Language of Presentations
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:
- Toyota sold nine million vehicles last year.
- Nine million vehicles 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.
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:
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.
|Introducing the subject||
|Finishing one subject...||
|...and starting another||
|Analysing a point and giving recommendations||
|Giving an example||
|Dealing with questions||
|Summarising and concluding||