Getting up and talking in front of others can be nerve-racking. It can feel like you’re putting on a performance just for a group of people to judge you.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to improve your presentation skills.
Below, we’ll walk you through some tips that will help you be more confident the next time you have to make an English business presentation.
1. Be prepared
No matter what kind of presentation you’re making and whether it’s for five people or 50, you should always prepare yourself:
Do your research.
Ensure you really know the topic you’re presenting. If you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re only relying on notes, your audience will notice it right away—and you’ll lose their attention.
Think about your audience.
The kind of presentation you make will depend on the people you’re presenting to. Are they your colleagues, a group of new employees, or potential clients? Thinking about your audience will help you prepare a presentation that will connect with them.
Expect unexpected questions.
You’re the expert on the subject you’re presenting—your audience is not. They might have questions that you hadn’t even thought of. You can get ready for this by practicing your business presentation in front of friends and asking them to write down any questions they can think of.
2. Hook your audience
When it’s time to start your business presentation, it’s important to hook your listeners: Get them interested right from the start so they want to listen to what you have to say. There are many engaging ways you can start your presentation, including:
- Asking a question
- Telling a joke that’s connected to your topic
- Telling a story
- Making a shocking or controversial statement
- Quoting someone famous
However you decide to begin your presentation, just make sure it’s something that makes sense for your audience and topic!
3. Use verbal signposting
Have you ever heard of verbal signposting?
Verbal signposts are words that tell your audience where your presentation is going. This helps them follow along and stay focused on your points.
The following phrases are some examples of verbal signposts in English:
To begin discussing a new idea
Let’s move on to . . .
Turning to . . .
To give more detail about an idea
To go more in depth . . .
I’ll expand on that . . .
To talk about something that’s not connected to the main topic
As an aside . . .
This is just a side note . . .
To refer to something you mentioned earlier
Let’s go back to . . .
Remember when I said . . . ?
To repeat a point to show its importance
I’m going to repeat that . . .
I’d like to say that one more time . . .
To recap . . .
In closing . . .
To finish up . . .
4. Incorporate images and graphics
For an effective presentation, try to use slides with lots of colourful visual aids like pictures and charts. Include a variety of visuals to:
- Keep your audience interested
- Support and strengthen your points
- Help your audience understand
- Make information easier to remember
Of course, choose your images carefully: Using visuals that aren’t related to your topic (and don’t add any value) will just be annoying, confusing, or distracting.
5. Keep it interactive
A good business presentation is an interactive one—so keep your audience interested and engaged by including them. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Ask people’s opinions
- Quiz the audience
- Encourage people to ask questions and make comments
- Divide the audience into small discussion groups
- Move around the room to keep everyone alert
- Hold a question-and-answer (Q&A) session at the end
6. Stick to one clear topic
Your English business presentation should be focused—don’t try to cover too much. If you include too many topics in one presentation, you’re going to lose your audience’s attention. You will be more successful if you present one topic really well rather than several topics . . . not as well.
Be sure to stick to your points. When you’re preparing and practicing your presentation, ask yourself questions like:
- What is the goal of this presentation?
- Does this information help the listener? How?
- Is this point clear?
Keeping these types of questions in mind will help you build a clear, focused, and easy-to-follow presentation.
7. Present yourself well
As important as it is to research your topic and make it interesting, it’s equally necessary to present yourself well. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your voice and body language:
- Be yourself (act natural)
- Be aware of your facial expressions
- Use confident and open posture
- Don’t mumble (speak clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear)
- Make eye contact
- Don’t speak too fast or too slowly
- Vary your volume and tone of voice
It takes effort to recognize your bad habits when it comes to how you present yourself. Make sure to practice your presentation in front of friends so they can give you tips on what you may be able to improve.
8. Communicate clearly
This is the last point, but it’s certainly not the least important.
When you make a presentation, you need to be able to express yourself well. As you prepare, make sure to review your use of English: everything from choosing the right vocabulary to forming questions properly. Doing this will ensure that you and your audience will easily understand one another. Having strong English skills will also increase your confidence—which means your business presentation will be more effective.
Make sure your message is heard loud and clear
The next time you have to make a business presentation in English, the tips above will help guide you in the right direction. And if you need a little help getting your English skills presentation-ready, Gabby’s qualified teachers can help—contact us today!