On the road with Gary in…Paris

A ‘Dynamic Breakfast’ (!) and some dynamic presentations (?)

My first trip this new year 2011 was in and around my hometown, Paris. (I guess I can call Paris my hometown now as I have lived here longer than I did in either Kansas City where I grew up, or Boston where I studied.) Paris, by the way, as you may know or remember if you’ve been here, is made up of 20 arrondissements, or districts, with the 1st in the city centre (think: Notre Dame de Paris, kilometre zero and from where distances to and from the French capital are measured) and with the other arrondissements radiating outwards and around, sort of like a snail’s shell, from the older, inner parts of the city to the newer, outer parts.

Anyway, I had a busy week doing seven talks on seven different topics and travelling around the big city: from the 3rd arrondissement (where I used to live) to La Grande Arche at La Defense, the business district outside Paris where all the skyscrapers are (except for the Montparnasse Tower in the 14th where I used to work) to events at Librairie Attica (conveniently located for me in the 13th arrondissement next to the 12th where I live now).

The big event at Attica attended by about 70 teachers was billed as a ‘Dynamic Breakfast’ and featured Mark Powell, author of Dynamic Presentations, the first title in the new Cambridge Business Skills series, giving, well, a dynamic presentation entitled ‘Dynamic Presentations: A Performance-based Approach’. Then, after coffee and croissants, I gave a talk on English Unlimited, the new general English course for adults now complete with six levels from Starter (A1) to Advanced (C1). And then the event finished with a champagne cocktail. (Ah, France…)

You know, I really believe when you’re giving a presentation you have to first and foremost be yourself and let your personality come through – sort of the same as you do when you’re teaching, right? Of course there are certain presentations – and teaching – techniques to learn, practise and teach your students (structuring the talk/class; having a good beginning and ending; using clear visuals, slides, board work) and good habits to make (speak naturally and remember to pitch and pause your voice) and bad habits to break (not too much hmm-ing and uh-ing). Mark was demonstrating those as well as using YouTube clips of good and bad presenters. If you’d like to see Mark in action, you can go to his YouTube site, Mark Powell, to view parts of his plenary at the last November’s BESIG conference in Germany.

I don’t know if my Parisian presentations were ‘dynamic’ – if you attended one, please comment; and if you didn’t…well, you can tell me after one of my presentations when we meet on my upcoming travels.

Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer


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