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Language

!!! Say what you are going to say,

Simplicity and Clarity

If you want your audience to understand your message, your language must be simple and clear.

Use short words and short sentences.

Do not use jargon, unless you are certain that your audience understands it.

In general, talk about concrete facts rather than abstract ideas.

Use active verbs instead of passive verbs. Active verbs are much easier to understand. They are much more powerful. Consider these two sentences, which say the same thing:

  1. Toyota sold two million cars last year.
  2. Two million cars were sold by Toyota last year.

Which is easier to understand? Which is more immediate? Which is more powerful? #1 is active and #2 is passive.

>signpostSignposting

When you drive on the roads, you know where you are on those roads. Each road has a name or number. Each town has a name. And each house has a number. If you are at house #100, you can go back to #50 or forward to #150. You can look at the signposts for directions. And you can look at your atlas for the structure of the roads in detail. In other words, it is easy to navigate the roads. You cannot get lost. But when you give a presentation, how can your audience know where they are? How can they know the structure of your presentation? How can they know what is coming next? They know because you tell them. Because you put up signposts for them, at the beginning and all along the route. This technique is called 'signposting' (or 'signalling').

During your introduction, you should tell your audience what the structure of your presentation will be. You might say something like this:

"I'll start by describing the current position in Europe. Then I'll move on to some of the achievements we've made in Asia. After that I'll consider the opportunities we see for further expansion in Africa. Lastly, I'll quickly recap before concluding with some recommendations."

A member of the audience can now visualize your presentation like this:

Introduction
  • Welcome
  • Explanation of structure (now)
Body
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
Conclusion
  • Summing up
  • Recommendations

He will keep this image in his head during the presentation. He may even write it down. And throughout your presentation, you will put up signposts telling him which point you have reached and where you are going now. When you finish Europe and want to start Asia, you might say:

"That's all I have to say about Europe. Let's turn now to Asia."

When you have finished Africa and want to sum up, you might say:

"Well, we've looked at the three continents Europe, Asia and Africa. I'd like to sum up now."

And when you finish summing up and want to give your recommendations, you might say:

"What does all this mean for us? Well, firstly I recommend..."

The table below lists useful expressions that you can use to signpost the various parts of your presentation.

Signposting
Function Language
Introducing the subject
  • I'd like to start by...
  • Let's begin by...
  • First of all, I'll...
  • Starting with...
  • I'll begin by...
Finishing one subject...
  • Well, I've told you about...
  • That's all I have to say about...
  • We've looked at...
  • So much for...
...and starting another
  • Now we'll move on to...
  • Let me turn now to...
  • Next...
  • Turning to...
  • I'd like now to discuss...
  • Let's look now at...
Analysing a point and giving recommendations
  • Where does that lead us?
  • Let's consider this in more detail...
  • What does this mean for ABC?
  • Translated into real terms...
Giving an example
  • For example,...
  • A good example of this is...
  • As an illustration,...
  • To give you an example,...
  • To illustrate this point...
Dealing with questions
  • We'll be examining this point in more detail later on...
  • I'd like to deal with this question later, if I may...
  • I'll come back to this question later in my talk...
  • Perhaps you'd like to raise this point at the end...
  • I won't comment on this now...
Summarising and concluding
  • In conclusion,...
  • Right, let's sum up, shall we?
  • I'd like now to recap...
  • Let's summarise briefly what we've looked at...
  • Finally, let me remind you of some of the issues we've covered...
  • If I can just sum up the main points...
Ordering
  • Firstly...secondly...thirdly...lastly...
  • First of all...then...next...after that...finally...
  • To start with...later...to finish up...

That's all we have to say about the language of presentations. Next, we'll look in detail at the presentation itself and how we structure it...

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