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Public Speaking in English: Presentations

Josef Essberger

People speak in public for many reasons. One of the most common forms of public speaking is the 'Presentation'. In a presentation, you 'present' or introduce something (a product, an idea, financial results, a project etc) to your audience. You give a presentation because you want to 'communicate' something. Generally, you want to do one of four things. You want:

  • to inform
  • to train
  • to persuade
  • to sell

A presentation is one of the best ways of communicating your message. And because English is so widely used in international business, a knowledge of the vocabulary and techniques used in an English language presentation is very useful.

This article will give you 7 of the most important areas to consider when giving any presentation.

1 Preparation

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Good preparation is essential for any presentation. With good preparation and planning you will be fully confident. Your audience will feel your confidence. And so your audience will be confident in you. This will give you control. With control, you will be 'in charge' and your audience will listen positively to your message.

2 Structure

A good presentation has a clear structure, like a good book or film. A good presentation has:

  • a beginning (introduction & preview)
  • a middle (main message)
  • an end (review & conclusion)

3 Equipment

You may have any of the following pieces of equipment at your disposal:

  • whiteboard
  • flipchart
  • overhead projector
  • 35mm slide projector
  • computer graphics

Each of these has advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is to be the master of your equipment, not the slave. You should know and understand your equipment perfectly.

4 Visual Aids

"A picture is worth 1,000 words."

There are many types of visual aids - photographs, graphs, pie charts, maps, tables, real samples etc. But you should use visual aids with care. Do not overload your audience with too much information in a short time. A good rule is: use one image to give one message. Do not try to give two messages with one image.

5 Signposting

When you read a book, you know where you are. You know the title of the book, the subject, the chapter, the end of one chapter and beginning of another, the section and even the page number. But when you give a presentation, your audience does not know where they are - unless you TELL them! You can use special language called 'signalling' or 'signposting' that helps your audience know where they are. Here are a few examples:

  • Let's begin by...
  • That's all I have to say about...
  • Now we'll move on to...
  • Let's consider this in more detail...
  • I'd like to deal with this question later, if I may...
  • I'd like now to recap...
  • To start with...later...to finish up...

6 Audience Rapport

You need a warm and friendly relationship with your audience. How do you achieve this? Well, enthusiasm is contagious. If you are enthusiastic, your audience will be enthusiastic too. Try to make eye contact with each member of your audience. Each person should feel that you are speaking to him or her personally.

7 Body Language

What you do NOT say can be more important than what you say. Your BODY is speaking to your audience even before you open your mouth. Your clothes, your walk, your glasses, your haircut, your expression: it is from these that your listeners form their first impression as you enter the room.

This article is taken from Presentations & Public Speaking in English

© 1999 Josef Essberger

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