Now that we have introduced the concept of flow, and two major tools to achieve it, let’s bring it all together with a practical example. The following slides are taken from the Talking About Your Company segment of one of my business English seminars. It’s designed for lower-intermediate-level English learners.
This slide is all about eliciting. Here I play the role of “employee” and call upon an attendee to introduce herself and talk about her company. This not only introduces the material, but it also helps me gauge exactly what my audience is capable of before I start teaching the details. If I feel the audience is of varying skill levels, I may repeat the exercise with a few attendees. If I do my job correctly, by the end of this segment, the attendees should be able to perform this activity more effectively, thus adding value to the presentation.
Similar to the example seen here, this slide corresponds with a handout given to the audience. The words in bold are first elicited from the audience before the sentences appear on the slide. Whether or not the audience can guess the correct word determines my pace through the material. At this point, scalability also comes into play through a highly structured activity: having the audience repeat each line to make sure that they become comfortable with the phrases and their pronunciation.
This slide represents the transition from structured to freer activities. First attendees practice a model conversation from their handouts (based on the previously practiced sentences). The number of times they practice is determined by their performance in the prior eliciting exercises. As they become more and more proficient with the material, the latter half of the activity has the audience introduce their own ideas into the structured material.
Finally, we reach the point where the audience should be able to perform the task freely, without structured model sentences. At this point, the classroom task should be similar to the real-world experience. This slide is optional. For advanced audiences, I may simply leave the screen blank. Again, the exercise can be repeated based on attendee performance. If all goes well, after this exercise, attendees walk away from the seminar knowing that they gained more than a few words and phrases—they experienced what it feels like to actually use the material in a realistic context.
Hopefully the last few posts have given you some ideas on how to make your presentations more engaging. This particular example focuses on business English education, but I’m positive that you can apply it to your own classes and seminars. If you do, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!