Difficulties With the Present Continuous Tense

People who learn English as a second language have problems mastering the tenses. While the Present Perfect tense poses challenge at a cognitive level, the Present Continuous poses challenge in restraining them from over use.

Asian learners, especially, Indian, use this tense left, right and center.

I am coming out from the shopping mall, sir, I am meeting this man who is asking for money yesterday.

It is not difficult and it does not take much time either to understand the tense, but it does take some practice, a guided practice, to master it.

The primary usage of this tense is to speak about what is happening at the time of speaking-that is the ‘now’ of the speaker.

I am reading this article.

Are you listening to me?

It is not moving, is it?

The Present Continuous is also used for speaking about an action happening these days or nowadays.

What is he doing?

He is writing a new novel.

Where is papa? What is he doing?

He is in Canberra, attending a conference.

The examples above show that the tense is used for an action that you consider temporary. It is not an action that happens every day, every time, for which we use the Simple Present.

I read books. It is my hobby and it happens every time when I have time

I am reading books. Now.

I am reading a new book by Archer. Nowadays.

Unlike native speakers, speakers of English as a second language find it difficult to understand verbs that are seldom used in the Present Continuous even for actions happening now.

Are you seeing the bus there?

Speak, I am hearing you.

I am wanting money.

Are you understanding me?

He is not having any problems.

Verbs such as see and hear are involuntary actions. You cannot stop seeing if you keep your eyes open nor can you stop sounds entering your ears that are always open. They are always open and not under your control.

The Present Continuous is used only with actions that come under your control. Similar is the case with verbs that denote a state and not action. Have denotes possession or relationship. It speaks about no action. Therefore the sentence He is not having any problems is considered non-standard.

So next time when you use the Present Continuous, pause for a while and find out if you have got that sentence correct. This advice is for learners of English as second language.

Sales Presentations That Command Attention

One of the key challenges in any sales presentation is communicating a message that makes prospects pay attention. Amid all the clutter and noise that exists in the marketplace, how do we get those with whom we most want to do business with, to pay attention to us?

Obviously, that’s a complex question and the answer quite frankly is that there are a lot of factors. But if we go to ground zero, that point where we are first trying to get attention, there is one element that we most want to focus on.

The problem. That’s what gets attention. That’s what makes people say, “Perhaps I should learn a bit more.” It doesn’t mean that they’re going to get them to hire us. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to give us money. But, the right problem, presented in a way that is compelling and intriguing, can be the proverbial spark that starts the dry brush ablaze.

However, what do most people do? How do they try to capture attention? Ironically (and mostly ineffectively) they talk about themselves. The opening salvo usually takes one of two forms. Sometimes it’s the ubiquitous, “This is what I do.” “I’m a lawyer, realtor, financial advisor, headhunter, butcher, baker candlestick-maker. ” What’s the response? Typically, “Oh.”

Those that have been to sales training 101 (but didn’t stay through the whole thing) know that this is not enough. So they confidently answer, “We offer the worlds most researched solution on extrapolating data through software integration.”

“How very nice for you.”

Answers like these are what my friend Don refers to as “Hammers in search of a nail.” Realistically how many of us really know what software integration is? Or care?

So what’s the answer? How can we make people care? One of the most effective ways is to put the answer in the context of something that I can understand. Something I can relate to. And what might that be? Simply put, it’s a story.

What stories have in common is that they address a problem. Some sort of gap between what the main character desires and his or her current state. It could be desire for love, success, confidence or any of another basic human goals. From a business perspective it could be something a bit more pragmatic: increased sales, improved employee morale or reducing costs.

The point is that if you want to get someone’s attention you need to focus on the problems that you solve. Even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t suffer from that particular problem, by focusing on problems rather than some bland recitation about what you “do”, you dramatically increase the likelihood that they will remember you.

Let’s take the marketing consultant as an example. She could try to get attention by saying, “I’m a marketing consultant.” In one ear and out the other. Let’s try again.

She could say, “I offer an integrated turn-key solution to help my clients get more new clients.” Hmmm. Still a bit of the “hammer in search of a nail.” It’s hard to visualize what she really does. And that’s the key. We need to get what we do visualized in the person’s brain. We need for it to come alive.

So how do we do that? We need to paint a picture. We need to tell a story. Like this:

“On a fundamental level I help my clients get more new business. The challenge most of them face is that they’re the ‘best kept secret’ in their marketplace. I show them how to get more referrals by communicating unique sales stories about what they do.”

So let’s examine this last answer in a bit more detail. Certainly it’s longer and that may take a bit of getting used to. Since most everyone describes what they do in 15 words or less we feel compelled to do so as well. Resist that temptation. If you have something interesting to say, your reader or listener will stick with you.

So this answer starts by framing the topic by focusing on a large problem-getting more new clients. However, she doesn’t stop there. She immediately drills down on a highly specific problem (being the “best kept secret”) that she helps solve. She then concludes by transitioning into what she offers. However it’s important to note, that she is very specific about how she helps.

What our marketing lady has done here is to paint a picture in our minds. We can now easily visualize a problem she works on. In all likelihood she probably works on many different problems and depending upon the situation she is in, she draws upon different answers. However, each answer follows the same format of hooking attention by focusing on a problem.

Choosing a Presentation Remote Control

If you deliver digital presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint or other presentation software programs, how do you advance to the next or previous slide? You can move forward to the next slide with the keyboard or the mouse or even have someone else help you but this can be awkward or keep you locked in near your laptop. For more professional results, use a presentation remote control to easily navigate through your slide shows.

Remote Features

Many projectors come standard with a remote but features vary and may not always be easy to use. A better choice is to use your own personal presentation remote control. When evaluating a remote, look for these features and decide what is important to you:

  • Ergonomic and easily fits in your hand. Keep in mind that you might be using the remote for an hour or an entire day. Plus, a smaller remote will usually have fewer and more accessible buttons, fits in your pocket, and is great for travel.
  • Simple to use. In most cases, a smaller, ergonomic remote is easy to use but test it before buying. One of my friends loves her small remote which is only about the size of a matchbook. The tradeoff is she needs to press 2 buttons together to make the screen go black, a feature that doesn’t always work.

I was reminded of the importance of an easy to use remote when I watched an excellent presenter pull out a huge remote that looked a price scanner gun from Home Depot. As he fumbled with a large panel of buttons, the remote dropped to the floor and broke open with batteries flying across the stage.

  • Transmit distance. Remotes operate with three different technologies: RF (wireless radio frequency), IR (infrared), and Bluetooth. There are also smartphone apps that can turn your device into a remote via WiFi or Bluetooth connections. A huge drawback with IR remotes is that you need to point the mouse directly at the receiver for it to work. You won’t likely find these anymore unless your office has some “old school” technology. Bluetooth remotes use the latest technology but currently have a maximum range of about 30′ while many RF remotes have a range of 50 to 100 feet. With some remotes, you can have your back to the laptop and move to the middle of an audience. What do you need for your presentations?
  • Built-in mouse. Some presenters will sacrifice a bit in size to get a built-in mouse, usually a small button like you see on some laptops. Other remotes have a track ball or a touch pad. I prefer a separate wireless mouse that I use for portions of my presentations. I find a built-in mouse to be too awkward but it might be great for your purposes.
  • Visible laser pointer. If you’d like a built-in laser pointer, make sure to test it for visibility and practice moving it slowly. Some of the pointers have such a small laser dot that it doesn’t show well on screen. Would an animation be a better way to highlight parts of a slide or a process?

While you can locate some remotes at your local computer store or office supply outlet, your best option may be to find someone who has a remote and try it out. My current remote is the Logitech Professional Presenter R800 which includes a green laser and a cool timer which vibrates to tell you when your presentation time is up. Price is around $80. I also often use a very simple finger ring remote (found on Amazon.com for $15) which makes it easy to discreetly navigate presentations while still offering the features of more robust presentation remote controls. Yes, I’m nerdy enough to actually pack two remote controls in my laptop bag.

There are many other models and brands to consider. Personally, I don’t like remotes loaded with tons of features that you might not need; these remotes are typically bigger or more complicated to use. Remember, you should be using a remote so that you don’t call attention to the technology and your audience can focus on your content.

Practicing with a Remote Control

After you buy a remote, practice with it before you use it. Don’t just try it at your desk, you need to also setup your laptop and remote and actually run through your presentation. The first time I did this, the screen kept going black or I would accidentally advance to the next slide. The problem wasn’t with the remote; it was that I was holding my presentation handout in the same hand and accidentally hitting a remote button through the handout. An easy adjustment but not obvious if my only rehearsal was in my office.

I personally like to choreograph my slide actions into my presentation notes to avoiding looking back at the projection screen to check my location. Or, setup your laptop in the meeting room so you can glance at the screen and still keep the connection with your audience.

Rehearsing with your remote should be a built-in part of your presentation rehearsal to avoid distracting your audience and accomplishing the goal of communicating your message.

Bonus Tip: Always bring extra batteries; many speakers change out batteries for every presentation. If possible, label the remote or put several business cards in the carrying case in the event that your remote is misplaced.

Were these PowerPoint tips helpful? Discover more PowerPoint techniques and shortcuts at https://TheSoftwarePro.com/PowerPoint.