JAPAN - An increasing number of universities are stepping up efforts to teach students how to give effective presentations in English, with the aim of developing their skills in communicating ideas to compete at an international level.
There is a growing interest among many Japanese in acquiring presentation skills, partly because of Japan's excellent presentation in its bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.
Presentation skills are essential, for instance, for introducing plans and products to corporate clients.
"What makes a good presentation?" Kenichi Sato, an associate professor at Musashino University, asked his students during a seminar in the university's Ariake campus in Koto Ward, Tokyo, on Sept. 23.
The seminar was part of the Faculty of Global Communication's business communication programme.
Sato's class, which targets junior and senior students, was launched in fiscal 2005. His lessons introduce students to the basics of business administration while encouraging them to deliver presentations in English on such topics as their research on individual corporations.
During the Sept. 23 lesson, Sato's students watched a recording of Japan's final presentation in Buenos Aires in early September to promote Tokyo as a candidate city for the Games. This was followed by a group discussion on what makes an effective presentation. Some students shared their opinions in English on Japan's presentation in the Argentine capital.
One student emphasised the need to "speak with enthusiasm." Another said it is necessary to "pronounce words clearly so customers can understand what you want to get across."
"Cultivating skills for expressing your opinions in English and making your ideas more communicable to others are the tools you need to compete at a global level," Sato said.
J.F. Oberlin University in Machida, Tokyo, also has emphasised development of English presentation skills. In fiscal 2007, the college expanded its list of English language programs to include an optional course designed specifically to teach how to deliver presentations. The course is open to all students.
Rikkyo University has required freshmen to take an English presentation course since 2010.
"Amid an increase in the number of corporations operating internationally, it is desirable for colleges and universities to produce and nurture people with presentation skills that allow them to convey their ideas to others in English," said Hiroshi Yahata, who heads the International Presentation Society, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organisation that delivers lectures on presentation skills at universities and corporations nationwide.