Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

Talking at a previous Çevre conference…

IATEFL Glasgow starts on Monday, so I thought I’d re-post this blog, which I wrote in February 2011. I realise that the start of 2012 has several similarities to the start of 2011 (eg my first European plenary talk being at the Çevre Koleji Conference in Istanbul), so I’ve up-dated it ….

I have a new talk for 2012, entitled Ten quotes to make you think and I did it for the first time at the Çevre conference a couple of weeks ago.  And, yes, yet again I was VERY nervous.

Whenever I get nervous before a talk, I remember a conversation I had with an ELT star before his plenary at a conference in Greece several years ago. He was really quite apprehensive, and kept saying he felt that this was the talk when he was finally going to get ‘rumbled’ – in other words, this audience would realise that he was a charlatan.

This particular speaker is one of the very few who has a totally justified reputation as a true great of the modern ELT world. But even he was nervous before a talk, and I think that’s good (see point 10, below).

In a quiet moment before my Çevre talk, I made a few notes to remind myself what I have to do to be the best I can when giving conference talks and workshops.

Catherine Walter has written a terrific set of think-abouts for IATEFL presenters, and I really recommend that anyone coming to Glasgow should read them because they’re great.

Here, for what they’re worth, are my thoughts along the same lines.

Ken’s ten rules for conference presentations

1     Rehearse

This is so obvious I shouldn’t need to write it, but it’s clear that although some speakers know what they want to say, they haven’t gone through the motions of how they will say it and how the audience will react. They often have too much information – or too little. I remember watching one presenter who had come all the way from Taiwan for Cardiff IATEFL two years ago. He had a 45-minute slot, and ran out of things to say after a quarter of an hour.

Rehearsing a talk should be like rehearsing a play, the only difference being you don’t actually have to learn your lines. When you’ve finished writing it, you should talk it through at LEAST a dozen times, preferably once or twice a day for the week before the event.

And if you expect audience participation of any kind, work out how you are going to achieve it. Be prepared to tell people what they have to do THREE TIMES if necessary. Some teachers don’t believe you really want them to do something the first two times you tell them.

2    Watch and learn

If you’re attending a big conference, the chances are you will have the opportunity to see other presenters at work before your time arrives. Plenary speakers have their own ways to engaging with an audience, but if you’re doing a regular talk/workshop, the way a plenary works (or doesn’t work) won’t have much relevance to your presentation.

On the other hand, watching other people do smaller talks and workshops can be really useful. Take every available chance to watch your peers at work, and try to attend a presentation in the room that you will be using.

Make notes about the success or otherwise of the presentation. Did the presenter make the participants feel welcome? Did they make the point of their presentation clear? Was the content what the programme suggested it would be? And especially, did the presenter connect with everyone in the room?

3         Don’t drink

OK, OK … this is going to sound like your dad warning you about a night out in town. But I’m serious about this one.

Drinking a lot the night before a talk doesn’t just give you a sore head (and anyway, sore heads have usually gone by the time serious conference talks begin). If the speaker has been drinking, you can hear it in their voice. The person says: ‘Good afternoon, my name is …” and then spends the next five minutes clearing their throat.

Tobacco isn’t that good either, but I know from experience there’s no point in suggesting to a smoker that they don’t have that last-minute gasper before they go on stage.

And going to bed early and getting a good night’s sleep is — OK, OK – I’ll stop the nanny-state advice now!

4     Do a vocal warm up

If you’re doing a plenary or a talk in a big room, they should give you a microphone. If you aren’t, you probably have to rely on your own voice. Either way, but especially if you’re working without a mic, you need to warm up your voice.

I worked with actors for more than 25 years and I was always impressed by their warm-up routines, the importance of which had been drummed into them at drama school. An actor would no more think of performing, or rehearsing for that matter, without carefully warming up their voice than they would of going on stage without learning their lines.

I’m always astonished that ELT teacher training hardly ever refers to the importance of voice. At International House London in the 1970s, a brilliant teacher and former actor called Joan Holby did an in-service training course called Voice Production and Mime. Joan is sadly no longer with us, but the success of her methods lives on in the presentation skills of those who attended her course.

5     Get into the room beforehand

However much you rehearse your talk at home, it will be different when you’re actually in the room. Conference rooms tend to be in use all the time but, if you can, get into your designated space when it isn’t being used and practise as much of the talk as possible. And talk to the back wall of the room. In other words, project – it’s a waste of time if the only people who can hear you are sitting on the front row.

6    Dress to impress

I know some presenters like to dress down for presentations because they don’t want to look ‘too smart’ in front of an audience of teachers who may come from countries where teachers aren’t paid very well.

All very commendable and egalitarian, but I think the opposite argument is more persuasive. If teachers travel half way across their country to see a talk, or indeed half way across the world to IATEFL-UK or TESOL-US, they may not be THAT impressed to see a presenter wearing a black AC/DC tour T-shirt and faded blue jeans.

Smart is good and … um… how can I best put this? Think about the implications of sweat marks on the clothes you choose.

7    Make the audience feel special

I don’t mean you should start by saying how humble and amazed you are to be talking at this particular conference. I mean that when you walk in, look around at the group, smile and thank them for choosing your presentation. Try to make eye-contact with as many people as you can before you start. Apart from anything else, the smiles you get back will tell you where the most amenable punters are sitting!

I have been to so many presentations where the speaker actually failed to make eye-contact with any of the participants during the entire talk. Not looking at people is bad but actually very easy to achieve – just look at the powerpoint all the time. See the next point for more on this.

I have also witnessed presenters who for some reason seemed to be unhappy about having to give a talk at all. About ten years ago, I went to a music workshop in Hungary which was being given by a local rising star of the ELT world. Seventy of us packed into a room with seating for about fifty. As often happens in situations like that, the atmosphere was good-natured and expectant.

The rising star walked into the room and stared at the crowd with an annoyed look on her face.

“I only have twenty photo-copies,” she said, glaring at us.

Well, thanks for making us all feel so good about coming!

8   Powerpoint (or whatever) – less is more

We’ve all suffered ‘death by powerpoint’ but it’s a brave presenter who turns up at a conference without some kind of projected information. Two people who didn’t have some kind of projection were Andrew Wright at ISTEK 2010, and the amazing Paul Nation at JALT a couple of years ago. They were both well worth listening to without a screen of information glowing away behind them.

However, we mere mortals usually need some back-up. Catherine Walter’s IATEFL check-list includes some very useful information about powerpoint etiquette – font-size, for example, and a recommendation not to just read what’s on the screen.

I would just add that less is more – you can probably get the message across with much less written on the screen. And an image can be so much more effective than words.

And finally – whether or not you have a microphone, don’t EVER stand with your back to the audience and read from your powerpoint. If you need to quote from it, make sure your computer screen version is placed where you can read it while you’re still facing the participants.

9    Have some water and throat stuff available

Another obvious point – but another which many presenters forget about. There’s nothing worse than a speaker whose voice starts to disappear, an event which leads to half the audience rummaging in their bags to find a cough sweet. Or a presenter who looks around vaguely and says “Is there any water anywhere?”

Sort it before you start.

10   Nervous is good

To end as I began, I think it’s a very good thing to feel nervous before a presentation, however many times you’ve presented, and regardless of whether this is the first or twenty-first time you’ve done this particular talk.

There is one really good presenter I know who doesn’t appear to get nervous before talks. I first met her early one morning in the lobby of a hotel in São Paulo, Brazil, where a number of us were waiting to be ferried to a conference which should have been talking place just down the road. Due to a flood two days before, it had been transferred to a new venue fifty kilometres away.

In addition, the presenter in question had just got off a plane from Mexico City. She was told as she arrived at the hotel that her presentation had been re-scheduled, and she was on in about three hours’ time, two of which would be taken up by getting to the venue.

“Fine,” she said, nonchalantly. “Have I got time to change?”

She showed not a flicker of nerves on the way to the venue, where she did a superb workshop, during which she showed us – amongst other things – what a great dancer she was.

Yes, Julie, I’m talking about you. You are one of the most impressive presenters I’ve ever seen, and totally nerveless. But you’re in a very small minority of people who can deliver perfect stuff in front of an audience without just a FEW butterflies.

Nervous is good for most of us. Keeps us on our toes.

That’s it. Go out and enjoy any conferences that you are planning to visit.

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Comments on: "It’s conference time, and I’m getting nervous…." (55)

  1. How I wish I could have attended one of your talks, Ken! And I wouldn’t have cared whether it were about music, acting, teaching, Belgium or Cuba.

    All of your advice seems eminently sensible to me, especially the one about rehearsing beforehand.

    As you’ll have realised by now, I don’t really have much to say except to please keep on blogging when you can.

    All the best and good luck with whatever talks you have lined up.

    Mike

    PS. Catherine Walter is an anagram of “learn, teach, write”.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Blimey! Does Catherine know that???

      Where are you based, Mike? I might be coming to a conference near you one day! :P

      • Near Bilbao, Ken. (Mondragón to be exact). Would be great!

        PS. Michael Swan is “Welsh maniac”

      • Ken Wilson said:

        Oooohh… the fact that I never get invited to Spain these days is a bummer. The one country where I worked as an EFL teacher and the one language I speak reasonably well – not Euskera, obviously… but then Mondragón sounds like it might be a Spanish speaking place, verdad?

  2. Thanks Ken for these fantastic tips!! I’ll be looking through them carefully and following the very sound advice, before I do my first ever IATEFL conference presentation in Brighton.

    I’m looking forward to attending your presentation :)

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Janet,

      really?? Your first one?? Will it bother you if I come and watch??

      I mean it.

      • Hi Ken

        I would be absolutely delighted to have you in the audience, as that would mean I would really have to adhere to all your rules above!!

        Yes, it’ll be my first presentation at Iatefl , so I am very excited about it. Luckily I’ll be presenting a workshop (on Phrasal Verbs) in L’Aquila a few weeks beforehand for up to 25 teachers, and that will be a nice warm-up for the big one in Brighton.

        See you in Brighton!!

  3. LUZ BEGOÑA said:

    Good ten rules you’ve pointed out even if, as you’ve said, some may sound too obvious. My attention was driven to 6 and 7 mainly and I feel so much in tune with you regarding these two. I think they will simply add a shining touch to a lively sound talk.

    I thought an experienced presenter like you should have got rid of ¨the butterflies¨ by now and it’s good to hear you still feel them because it means that you may have talked about the same topic a few times before but facing a new audience simply makes it all anew and you’re going to enjoy it as much as I’m sure your new audience will.

    Hope I will be able to see you live one day.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Luz!

      I don’t feel bad about the butterflies. I saw an interview with Laurence Olivier and he said he didn’t feel nervous at all until he became quite well known. After that, he was a bag of nerves whenever he appeared on stage.

      I think having been around for a while contributes to the feeling. :)

  4. Great blog, Ken…as always written from the heart. Some seriously good advice here. The points about powerpoint were particularly poignant! (Pardon the alliteration). Presenters rely too heavily on them. When surveyed recently, Warsaw University students were very negative about powerpoint usage, stating that the most boring lectures they attended were those presented with powerpoint. They enjoyed presentations given by good speakers – their voices, their humour, their gestures were the key factors.

    As someone with a Drama background, I can vouch for your nervousness remarks. Nerves give you the adrenalin to perform at the peak of your powers. Those actors who drink alcohol to calm the nerves miss the point: they end up giving flat performances.

    One piece of advice I would give presenters is: ‘don’t apologise for anything’. I have heard presenters say such things as: “Please excuse me as I’m a boring speaker’ or “I’m very nervous, so please be kind to me.” This immediately puts doubts into the minds of the audience, and leads them to expect a poor presentation. I say: “let the audience judge you as a speaker – let them decide if they find you boring.” The need to be positive is paramount.

    Carry on being nervous, Ken!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Pan Peter…

      Oh dear, have you really heard someone say ‘I’m very nervous, so please be kind to me??’

      Just in case I gave the wrong impression about drinking – I didn’t mean that people drink to give themselves Dutch courage!

  5. Ok, now I’m nervous!!

    All good stuff and appreciated by a very much novice at these things. I will refer to this throughout March as I get my small ISTEK workshop sorted.

    Thank you very much, Ken

    Mike =)

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Mike,

      you have a great smile. Use it when you start your talk and all will go swimmingly.

      If you want me to come to your talk at ISTEK, I’ll be there!

      • What a kind compliment, Ken, thank you! I guess that my nervousness about ISTEK is as much to do with the fact that it will be my first proper solo outing, having presented a number of times with Amanda, Callie and Phil.

        Did you know that all the workshops are running concurrently this year? On the Saturday at 1.30pm and the Sunday at 1.15pm, I think. Not sure exactly how it will work, but you may have to pick only one! I’m a little bit bummed about that myself, as I would have liked to see Dave, Anna, et al giving their own talks.

      • Ken Wilson said:

        I think the point is that we all do our talks and workshops twice, which does give people the chance to see two different ones. It worked pretty well last year.

  6. Having had the pleasure of seeing Ken present in Korea, I would like to add three observations on his presentation style that impressed me. These are things he could have added as 11, 12 and 13.
    Firstly, he held the microphone in a commanding and impressive manner, at the correct 90 degree angle to the forearm. The importance of this cannot be underestimated.
    Secondly, and probably as a result of having good stuff to say and being able to hold a microphone properly, he was completely confident and unruffled. We felt we were in capable hands from the word go. We were.
    Thirdly, he is a performer and the presentation was a performance. However brilliant, relevant and well prepared the material might be, I always like a bit of panache and derring-do and we got that in spadefuls.
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12331420/Errol-Flynn.jpg
    [Despite the incorrect way of holding a sword]

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Patrick,

      I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever written about my presenting style.

      You are forgiven for forcing me to be a potato at your presentation at the same conference.

      Actually, and this will sounds like too much back-slapping, I heartily recommend Patrick ‘Potato Pals’ Jackson as a presenter, funny, involving and genuinely worth watching.

      • Why, thank you Ken! Very welcome encouragement as I will be presenting at IATEFL in Brighton (actually in a brand new non-potatoey skin). I believe some of your readership attend this bunfight. Really excited at the prospect of meeting some of the people I’ve been learning from for the past couple of years. What’s more, you looked most stylish in the potato suit.

      • Ken Wilson said:

        Yet another IATEFL must-see!

        anyone reading this who is going to IATEFL Brighton – Patrick really is an excellent, engaging and amusing speaker.

  7. Ken,

    You hit so many buttons! I especially note the drinking advice (due to my own fondness for a few) and also Peter’s comment about not apologizing.

    If I ever had to say one thing to a presenter – so they could make it special, I’d say, “tell a story”. If you don’t have one in there – get one and tell it slowly and like you mean it.

    David

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, David!

      yes – the importance of story! Learning is all about finding out how the story develops, and presentations should illustrate that.

  8. Ken, if you, as a conference speaker, are feeling nervous, how do you think we mere punters are feeling, knowing that many of us Teflers really HAVE to attend some of this atrocious codswallop (your presentations excluded, of course)?!

    Most Teflers would rather spend the afternoon swilling Tetleys in the bar than enduring another four or five hours or pretentious Tefl drivel, but there’s some sort of ulterior motor that obliges us to purge ourselves of our Tefl sins by submitting to hours of cock-eyed rot.

    So, you’re not the ONLY one who’s worried by the conference lark!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thank you for that eulogy of praise for the conference season.

      As an antidote to your understandable but nonetheless jaundiced attitude, can I offer the following as a suggestion?

      Go and listen to presenters who are (a) first-timers (b) non-native speakers and (c) talking about something that you don’t expect to be interested in.

      The enthusiasm for your work which is just below the surface will come shining through. :P

      • Not true, Ken. Sandy’s enthusiasm for the job, far from existing just below the surface, got buried long ago and is a mere spirit now, left to haunt the pages and stages of Tefldom until … who knows when?!

      • Ken Wilson said:

        ‘left to haunt the pages and stages of tefldom’ – my candidate for phrase of the day! :P

  9. Thanks for this timely post Ken. I think the Çevre conference kicked off what is set to be a busy conference season in Turkey running from now until June. I’ll be giving workshops at two of those events and, as I’ve only ever done a handful of them before, the advice of getting ready is invaluable.

    Looking forward to meeting you at ISTEK :)

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Dave.

      Were you in the audience at Çevre?? I’ll be sad if you were and didn’t come and say hello. :P

      See you at ISTEK, though.

      • Oh no, I wasn’t at Çevre. ISTEK will be my only work-related trip to Istanbul this year. I’ll be sure to find you and introduce myself there. In fact, I can offer my services as an interpreter/local-but-foreign guide if you wish! ;)

        Actually, another thing that adds to my nerves ahead of ISTEK is that it will not only be my first workshop out of the ‘comfort zone’ of my own school’s conference but it will be my first tweet up as well – and quite a major one by the sounds of it!

      • Ken Wilson said:

        Don’t worry about the tweet-up – there’s nothing to it! :P

        Thanks for the offer of guiding, but I think the timetable for the out-of-towners is pretty tightly organised. And then there are the evening events – Pecha Kucha and karaoke!!

  10. Hi, Ken,

    It´s interesting to read this from such an experienced speaker!
    I particularly relate to rehearsal, dressing up (especially shoes) and making the audience feel special as key aspects for myself.
    I always get nervous before the presentation but it only lasts for the first 5 minutes. Once I´ve started, the butterflies seems to fly away!

    Thanks for the advice!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Vicky,

      as yes, well you’ve hit the nail on the head. Nerves should disappear when you get going. If you’re still feeling nervous towards the end of the talk, then maybe you need to really think about whether you should be doing this kind of public speaking.

  11. John Moorcroft said:

    Hi Ken,

    thanks for this. Approaching a plenary or a workshop as a piece of theatre really raises the bar and more people should do it. Those with a drama background like yourself, Colin Granger, and Tom Godfrey here in Istanbul, do a much better job because of it.

    I’m glad you liked the magician, his name’s Doruk Ulgen

    http://www.dorukulgen.com/

    and before we met him we didn’t even expect him to speak English. Together we constructed the script relating the practices of teaching and magic, and I hope it inspired some reflection in the audience as well as being thoroughly entertaining magic. Hope to see you here again soon.

    John

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thank you, John…

      It was remiss of me not to mention that Doruk was onstage with the marvellous Henry Brothers (your good self included). Your way of connecting magic and teaching was very good.

      However, I want to distance myself A LITTLE from the idea that having a drama background automatically leads to a good presentation. I can think of several presenters who would give the lie to this. More importantly, there are lots of excellent presenters with no drama background whose hearts are clearly in the right place about teaching – as long as their message is heard (in both senses of the word).

      • John Moorcroft said:

        Should also say that we did the presentation with Doruk, because the conference title was “The Magic of Getting the Best out of Students” – it wasn’t just like – “Oh, let’s do something wacky”

  12. Julie Raikou said:

    Hi, Ken,

    Enjoyed reading this and look forward to the day when I can enjoy a ‘live’ performance! What’s the surname of my namesake who is impressive and nerveless? Any prez of hers online?

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Her name is Julie Kniverton, and she works for Macmillan in Mexico. I imagine most of her presentations are in Latin America.

  13. I don’t know anybody else who says he is nervous but is very professional at the same time. You cause nothing but the inspiration to your audience! Thanks…

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Pinar,

      thank you so much for that, and thank you for your kind words about my talk at Çevre. The one thing I didn’t mention was that it was the first time I’d done it, another contributor to the nervousness! And because the conference was running so far behind schedule, I speeded up a bit towards the end. I was annoyed with myself about that – but the advantage of giving a talk more than once is that you can fix stuff before the next time. :)

  14. Really fantastic advice, Ken. Having given many presentations myself, I still find the above list to be a good reminder of what to do.

    I can’t stress to anyone reading this the importance of having some water. Whatever you think, you’re simply not used to speaking almost constantly for an extended length of time without stopping for a drink. Your throat will give out on you, so be prepared!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      You know what? Anyone reading this who was at Çevre last weekend will be able to say: “But that’s exactly what Ken did – he stopped in the middle and asked one of the organisers to get him a glass of water!” :)

  15. While I’m at it, here’s the first part of my series of blog posts on giving a presentation for the first time…

    http://www.yearinthelifeofanenglishteacher.com/2010/03/how-to-present-at-a-conference-part-1-taking-the-first-steps/

    Good luck to anyone making the leap into conference presenting.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Adam,

      I just went back and read your blog again, realising I had read it before and maybe it was in the back of my mind when I wrote this one. :)

      Everyone – this is an excellent companion piece for this blog – http://bit.ly/cIxrUJ\

      Adam – do you use tinyurl??

  16. Agata Zgarda said:

    Very good tips! I’d like to add some more advice to point 3. Not only drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes but also eating sweet stuff, drinking coffee or chocolaty drinks just before the speech or even before giving classes, can affect your vocal cords. I always warn my teachers not to do that.
    Take care!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Really? Drinking coffee?? Eating chocolate?? I like doing both before a talk. I will stop immediately!

  17. As a novice presenter and participant in international conferences I truly appreciate your advice. From what I have realized so far preparation is the key word. You may have to put 20 or 30 hours for a one-hour preso, but it’s all worth it!
    And by the way, I was reading your stories about stars of ELT but to us (OK, to me) you are a star too, Ken!!!!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Anna! Very kind words…

      looking forward to listening to your talk at ISTEK – if I can get a ticket! :)

  18. Ania Kozicka said:

    Hello:)

    Amazing post and amazing timing, Ken!
    I’ve just finished my Powerpoint presentation for my first ever talk and read your post – it seems I have to look through the slides and introduce quite a few significant changes. Thanks for the invaluable pieces of advice!
    Now it’s time to prepare the slides for my baby ISTEK talk.
    Keep your fingers crossed, please :)
    Looking forward to meeting you there as well as Dave, Mike and all our twitter friends!

    Ania :)

    • Ken Wilson said:

      All roads lead to Istanbul and ISTEK 2, 2nd and 3rd April.

      For anyone reading this far who doesn’t already know about ISTEK – here’s where you can find out – http://elt.istek.org.tr/

      And Ania – don’t make TOO many changes to your powerpoint – it’s important that it reflects what you want to say.

      And I’ll be there on the back row watching you say it. :P

  19. Anastasia said:

    Ken,
    thank you for one more great post! I believe these tips will help newbie teachers, like me, in lesson preparation, too (like having some throat stuff available during a lesson).
    On the other hand, I was just wondering if anyone has ever pointed out some tips for those attending conferences for the 1st time, for example. Sorry for shifting focus here, but attendees might feel nervous as well as presenters. I’m going to ISTEK =) to see you presenting live and as it’s going to be my 1st big ELT event I’m both excited bcos I want to get the most of it and be an active participant-listener, and nervous since I don’t know what people usually do there, how they behave. My guess would be they share ideas and enjoy the company of fellow educators)

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Anastasia,

      don’t worry about shifting focus. This is a VERY good point and one that I know the IATEFL UK organisers think about a lot. The LAST thing they want is people arriving for the first time and feeling rather lost and isolated.

      Can I first of all recommend that you read Emma Herrod’s guest blog, which I posted last year? It’s all about attending first conferences and addresses the whole ‘I’m all by myself’ aspect.

      You can read it here – http://bit.ly/cikSeo

      Secondly, I will email your comment to Burcu Akyol, the organiser of the ISTEK conference. She may already have some ‘buddy’ system organised – she’s like that, always thinking of useful things that need doing. :)

      Finally, are you on twitter? Tweeting that you are planning to attend a particular talk at a conference will bring people together. Using the hashtag #ISTEK, will include people who may be there that you don’t follow.

      Thanks for raising such a useful point.

      • Anastasia said:

        Ken,
        Thanks a lot for directing me to Emma’s post, I’ve read it and am sure it’ll help me get prepared for the conference.
        Not on twitter yet, though totally agree that it’s become a very powerful tool for connecting people. Just like some phone brand=)
        Hm, buddy system …) sounds good to me, particularly as I can speak some Turkish) I hope Burcu will have something like this set up for newbies.

  20. Greetings from Riga. Thanks for putting up these conference presentation guidelines – the soundest of sense. I will remember to rehearse more before my spot at IATEFL! Also appreciated Simon Greenall’s blog on China and the Macmillan project.
    PS I tried to download one of your free song’s on my Mac but the box froze and kind of blurred when I pressed download (:
    By the way I just happened to have Tweetdeck on and caught the tweet about your blog which I’ve been on (despite pressing deadlines and a class coming up) for the last 20 minutes!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hello Charles!

      I’m sorry but not surprised to hear about the Mac song download problem. I’ve been 95% satisfied with my personal change from PC to Mac but it has made all the songfiles I made for the PC unreadable (or inaudible, whichever word fits this particular problem).

      It’s one of those techy problems that I have on the back burner for that mythical time when there’s time to see beyond the FRONT burner, as it were.

  21. Hi Ken,

    Good common sense points…with some excellent tit-bits of advice.

    As a mere, underling audience member, one thing that I would recommend is for presenters NOT to read their powerpoint slides. I think we can take it as read that teachers at a teaching conference have refined reading skills. Whenever a slide goes up and the presenter talks about it whilst the audience are trying to read it, it causes disturbance and neither the text or what is being said is absorbed properly. I have been speaking about this quite a bit to my colleague and conference presenter Willy Cardoso (@willycard) and he left space and silence in his TESOL Spain talk for attendees to digest the info on slides. Works great – Don’t be afraid of space in your presentation, I say.
    This is a precursor to a blogpost I’ve been going to write on this very subject for ages.
    http://www.tesoltraining.co.uk/blog/
    Maybe now that I’ve commented here, it will make me get off my arse to actually put fingers to keyboard! :)

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Bren,

      I think we could write a whole chapter on the do’s and don’t’s (can you have two apostrophes in one word??) of our relationship with powerpoint/keynote whatever.

      The one no-brainer is this – if you find that you are reading every word on every slide, something is VERY wrong. And yet if you engage the audience with your words and there is also different information for them to read on the screen, that presents another problem.

      Not sure if silent reading is always the answer. Lots of longeurs, no? And there are also times when a powerful reading of the content works really well. Colin Grainger is particularly expert at declaiming the contents of his powerpoints.

      Uuufff, there are always things to learn!

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