Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time to work on my presentation skills

Something like this would be good. I like the applauding.

Yesterday at my Chinese Culture class one of my classmate held a presentation about jade. He spoke for about 1 hour and in the meantime he showed us a Powerpoint presentation consisting of nothing less than 98 colourful slides! Now, this guy is from Taiwan, so I find his spoken Chinese kind of hard to understand, and also, he didn’t really articulate that well… but most of all: he went into things like: the history of jade, different kinds of jade, jade carving and so on, in other words: he went way beyond my Chinese language skills.

Once he had finished all of us (his classmates) had to ask him at least one question each. It was compulsory to ask something, and not just anything, because our question was going to be graded by our fellow classmates + our teacher. We then had to grade the guy giving the presentation on two things:

1. How well he did his presentation.
2. How well he answered our question.

I felt completely out of place doing all of this. Here I’m sitting with my far-from-perfect-Chinese and I am supposed to grade some native guy doing a rather impressive presentation? Yeah, as you all might have guessed, he got a clear 10/10 from me! (I added a note saying it wouldn’t be fair to me to grade someone lower when my language skills are not that great. I hope the teachers won’t take my notes/questions too seriously).

To end the whole experience the guy had brought in his personal jade collection (!) that we then spent 10 minutes “ohhhing” and “aaaahing” over.

Pretty serious stuff, huh?

And want to know the best part?

On November 23 it’s my turn.

No, I’m not going to talk about jade (yikes!). I’m going to talk about differences/ contradictions in the western/Chinese work life/ work culture. I chose this topic because I have interviewed many Chinese people who work for western companies and I believe their views on differences are rather interesting. However, after seeing my classmate floor us all with his jade collection, I’m starting to feel rather doubtful about my presentation. For starters, I’m going to talk for 1 hour. ONE HOUR! I’m not sure that I know enough Chinese to talk for one hour straight? My classmates are going to want to kill themselves at the end of my presentation, as it can’t be fun to listen to my broken Chinese. Secondly, how am I going to do 98 powerpoint slides? All slides should be covered with my presentation in a written form. And we all know how great I am at writing in Chinese… ehum. This is a mess, a mess, a mess!

I’m feeling slightly regretful about my choice of topic. The jade guy showed us several pictures + his personal jade collection and that was a great way to break up the presentation. What have I got to show? No photos. No movie clip?

Anyways, I thought it might be worth asking if anyone knows of a movie clip or anything highlighting anything related to my topic: Chinese/Western work culture differences/contradictions? ANYTHING is appreciated. In the meanwhile, I’ll try to think of ways to get the swine flu so that I don’t have to do this presentation.

(Now I actually don't know what I am the most scared of: the half marathon on Nov 8 or the presentation on Nov 23?)


Kate said...

Ah, Jonna! I am sorry I am no help at all! I'll be your American cheering section, though, for both events.

WoAi said...

Funny, I just saw a history of jade exhibition at the British Museum last week which is part of the China section. They had jade from 5000 BC to present.

How about talking about various China bloggers experiences with culture clash. There's tons of material all mentioning this topic. You could highlight lots of different examples and add your own experiences of the same sort of cases.

Carl said...

Jonna, if it is not too late to change subjects, can you talk about your running? You have lots of photos, and I'm sure you can tell your classmates all about the benefits, how you got started, what equipment is needed, where it has taken you, etc. They say to always give a speech about something you are passionate about.

If you are unable to change topics, I'm sure there are photos to help show the differences in the work life that you can show. Be sure to add some humor to help break it up and keep everyone interested. And don't worry... 98 PowerPoint slides is not needed for your presentation, as a dozen would do nicely especially if you can find a short video clip to throw in there too. Good luck on your presentation. I'm betting that you will stress out more about the presentation than the half marathon. Best wishes on both!!!

Tarja said...

I think your topic is interesting and more usefull to your classmates than speach about jade. Second of all I don't think you need 98 power points. It's different when you show pictures of jewerly don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Jonna, if you speak Chinese with an accent I would suggest you watch more Chinese movies and TV and then pratice more with Chinese folks. I have been in the US for 7 years and I speak perfect English with very little accent.

I hope this would help.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jonna,

I can only agree with the above mentioned comments!
Besides, who likes to listen to 98 pages of powerpoint? This is really overwhelming!
Anyway, the following link might be helpful


It´s a very humorous view of the differences between the Chinese and the German culture. Credit goes to Ms Yang Liu. These pictures were shown at an art gallery in Germany in 2007. The pics are also published in the book "Ost trifft West" (East Meets West).
Though it is not exactly about comparing the work lifes of the different cultures and though Yang Liu compares the Chinese with the German mentality I think you can easily use it for your topic.

You can then interact with the students about the comparison, asking them for their opinion and starting a question period.
Besides, I am sure that you feel much more confident soon if you are going to acquire the specific vocabulary for your topic.
I wish you good luck with your presentation (and your running as well)...JIAYOU:-)


Jonna Wibelius said...

Kate -no worries, oral support is also nice :)

Woai -yeah, and guess who went to the Suzhou museum last month and also saw a lot of jade? Moi?! Funny. Good idea with the bloggers... let's see what I can find. Actually, I bet if I read your archive I have enough stuff :) (one of my fave stories from your blog is about the girl who didn't show up to an interview because it was so "hot outside")

Carl- that would have been a great topic but I don't think I can weave running into Chinese culture? It has to be about Chinese culture... :/ But yeah, I have to go out there and get some interesting photos...

Tarja -well let's hope so. I found the jade stuff quite overwhelming, but that's probably coz I didn't understand even 50% of everything he said. Gah!

Anonymous -what do u think I am doing in China?! Haha! Everything I do is to practice my Chinese with my Chinese friends!!! When I don't practice I study... but it takes time. Also, Chinese is a hard language to master for me, I don't think I'll ever be able to speak it without an accent. Also, 7 years in America... well, I have studied Chinese for 2 years. I don't think we can be compared. Anyways, watching movies ect is a good idea although I hate watching TV, so that one doesn't really work for me even though I know I should. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Chinese music though.. that's one way. I appreciate that u took the time to give me some tips though, cheers for that, and Jia You to me :)

Katharina -thanks for your advice!!! Actually, those pictures/slides are quite good and useful. I have seen them being used in a presentation once given by a Chinese guy about the very topic culture differences.. so great great idea!! BIG thanks to you!

Wannes said...

haha, what a coincidence, my chinese girlfriend living in belgium wants to do a presentation about culture differences and she was just looking for the very same "GermanVsChinese" presentation cause we had stumbled on it some years ago...

by the way, love the blog, it is whitout any doubt the best China blog I have ever read, looking forward to every new post!

George said...

an hour presentation, that's gonna kill me, even in Chinese, i'd choose a topic as Yoga, playing a relaxing music cd, and everybody medidate for 45 mins, then 15 min Q & A session, haha ^^

Jonna Wibelius said...

Wannes -thank you so much, u have no idea how nice that is to hear! Someone looking forward to my post, weeeeiii! :) Funny coincidence with your girlfriend but also great that u dropped by and saw the link to that very presentation.

George -exactly what I was thinking, unfortunately, my teacher didn't like the sound of "yoga"... ehum.

anke said...

Hey Jonna, I think you should give yourself a break!

Your topic sounds really interesting, much more so than the jade collection. I think you should not worry too much about making mistakes -- your enthusiasm and the content is much more important in making a presentation interesting than your accent or grammar.

Can I also add that I think you should not be afraid to give less than 10/10 to your class mates? The fact that you feel you cannot do something better than someone else, does not mean that you cannot see things that they could improve... Think about it this way: do you think judges in a figure skating competition can do better than the skaters?

Sorry to be so advice-y, but you sound a little down on yourself!

BioniKat said...

Thats some serious show and tell. Actually a one hour presentation in Chinese sounds boring as hell. I'm sure that your presentation on Chinese/Western differences will be much more interesting. You can get in a Chinese and Western person to act out the differences like charades. That'll prevent anyone from falling asleep or committing harikiri.

Pete In Syracuse said...


You might want to go to some of the larger corporations\factories to their "Human resource\Personnel Office" in your area. They might have some videos\material on work ethics for thier business & or information where there would be differences. Differences that you youself have written in your blogg, comparing work in finland vs china. Also if you do any interveiws with anybody from business\industry the power point photos can go back and forth between you and the interviewer to maybe an area\place they were talking about. i.e. If you are talking about how east & westerners greet each other for a meeting have some candids for people greeting each other for the eastern side have some of your friends take them of you doing the same thing but in the western way. There are reading materials you can get like

"Encountering the Chinese" by Hu Wenzhong & Cornelius Grove

Even though some of the material is not about business it does give you ideas that work into business, why you ask? because, as soon as you mix easterners & westerners together those different traits will be transparent & surface. It also brings awareness of "Wow! that's why so & so acts like that when I do this - because his culture does this instead of that. i.e.Guy's that carry thier girl friends purses vs westerners that don't or greetings or handing people business cards with two hands instead of just one or who pays at a resturant with business meetings etc..
Jonna, you are great at taking pictures and the interaction between poeple just move your natural seeing like this from the streets\your blogg to the work place. I think by interviewing working people that help people intergrate into big business\factories the differences will surface & you'll fill up that 60 mins. so fast you'll be wanting more time instead of worrying about the filling of it. I have faith that will happen. As for the running - I hate running no help there unless it's to a Chocolate bar in which case I would mow down people to get to it & My lags would be moving faster than the speed of light!!.... ;o)

Pete In Syracuse said...

Sensitive Trash Can


I can see even something like this but in reverse for your fellow classmates to get a chuckle out of.

Instructional Signage in factories, I mean jade is about Jade did it(& HE) talk about how it effected the culture in China or just about the Jade?

Pingu said...

Easy. Just put up some pictures of Chinglish ;)


More seriously, how about bringing a Chinese friend and a Western friend of yours and interview them (in class)? You can stick it in the middle of your presentation, after your introduction on the topic you are presenting.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Momcat and Pingu -how funny that the 2 of you suggested the same thing!! It is a great idea but I am not sure I could find a foreigner who speaks Chinese who have time to come to my class on a Monday afternoon. Not a bad idea though. I think I'll stick to the funny slides and some photos I've taken though.

Anke -I hope you are right. I just don't have much of a confidence when it comes to my Chinese, I kind of think it sucks even though I know I suck less now compared to 1 year ago.. but yeah, I wish I could be a bit more confident about it. Nothing more to do but to practice, practice and practice though... and I think I do!! I guess I should be a bit more relaxed about the presentation though and not aim for being perfect. I don't think anybody expects me to be. Thanks for your comment!

Pete -thanks for your input and I'll look into that reading if I can find it around over here. But u are probably right, I can tell a lot from my personal experience, I wonder how my teacher will react at my story of the "spitting boss"... hehe. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, Jonna. It depends on how old you are when you start to learn another langurage. I started learning English when I was 16 and now I am 23 with no acent at all.

If you start learn Chinese before 22 you can still make it.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anonymous -well I didn't, so there goes. No hope for me.

Anonymous said...

why don't you play short videos of interviews you do with people from suzhou about your topic. It would be interesting to show their responses on the topic. It would also give you talking points after each video. you could video locals as well as laoweis working in the city. I know my husband would have alot to say on the subject as he managed a whole staff of locals for an american company in Nanjing.

Greg said...

Hey Jonna

How about Rush Hour with Jackie Chan?

Any chance they would give you permission to record the lecture, and load it up here?

Good luck!
Greg from Mandarin Segments

aki said...

Interesting class. It's always worthwhile to listen to presentations that involve culture especially if the presenter is someone representative to that culture.