For many people giving a presentation is an extremely nerve wracking experience especially if they have to give it in a foreign language.
In this post I’m going to give you some tips on preparing the presentation and working on the content. In the next post, I’ll continue with delivery and how to deal with questions.
If you have to give presentations in English and are looking for ways to become more confident, following the tips below will definitely help you.
Preparing the Presentation
- Reconnect with English: At least 20 days before your presentation immerse yourself in English for at least 30 minutes per day. This allows the brain’s neurotransmitters to reconnect with the language. Watch a film, read English out loud or listen to a radio station in English.
- Structure the presentation with specific phrases: Learn the phrases you will use to open, move through and conclude your presentation.
- Practice, practice, practice: Practice gives you confidence, even the most natural sounding presentations have been thoroughly practiced.
- Don’t memorise a script: It’s unnatural and embarrassing if you forget. If the material is familiar to you, you don’t need to memorise.
- However, memorise key points and facts: this is really the most important content of your presentation, everything else is language to fill in and to give structure.
- Be careful with humour: if you are presenting to a culture different to your own, it’s better to use quotations and/or pictures to add dynamism
- Record yourself giving the presentation: Pay attention to delivery, timing and body language
- Get feedback on your recording
- Constantly visualise yourself giving a successful presentation
Working on the content
- Always use LESS words in slides: Never use sentences, use simple words to prompt you to remember, you will then sound more natural in the delivery
- Review the text on the slides with a native speaker of English if possible:
- Don’t use words that are hard to pronounce: if you need to use technical words in your presentation, practice them, record yourself and get a native speaker to check your pronunciation
- Use short, simple sentences to say what you mean: Use basic grammatical structures. i.e. subject + verb + complements. Remember, the audience appreciates SIMPLICITY in presentations
When I give training courses on effective presentation skills one of the first things I say is NEVER APOLOGISE FOR YOUR LEVEL OF ENGLISH. Your level is the level you have. If you start off your presentation apologising you transmit a lack of confidence which is not what the audience want and as you have brought their attention to it, they will immediately become more conscious of any mistakes you do make in English.
Remember, the audience want you to do well, they are on your side!
BELIEVE you can present in English with confidence and you will!