Giving a Great Presentation

There are many different tips on how to give a good presentation, but when English isn’t your first language, you need to pay even more attention to advice and preparation. There is nothing worse than giving a presentation that no one can follow, so use the points below as a preparation plan for a successful presentation:

BEFORE THE PRESENTATION DAY:

1. Know your content:

Make sure you know the aim of your presentation. It sounds simple, but it’s crucial. If your topic is ‘The French Political System’ then your aim and objective is not to talk about the French political system, it may be to introduce the French political system, or evaluate the French political system, or outline the development of the French political system. Thinking about the actions your presentation should take will help you target your presentation towards the audience. Then research your topic. You will probably need to answer questions at the end of your presentation. By researching the topic fully, you will be able to answer any questions you receive.

2. Organise your content:

Once you’ve targeted and researched your topic, make sure you organise the content in a practical manner. Presentation slides can help you to do this. It is always useful to have a slide which outlines the structure of your talk after the title slide. Make sure all the areas you want to talk about are grouped in a way that is logical. For example, if you were outlining the development French political system, you may present your talk in a chronological order, grouping changes by century.

3. Write notes about your slides:

Your slides should have bullet points on them. They should not be full of chunks of text. Think of your slides as a road map for you and the audience. Your spoken content should expand on your slides and should be much more detailed. Therefore think about what you are going to say when each slide appears and write some notes down so you are prepared to expand.

4. Take note of transition:

Think of your presentation structure like an essay structure. You should have an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Your main body will be each slide. Move from one slide to the next with a signposting word and a ‘topic sentence’; for example ‘Now… moving on to the next area… We will be looking at the changes during the French Revolution’ (The topic for the slide is French Revolution changes here).

5. Work on saying the key words:

Make sure you know how to pronounce the key words of your presentation correctly. Use an online dictionary to listen to the words being pronounced, and then practise them yourself. If you can, ask a native English speaker for help.

6. Think of your intonation:

Remember, English is not always one tone. Rise and fall in your speech for a presentation is one of the many things that will keep your audience interested. Try to stress important signposting sentences and stress key words in sentences. Look at rising your tone at the end of questions, and lowering your tone when ending a sentence. These are just a few points that you should remember. Again, if possible, practise your presentation with a native English speaker.

ON THE DAY

1. Be prepared:

Make sure you know the structure of your presentation and what is on all your slides. Make sure you also know your presentation notes. You can refer to these when you need to, but don’t look at them too often.

2. Easy does it:

Don’t rush through your presentation trying to get it finished. If you rush through your presentation then your intonation and pronunciation will possibly suffer and your audience may well lose interest. If you lose your place or forget what you were going to say, take a breath, pause and just think of what’s next. I guarantee the pause will seem longer to you the presenter than it actually is!

3. Be interested:

If you are not interested in your presentation, then your audience will not be interested in your presentation. Even if you are not interested in your presentation, pretend to be! An interested looking presenter is much more interesting and watchable than someone you can clearly see is ‘going through the motions’, in other words, bored.

4. Don’t read:

You have taken lots of notes and you have all the facts and figures, so read them from your notes, yes? NO! If you are staring down at your notes, you are giving a reading, not a presentation. If you are reading your notes, it shows your audience that you are badly prepared for the actual presentation side of the activity.

5. Look at your audience:

You can’t read anyway, as you should be looking at your audience. You can glance at your slides and glance at your notes, but at least 80% of the time you should be looking at your audience. You can learn a lot from this. Watch the audience’s faces; are they bored? Puzzled? Interested? This may tell you something about the presentation. You can always ask the audience questions and involve them a little more or modify your presentation depending on the audience’s reactions.

6. Be friendly yet professional:

Make sure you are clear and approachable. Do not ask the audience any threatening questions or single an individual out. You are there to give information and you should do this in a professional manner. No question is too difficult and too simple. You must give your audience your attention and answer all questions in a full and professional way.

7. Check your body language:

Stand up straight, don’t cross your arms, don’t slouch, face your audience and SMILE. Imagine you are a presenter on television. Think of how they look; generally smiling, looking down at the audience (through the camera), this should be you!

8. Involve the audience:

Always ask for questions at the end of a presentation. If you can, and you feel confident doing so, ask some questions to the audience during the presentation. This kind of interaction can keep the audience interested in the presentation.

If you follow these steps and try your best to be calm and confident when it comes to presenting, you will hopefully give an excellent presentation, which you, and your audience, will enjoy. Speaking in front of a group is never easy, but the more practice you have, the better you will be.

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