Standing up in front of a roomful of people and trying to hold their attention while delivering a monologue in a second language is never going to be the easiest of tasks. Indeed, for many people, the mere thought of giving a presentation releases a flood of anxiety.
Nevertheless, with the right attitude and ample preparation, anyone attending a business English course is more than capable of making a professional presentation.
Carry out adequate research and half the battle is already won. Research consists of more than just researching the content of a presentation. Also consider the expectations of your audience and tailor the content of your presentation accordingly. Bear in mind that people attending because they have to will need to be kept entertained more than those attending through choice.
Getting It Right the First Time
The introduction sets the scene for the entire presentation. Create a bad impression now and it will be difficult to win back the audience later. Try to incorporate at least one interesting fact to capture listeners’ attention.
Avoid humour, as this rarely translates well between languages. Native speakers can successfully incorporate jokes into their presentations, but the timing, pronunciation and cultural knowledge required make them best avoided by non-native speakers.
Use the introduction to welcome the audience, introduce the subject of the presentation, outline the structure of the talk and give instructions about asking questions.
|Useful Introductory Phrases|
|Good afternoon, everybody.|
|Today I am going to talk about…|
|Now let me begin by…|
|I’d be very happy to invite you to ask questions at the end of the session.|
Building the Body
The main drive of the presentation should be well structured and easy to follow. Divide content logically, using plenty of well-placed visual aids between points. Keep the language as simple as possible, taking care to emphasise key words, both orally and visually. As with anything else, practice makes perfect.
During delivery, keep calm and do not hurry. Everybody finds rushed speech difficult to understand. Maintain eye contact and try to appear enthusiastic about the chosen subject. Don’t be afraid to refer to notes, as it’s important that the overall structure is maintained.
Use the conclusion to restate the main points of the presentation.
|Summing up Phrases|
|Now, to sum up…|
|So, let me recap what I’ve said.|
Give recommendations if appropriate and thank the audience for listening. Finally, invite questions:
|Now I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.|
|Can I answer any questions?|
|Do you have any questions?|
|Are there any final questions?|
Responding to Questions
Questions provide a good opportunity for the speaker to interact with the audience. Don’t rush answers and don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat themselves. Aim for clarity and break complex questions down into more manageable chunks.