Most of us will be involved in situations where we need to make a point or express a view, perhaps in a presentation, during a meeting or in an interview. One idea to make your contribution as powerful and memorable as possible is to personalise the point you are trying to make. You can do this by using an anecdote. Expressing your ideas or views with examples of personal experience will make your point meaningful to you and for the listeners. This podcast features an interview with Raluca from Romania and Genevieve from France and has an example of how an anecdote can be used to great effect.
In this task Raluca and Genevieve had to speak for about 3 minutes, talking about the types of service a museum on a limited budget should offer. The task and photographs are taken from the Cambridge ESOL website though these are not required to follow the discussion.
As you listen, pay attention to how Genevieve uses an anecdote to make her point. Coincidentally, Genevieve worked in The Louvre in Paris and therefore brought a great deal of experience and knowledge to the topic. Also, listen to how well Raluca ensures the discussion focuses on the task. Finally, make a note of Raluca and Genevieve’s use of English, which we’ll look at in the feedback section. Let’s listen to Raluca and Genevieve.
… Peter: I’d like you to imagine that a small museum with a limited budget is reviewing the services it provides to visitors. Talk together about the types of service museums should provide then decide which facilities a museum with a limited budget should concentrate on. You have about three minutes to do this. OK?
Peter: OK … over to you Genevieve: Do you want me to talk … Raluca?
Raluca: Yes … I will appreciate it.
Genevieve: So I think if I … if I were the curator of a small museum I would develop the didactic part of the museum for children and for the general public because it’s really important to … to let people know about the painters and about how the paintings are made and when I … recently I visited an exhibition on Paul Cezanne in Aix En Province and what I found most interesting was the explanation of the colours Paul Cezanne used and all the relationships between Cezanne and the painters … Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso who even bought paintings from Cezanne and were inspired by his paintings. And so I think it is a very important part … in a museum … even if it’s a small museum you can have copies of some important paintings if you don’t possess … important paintings it doesn’t really matter … you can enlarge … extend the collection. Don’t you think Raluca?
Raluca: Yes, yes I do that’s a very good idea what you’ve just said. But … I was wondering I am asking you this because you worked in a museum … what happens when you have to translate the presentation? I’ve heard that sometimes people … have some sort of a cell phone in which they …they hear a guide and it’s … they receive it at the entrance … is that true? They do this because it’s efficient. Because it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Is it cheaper than hiring a guide and getting them to speak in different languages?
Genevieve: In some museums it’s even free. So you have the cell phone when you enter the museum.
Raluca: Do they have something like that at The Louvre?
Genevieve: It’s a very good idea … to provide people with a cell phone at the entrance of the museum. What about the … entertaining parts where I think maybe if you have a small museum you can … you can make the museum more entertaining when you have … a restaurant a cafeteria and … maybe you organise concerts or something like that. Don’t you think?
Raluca: That’s a very good idea. Yes I do think so … cultural events to draw people … to draw people in … I’ve always liked gift shops so it depends on what they offer but we were supposed to talk about … a … limited budget …museum … a small budget museum something like that so … from your knowledge … what do you … what does … sorry what do souvenir shops entail?
Genevieve: Big souvenir shop would be very interesting in a … in a small museum because you don’t have many … you know many objects in a small museum. It would cost a lot of money.
Raluca: That is true. But how do you make it cheap? How do you keep it cheap? That’s what I was asking you in a souvenir shop … what can you do? Print postcards? Are those the cheapest types of souvenirs?
Genevieve: Yes maybe have … free … maybe have postcards at the … at the … the cash … the … when you buy the tickets … where you buy the tickets.
Raluca: Oh, right.
Genevieve: Not … not … not really a souvenir shop but … sell … postcards.“
First of all a big ‘Thankyou’ to Raluca and Genevieve for agreeing to be recorded. I’m sure they’d appreciate any comments you would like to make on their talk on the Splendid Speaking website. Time for some feedback.
Genevieve’s excellent example of an anecdote enabled her to express her views clearly as we can see from this extract:
“… recently I visited an exhibition on Paul Cezanne in Aix En Province and what I found most interesting was the explanation of the colours Paul Cezanne used…”
Did you notice how well Raluca ensured they both kept to the task under discussion?
“…we were supposed to talk about … a … limited budget …museum … a small budget museum something like that so …”
“…But how do you make it cheap? How do you keep it cheap? That’s what I was asking you in a souvenir shop … what can you do? Print postcards? Are those the cheapest types of souvenirs?”
There were some excellent examples of English. For example, Genevieve used the second conditional to get into role:
“…if I were the curator of a small museum I would develop the didactic part of the museum …”
Then there was Raluca’s skillful use of tenses. For example, in this extract, starting with her use of the present continuous to make her question sound more polite:
“…But … I was wondering I am asking you this because you worked in a museum … what happens when you have to translate the presentation? I’ve heard that sometimes people … have some sort of a cell phone …”
Both speakers made use of ‘vague language’ in order to express a general idea:
“…I’ve heard that sometimes people … have some sort of a cell phone …”
“… maybe you organise concerts or something like that…”
And finally, a lovely example of paraphrasing from Genevieve when a word just wouldn’t come to mind:
“…maybe have postcards at the … at the … the cash … the … when you buy the tickets … where you buy the tickets…”
Both Raluca and Genevieve were very accurate and there were no errors to speak of. However, can you think of other ways to express the following:
“…Do you want me to talk … Raluca?”
“…What about the … entertaining parts where …”
Here are some suggested alternatives. First not ‘Do you want me to talk’. This would be better expressed as ‘Do you want me to start?’ And finally, rather than ‘what about the entertaining parts’ Genevieve could have said, ‘What about entertainment facilities’.
OK, That’s the end of this podcast. Until next time it’s ‘goodbye’ from me Pete Travis