One thing I particularly enjoy about teaching business presentations is the opportunity to investigate the more unusual aspects of language. My students are typically advanced speakers, so they don’t need much in the way of vocabulary or grammar, but what they do need is to look at what they already know in a new way. To this end, I expose them to interesting speakers and a variety of presentations in order for them to watch the best (and the worst) and learn from them, even copy them.
We do this by analysing the presentation, breaking it down and looking at how the presenter constructs the way they speak. This could be their rhythm, for example, or a particular linguistic trick they employ. In a recent lesson, we analysed pauses, and how they can be used in a variety of different ways, such as telling jokes, making rhetorical questions, and gathering your thoughts.
One aspect we recently discussed was charisma. The lesson had two objectives, the first was to highlight the vocabulary used to describe exceptional people. This was secondary, however to the main objective of making the students aware of how they can make themselves sound more charismatic when presenting in English.
The lesson proceeded as follows:
- Ask the students to define charisma.
- What do they think of these definitions? (click on the definition for the source)
- A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm.
- Personal magnetism or charm
- a strong appeal which enables someone to connect with others and influence them at a deep emotional level.
- anytime someone makes us feel warm and tingly inside on a consistent basis, we call that person “charismatic”.
- Ask them to describe the most charismatic person they have ever seen, and / or met.and / or Ask them to describe their image of a charismatic person. What gender are they? How tall? How old? How do they dress? What hairstyle do they have? and so on.
- Make a note of some of the language they use to describe them. Discuss the words most commonly used to describe charismatic people. Add words as they are mentioned to a mind map which the students can copy into their notebooks.
- Discuss with sts if they think charisma is a natural quality or if they think it can be learnt.
- Tell the students they will be asked to give advice to someone who has no charisma and wants to improve. Students make a list of things can a speaker do to appear more charismatic
- Give the students this article from Psychology Today. After they have read it, ask them “so what do you think now, can charisma be taught?” Discuss.
- Go back to the sts list. After reading the article, would they add anything to their list?
- Ask them to pick out any further examples of charisma vocab from the text and add it to the mind map.
- Look at the list of strategies. Go through them one by one and discuss them. Get sts to give examples for how this could be done. Model and practice the kinds of things that could be said to use this strategy.
Some videos you could use for this: