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Improving Language Skills

language skills

It is obvious that talking involves verbal use of a language which is transmitted orally, while reading involves written language. But the central role of language may be undermined in the maze of communication definitions and descriptions. Language is central to college work and to all levels of life beyond college. Development of language skills enhances effective communication, now and into the future.

For help with developing your vocabulary and improving your grasp of grammar, check out these websites, and spend some time finding the right levels of improvement for you:

Improving Presentation Skills

Know your subject: Before you can speak on a subject, particularly in a formal presentation, you must know the subject. Gather knowledge about it, read about it, and if you can, talk about it informally (one-to-one) with a person who has knowledge and expertise. Trace the history and evolution of the subject and assess its importance. Ask questions about its meaning and relevance to your area of study. Reading and reflective learning will lead you to develop your opinions and to take a critical approach to understanding the topic.

Such a repository of knowledge will provide a strong basis for the content of your talk, as well as providing you with a persuasive power, a capacity to convince.

Think before you speak: For some who experience difficulty in verbal communication, there is an inclination to speak before you are ready. There can be some confusion between wanting to avoid speaking but realising that you should speak, which can cause you to rush in and speak before you are ready. Taking time to pause and to think through your message will help. As you pause, you resist time pressure and give yourself the time to check the clarity of content of your message. Start to speak when you are ready; speak slowly and deliberately.

Success breeds success: the happier you are with your success in speaking clearly, the better you become at this.

Some useful hints for presenting your data

  • Prepare with care
  • Carefully review the project aims and objectives.
  • How long is the presentation?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What do they need to know?
  • Having answered the above, Prepare framework and layout of the presentation.
  • How many slides for the time allowed? How much information on each slide?
  • Provide an overview or plan of your presentation (this may be given in terms of expected outcomes)
  • Be relevant: What does the listener need to know? and why?
  • Be succinct: How much detail does the listener need to know?
  • Provide only this detail not too much, not too little.
  • Be orderly: present your points in order of importance
  • Be clear: Choose words the listener will know and understand. Ensure your message is not ambiguous.
  • Be sincere: Tell the truth. Do not try to mislead the listener with incorrect information.
  • Provide a summary of main points

Frank Luntz offers 10 rules for Effective Language Use in presentations:

    1. Simplicity: use small words
    2. Brevity: use short sentences
    3. Credibility is as important as philosophy
    4. Consistency matters
    5. Novelty: offer something new
    6. Sound and texture matter
    7. Speak aspirationally
    8. Visualize
    9. Ask a question
    10. Provide context and explain relevance.
  • You can spot some similarities in these and the previous list of suggestions, so take the repetitions seriously, and use them.

Last updated 4 April 2013 by Listen, Speak & be Heard (Email).