YWCA Ames-ISU
808 Hayward Avenue

C1102A Knapp-Storms Commons

Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50014

Email:  ywca@iastate.edu 
Phone: 515-294-1663

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Tips for Presenters

 

Introduction: These presentation suggestions were developed to assist international volunteers to teach Iowa school children about other countries and cultures.

 

Language Problem:

 

  • Be open with your audiences.  

  • Acknowledge the problem or any language difficulty you may have.  

  • Ask people to tell you when you made a mistake.  

  • Ask if clear.  

  • Look at their faces.  

  • Write on blackboard.  

  • Say it another way.  

  • Speak slowly, try to pronounce clearly, spell terms on the blackboard.  

  • Tell people it’s ok to tell you when they don’t understand.

 

Tips for Good Communication: 

 

  • Speak slowly and distinctly.  

  • Emphasize key words.  

  • Allow pauses.  

  • Let individuals read your lips.  

  • Use visual aids.  

  • Use handouts.  

  • Use familiar words.  

  • Check for understanding frequently.  

  • Look at your audiences, maintain eye contact.

 

Presentation Techniques: It is always a good idea to start your presentation with some personal information about yourself. You can tell your audience things like:

 

  1. Your name

  2. What is your major field of study

  3. What you hope to do after graduation

  4. Whether you have family here or in your country

  5. When and where you learned English

  6. How many languages you speak and what they are
     

  • Prepare a guideline about what you are going to present.  

  • Tell your audience if you want questions during or after you talk.  

  • Time flies when you are having fun! However, don't forget to have some extra activities/discussion topics ready in case you have some extra time on your hands.  

  • Meaningful learning is the best approach. Take advantage of your personal experiences and demonstrate as much as you can. For example, SHOW the audience how to wrap a sari and have them try it on; TEACH them how to eat with chopsticks; DEMONSTRATE to the audience how to greet someone in your country, and so forth.  

  • Gear your presentation to the age level of the audience. Remember, the younger the group, the more basic your presentation should be.  

  • Paraphrase difficult or unknown words.

 

Dos & Don'ts:

 

Do: 

 

  • Select the things that you think best represent your culture and plan how you will use them in your presentation. Limit yourself to four or five items.

  • Write your name on the chalkboard. Also write it in your native language if it is in a different script.  

  • Show where your home country is on a map. Describe the climate and the terrain.  

  • Teach people a greeting in your language.  

  • Invite people's participation: Ask them what their favorite sports, foods, holidays are, then tell them what yours are. Pick someone to model a hat or clothing for the rest of audiences.  

  • Teach audiences a song, game or dance from your culture.

 

Don't: 

 

  • Do not take more items than you will have time to talk about.  

  • Do not rely on slides for your presentation. YOU are the main attraction. If you really want to use slides, select around 10 to give a brief introduction.  

  • Do not give a lot of statistics and political information that people may not have the background to understand or retain.  

  • Do not pass things around while speaking to audiences. They will get distracted from what you are saying.  

  • Do not offer to write a child's name in your language. You will have to do the whole class! Instead ask what their favorite animal is, and write that on the chalkboard.  

  • Do not chew gum or hold your hand in front of your mouth while presenting.  

  • Do not talk to the blackboard. Write first, then talk.  

  • Do not shout or raise your voice.

 

Presentation Topics: You may not have time to cover all these topics during your presentation. Pick a few to begin with.

 

General Facts About Your Country 

 

  • Where is your country: show on a map if possible; point out where you are from.  

  • What is your capital city?  

  • What languages are spoken in your country? Write a sample of it on the chalkboard.  

  • What religions are practiced?  

  • What is your country's population and size ( compare to Iowa )?

  • (Iowa's population is around three million, and Iowa's area is 56,290 square miles.)

  • What is your climate like?  

  • What is your main product?  

  • What type of government do you have?


Education

 

  • How old are children when they start school? 

  • How many years of school are mandatory?  

  • How long is the school day? Do you have lunch at school?  

  • What subjects do you study?  

  • How many students are usually in a class?  

  • Is it very difficult to be accepted into a university in your home country?

 

Sports and Recreation 

 

  • What games are played in your country?  

  • What professional sports are popular?  

  • What is your favorite sport?  

  • Are video games very common?  

  • What types of programs are on television?

 

Music 

 

  • What is your traditional music like ( play an example, if possible )?  

  • What types of music are popular today ( play examples )?

 

Family Life 

 

  • What are the roles of family members?  

  • Do children have chores, allowances?  

  • What is the average family size?  

  • Do most people have pets, what kinds?  

  • What are houses like in a big city? In a village?  

  • What is the most celebrated holiday, and how is it celebrated?  

  • What other holidays or festivals are celebrated?

 

Economy and Everyday Life 

 

  • What is your main food? How does your food compare to American food?  

  • Are things cheaper or more expensive there?  

  • Are your laws very different? If so, in what ways?  

  • What wild animals are in your country?  

  • What types of transportation are most common?  

  • What type of clothing is worn, for everyday and for special occasions?

 

 

Sample of Activities: Studies have shown that people tend to remember more when they are involved in doing something, instead of simply listening or seeing. Your audiences will be able to get more out of your presentation if you have them actively involved. There are many activities that you can try that will make your presentation more interesting and rewarding for you and your audiences. Here are a few examples. 

 

  • Bring a couple of dictionaries from your language. Have your audiences look up a few simple words such as greetings, numbers, etc. This will be a fun way to teach the audiences a few words in your language.  

  • Try some math exercises while talking about your country. For example, have people convert your national currency into US dollars; explore the time difference between your country and America, etc.  

  • With your national flag in hand, have audiences guess the meaning of the colors and the symbols on it.  

  • When looking through American magazines, you find a lot of ads for cleaning supplies; the models are often young and well-groomed, etc. This is an indication that, in this culture, cleanliness, youth and self-appearance are valued.
     

You can do a similar analysis with your culture. Bring magazines from your country and pass them around. Have your audiences look through these publications, especially the ads, and guess what are some of the values and beliefs pertinent to your culture. ( This activity is more appropriate for older audiences. )

 

  • Bring a little fun and challenge into your presentation. If you know of an easy game that can be played in a short period of time, teach your audiences, especially the kids. They will love it!!  

  • Proverbs and riddles are very cultural, and they are a good way to demonstrate the values and beliefs of your people. Teach your audiences some of the proverbs common in your country and explain their meaning. This is a good opportunity for you to do some comparison and find out whether the US has proverbs similar to the ones in your country (More appropriate for older audiences).  

  • A good way to get your audiences involved is to bring a questionnaire with a few questions and let them answer. For example:
     

  1. In Paraguay they speak: a. English, b. Portuguese, c. Spanish, d. Guarany

  2. The capital of Paraguay is: a. Asuncion, b. Conception, c. Villarica
     

This is also a good way to find out how much they know about your country (You may change the questions for older audiences).

 

  • If you know how to play a musical instrument, bring it with you and share your talent with the audiences. You can take the opportunity to teach them a folk song or some dance steps from your country.  

  • Always encourage your audiences to participate. A fun thing to do will be to "quiz" them at the end of each presentation. If they answer your questions correctly, reward them with a small token from your country ( i.e. stamp, candy, etc. )

 

Suggestions for Presenters: 

 

  • In your presentation, help people recognize world interdependence and the need for international understanding and cooperation. For example: talk about the business connections between your country and America.  

  • It is important that you point out not only the similarities, but also the differences between your country and America. Researchers have found that "differences are the basis for cross-cultural understanding". Let people, especially kids understand that there are cultures other than the American one, and they all function very well.  

  • Non-verbal behavior is a very strong component of the communication process. In fact, researchers agree that most of our messages are transmitted non-verbally ( i.e., gestures, greetings, etc. ). Show the audiences how non-verbal behavior can be a source of misunderstanding if cultural differences are not respected. Examples of "non-verbal behavior" to demonstrate are: greetings, gestures, eye contact, distance between speakers, attitude towards time, physical contact, etc.  

  • We all know that the media in this country doesn't necessarily give a fair and accurate picture of different countries. Headlines are often negative and unfortunately this is the only way many Americans receive information about other countries. To counteract this "headline syndrome", it is especially important that you focus on "human issues" during your presentations such as: family life, birth, death, marriages, elderly and women’s roles, arts, courtship and dating, etc.  

  • Food is a very important aspect of any culture. Talk to the audiences about the types of food you eat, how they are prepared, and the spices associated with them. If your culture kit has samples of spices, especially the ones not found in America, pass them around and let the audiences smell them. You can be really ambitious and teach them how to prepare a dish from your country. Make sure to share the recipe with them.  

  • Take the opportunity to compare and contrast your language with the English one. You can demonstrate writing in your language by pointing out things such as: the direction of the script, the spacing of characters, diacritical marks and what they are used for, etc.  

  • Stereotypes are generalizations that sometimes carry a negative connotation with them. Take the time to find out what are some of the stereotypes the audiences have about persons from your country. This is an excellent opportunity for you to try to eliminate, or at least clarify these stereotypes. And what about the stereotypes you have about Americans and the United States? I am sure the audiences will help you with that. This activity is best when done with older audiences.  

  • Customs such as gift giving, table manners, and many others are very "cultural" and what is appropriate behavior in one country may be inappropriate in another. For example, eating with the left hand in some countries would be inappropriate ( even offensive for some people ); in some Asian cultures, a gift should be presented with both hands and the appropriate behavior would be not to open the gift while in the presence of the giver.  

  • Every culture uses numbers or some sort of numerical systems. The way people count varies from one country to another. For example, in France, you indicate number "one" with the thumb folded down; In America, you can do the same with the index finger held up. Take the opportunity and show your audiences how "counting" is often a function of culture.  

  • Many schools today are putting a lot of emphasis on the teaching of languages. True, you can not make your audiences fluent in just one presentation. However, you can raise their awareness towards a different language by teaching simple words that are used every day such as good morning, good-bye, numbers from one to five, etc.  

  • Your presentation will certainly be a lot more interesting if you present about things your audiences can relate to. When presenting to children for example, talk about a day in the life of a child from your country. Things such as what they have for breakfast, what kinds of activities they are involved with on the weekend, what programs they watch on TV and so forth, should help the children understand your culture a little better. When presenting to adults, make sure to present about things adults would be interested in.  

  • Folktales can be a very entertaining record not only of your culture, but also of your history. If you know of folktales from your country, share them with the audiences. This way, they will gain an insight into the customs, ways of thinking, and beliefs of your people.  

  • When you present, YOU are the star! The audiences are anxious to know who you are, and the kinds of things you do back home. They want to hear about your everyday life, the kinds of things you eat, what you normally wear ( it is always a good idea to bring/wear a typical clothing from your country and explain its relation to your culture and lifestyle. ). Another interesting topic would be to talk about your experiences in this country such as culture shock, the things you had to get used to, etc.