Love them or hate them, at some point we all have to give a business presentation. Occasionally we have to deliver them to small teams of people and other times we have to stand on a stage and look out at a huge audience.
Understandably, many people get anxious and try to avoid them at all costs. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just ask your teacher, they have to present to a class every single day!
So we have put together 11 top tips from our expert Business English teachers to help you the next time you have to do a presentation in English.
Make sure you really understand who you are presenting to. This will help you decide what they need to know, how complex your presentation should be and what sort of questions to expect. Knowing what your audience wants to hear will also help you feel much more confident and better prepared.
The purpose of your slides is to guide your audience, help them understand what you are saying and keep them interested. For this reason, less is more when it comes to making a slide presentation.
So make sure that you don’t include too much text, or your audience won’t be listening to you, they’ll be reading instead.
You don’t have to learn every word of your presentation, but you should certainly practise it a lot. This will help you feel more confident and appear more knowledgeable. If you’re worried about forgetting something, write some notes to carry with you – but don’t read them, just use them to jog your memory.
You should also get a friend or colleague to watch you, or film yourself doing the presentation on your mobile phone. That way you can get feedback and see what you are doing well and what you are doing badly. Perhaps you need to speak more loudly, use more gestures – or even smile more!
Watch some other famous speakers and see how they change the speed, volume and tone of their voices during their presentations.
It’s very important that you do this, or your audience will get bored – no matter how interesting your subject material is. Also make sure to speak clearly at all times.
Tell people who you are, why you are presenting and what qualifies you to do so. People will listen more attentively when they consider you an expert. If you’re presenting in front of your colleagues, this is less important because they probably already know who you are and what you do.
Before you go too deeply into your presentation, tell people why your subject is important. How it affects them, and what they are going to get out of it. This will focus their attention and make the subject matter more interesting. Remember, grab their attention right away!
Make sure that you support your ideas with evidence. You might want to include quotes from other people, case studies, or even a few statistics. This will help people understand what you’re saying and trust you more at the same time.
People get bored quickly and images really help to break up your presentation and make it more visually interesting. Be careful not to include anything irrelevant or overly distracting though. If you’re not sure where to find good photos, have a look at unsplash.com – there are lots of high quality free pictures to use.
Don’t just speak, listen! It’s an excellent idea to ask the audience questions while you speak. You can even get them to talk to each other and with you, if you are comfortable with it and you are sure that you won’t run out of time.
A tip: sometimes questions from the audience can be long, boring and irrelevant. It’s a good idea to to give parametres when asking for questions in the middle of your presentation.
Ask the audience “Does anyone have a question on X?” or “Do you have any doubts about X?”
That way you can control the types of questions people ask and be sure they won’t stray off topic. If someone then does ask something different, you can tell them you will address it at the end (just don’t forget).
It might sound obvious, but you need to leave on a strong note. Include a conclusion that summarises your main points and offers advice, action points, or something for the audience to think about and do.
Make yourself available for questions from the audience. If people are quiet, read from a list of prepared questions – or have someone you are working with ask you in order to get the ball rolling.
Have you done any presentations recently? What were they about? Or perhaps you’re excited for an upcoming talk in English. Tell us about it in the comments!
Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.
Stage (n): very old.
Audience (n): a belief in something that has no basis in fact.
Avoid at all costs (v): another, cute name for a rabbit.
Jog [your] memory (v): to do something symbolic to celebrate a special moment.
Attentively (adv): to take something that isn’t your and use it for a new purpose.
Grab (v): describing an ancient, pre-Christian religion.
Irrelevant (adj): covered in something.
Parametres (n): bad things that you have done in your life.
Stray (v): a country’s traditions, practices and history.
Get the ball rolling (exp): a piece of cloth you carry to clean yourself.
n = noun
v = verb
adv = adverb
exp = expression
adj = adjective