One of the things I enjoy most in a seminar is seeing the outcome of the group or pair work phase. And, of course, the participants are also eager to hear what the others have come up with. So there’s generally a sense of anticipation in the room – but there’s nervousness there, too. When you’re working with an international group, there are two main challenges at this stage. Firstly, you need to make sure that all the participants are able to get their message across effectively in the foreign language. Secondly, when providing feedback you need to hit the right note and select an approach which is acceptable for everyone – no matter what their cultural background. The following article focuses on these two points while also looking at phrases for getting started and wrapping up.
Getting the ball rolling
First of all, everyone needs to know how you intend to go about collecting the results. Then you need to find the right words to motivate the first group or pair to take the plunge and get things off to a good start.
- This is where it all comes together. I’d like each group to come up to the front and present their ideas.
- Each pair now has the opportunity to show us what they’ve come up with.
- We’ll go round the table and you can each present your ideas.
- Walking around I heard some exciting ideas. xy, would you like to start us off?
- I’m very interested to see what you’ve come up with. Who’d like to go first?
- Who would like to get the ball rolling? Are there any volunteers?
Some participants will probably need a little extra support when it comes to presenting their ideas in English. Perhaps you’re uncertain what they mean or have the impression that other members of the group are confused by the vocabulary used. Or you may simply feel that what the presenters are saying is too theoretical. Tell the members of the group beforehand that you are there to help out and may ask a few questions to make sure they get their message across effectively.
Asking for an explanation
- Sorry to interrupt, but I’m not quite sure what you mean by …
- Just to be on the safe side, what exactly do you mean by …
- I didn’t completely understand … Could you explain again?
- When you say … do you mean … or …
Asking for confirmation
- Just to make sure I’ve understood you correctly, what you’re saying is …
- So you’re suggesting that … Is that right?
- Sorry, are you saying that …?
- Am I right in thinking that …?
Asking for an example or more details
- That’s interesting. Could you give us an example?
- I hope you don’t mind me interrupting. But I think it’d help us all to get a clearer picture, if you could tell us about …
- Could you give us some more information about …
- I found it very interesting that you mentioned … Can you explain in a little more detail?
Most members of the group will be eager to hear your opinion on how they performed and what they could do better. But this is an area where there are great cultural differences. For example, while receiving feedback in front of the group is fine for some, others may feel very uncomfortable with it. So look into what is likely to be acceptable to your participants beforehand and then choose the best approach. In general, describing what you observed and emphasizing that this is your subjective point of view works well and that’s what the following phrases focus on.
Underlining the positives
- I thought … was very effective.
- In general, I think your presentation went very well.
- I really like the way you …
- I can see you’ve put a lot of thought into …
Describing negative points you observed
- At several points during the presentation, I saw that you …
- When you talked about … I didn’t quite understand …
- I saw that …
- I recognised that …
(It’s best to avoid using words such as very, really, extremely, completely.)
Explaining the (possible) impact
- This meant that I …
- For me this came across as …
- I think that might lead to / result in …
- I think there’s a risk that …
Talking about improvements
- How else could you … ?
- Can you think of any alternatives … ?
- Have you considered…?
- What do you think about…
Wrapping up and thanking participants
Presenting their ideas in English in front of the whole group won’t have been easy for everyone. Some participants will have had to give themselves a little push to overcome their nervousness. So finish this phase of the workshop on a positive note by letting them know how well they’ve done and how much you appreciate their efforts.
- I’m really impressed how many creative suggestions you’ve come up with.
- Wow! What a lot of great ideas! We’ll be building on those in the next part of the workshop.
- Thank you all for putting so much thought into your presentations. They were extremely interesting to listen to.
- Thank you everyone. I’m sure we’re all taking away a lot of interesting ideas.
- I don’t know about you, but I’m really inspired by what I’ve just heard.
- I’d like to thank you all for sharing your ideas with us.
This is a rewarding, yet demanding phase of the seminar for a trainer. One in which you need to be able to use English quite precisely. I hope that the phrases above will help you to ask exactly the right question as well as to give feedback sensitively.
This is Part 4 of a series of articles written for the magazine Training Aktuell. As trainers are increasingly required to provide workshops and seminars in English for international groups, this series aims to provide useful phrases and helpful pointers.