Oral english presentation

March 27, 2007

Share voi moi nguoi mot cai resumé cua minh sau khi hoc course tieng Anh nay (Dung can lay cai input nay de lam cai presentation 10′ cho buoi hoc to’i nhe’. Buoi toi, toi busy mat roi. Ko the di hoc duoc, cha’n qua’)






A. Oral presentation of research

1. How to speak with more punch (énergie)?

  • Simplify: A communication is not an article. When you speak in an English-speaking conference, you are advertising or selling your science but inevitably you are selling yourself and your team at the same time. You are invited to give an oral presentation of research which is going to be published in writing. The written article provides the full scientific demonstration of your research. The oral presentation by definition cannot be an exhaustive, logically watertight set of arguments. It is a summary or sample or report of your research. The audience may already have read your conference abstract therefore your ideas may not be starling (surprendre, effrayer) for them. So, at a conference your physical presence is required to present your work in the best possible light in a very short time. It is plain to see that you, as a person, influence enormously the promotion of your work. REMEMBER: In an article you must obey various standards of presentation. In a conference paper, you have a huge amount of freedom to play with. But oral presentation isn’t an article.
  • Information retention (maintien, mémoire): Bear in mind that the information retention capacity of an audience is greatly limited, especially at 4pm on the last day of a conference. Three days after the event an informed audience remember approximately: 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see. Also remember that you are a non-native speaker often talking to a number of other non-native speakers as well as the native speakers in the audience. Of course, the talk should be grammatically correct but often you should simplify your speech for the non-native speakers. Don’t try and impress English-speakers with prose-like sentences (poem).
  • Keep it short: You have a lot to say in a very short time. Therefore resist the temptation to cram as much information as possible into 600 seconds of allotted speaking time. You will never be satisfied with the result. Discipline yourself to say the strict minimum. You need to sacrifice a little content, perhaps 10% of your talking time, to devote those vital seconds to rhetorical devices.
  • Principle: n°1 is therefore KISS = Keep It Short and Simple.

2. Basic rhetoric (rhétorique, thuat hung bien)?

  • Ice-breakers: You need to show yourself as a human being rather than a scientist. People appreciate effort as much as success. If the audience feels you are trying to reach out to them, they will be lenient (indulgent, tolerant, nhan hau) with you even if you have a great difficulty. Establish a relationship with the audience and gain audience sympathy. Have the audience take part in your effort rather than coldly judge it. An ice-breaker need not be hilarious (hilarant, vui nhon). The idea of sharing an experience is important. An ice-breaker can come after the plan. Never dive straight into your science. You are not wasting time when you give an ice-breaker.
  • The plan: Announcing your plan on a slide or transparency is necessary. If you are very nervous it is often useful to spend time explaining your plan. This is a relatively easy task and allows you to steady your nerves and adjust to the situation before discussing the hard science.
  • Focus: Thinks about the concentration of the people in the audience. Do you want the audience to focus on you or the screen? Which is the dominant medium of communication? Is it: YOUR VOICE? YOUR VISUAL AID? Your voice can give a commentary of a visual aid. However, a used visual aid should be removed if you are relating new facts (?). A visual aid must never distract the attention of the audience from what you are saying.
  • Peaks and punctuation (punctuation, stop point): The key ideas of your talk should be self-evident. Your speech should always build up to emphatic (énergique) peaks in your presentation. Punctuate your talk with planed pauses to give you and the audience time to think and breathe.
  • Pace (speed): The urge to try to speak as fast as a native-speaker is totally misguided (malavisé). All speakers, natives included, should slow down and control the speed of delivery. Don’t data-punch your audience by cramming (fourer, bachoter, nhoi so) too much information into long sentences.
  • Emphasis: The real power in your talk will come from your use of emphasis. Emphasis is achieved by the use of the following devices: (1) Repetition: Contrary to myth, redundancy is always necessary in didactic speech. Say a sentence twice if necessary. (2) Voice projection: when you stress a message you must slow down and lower your voice. (3) Pauses: A short pause (3 secs) should indicate that you want your audience to consider a point fully. (4) Discourse markers: strategically placed, they are always efficient.
  • Rhetorical questions (cau hoi tu tu): Among the most useful discourse markers are rhetorical questions. English-speakers use them a great deal. They always show that you are anticipating audience response.
  • Voice projection : Don’t talk to the screen. It can’t hear you and neither can the audience. Eye-contact, gesture and voice projection go together.
  • Structure : Don’t leave all the most impressive science until the end. YOU can see where you are leading to but the audience probably can’t and you shouldn’t rely on their appreciating suspense too long.



B. Giving talks and presentations

1. The topic and plan presentation:

-> Introducing the topic (subject): This morning (today) I’m going to talk about (…); I’d like to describe (…); I’d like to give you an overview of (…); I’d like to deal with (…); I’ll deal with (…); I’ll consider (…); my talk will be in (…); the aim of my presentation this morning is to explain (…)

-> Referring to plan: I’ve divided my presentation into three parts; First, I’ll deal with …/Second, I move on to…/Then, I consider …/Finally, we’ll consider

-> Referring to questions: If you don’t mind, we’ll leave question till the end; Feel free to interrupt me if there’s anything you don’t understand

2. Section presentation:

-> Introducing beginning of each section: Now, let’s move on to the next part (…); Now, let’s turn our attention to the question of (…); So, let’s start with (…); this leads me to my third point …

-> Referring backwards and forwards: We’ll come back to this point later; I’ll say more about this later; as mentioned earlier the importance of …;

-> Checking understanding: Are there any question? Is that clear?

-> Referring to visual information: This transparency shows (…); this diagram shows (…); If you look at this graph you can see (…); I’d like to draw your attention to this chart; What is interesting in this slide is

-> Referring to common knowledge: As you know, ….

-> Summarising a section: That completes my description of (…); Finally, let’s consider …; So, to summarise, there are five key points (…);

3. Concluding:

That brings me to the end of my presentation. If you have any questions, I’ll be pleased (I’ll do my best) to answer them.

Thank you for your attention; that concludes my talk

4. Dealing with questions:

I’m glad you asked that question. Can I get back to you on that later. I’m afraid I don’t have the information at present (…).

That’s a good point;

I’m afraid I am not the right person to answer that.



C. Developing and using visual aids

1. Why do we use the visual aids for presentation?

Use visual aids when you want to (1) focus the audience’s attention, (2) reinforce your verbal message, (3) stimulate interest, (4) illustrate factors that are hard to visualise.

Don’t use visual aid to (1) impress your audience with detailed tables, (2) avoid interaction with the audience, (3) make more than one point, (4) present simple ideas that can be stated verbally.

2. Tables: Simple, short, highlighted,

3. Graphs:

In general:

  • Avoid 3-D (unless you have 3 parameters);
  • 2-graphs per slide is a maximum;
  • Y-axis legend may often be the slide title, to avoid redundancy;
  • Check the scale of your graph (zero point must be shown);
  • As simple as possible.

In particular:

  • 5 parts or columns (pie and column chart);
  • 3 lines (line graphs) are a maximum;
  • Symbols should have different shapes in a line graph;
  • Use different patterns or colours.

4. Word charts:

How to organise your presentation:

  • Develop objectives;
  • Assess the audience;
  • Brainstorm (van dung tri nao) the main ideas and subpoints;
  • State the benefits (in a persuasive presentation);
  • Prepare visual aids, handouts (leaflet, prospectuce, document, feuille) and notes;
  • Develop the introduction and conclusion.

5. Fonts and sizes:

  • Sans Serif (eg Helvetica, Arial, …): is more legible at a glance – highly recommended for transparencies and slides.
  • Serif (eg Times) is better for printed, continuous text (papers, journals, books).
  • Use big size: 18 -> 24 -> 36 ->48 points: the bigger, the better.

6. Common rules:

  • For text: (1) 7lines x 7 words; (2) 30 to 35 characters/lines
  • For tables: 4 columns x 7 rows
  • Underlining: The underline feature should never be used; use the line tool or frames or blocks of colour.

7. Some other rules

  • Prefer lowercase lettering
  • Punctuation is seldom necessary
  • Leave some breathing space
  • Prefer landscape to portrait
  • Do not mix formats
  • Only one idea per slide
  • 8 to 10 slides for a ten minute talk.
  • Always remember the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)



D. Sequence/discourse markers, textual/logical connectors

Connectors and sequence markers are words or phrases which show the relationship between ideas. We put these words or phrases at or near the beginning of a sentence or clause. They connect the following information with the earlier information.

We can use connectors and sequence markers to signal different types of relationships between ideas. The main relationships are:

  • Time: sequence;
  • Logic: cause (consequence); contrast ; condition ; comparison ; concession=nhuong bo ; contradiction ; alternation
  • Text : addition; summary; paraphrase=dien giai, example and highlight;

1. To signal time relationships:

Beginning to end:

  • First; first of all; initially; to start with; the first step; at the first range
  • Second; secondly; the second step; at the second stage;
  • Third; thirdly; the third step; at the third stage;
  • Then, after that
  • Next, subsequently, the next step, at the next stage;
  • Finally, the final step, at the final stage

Other language forms:

  • Before + verb..ing (before visiting the plant, you’ll …)
  • After + verb..ing (after visiting the plant, you’ll …)
  • After + having + verb…ed (after having visited the plant, you’ll …)

2. To signal logical relationships:

  • Cause: Therefore, so, accordingly, consequently, as a consequence, as a result, hence (formal), thus (formal), because of this, that’s why (informal)
  • Contrast: Yet, however, nevertheless, still, but, even so, all the same (informal)
  • Condition: then, in that case,
  • Comparison: similarly, in the same way
  • Concession (nhuong bo): anyway, at any rate,
  • Contradiction: In fact, actually, as a matter of fact, indeed
  • Alternation (thay the, luan phien): Instead, alternatively

3. To signal textual relationships:

  • Addition: also, in addition, moreover, furthermore, besides, too, overall, what’s more (informal), in brief, in short, as well
  • Summary: To sum up, overall, in brief, in short
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, finally, lastly, to conclude
  • Equivalence: In other words, that means, namely, that is to say, or, rather
  • Inclusion: for example, for instance, say, such as, as follows (written), e.g. (formal and written)
  • Highlight: In particular, in detail, especially, notably, chiefly, mainly
  • Generalisation: Usually, normally, as a rule, in general, for the most part, in most cases, on the whole
  • Stating the obvious: Obviously, naturally, of course, clearly


3 Responses to “Oral english presentation”

  1. canphiu said

    Thanks for sharing, dude! That would be very helpful for me 😉

  2. Java said

    Coucou anh Trinh, doc duoc cai entry nay cua anh thu vi qua. Giup ich cho em rat nhieu :p. Ah ma cho em nick chat di, em dinh hoi anh mot so kinh nghiem mot chut. Have a nice weekend !

  3. BEL said

    hi’hi’ em van con nho*’ den cai entry nay cua anh truoc khi di chien dau 😀
    Merci anh nhieu oi la nhieu!

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