Tips for great class presentations given by learners

I suggested the tips shown in the slide above in my workshop on February 20.

Given by learners in class to their peers, collaborative presentations make a great language learning activity, both for adults and young learners at just about any level that is B1 or above.

To expand slightly on the points listed above:

  • Your job is to provide as much help with language as possible; having your learners brainstorm and present, and spending lots of class time on the former and on rehearsal, rather than on picking PowerPoint animations, is the best way to ensure this
  • VITAL Keep the presentations short: I suggest 90 seconds to 3 minutes maximum, with a maximum of 3-5 slides. Otherwise, presentations drag on and everyone gets so bored with them
  • Stop anyone going beyond the time limit set: don't give them a second longer, stop them, thank them, but don't fail them for not finishing within the time limit
  • VITAL Have your learners rehearse in their groups — and devote class time to that, with the groups giving their presentations simultaneously, perhaps to another group rather than the whole class. Provide language help there. Perhaps best for use outside class, there are tools like (which will require a webcam) and the Spreaker app (audio only) which are great for this and WhatsApp voicemails are great too. Such rehearsals don't necessarily need to be shared with you (or corrected by you!)
  • Encourage your learners not to read from a script. It's not necessary if the presentation is (a) short and (b) properly rehearsed — and this is a speaking, not a reading activity
  • No stolen images, nor even ones borrowed from creative commons. I suspect that very few teachers agree with me on this one, but if you want a truly creative classroom, you want your learners to create the artwork and/or produce the images. Think quick doodles and photos taken on mobile phones…
  • VITAL Presentations are best given in pairs or small groups, even if that means not everyone gets to speak. If you teach classes of 15 or 25 people, there's just no way you can do 15 to 25 individual presentations in class — and there's so much more language practice to be had in the pair/groupwork required
  • Give the audience (the rest of the class) a reason for listening to the presentation: the presenters themselves can build that in by including a question to be answered at the end; or you can have peer assessment, including commenting…)
  • Have a question-and-answer (Q+A) slot afterwards and, if anything, allow longer for that than the actual presentation itself
  • Help your learners to perform, by explaining how to give a good presentation; how to steady nerves; how to enjoy the experience; how to create a good PowerPoint presentation; what to avoid; or how to create a good Prezi, if that's the tool they are going to be using
  • VITAL Share and comment afterwards: to get the most language out of just about whatever learners are doing with technology, you want a "comments" stage. Google Drive presentations are brilliant for this, for the comments tools, for the ease of sharing, and ease of embedding elsewhere, on things like a class blog or wiki. An Edmodo group or a G+ Community are also excellent tools to enable "comments" or if you want something amazingly easy and with an app, try Tackk. Comments are also great for the teacher to get feedback on the tasks given.

See this post for further notes on what tools to pick: my preference is for the learners themselves to choose.

NOTE As I pointed out during the workshop, good presentations never cram a dozen bullet-points into the same slide as the image above does 😉 !

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  1. For a first presentation, try having your learners research online what makes a good presentation, pick 1-3 things that are important, and then present them to the class.

    Do make that first one short and as painless to first time presenters as possible 😉 !

  2. Another "first presentation" that works well, especially if your learners are going to be using an unfamiliar tool — Google Slides, for example — is to have one small group produce a presentation of "7 essential things you need to know about [name of tool].

    It doesn't have to be seven — but set a (low!) maximum number of things. You want to revise this one carefully to make sure the presentation is going to make it look easy!

    You could do this yourself, of course, but it's such a brilliant collaborative task.

  3. I think I know what you're going to say, Tom, but how do you get 3 or more people to speak in 90 seconds?

  4. Thanks for commenting, Kim. I'd argue that provided they've all taken part in the creation of the presentation it's not necessary for them all to speak in front of the whole class (the shy ones will love that 😉 !

    If you also include rehearsal, they can in fact ALL give the presentation, though not necessarily to everyone.

  5. I like it! Thsnks. I'll try that next time.

  6. Let me know, Kim. It's worked for me in the past, but I'm always interest in feedback on the ideas and activities published here.

    For anyone that doesn't agree with me on the business of where any images for presentations come from, this collection of resources might interest.

    For sources of images, this Larry Ferlazzo page might also be of interest.

  7. A couple more useful links here….

    From, why you should have your learners present and how to help them

    And an excellent page from @baibbb with tons more resources on digital presentations.

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