Giving a presentation in English, if it is not your first language, can be the most stressful thing you will have to do at work. As English tutors we see this all the time and we give the following advice to our students:
1. Check your English
If you are using written text on slides check the English very carefully and ask a native speaker to proofread it for you. You will give a poor impression if there are spelling mistakes. Have a native speaker check your spoken language notes and be prepared to communicate clearly, not worrying too much about linguistic errors, when you have to answer questions.
2. Know your material:
Knowing your material thoroughly will help you decide what information is essential to your presentation and what can be left out. It will help your presentation to flow naturally.
3. Don’t Memorize:
This is, after all, a presentation, not a recital. Every presentation needs two major components — life and energy. Recite from memory and your presentation will be lacking both of these factors. Not only will you lose your audience, but you will find it difficult to adapt to unexpected events that may throw you off your mental script.
4. Rehearse Your Presentation:
Rehearse your presentation out loud, accompanied by the slide show if you have one. If possible, get someone to listen while you rehearse. Have the person sit at the back of the room so you can practise speaking loudly and clearly and ask them for honest feedback. Repeat this as many times as you need.
5. Pace Yourself:
As part of your practice, learn to pace your presentation. Generally, you should spend about one minute per slide. If there are time constraints, make sure that the presentation will finish on time. During your delivery, be ready to adjust your pace if necessary.
6. Know the Room:
Be familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive ahead of time, walk around the speaking area, and sit in the seats. Seeing the setup from your audience’s perspective will help you decide where to stand, what direction to face, and how loudly you will need to speak.
7. Know the Equipment:
If you are using a microphone, make sure it works. The same goes for the projector. If it’s your projector, carry a spare bulb. Make sure you have a back up copy on a USB pen or if all technology fails… you can work from your notes!
8. Do Not Speak to Your Slides:
Position the laptop so you can see the monitor and face the audience so you do not have to keep turning round to the screen. Make eye contact with your audience and use a remote to change the slides so you can move away from the laptop but don’t feel you have to walk around the room all the time – it will only distract your audience. Remember you are the focal point of the presentation.
Remember: Speak slowly, address the audience, smile and enjoy!