For many people, giving an oral presentation is extremely nerve-racking, but the task becomes even more daunting if you are doing the presentation in English, as a non-native speaker. After all, while you may be able to communicate in everyday situations, public speaking is a different prospect entirely. Nevertheless, learning to give excellent presentations in English can be extremely beneficial, especially when you consider that English is the international language of business, and practice makes perfect.
To make the task slightly easier, we have compiled some top tips for delivering excellent presentations in the English language, so that you can impress your employers, deliver a great sales pitch to clients, present important findings to your team, or get that excellent grade for oral presentation at school or university.
Our top tips to give an excellent presentation in English
Think about your delivery
Although what you say is important, the secret to delivering a great speech lies in the way you say things. In particular, when delivering a presentation in English, you should focus on speaking clearly and at a steady pace, so that your audience can understand you easily.
During a presentation, your nerves may get the better of you, causing you to speed up. However, this can make your speech far less clear, so it is important to practice pacing. You should also feel free to take the occasional pause to catch your breath, gather your thoughts, or have a drink of water; especially before introducing a new idea.
Furthermore, you must avoid speaking in a monotone voice, which can make a presentation seem dull and boring, regardless of the content. When rehearsing your speech, focus on placing emphasis on keywords and changing tone depending on what you are saying. If in doubt, watch videos of great speeches and pay attention to how they speak.
Top 5 presentation tips
- Introduce yourself and establish the topic(s) you are going to discuss.
Before you begin, people will want to know who you are and why they should listen to what you have to say, while pinpointing exactly what you are going to discuss can help to establish realistic expectations amongst the audience.
- Provide an overview of the presentation.
During this phase, you might want to briefly explain the format of your presentation and some of the key points. You may even wish to state some of your conclusions, which you can then expand upon throughout the remainder of the speech.
- Make sure you acknowledge when you are changing topics.
If you are giving a presentation that lasts more than a few minutes, it is inevitable that some people will tune out at certain parts, because people have short attention spans. Marking a shift in topics is a great way to ‘win back’ those who have tuned out.
- Establish early that you will take questions at the end.
Giving a presentation is difficult enough, without constant interruptions. At the same time, people may have valid questions about your presentation and the facts contained within it. State early on that you will answer questions after you have finished.
- Practice your presentation frequently.
Even native speakers will practice giving an important speech ahead of time. One tip is to give your speech in front of a mirror, so you can practice making gestures at the right time. Try to get through your entire speech without using too many filler words like ‘erm’ and ‘ahh’.
Useful vocabulary to use in presentations
The beginning of your presentation is one of the most important parts, because it sets the tone for what is to come. During your introduction, you will likely need to explain who you are, what your position is and what you are going to be discussing. The following may be helpful as introductory phrases:
“Hello everyone, my name is…”
“Good morning/afternoon/evening, my name is… and I am a…”
“Welcome everybody. Today I am going to talk about…”
During your presentation, there may be times where you need to shift the focus, in order to make all of the points you wish to make. Drawing attention to any changes of focus can serve to give your presentation a clearer structure and can also help to keep the attention of listeners. Some examples of phrases you might use include:
“I would like to shift focus now to…”
“Next, we need to consider…”
“This leads me to my next point…”
Drawing attention to the slides:
In many cases, your presentation will include visual aids, such as slides on a screen, or handouts. The inclusion of visuals can help to back up the points you are making, while also making the presentation more interesting or exciting. To introduce your slides or other visual aids, you may find the following phrases helpful:
“If I could draw your attention to…”
“This chart/graph/table illustrates…”
“If you look up at the screen…”
“I would like to show you this…”
“On your handout, you may see…”
Summarising a presentation:
At the end of a presentation, it is important to summarise the main points you have made, so that you can remind listeners of what has been said. This is a chance to point out which parts of the presentation you think are especially important, and ensure everybody leaves with the key pieces of information. Useful phrases include:
“I would like to recap…”
“To sum up what has been said…”
“So, we have covered…”