Friday, 4 April 2014

IATEFL: Barry Tomalin ( Networking)

I chose to listen to the talk by Barry Tomalin about networking because my own presentation at E-merging forum in Moscow this year was centred around a similar topic. Finding appropriate topics to discuss at first meetings, creating rapport, effective listening- these were among the issues I looked at in my presentation. Therefore, Barry Tomalin's presentation attracted my attention right away and it was really worth the time.

Barry Tomalin introduced himself as a former employee at International House and mentioned that at present he is working at The London Academy of Diplomacy. He caught the attention of the audience immediatly by his humorous quotation which I enjoyed immensely: "Guess what diplomats do? They go to cocktails, they also negotiate. They go to cocktails and they network" Sparkling humour of the presenter and interactivity is something I value in presentations at conferences. Barry Tomalin's talk had both characteristics.

He started his session with a little networking exercise when  people in the audience were asked to talk to their neighbour and find out something interesting about them. Then he introduced an activity which was aimed at the participants understanding what style of networking they had. The statements were quite informative and the participants were asked to raise hands if a statement applied to them.

Why is networking so important? It is the primary means by which people can get and maintain contact. When we talk to people that we don't know it creates a sense of identity. The fact that someone is talking to you, tking interest in what you are saying creates respect. Nowadays in our global world people tend to feel rather isolated so creating identity and recognition is of paramount important.  For a teacher of English it is vital to have business cards and  a web page because if we don't, "then we should ask ourselves if we exist".When hearing that I felt quite flattered knowing that I do have a business card and I am trying to write a blog, so these can be considered ways of identification. Now I might also think about creating a simple web-page saying who I am and what I do.

"Don't be interesting. Be interested!" That promotes effective listening and Barry Tomalin introduced a number of interactive activities which showed the participants what is important in networking and also presented good sample activities to be used in class. Cultural differences are of major importance in the situation of networking and we should always keep in mind that our interlocutor might have slightly different ideas about the same things than we do. Barry suggested looking at executiveplanet.com which gives rich material about business etiquette in different countries of the world. Effective listening means not only listening to WHAT people are saying but to HOW they feel. That is not so easy and has to be developed.

Barry Tomalin mentioned that Bill Clinton is a wonderful networker and he uses the F.A.C.E approach when talking to people. Then Barry introduced the activity which first showed how important active listening is and how frustrated people might get when their intelocutors aren't showing any reaction. Then the participants were invited to use F.A.C.E approach and notice how dramatically things changed.

Barry mentioned that gift-giving and hospitality are very important in networking and once again in this case special emphasis should be put on cultural and personal differences. Being attentive and sensitive to other people's differences is essential.

In conclusion, Barry Tomalin provided good examples of language to teach. I found the tips very useful. When teaching English to  Russian students I came to realise that very often they don't have the right idea about ways to ask questions and  to react to the answers. So the recommendations given in this talk are very useful.

So what have I learned from this presentation of Barry Tomalin? First of all, I really enjoyed the style of the speaker- humorous, involving, vibrant. I learned a couple of activities which can be used in class, I was given  a website which I am sure will prove to be useful in my teaching, I learned several book titles which I surely would like to check.

The whole presentation can be found at Harrogate Online or right here:

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