then move on to the policy. Or state and analyse the policy in terms of its effects on workers and then cite several relevant examples.
¨principles and practice
You can start with what obtains in practice and how this contradicts certain assumptions or agrees with the principles.
This is what your audience is most likely to remember. This should contain the final message you’ll want to leave with your audience. Without it, your listeners will not know what to make of your presentation. You should be able to tell them what you want them to do as post-listening activity: contemplate, argue, discuss, act.
This is the last act of preparation stage. Visuals help listeners comprehend your presentation with ease and in comfort. They
· help quick comprehension
· help information retention
· reinforce presenter’s effort
· provide variety—the ear and the eye.
Flip Charts are ideal for small groups in a conference room or classroom. They are also ideal for brainstorming with your audience.
Whiteboard/Charlkboard is convenient for creating sketches.
Overhead Transparencies are specially useful to create a series of overlays to explain a complex device or system, adding or removing the overlays one at a time. Another important advantage is you can lay a sheet of paper over the whole or parts of it, uncovering one item at a time as you discuss it, to focus audience attention on each point in the sequence. Also useful it is
· for audience participation as you invite them to suggest variations or
· for audience participation as you invite them to suggest variations or
improvements to your presentation and you jot them down on the
· to quickly draw pictures or figures as they occur to you as additional
Presentation Software [power-point, Corel presentation, and Freelance Graphics] helps you create your presentation on your computer. Using spreadsheet software, you can develop charts and graphs with data.
Choice of aids
large amounts of data
Slides, Flip charts,
small amounts of data
Whiteboard, Flip charts
Slides, models, actual objects
what an object looks like
Use of Visual Aids
It’s not always that all of us, wishing to make a presentation, use aids appropriately, for the benefit of your listeners, that is.
Here are two instances where the presenters failed to use aids properly:
“John had been asked to give a five minute talk on one of the
company’s products, to a group of new employees as part of
their induction course. Aware that even a five-minute talk
requires careful preparation, he had been hard at work…..In
the space of next five minutes as well as talking at breakneck
speed, he showed us eight overhead transparencies all
beautifully drawn in minute detail (which we couldn’t have
seen from the back of the room, even if he had given us the
time to look at them); he also directed our attention to two
wall posters, both of which looked, from where I was sitting,
like aerial views of London taken from the moon; and while
all this was going on he circulated six photographs which we
were expected to pass round the room.”
John did work hard. But it was of no use to the audience. John was not you-oriented (listener-oriented); he concentrated merely on providing a lot of information in different ways. Probably, he was aware that his audience couldn’t do all he wanted them to do but then he had a job to do.
(Stanton in his “Communication” by Macmillan, London in 1990)
“A sales manager recently showed me a
typical verbal visual which looked like
· key accounts
· closer liaison with senior personnel
· frequent visits by representatives
· special terms and conditions
· new business
· analysis of existing customers
· telephone sales to targeted groups
· direct mail for new products
· exhibiting throughout the country.”
“This speaker displayed his visual aid and then proceeded to talk about each point. You may have seen and possibly used many visuals like this one and you may feel that it is effective, so I’d like positive distraction… The visual is a liability because by showing it the speaker relinquishes control of the audience…With this visual he reveals everything so that there can be no sustained interest and no element of surprise. On the contrary, he has given the audience the opportunity to disappear down Route 350…”
[Stuart,C. in her “Effective Speaking” by Pan Books, London 1989.]
You should not
1. use visuals alone because they don’t make your presentation professional.
2. use visuals because other speakers do.
3. use more than 12 visuals per presentation.
4. read the text on your visual word for word. Your audience can read the visuals.
5. stand between the visual and the audience.
6. fall into the common trap of talking to your visual aid.
7. use too many different types of visual aids.
8. use as visual aid computer printouts, typewritten material, printed forms etc. as
the print is too small to be read.
9. talk while the visual is showing.
[of course, you can touch with a pointer at a given entry, turn to the audience
and talk as you explain.]
Further guidelines for using visual aids:
1. Visual aids are just that. Pictures achieve objectives [67%] but verbals [33%].
2. Use verbal visuals to summarize/recapitulate.
3. In a verbal visual, use single words or short phrases [not more than 40 words].
4. Check for clear visibility from the last or back seat in the audience.
5. Have lists numbered; keep them parallel in content and grammatical form.
6. Match your talk to the visuals shown.
7. For figures, use pie charts.
8. Keep aids colourful; aim for contrast.
9. Focus on one idea per visual.
10. Combine verbal with the visual:
left brain: words/sentences/symbols right brain: graphs, charts, pictures.
11. Hold the physical objects high when necessary for the audience to see.
12. Remove each aid from audience’s sight as soon as you’ve finished using it.
13. Turn off any equipment you’re not using.
It’s very important to remember this:
If you have to use complex visuals to go with your
presentation, you may find it best to give written/printed
hard copies to the group in advance of your presentation
hard copies to the group in advance of your presentation
so that they can read them and come prepared to hear you
and if necessary clarify without waste of time.
No one can write a full paper perfectly in one go. It will definitely need revision. Errors can creep in at the thought level and/or at the expression level. The first one relates to what we write and the second, how we write. There could be flaws in the thought flow, in the link between thoughts. There could be problems in the choice of words and sentence structures.
Read your writing as its writer.
Read your writing as its listener [because you are going to speak it]
Read for errors in grammar and choice of words and sentence structures.
Give your writing to friends, experts.
During preparation, use these to your advantage and to the advantage of the audience:
1. Assume that your audience is well-informed. Anticipate the questions your audience are likely to ask and put the answers in your ‘body’.
2. Assume that your audience is intelligent. Check for weaknesses in your logic, see if your examples are appropriate to the statements they are supposed to support. Make sure your interpretation of data is accurate and your conclusions are based on the interpretations.
3. Avoid overcrowding your preparation with too many visual aids.
4. As part of your preparation, have and develop only three or four main points because a normal audience is unlikely to remember more than that.
5. Preparation of index cards is a must if your presentation is only oral [without visuals].
6. Make sure you have used expressions that inform your audience you are moving from
one topic to the next [like “now, I shall move on to”, “I’ll take up the last but the
most important aspect of…..”, “we’ll now see how…….”]
The importance of practice
Majors Randall, in his “Business Communication” says:
“The most challenging aspect of speechmaking for many
people is the actual delivery of the speech—standing in
front of the crowd and talking. The best way to overcome
this difficulty is to prepare thoroughly and to practice the
delivery. If you know your material thoroughly and have
rehearsed it several times, you will be able to speak with
a minimum of discomfort and awkwardness.”
[Underlining is mine.]
Rehearsal allows you to
time your presentation,
make necessary adjustments in pacing and length,
practise using your visual aids,
discover trouble spots.
Practice helps you remember the presentation content. Practice improves your voice volume. Practice shows you the importance of pauses. Practice will help you look cheerful, keep your voice lively, adjust your delivery speed. With practice comes confidence. With confidence, self-belief. With self-belief, good performance. With good performance, probably positive audience response.
You can probably learn by heart your introduction and conclusion because they are two big moments in your presentation. An inviting introduction gets you the attention of your listeners. A fitting conclusion gets you applause from the audience. But don’t memorize the whole presentation. If you did and used memorized content, there could be a problem or two. It is possible you’ll miss the sequence, not be able to recall and so fumble. Also as the speaker, you should be able to adjust your presentation to the messages that you’ll be receiving from the body language of the audience or even a question or two during the presentation. You might, in a situation like this, find it difficult to be able to reorganize your presentation sequence.
Devices for practice
1. Full mirror
Stand in front of it and rehearse your presentation. It’s the least expensive. It’s a most effective tool to see for yourself how you use your body, your face or any mannerism you may be victim of.
2. Audio Cassette Recorder
Mirror gives you the advantage of watching yourself as you speak. But you cannot listen to yourself as many times as you want to check for content, language, tone, voice, pause and so on. Once you record your speech, you can replay it until you know how well or poorly you’ve performed.
3. TV/Video Camera
Of course the best tool would be a video camera and a TV. You can see and hear yourself at the same time as many times as you want. Of course, someone other than you has to capture you on the camera as you perform.
4. Live audience
If you can get hold of a few friends, relatives or colleagues to watch you perform and if they are serious enough to do this job, you’ll get a feel of how the audience you’re going to talk to will be reacting. You should provide this audience with the background to your talk—who your actual audience are, what according to you they would be expecting from you, the topic with its central idea and what your end objective is. Of course, they should know the roles the essentials of a presentation play in your success or failure: quality and quantity of your content, language, body language, visual aids, the beginning, the middle, the end, the question hour. Then they should be able to analyze your presentation and tell
you where you were very good and where you need to improve.
If they have the time to see you perform once again, you could know whether you improved your performance to their satisfaction.
Presentation [the actual moment]
· Centrality of the listener
· Initial Activity
clarification about expectations
· End Activities
· Centrality of the listener
Listeners are as much central to the presentation as they’ve been to the preparation; there they’ve been in the background and here they are in front of you. Though your listeners and you are mutually complementary, the fact remains that while listeners don’t require you, you require them to present your thoughts. So you need to continue to be listener-oriented.
· Listeners’ Problems
Like you, your listeners are real people, busy people, who have many things on their minds. It’s quite likely they are interrupting work important to them in order to listen to you. They can continue to think about that job while you’re talking. They can also think about anything that interests them such as the other people in the room, the quality of the air-conditioning and related thoughts, what you are wearing or what they’re going to eat for dinner. Thus they are easy meat to distractions.
It’s said that there is a significant gap between the speed with which listeners process in their minds what they’re listening to and the speed with which you can deliver or are delivering. The listeners process much faster than you can utter your thoughts. Naturally, there is a gap in time and space when your listeners can indulge in traveling. Perhaps a promotion is due; perhaps an important letter or file is untraceable. Or they can chew on a thought of yours, get lost in an argument with you [in their minds, of course!]. And when they come back to listen to you, they could’ve missed a lot, and having missed it, they might have no further interest in what you’re doing.
Listeners have certain expectations. They expect your presentation to have logic, order, clarity, and –most important—meaning for them.
Your presentation should satisfy these expectations.
Introduction of the speaker may vary from culture to culture.
In some cultures, it’s normal for you to introduce yourself and present your credentials to the audience. Such self-introduction should be in tune with the area of the activity on which your presentation is based.
“I entered TVS at the lowest rung of the ladder. In less than
a decade I’ve risen to the level of Senior Manager. So I’d
not be wrong if I claimed I know the problems of the shop workers.”
“Like you, I have not been to university but I have done every job in this
factory, so you can be sure I’m not goig to suggest any change that won’t
work.” (Stuart C. in her book)
Or some official of the host organization where you’re making the presentation will do the introduction. The official will present particulars about you relevant to the presentation.
Once the introduction is over, you start the presentation. Now you satisfy the expectations of your audience with information that will answer these questions:
What is the presentation about?
Why should the audience listen to it?
For how long will you be presenting?
What do you expect the audience to do
as a follow-up? [of course, in addition to the question hour!]
Now you proceed with the actual presentation. In Step four of your Preparation stage, you were given three ways of preparation:
· ideas map
· index cards/cue cards/note cards
· a full paper.
Even though you may have prepared a full paper, don’t read it unless it is permitted by tradition, unless you are explicitly invited to read the paper, unless you are at a professional conference where reading is the normal activity.
In presentations other than these, you may use your ‘ideas map’, ‘index cards’ or even your full paper only as reference material to check now and then if you’ve been following the sequence, to make sure you’re proceeding as planned by you.
Language and body language
So as you speak, as you introduce the topic, as you develop the topic and as you come to the closing, you’re constantly in touch with your audience through
· the use of appropriate vocabulary, sentence structure,
and visual aids to enable your audience to listen, follow
and comprehend your thoughts, explanations
· eye contact, your voice volume, rise and fall of your
tone, smile, use of the arms supporting your verbal
messages, moving now and then [not constantly, please]
from the audience to the visual and from the visual to the audience,
moving as close to the audience as possible, asking or
inviting questions, seeking feedback, adjusting your content
and presentation to suit the feedback you’re getting from
the verbal or nonverbal messages from your audience.
Your presentation can be a success if you use these strategies:
1. Use technical jargon if your audience comprises technical people;
if lay persons, use as few of them as possible; explain in simple terms
but make sure they understand what you’re saying.
2. Make the presentation conversational. Use short, simple sentences as they facilitate quick comprehension. Of course, do use complex and compound sentences but sparingly.
3. Use signal expressions like “the next step is…”, “another consequence
of this is…..”, “another way to look at this is…”, “so far, we’ve looked
at only…….”, “ What I’m going to tell you now is significant from….”
“I’ll now summarize briefly before moving on to…”, “let me repeat this….”
“The next logical step is….”,
4. Use link expressions
[See ‘linking sentences’ under Step Five of “Preparation” stage.]
5. Listening is more difficult than reading. Listeners cannot go back like readers to
recapture information. Repetition is a strategy that helps recall and remembrance.
6. Use rhetorical questions.
7. Use active voice.
8. If you have a small audience, encourage ‘interruptions’. Ask questions to get response. Invite them to ask questions, to seek clarifications. Ask audience for a show of hands.
9. Your audience can’t read and listen at the same time. So do one thing at a time. If you do have to show a visual and speak on a point, mask the rest and explain the point.
10. eye contact
“When you don’t look at the audience, they feel (probably unconsciously)
that you are not interested in them, or in their reaction to your talk….”
“A speaker who never looks at his listeners may be conveying messages
like ‘I am not sure about what I am saying…’ ” [Stanton, N.]
This is the best way to build rapport with your audience. Touch as many members of the audience as possible so that they feel their presence is recognized. Your eyes are the only part of your body that can recognize audience reaction and that can tell the audience your reaction to their feedback.
Your voice carries to the audience messages other than the content of your
presentation. It carries your friendliness, confidence, vitality, sincerity,
honesty, enthusiasm which should touch them and make them respond.
Be audible to the last row.
Raise or drop your voice. Any change in volume, tone, pace [speed] indicates a
change or shift in your presentation.
If your natural voice is monotone [that doesn’t rise and fall],
repeat key points
give verbal cues [see 3 above]
stress key words.
12. pause [a quick short stop]
Use pauses in between sentences, after questions, before key points.
Stand up straight, feet slightly apart.
Use them to go with the messages of your sentences.
A step or two away or towards the audience indicate change in the messages.
However, too much movement can be distracting, so try not to pace.
A mannerism is a particular habit or way of speaking or behaving that you and I have but are not aware of.
Most of us suffer from some mannerism or the other. But we would not be ready to accept even if we were told of them. This is where live audience in mock session, speaking in front of a full mirror or videoing the presentation will help.
A few of the mannerisms are:
1. hopping from one foot to another
2. taking two steps forward and two steps back
3. standing on one leg
4. crossing the legs in the ‘I want to go to toilet’ stance
5. rocking to and fro
6. swaying from side to side
7. rising up on toes every, say, third or fourth word
8. going on little undirected walkabouts
9. walking up and down like a caged animal
10. playing with pens or other objects
11. jingling money in pockets
12. fiddling with hair
13. avoiding eye contact.
14. repeating certain words
15. twitching of the eyes, lips or the nose
These and other mannerisms can easily distract members of the audience who otherwise might halfheartedly listen.
Use any of these:
In summary, So, to sum up, to summarize, to recapitulate, Let me now sum up
In conclusion, let me end by saying, In conclusion I’d like to say, Finally, may I say
So I would suggest, So I would recommend that
Thank you, thank you very much, thank you for listening,
thank you for your attention/time
If you have any questions or comments, I’ll be happy to answer them
I’ll be happy to answer questions
If there are questions, I’ll do my best to answer them
If the question asked is vague, instead of asking the individual to rephrase [which may be embarrassing to both of you], you could restate or paraphrase it before you answer it.
“If I’m not mistaken, you mean what I meant by……….”
“ I’m sure you’re, aren’t you, talking about the point I made about……..”
Express appreciation for questions, even hostile ones.
“I’m happy you asked that question”
“That’s a good question”
5. Understanding Nuances of Delivery
There could be poor presentations. And there could be very good presentations. Where does the distinction lie? Whether a presentation is a success or failure depends on all the factors discussed in the pages before this under this Unit.
When you are ill-prepared, when you’ve had no practice, your presentation can only be below average. Probably you didn’t have much to say, probably your expressions were inadequate, probably your visuals didn’t match well with the content, probably your body language was poor, perhaps you were rigid in your stance, or you moved about restlessly, perhaps you had no eye contact with the audience, perhaps the audience was so silent that you thought something must have gone wrong and did everything wrong from that moment.
You may have had inadequate preparation, you may have had very few visuals or no visuals at all. Yet you had a way with your delivery. You charmed your audience with the way you presented your ideas. You employed most of the strategies listed under “delivery strategies” in an earlier page.
There are four modes of delivery:
When you make an extempore speech, your body language will indicate you’re speaking without preparation.
But actually, you’ll have made all the necessary preparation and practised your speech to perfection. And you must have an extremely good memory to remember and recollect all the thoughts in their proper sequence with all the elaborations, examples, explanations. Of course you must be extremely confident of yourself and this confidence must be visible to your audience.
Don’t try this mode if you are not sure of yourself and your presentation abilities.
This is nothing but reading to the audience your full paper. To succeed in this kind of presentation, you must possess and use reading skills:
· read with comprehension for listener comprehension
· read in chunks, large and small
· read with pauses in the right places
· read with a rising and falling tone
Of course, you have to now and then look up and sweep your eye over the audience in an arch and get back to reading. This is another reading skill you must master.
Don’t attempt this presentation without having these skills. Or at least learn them as quickly as you can if you must use this.
Impromptu is a speech you make without preparation and rehearsal. You speak and share your thoughts with the audience because someone makes the request.
This may be a difficult task if you are not used to facing an audience, if you haven’t made speeches or presentations, if you don’t have the right things to say in a given environment.
This speech mode is almost the same as extempore. The big difference is here you commit your total speech to memory and repeat it word for word.
Don’t attempt this if you have a weak memory.
6. Kinesics – Proxemics – Chronemics –Paralinguistics
what do we mean by ‘verbal’?
In the previous page, I mentioned two things: verbal and behaviour pattern. “Verbal” has three dictionary meanings. It means ‘related to verbs’. For instance, we call ‘gerunds’—words like reading, writing, swimming, painting—‘verbal nouns’ because all these are ‘participles’ which we use to describe an on-going activity in the present or past:
I’m swimming in the lake. I was writing a letter. I was reading a novel.
When we use these as ‘nouns’, they are known as verbal nouns.
Reading enlarges your world. Swimming is a good exercise.
The second meaning of ‘verbal’ is ‘spoken’. When we speak, we make a verbal communication. The third meaning is ‘related to words’. When we speak, we use ‘words’ to express messages. Such messages are ‘verbal’ messages. These are also known as ‘oral’ messages because we use our vocal cords, tongue, teeth.
What is ‘nonverbal’?
In addition to verbal messages, we communicate also nonverbally. This is known as nonverbal communication. What does nonverbal communication mean? When messages are passed on from one person to another without using words or speech, they are termed nonverbal. In other words, nonverbal communication is a process of sending and receiving wordless messages.
Nonverbal communication is equated with ‘body language’. This is because most of the nonverbal communication occurs through the use of the body. Body language also includes ‘gestures’ that we do with different parts of the body. However, There are also certain other means of communication that are nonverbal. These we shall discuss after learning about body language and what it means and implies.
use of nonverbal
Nonverbal communication must be older than verbal communication. Our human ancestors must have used their limbs—body parts—to communicate with each other long before they were able to use sounds to form words, to create and use words to form sentences. For thousands of years, we have been using languages and improving them everyday to communicate. Even after such long use of languages, nonverbal communication has not died; in fact, we’ve been using it like before.
We have improved our languages over centuries through continuous creation of new words and use of sentence structures innovatively. And yet, we use nonverbal communication alone [by itself] or along with the verbal. Why is this?
What does nonverbal do?
Because, as we will learn in the next few pages, nonverbal communication can strengthen, confirm or contradict verbal communication. And by itself [that is, without words] it can give messages with more force, accuracy or clarity than words.
Moreover, nonverbal communication expresses clearly the personality of the person concerned. It depicts the behaviour pattern[s] of the person. Various aspects of a person’s character go to make up personality. Things like perception, attitude, motivation, involvement, consistency, persistence are part of personality. Nonverbal communication reveals such aspects.
What are the characteristics of nonverbal?
Nonverbal communication and behaviour can be involuntary or voluntary. It’s voluntary when we are conscious of what we’re doing with our body or when our body is under the control of our will. For instance, in normal conditions, we walk when we want to, we read the newspaper because we want to, we lie down because we want to rest our body and so on. Children throw stones to chase dogs away. These and other similar actions are the result of conscious decision-making. In other words, we know what we’re doing.
Nonverbal communication is also involuntary when our will has no control over body movements. For instance, when we are in deep thought, we don’t know what our body is doing; we may be walking without knowing we’re walking, we may pick up the newspaper and turn the pages without knowing that we’re doing it. We may cross the road without being aware of it. Our eyes may be looking at someone but our mind doesn’t register the person.
Nonverbal messages may accompany [=go with] verbal [oral] messages. We say “congrats!”, we also smile and/or shake hands. We say “please come in!” and we indicate the welcome with a smile and an arm gesture. Parents show anger with words and body language like slapping, hitting or beating. To add effect to what we’re saying, we lower our voice and whisper.
Nonverbal messages may not accompany verbal [oral] messages. Such absence of nonverbal also sends messages. We may say “I’m leaving” but we may have no intention of leaving. When someone knocks and seeks permission to enter, we say “come in!” without getting up or stopping what we’re doing. Because we know our subordinate is coming in. Or because we know who is coming and we want to show our unhappiness or some other feeling towards that person.
Very often we communicate only with nonverbal means. We may enter a place without permission to show there is no formality or to show authority. We may leave a place without putting it in words. We may throw or pretend to throw an object at a person seriously or for fun.
What aspects of nonverbal communication do we use?
Here, we’ll talk about body language. We shall also learn about proximity, touch, posture, voice, sound symbols, orientation, physical characteristics, time, silence.
The study of language is called linguistics. This branch of knowledge studies, investigates, analyses and describes language, its formation, its function and so on. Similarly, various aspects of nonverbal communication are being studied, investigated, analysed and described. Kinesics studies body language. Proxemics studies personal space. Haptics studies touch, Oculesics, eye contact, Chronemics, time, Vocalics, voice.
This is a broad term for different forms of communication using body movement or gestures instead of or in addition to verbal expressions. Such messages are known as paralanguage.
This includes facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, nodding.
Height, weight, colour, hair, beard, unkempt hair, thick or thin eyebrows, dress, dress colours, its quality convey messages to others. The viewer combines all these or some of these to add or delete value to the image of the person he/she has in mind. Fair colour is a plus, Fatness is a minus. A beard can make one handsome or ugly. Thick eyebrows are generally unfavourable. A well-dressed person is generally liked.
However, how someone views physical characteristics will depend their perceptions or how they look at these characteristics.
Facial expressions convey emotions or feelings. They can be as different as concentration, anger, contempt, disgust, desire, doubt, greed, excitement, fear, joy, confusion, sadness, surprise, frown, glare, shock, smile, sneer. Expression of feeling or emotions can bring sympathy, understanding, help as support and thus reduce mental, psychological or emotional disturbances. Or it can result in negative reaction like disassociation, enmity and the like.
Winking, rolling the eyes, raising the eyebrows, twitching the nose, scratching the head, gnashing the teeth, putting the tongue out, closing the eyes, intentional coughing, tapping the forehead, massaging temples, face turned away, bent head, head shaking, raising the chin, using fingers or arms to go with what we’re saying, nodding are gestures that send meaningful messages.
Winking can bring amusement or anger. Rolling the eyes indicates disbelief or mockery. Raising the eyebrows shows doubt or seeks more explanation or information. Twitching the nose indicates irritation, dislike or disgust. Scratching the head expresses difficulty in getting a solution. Gnashing the teeth occurs as a result of extreme anger. Intentional coughing draws attention. Tapping the forehead says ‘the credit goes to thinking’. Massaging temples highlights anxiety. Bent head expresses shame or is a form of greeting with respect. Inclined head indicates interest in what’s being said. Nodding is generally a sign of confirmation. It’s also a ‘hello’ gesture, indicating informality. We nod as a sign of encouragement or attention when someone is speaking to us. Otherwise that person might think we have no interest in him or what he’s saying. We say ‘Look over there!’ with the forefinger pointing in a given direction. We use the forefinger while asking a person to leave the place. We use arms as additional sign of welcome. We shake hands as a sign of greeting or happiness. We use our arms as we give a speech or lecture for such gesture lends strength and life to what we may be saying. Arms are a necessary tool when communicating to a dumb and deaf person.
We threaten with a shaking fist. We wave our hand to show affection. We pound a table for emphasis. We lean forward to show interest. Leaning back in the chair exhibits disinterest. Moving away from a group or our partner in conversation is a clear sign of disinterest, disassociation, unwillingness to continue the conversation and so on, depending on the context. Our eyes widen as we wonder at what we’re seeing or hearing. A quick wink may tell stories that words cannot fully express. Finger-tapping shows impatience. We pace the floor with restlessness. We shrug our shoulders indifferently.
We slam a door in anger. We clap to appreciate or to ask a performer to stop!
Eye contact is a very essential body language for socialization purpose. It is a positive sign seeking contact, acquaintance, friendship, business, relationship, understanding, appreciation, criticism. Without eye contact, we cannot succeed in an interview, for instance. We need to look at the interviewers as we speak. Again, we should not get into the habit of looking at only one person when there are several. This would mean we are ignoring the others and don’t recognize their presence. They will be hurt and naturally you’ll lose them in due course. “Look me in the eye” is what we say when we suspect someone lying to us. It indicates you have nothing to hide and that you are open-minded. It also sends a message of confidence. It also helps retention and recall of information because it links one mind with another and it is a sign of attention as well.
When we keep our body in a particular position, when we hold our body in a particular way, posture happens. Postures communicate social or official status, dominance or submissiveness.
We indicate superior status or dominance when we are seated and the other person keeps standing. When the other person stands hands folded across the chest even when we are standing, it shows our superior status and the other person’s submissiveness. We stand as straight as possible before our superiors. We bend our back forward to explain a point or to direct our superior to a particular part of a visual or a piece of writing or a balance sheet. During job interview, the interviewer sits leaning the body on the back of the chair while the interviewee is expected to sit with a straight back or rest his/her back lightly on the back of the chair. Resting the back against the back of the chair will lead to the body sliding down a bit and that is not considered appropriate posture for the interviewee to take.
Some postures are difficult to read. For instance, if we stand with our arms crossed at our back and a bent head, it may indicate shame, shyness, sadness or modesty. It could also mean that we are very self-conscious. If we stand with our feet apart and arms on the hip, it could mean authority, pride or confidence. When we sit slouched [in a drooping fashion], it could mean accepting defeat, confusion in the mind, helplessness or disappointment or even boredom. To interpret such postures, we need to take into account other aspects like the person’s personality, attitude, confidence-level and the context or the situation the person is in.
This refers to physical space that we have in mind and put to use when we are with others in a given place. That is, ‘space’ refers to the distance we would like to maintain between others and us. The nearer we are to each other, the more intimate we are to each other. The more the distance we are at, the more the distant the relationship is.
Some of us may be particular about the distance. We may not like others coming or moving closer to us. If someone did reduce the distance they have in mind, we would move away. Such moving away is probably more reflexive than intentional. So we need to be watchful and avoid embarrassing such people.
We also need to be careful about personal space when we are at a gathering, at a party, we should be conscious about this aspect of nonverbal communication. Otherwise, we may not understand why someone moves away from us. A guest may be standing alone or away from the rest of the guests. Seeing this, another guest might try to engage that person and become unhappy for not getting any response. But we should recognize the wish to someone to be aloof because it may be their nature. Again, when we try to join a group, its members may not like it and show it by body language.
There is another possible interpretation of proximity. We are likely to develop a closer relationship with those nearer to us than with those who are far away from us. When we trust someone, we are likely to not bother about personal space. When we are not particularly interested in someone or when we dislike someone, we are likely to maintain distance from them.
By ‘time’, we refer to the amount of time we take to respond. We may take less or more time. The partner will interpret the ‘time’ according to the situation, his/her mental make-up at that moment, his/her understanding of the person responding. ‘Pause’ is another useful tool to communicate. When we say something important and we want our partner to understand its importance, we stop speaking for a few seconds. But we should not stop too often when we are speaking because this will give the impression that we are unable to convey messages properly.
This refers to the nonverbal elements of communication that we use to modify meaning and convey emotions. It may be expressed consciously or unconsciously.
Voice refers to the sound[s] produced through the mouth. These sounds are produced with the help of vocal cords to pronounce vowels and consonants
When we pronounce one part of an English word more than the other parts, it’s known as accent. In other words, we pronounce one or more parts of a word with less force and another part with more force. The parts of a word are known as
A syllable is made up of one or more speech sounds with a vowel in it. There can be no syllable without a vowel in it. Words can have one syllable or more than one syllable.
We must remember that we produce sounds in groups to form words and that words may have several letters. So there can be difference between how we pronounce sounds in groups and how we write them with the letters of the alphabet:
We also ‘stress’ certain words in a sentence to show their importance in the
messages we convey:
This helps us distinguish between different parts of speech. That is, there are words that have the same spelling for, say, noun and verb but stress[sound force] changes from one syllable to another.
object [noun] object [verb]
Learn the difference in pronunciation of these words and their grammar:
conduct [noun, verb], contest [verb, noun], content [noun, adjective],
contract [verb, noun], contrast [verb, noun], converse [verb, adjective],
convert [noun, verb], convict [noun, verb], produce [verb, noun],
project [verb, noun], perfect [adjective, verb] import [noun, verb],
insult [verb, noun], subject [verb, noun]
To understand how ‘tone’ functions as a nonverbal communication, read this. When someone asks a question, we say ‘yes’ to agree with or accept what the other person is saying. For this, our tone is normal. But it’s possible that we want to add some more meaning to the ‘yes’. When we wish to do this, we use our tone. For instance, the ‘yes’ with a raised voice can imply impatience or ‘so what?’ When we say ‘yes’ haltingly, it can send a message of ‘hesitation’. When there is aggression in the tone, the ‘yes’ will probably be a threat. The ‘yes’ with a bored voice means ‘disinterest’ or ‘compulsion’. The ‘yes’ in a whisper indicates ‘reluctance’ or ‘meekness’. ‘Yes’ with a falling tone means that the idea is complete. ‘Yes’ with a rising tone is a question; this is used especially when someone is at our door or approaches us but is a stranger.
When we speak, the volume of our voice is normal in the sense that it’s clearly heard and doesn’t disturb the hearer. But sometimes, we may increase or reduce the volume. We increase it if we know the other person is hard of hearing or if we become angry or if we wish to assert ourselves. Or we may reduce the volume. We reduce it because there’s something wrong with our throat or because we don’t want others to hear what we’re saying to this person.
‘Ah’, ‘aha’, ‘er’, ‘ha’, ‘ha ha’, ‘hey’, ‘hi’, ‘ho’ ‘oh’, ‘oho’, ‘ooh’, ‘ouch’, ‘sh’, ’uh’, ‘um’, ‘uh-huh’, ‘um’ are sounds that we produce as symbols to express our emotions. ‘Ah’ shows surprise, pleasure, admiration or disagreement, depending on the context. ‘Aha’ indicates happiness at understanding or finding out something. ‘er’ is used to express hesitation. ‘Ha’ represents surprise, pleasure, suspicion. ‘Ha ha’ shows enjoyment. ‘Hey’ attracts someone’s attention or shows anger. ‘Hi’ is a greeting, equivalent to ‘hello’. ‘Ho’ represents derision. ‘Oh’ is used when something unexpected is heard. ‘Oho’ expresses surprise or recognition. ‘Ooh’ we say to indicate delight or surprise or pain. ‘Ouch’ is an expression of sudden pain, say, when our toe hits against a hard substance. ‘Sh’ is used to order silence. ‘Uh’ shows hesitation or enquiry. ‘Um’ indicates ‘listener is not sure what to say’. ‘Uh-huh’ we use to show understanding, agreement or to ask someone to continue talking. ‘Um’ means ‘listener is not sure what to say.’
Silence can be a very effective tool of communication when used sparingly. When our partner expects us to respond, reply, we may remain silent. This silence can be due to not knowing what to say, not wanting to say anything, not to hurt the other person, not getting the right words to use, fear of being misunderstood, extreme anger or shock and so on. Silence can be interpreted properly if we know the other person well. Otherwise, misunderstandings can occur.
Why is nonverbal communication important?
We use both verbal and nonverbal messages to communicate with others. But it is believed that generally speaking, we derive meaning from nonverbal messages rather than from the verbal. Because the former is more natural, instinctive, involuntary and automatic. Words may lie. Verbal messages may hide our thoughts or feelings. We may speak, converse and continue our relationship with a person even when we hate him. We may call someone names but we don’t mean them. We may say “I’ll kill you” but more often it stays at the threat level. We may bless someone while in our mind we’re actually cursing that person.
Nonverbal communication does not usually lie. Very rarely do we plan it. This may happen when we want to intentionally deceive or when we have in mind some gain for ourselves or our close ones. We may embrace a person to show friendship or relationship, but we may actually be planning how to steal their property.
If we made it a practice to observe how we use our body to communicate and how others use theirs and learn from the observation, we would be able to handle different relationships better and enjoy harmony with others. We would also be able to monitor our own signals and achieve better control over ourselves and so function more effectively.
There is another aspect that should be remembered constantly. The interpretation of nonverbal communication is likely to differ from culture to culture. For instance, a French man may look at a woman for a longer time than an American might. The Frenchman may be appreciating beauty while the American would consider the look bad manners.
It’s also necessary to remember constantly that the messages that nonverbal communication conveys need not be the same for all the members even in the same community.
7. Sample [presentation] Speech
Technical English in teaching sciences
I shared my thoughts on ‘Technical English in teaching sciences’ in a National Seminar on ‘The role of language in teaching sciences’ at JSS College of Arts, Commerce and Science, Mysore on 17 December 2004.
In India, well beyond the middle of the last century, grammar and translation dominated the teaching of English in schools and of English literature in colleges. The English syllabuses for intermediate and later PUC [ Pre-University Course] and for BA/BSc consisted of anthologies of prose, poetry and Shakespeare. However, due to several factors, which need not be gone into here, changes occurred first in the school syllabus. Direct teaching of grammar was stopped. Certain specific English sentence structures were prescribed and learnt and around 3000 words were to be mastered. In colleges, the teaching of literature was de-emphasized and English began to be taught as a language through literature.
In the meantime, experts in Europe, England and the States believed that the English language was being used in formal and informal situations for varied and specific purposes. They realised that different learners needed English for different purposes. So they went about identifying and describing elements of the English language used in different life situations and in different disciplines like commerce, medicine, scinces. Thus was born English for Science and Technology [EST], and technical English and technical communication as its inherent parts.
Initially, EST dealt with the grammar and vocabulary of scientific and technical English. Research reveals the predominance of simple present tense and the passive voice. It was also found that EST uses a lot of semi-technical vocabulary like ‘consist of’, ‘contains’, ‘enables’, ‘act as’. Later, EST practitioners realised the importance of discourse, that is, scientific writing as a whole piece of communication. Here, the focus was on how the language was used, say, for defining, classifying, describing, synthesising. Then came a learning-centred approach where learners were enabled to reach their target goals.
2. technical English
What is technical English? Is it different from General English? If it is, how different? Do teachers have to train their learners in skills required to learn technical English other than those required for General English?
These are a few thoughts that get conjured up on thinking about technical English. Several dictionaries describe ‘technical’ similarly. They all refer to
a. practical/special knowledge/facts of
And English is the language through which (a) and (b) are expressed or communicated. Technical English, then, carries and conveys technical information specific to a given discipline like physics, chemistry, psychology, medicine or philosophy. The difference between technical English [TE] and General English [GE] is that the former uses specialised vocabulary and certain specific sentence forms more repeatedly than some others, in addition to the vocabulary used in the latter. Naturally, no special skills are required to master technical English except to pay attention to, understand and use the English language components. Thus technical English has
a. carrier content [concepts/knowledge]
b. real content [English used to express (a)].
Such English uses its general grammar aspects like tense, voice, conditional, general vocabulary and sentence forms [known as “registers”].
So technical English is technical only to the extent of providing specialised knowledge in a given discipline.
3. Sciences and how they are expressed
Now that we have considered, very briefly of course, factors that led us to pay attention to technical English, now that we have understood what technical English implies, let us see how we can reach our target----help our learners learn sciences through English.
Our learners are our target population. Majority of them come to our colleges after twelve years of learning sciences through languages other than English. For the first time in their lives, they hear sciences being taught in English. Naturally, everything is Greek and Latin to them. Because they are unable to follow lectures, they are unable to understand science textbooks written in English as they come across scientific concepts in GE words, semi-technical words and technical words in English sentences. And we teachers may be too busy completing the syllabuses to even think about taking steps to remove incomprehension in the minds of our learners. As a result, they have no choice but to memorise and reproduce answers from memory to get through university examinations and qualify themselves for a degree, without of course fully comprehending and retaining knowledge for future use.
In the interests of our learners, we should devise ways and means to help. What are these ways and means? I shall use a few live samples from standard textbooks to show how English words and sentence forms express scientific concepts, facts and provide knowledge.
You or English teachers could use these samples as models to help your learners to read and understand their textbooks and retain information meaningfully.
4. Sample paragraph One
Analogous  bromides and iodides, especially  PBr3, have also been used, but they are more expensive and used less often than HBr or HI, though some of them may also be generated in situ  (e.g. PBr3 from phosphorous and bromine). Secondary alcohols always give some rearranged  bromides if another secondary position is available, even with  PBr3, PBr5 or SOBr2; thus 3-pentanol gives both 2- and 3-bromopentane. Such rearrangement can be avoided by converting the alcohol to a sulfonate and then 0-66, or by the use of phase transfer catalysis. HF does not generally  convert alcohols to alkyl fluorides. The most important reagent for this purpose is the commercially available  diethylaminosulfur trifluoride Et2NSF3 (DAST), which converts primary, secondary, tertiary  allylic and benzylic alcohols to fluorides in high yields under mild conditions . Fluorides have also been prepared from alcohols by treatment  with SF4, SeF4, TsF, and indirectly, by conversion to a sulfate or tosylatae etc. (0-66).
[an extract from Advanced Organic Chemistry--- Puri and Sharma]
In this paragraph, there are 11 GE and semi-technical words [printed in bold] that your learners may need to understand before they can understand the meanings of the sentences. Of course the paragraph is also full of technical words some of which they may have learnt in their mother tongue or regional language mediums in schools, which they will also need to understand.
Samples of sentence structures:
Such rearrangement can be avoided by converting the alcohol to a sulfonate and
then using 0-66, or by the use of phase transfer catalysis. [passive voice]
HF does not generally convert alcohols to alkyl fluorides. [active voice]
The most important reagent for this purpose is the commercially available
diethylaminosulfur trifluoride Et2NSF3 (DAST), which converts primary,
secondary, tertiary allylic and benzylic alcohols to fluorides in high yields
under mild conditions.
[the underlined expression is a relative clause qualifying the phrase going]
[before it: diethylaminosulfur trifluoride Et2NSF3 (DAST).
Analogous bromides and iodides, especially PBr3, have also been used,
but they are more expensive and less often than HBr or HI, though some of them may also be generated in situ (e.g. PBr from phosphorous and bromine).
[this compound sentence is a mixture of a simple sentence  and a complex]
[sentence, combined by ‘but’.
Sample paragraph two
By far  the most important of these methods is the hydrogenation  of alkenes . When shaken under a slight pressure of hydrogen gas in the presence of a small amount of catalyst , alkenes are converted  smoothly and quantitatively  into alkanes of the same  carbon skeleton . The method is limited  only  by the availability of the proper  alkene. This is not a very serious limitation; as we shall see (see 8.12), alkenes are readily  prepared chiefly from alcohols, which in turn can be readily synthesized  (Sec. 6.10) in a wide variety of sizes and shapes.
Reduction  of an alkyl halide , either via  the Grignard reagent  or directly with metal and acid, involves  simply the replacement  of a halogen  atom by a hydrogen atom; the carbon skeleton remains intact . This method has about the same applicability  as the previous method, since, like alkenes, alkyl halides are generally prepared from alcohols. Where either method could be used, the hydrogenation of alkenes would probably  be preferred because of its simplicity  and higher yield .
The coupling  of alkyl halides with organometallic compounds  is the only one of these methods in which carbon-carbon bonds are formed and a new, bigger carbon skeleton is generated .
[an extract from Organic Chemistry by Morrison, R.T. and Boyd, R.N.]
In this paragraph there are 28 words [vocabulary] that your learners may need to understand before they can understand the meanings and the concepts expressed in the sentences and the paragraph.
Your learners will also need to understand the sentence forms in which these technical and non-technical expressions are combined with other GE words to make meaning.
The method is limited by the availability of the proper alkene.
simple with a phrase
By far, the most important of these methods is the hydrogenation of alkenes.
Reduction of an alkyl halide, either via the Grignard reagent or directly
with metal and acid, involves simply the replacement of a halogen atom by verb
a hydrogen atom; the carbon remains intact.
When shaken under a slight pressure of hydrogen gas in the presence of small
amount of catalyst, [time clause] alkenes are converted smoothly and
quantitatively into alkenes of the same carbon skeleton.
This method has about the same applicability as the previous method, since
like alkenes, alkyl halides are generally prepared from alcohols [reason clause]
The coupling of alkyl halides with organometallic compounds is the only one
one of these methods in which carbon-carbon bonds are formed and a new
bigger carbon skeleton is generated [relative clause—complex].
This is not a very serious limitation; as we shall see (see 8.212), alkenes
sub vb subject
are readily prepared, chiefly from alcohols, which in turn can be readily
synthesized(See 6.10) in a wide variety of sizes and shapes [relative clause].
Now take a look at how to prepare transparencies or slides for power-point presentation of the paper you read above:
Faculty training and motivation—ground realities
I presented this paper at a National Conference on “Technical Education in the New Millenium: Management and Challenges” conducted by Universtiy College of Engineering, Osmania University, Hyderabad between 12-13 March 2000.
Technical Education needs to be planned, organized and implemented properly. This paper is related to the implementation stage—to faculty training and motivation. No educational institution can thrive without faculty. Students do require the experience and the expertise of their faculty to know where and how to find answers to disturbing questions, to dive deep into the innermost recesses of nature and to come up with invention and discoveries.
Are teachers born? Or are they made? The exceptional teachers are intrinsically competent and want to teach. But they are small in number. The weak teachers are least motivated and require training constantly. The bulk of faculty falls into this category.
It follows then that training and motivating faculty becomes essential. But no external training agency can bring about permanent changes in faculty for several reasons. So training and motivating, in my opinion, is best done as on the job activity. Senior faculty can constantly guide the junior faculty. It then becomes incumbent on college managements to provide an ideal atmosphere for the teaching-learning process. They should appoint as many exceptional teachers as possible, offer excellent service conditions, provide excellent laboratories and library, invite faculty from various institutions for demonstration lectures, arrange for interactive sessions with experts in psychology and management for development of healthy attitudes. HODs should motivate their faculty, work without inhibition, teach and research as a team, treat students with respect, compassion and understanding, kindle their curiosity, strengthen their competence. The faculty should cooperate with the Management, the HODs and students to provide best technical education. The new millennium demands that such atmosphere prevail.
Technical education is a global expression covering comprehensively various aspects that are related to it and that influence the quality level of planning, organizing and implementing it. Production of quality engineers and technologists depends on the provision of quality technical education. Such provision is not only desirable but also inevitable for the simple reason that India would otherwise be left far behind in the global market to catch up with the rest.
This paper is related to the implementation stage, to faculty training and motivation. No education is possible, let alone technical education, without students, faculty and infrastructure. However good students may be, they cannot do much without support services like the laboratory, the library and the classroom. They can’t shine either without appropriate guidance from the faculty. If the infrastructure provides the necessary accessories, the faculty provide the vital link between the student and the infrastructure.
Naturally the faculty are needed to
· define, shape and give meaning to learning
· strengthen the weak learner with compassion
· support the average learner with understanding
· kindle the exceptional learner with zest.
It may be said that the internet, multimedia and software can and will eliminate the teacher and the infrastructure. But the computer is a nonhuman source and if at all can speak only in monotone and will thus totally lack the infinitely communicative nonverbal body language that two bodies and mind can generate and share. It is a cold machine and will thus totally lack the warmth and the bondage that bind forever the disciple to the guru and the guru to the disciple. Such is the vital link. Such is the crucial role of faculty in the life of a learner and thus in the growth of technical education.
Are teachers born? Or are they made? Just as there are three categories of learners, there are also teachers who are exceptional, who are average and who are weak. What do I mean by the three attributive adjectives? The exceptional come to teaching by choice.
The average are generally motivated but require training. They wish to prove themselves to be good teachers but are disappointed, unlike the exceptional, if they are not appreciated. They are large in number.
The weak are least motivated and require training and guidance constantly. They do not come to teaching willingly. Therefore they teach with their body and go through the motions. They hop on to lucrative jobs overseas or in private sector. The residue continue to occupy teaching positions. They may not be strong in their disciplines. They may not be inclined to update their knowledge either. As a result, they may not be able to cope with the demands of the thirsting learners and fail to gain respect and admiration. Frustration may set in and they may take it out on the student community. It is not my intention to find fault with this category. I am drawing your attention to existing realities only to focus on the need to motivate and train these weak teachers so that using their intrinsic potential, they perform with competence, so that they do justice to their students who are placed by the state in their protection. I am confident that once steps are taken to enable them to see meaning in teaching, they will be equal to the task of building their nation as teachers.
Colleges offering technical education employ as faculty postgraduates with or without prior teaching experience. They may even have to appoint graduates as the supply is far less than the demand, and we all know hundreds of colleges in several States offer technical education. They also appoint at senior level experienced executives from public or private sector. All these teachers require training to impart and share their knowledge with their students and to manage them in a humane manner. But the only training they have had is their association with their teachers as they listened to them and observed them as teachers. In today’s context and probably that of the immediate future the bulk of faculty fall into this weak category.
Obviously this situation is far from satisfactory. The need for training and motivating them becomes all the more evident as technical education is going to permeate the next millennium and all human endeavour. Of course, faculty attend winter and summer schools sponsored by AICTE and ISTE and orientation programmes organized by Academic Staff Colleges. But they do not do anything more than indicate the direction teaching should take. They do not bring about permanent changes.
To produce quality engineers and technologists, faculty require to be professionals. To be professionals, faculty need to be excellent repositories and disseminators of knowledge and to maintain motivation at a high level throughout their teaching careers.
Offering training courses through external agencies may not ensure permanent changes in the prospective teachers for three very good reasons. I do no know if postgraduates, graduates or for that matter experienced executives would be attracted to the teaching profession if they have to undergo a one-year training programme, especially in the context of the supply of teachers being far less than the demand, or qualify through a written test that may be planned by AICTE. Two, they would be focusing more on acquiring a training degree rather than using that training to make perceptive changes in their attitude and behaviour. Three, more importantly, their performance would be moulded negatively or positively by the kind of atmosphere that would prevail in the colleges they would be joining as faculty. Therefore training and motivating will become meaningful only if they are part of day-to-day teaching-learning activities, only if they are part of their growth as teachers.
It then becomes incumbent on the part of the Managements of technical education colleges—be they government or self-financing—to provide an atmosphere which will ensure provision of quality technical education. They should weave training and motivating their faculty into the fabric of the teaching-learning process. That is, they should provide a constantly conducive atmosphere.
What does this conducive atmosphere entail? The Managements should
· respect and admire the exceptional teachers
· praise the average
· nurture the weak
· pay accepted pay scales
· provide excellent service rules
· give them additional perks
· provide for and encourage research
· bear all expenses for national/international conferences
· admit their children freely to engineering courses
· provide house loan at subsidized rate
· appoint exceptional teachers as HODs and professors
· get exceptional teachers from other institutions to give demonstration lessons
· provide excellent library and laboratory facilities
· provide ample audio-visual aids
· make arrangements for macro and micro teaching sessions with help from
· arrange for interactive sessions between faculty and expert professional
groups for growth of healthy attitudes and practices.
Heads of Departments and Senior Professors should
· have the average and weak faculty sit in their classes to observe them teach
· make notes
· have post-teaching sessions for a free frank exchange of reactions without
· praise their strengths and help them get over weaknesses
· encourage faculty to publish paper in international journals
· strengthen the library with excellent titles and journals for syllabus and
Such conducive atmosphere should enable the average and the weak faculty to
· accumulate sufficient discipline knowledge
· update this knowledge continuously
· have a good repertoire of reference journals
· instill confidence in the weak learners
· guide the average learners
· kindle the curiosity of the exceptional learners
· not exhibit superior attitude and avoid attendant negative behaviour
· show interest in and solve personal problems of students.
In conclusion, I am sure there are colleges of technical education that have realized the significance of smooth relationship between students and faculty and have therefore taken several of these measures I have suggested. I am proud to say that my College is one of them. My College Management is doing its best to promote healthy learning environment. The new millennium demands that technical education colleges brush aside any constraints they may have and send out into the world a horde of expert engineers and technologists in whose hands lies the future of mankind.