My first English presentation - two funny experiences

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Nov 26, 2011 20:04
It was already 6 years ago when I gave a presentation of my study in English. Technically, I gave a 10 min presentation 10 years ago, but the scale and importance were totally different. My presentation 6 years ago was part of my unofficial job interview. I hadn't decided at that time, but if my presentation went well and I was happy with the new place, I were to move to there.

It was probably 45 min for my presentation and 15 min for questions from audience. Can you imagine what giving a presentation about whole your work in a foreign language for the first time is like? It was difficult.

I prepared PowerPoint slides and wrote a script for my speech. Day after day I practised the presentation. I was able to compose sentences for papers, but my English writing at that time was more like writing a computer language. Basically, my brain was not able to process grammar, pronunciation and message at the same time. So there was no hope in ad lib speech. I tried to remember all the sentences and all the words in the script. Finally, it turned out to be very difficult to remember the whole 45 min speech. I gave up. Although I knew it's not ideal, I decided to read the script in my presentation.

On the day of my presentation, I put an effort to speak out loud. No matter how bad my English pronunciation was, the audience can physically hear the sound of my voice; that's the plan.

While I was reading the script, I also tried to look into audience's faces instead of hiding myself at the back of the pieces of paper. Now I didn't have to worry about grammar, so I concentrated on the pronunciation. Then, a funny thing happened.

Although I was reading in a loud voice and the audience was seriously listening to my talk, I found that I couldn't tell what I was talking about. It was like empty words coming out of my mouth without having a sense. And the audience was listening to those empty words... My brain was not able to process pronunciation and sense at the same time.

In the end, my presentation finished and the audience seemed to understand what I told despite the fact that I couldn't follow my own story. Then, the paper was open for discussion. I couldn't rely on my script any more. A couple of people asked me questions, including pretty good ones. To my relief, I was able to understand most of their questions. About half of the audience was Japanese, but they spoke in English. Probably because they had a Japanese accent, it might be easier.

I was about to answer the questions. Then, another funny thing happened to me. This time, although I knew what I wanted to say, I couldn't speak in English. I felt my mouth and tongue didn't move well. In fact, my mouth and tongue were too slow compared to the speed I would like to speak. Every time I wanted to say something, my mind was ahead, while my tongue was far behind. I had never experienced a gap like that. Compared to my English speech at that time, it was a lot clumsier and more stuttering.

Later, it tuned out that my reading during the 45 min PowerPoint presentation reset my internal tempo of English. Although I was only able to speak English at 15 km/h (~9 miles/h), during the reading I spoke at 40 km/h (25 miles/h). My brain became used to the new comfortable speed during the reading. Then, when I was to answer the questions, I tried to drive myself at 40 km/h instead of 15 km/h, resulting in a complete disaster!

Well, it was a good experience after all. I decided no to work there, so it didn't matter very much.^^