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Using Signposts in an Informal Presentation

In this lesson, students are introduced to signposts and how they are used in presentations. First, students analyze a presentation by Steve Jobs. Students then prepare their own informal presentation using common signposts.


Warm up

Put students in pairs. Ask them to generate a list of people who are/were well-known for being great speakers. Give them a few minutes, and then get some feedback from the class. Walk around and try to encourage your students to list at least a few people from the business world.


Analyzing an Informal Presentation

Your students will probably mention Steve Jobs as an example of someone who was known for his speaking skills. Tell your class that they are going to watch a video of Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone. Tell them to watch the video and answer the following questions:

1. In this presentation, is Jobs’ presentation style formal or informal? How do you know?

2. The main topic of this presentation is the iPhone. However, the presentation is divided into smaller sections. What are some things Jobs says to introduce these smaller sections of his presentation? What are some things Jobs says to let the audience know that he is finishing one section of his presentation and moving on to another section?


Play the video twice so students have a chance to answer both questions. After they watch it once, have them compare answers with a partner. Then, let them watch it again.

Go over the answers to the activity:

1. His style is informal. He uses lot of contractions (there’s, we’ve, I’ve, you’ve, let’s, etc.) and he uses a lot of informal words and expressions (“boom,” “pretty cool,” “by the way,” “let  me go ahead and…” “I wanna,” “you know,” “guess what,” “isn’t this cool?”). Also, He uses a little bit of humor (calling the sushi restaurant, talking about how he loves Disney movies). 

2. Some statements that they should identify:
At the beginning of the video, Jobs says “What I’d like to do now is show you mail, Safari, Google Maps, and widgets running on iPhone. So let’s go see.”
At 2:22, Jobs introduces email on the iPhone. He says “Let me create an email message. I will show you what that’s like.”  
At 3:09, Jobs tells us that he is done talking about email and that he will now tell us about Safari. He says, “So that is mail — full desktop-class email running on a mobile device. Now, I want to show you something incredible. I want to show you Safari.” 

If they didn’t identify the above statements, play those sections of the video again and highlight how the above statements keep the audience from getting lost during the presentation.


Introducing Signposts

Tell your students that we call these statements “signposts.” Explain that signposts are words or phrases that guide the listener during a presentation. They let the listener know what has happened so far, and what is going to happen next. Tell them that we have certain signposts that we use for the introduction, middle, and conclusion of a presentation.

Give students the signposts guide below and review anything that may be unfamiliar to them.


Signposts for the Introduction of a Presentation

Introducing yourself: •Good morning/afternoon/evening. On behalf of (company, department, etc.), I’d like to welcome you.
My name is (name) and I am (position).
•Hi everyone, I’m (name and title). Thanks for coming.
Introducing the topic: •I’m going to give you an overview of...
•The focus of today’s presentation is…
•I’m going to talk to you about…
•I’m going to be talking a little bit about…
•I’m here today to talk to you about…
Outlining your presentation: •The presentation today is divided into three parts. First, I’ll... Following that I’ll... Finally, I’ll… •I’m going to talk about three things today. I’ll start with… Then I’ll talk a little bit about… I’ll finish with…
Inviting questions: •Please don’t hesitate to interrupt me if you have any questions. •If you have any questions during the presentation, please ask.


Signposts for the Middle of a Presentation

Introducing the first section of your presentation:
•I’d like to start/begin by…•Let’s start/begin by looking at…
Finishing a section and starting a new one:

•Well, we’ve looked at... Now, I’d like to discuss…
•Having discussed… I’d like to move on to….
•Well, I’ve told you about… Now I’ll move on to…
•Well, we’ve looked at… Now, let’s talk about…
•So, that was... Now, let’s…
Expanding or elaborating:

•I’d like to expand on…
•I’d like to elaborate on…
•Let’s consider this in more detail.
•Let me tell you a little more about…
•Let me give you some more details/information about...
Talking about earlier or later points in your presentation:

•I will elaborate on this later in the presentation.
•I’ll provide you with a more detailed explanation later in the presentation.
•To repeat what I said earlier…
•As I mentioned earlier…
•More on this later.
•I’m going to talk more about this later.
•Do you remember I said...?
•As I said earlier…
Recognizing your listeners' prior knowledge:
•As you may be aware of…
•As you may know…
•I know many of you are familiar with…
•You might already know that…
•I’m sure a lot of you know that…
•I’m sure a lot of you know about…
•I’m sure a lot of you have heard…
Focusing audience's attention on visuals:•May I focus your attention on the…You will notice that…
•Please direct your attention to the slide/chart/etc.
•Take a look at this slide/chart/graphic etc. You can see that…
•Okay, here we can see that…


Signposts for the Conclusion of a Presentation

Summarizing and concluding the presentation: •Finally, let’s summarize some of the main points.
•To conclude, I’d like to summarize.
•Let’s summarize/recap what we looked at today.
•Finally, let’s look back at what we covered today.
•So, to remind you of what we looked at today...
Inviting final questions: •Does anyone have any questions or comments before we conclude today?
•If you’d like me to elaborate or clarify anything we covered today, please ask.
•Does anyone have any final questions?
•Okay, does anyone have any questions or comments?
Responding to tough questions: a question you don’t have the answer to:
•I want to answer your question completely, but I don’t have that information with me right now. Could you give me your email after the presentation so I can send you a complete response?
a question you didn’t understand:
•Could you repeat that, please?
•Could you rephrase that, please?
•Let me make sure I understand you completely. Do you mean that…?
a question you don’t have the answer to:
•I don’t have that information with me. Can you give me your email and I’ll send you an answer later today?
a question you didn’t understand:
•Could/Can you repeat that, please?
•Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
•Are you saying that…?
Finishing and saying goodbye: •If there are no further questions, I’d like to thank you very much for your attention. If you think of any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.•Well, I think that’s about it. Thanks for listening. Please contact me later if you have any additional questions or want more information.


Creating an Informal Presentation

Now, tell the class that they will prepare a short, informal presentation. Explain that they will concentrate on using signposts to make sure that their audience does not get lost during their presentation. Give them the following topic.

Choose a local business that you like (a restaurant, store, gym, etc.) Prepare a short, informal presentation about the business. 

Introduce yourself and the topic.
A. What type of business is it and where is it located?
B. What makes this business better than the competition?  Talk about at least two things.
Summarize, invite questions, and say goodbye.

Give students time to prepare their presentation. Tell them to write notes and to write which signposts they will use for the introduction, middle, and conclusion of their presentation. Walk around the room and make sure they are using signposts correctly.


Wrapping up

Tell students to continue working on their presentations for homework. For the following class, have them present their informal presentations.