Three tips for presentations in English

This post is also available in: Spanish

Recently I gave two workshops ‘Speaking in Public’ at the offices of everis in Barcelona and Madrid. everis is a multi-national consulting company, where I work as a language consultant.
The workshops were about English for presentations. We didn’t only pay attention to the language, but also to non-verbal language and presentation skills in general. That’s important, because I believe that:

• Communication is about getting your message across properly by using verbal and non-verbal language, so those two have to be integrated.
• English learners are focussed on the language and afraid of making mistakes. It’s important to gain confidence and to get them out of their heads, because they have to communicate with their entire body.
• 90% of business presentations is bad, there is a lot that can be improved. It’s always good to pay attention to presentation skills.

I would like to share with you three tips for presentations in English in an inter-cultural setting.

Prepare the vocabulary: learn the common phrases for presentations, learn signposting language (such as firstly, secondly, let’s move on to…, finally) and above all: make word-families of the key-vocabulary. Are you going to talk about management? Then think of all the words related to management: not only manager, managee and ‘to manage’, but also: middle-management, line-management, staff-management, etc. or other words related to your topic. This will help you to become more fluent at the time of speaking and more confident about the vocabulary.
Rehearse. For a good presentation it’s always important to rehearse and if it’s in a foreign language even more: rehearse to feel more confident, to get rid of the fillers (saying uhh…) and to make the presentation smoother.
Be aware of cultural differences: to whom are you going to give a presentation? Try to figure out if there are differences in presentation style or body language that you should take into account. Don’t be surprised when a Japanese audience closes its eyes during the presentation: they are just paying attention. And don’t make the OK-sign with thumb and pointing finger when speaking in front of people from Venezuela or Turkey, they might feel offended. In the US the language tends to be more informal and more jokes are used than in Europe. These are only some examples: try to get to know your audience before delivering the presentation and be aware of possible cultural differences. An interesting guide regarding cultural differences for business is the one of Executive Planet.

Do you have other tips you would like to share? Please leave a comment.

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