Introduction

Learn about types of presentations, what it takes to give a good presentation, the interaction with the audience and some general advice you need to know about when you want to give a presentation in this new Business English episode from English Plus Podcast.

Audio Podcast

Presentation Essentials

Types of presentation

Here are some examples of business presentations.

  • a press conference – the chief executives of two companies tell journalists why their companies have merged
  • demonstration – the head of research and development gives a presentation to non-technical colleagues about a new machine that the research and development department has just completed
  • product launch – a car company announces a new model
  • workshop – company employees do practical exercises on time management
  • seminar – a financial adviser gives advice to people about investments

What makes a good presentation?

A presentation, and the presenter, the person giving it, are usually judged by:

The way the presentation is organized:

  • The ideas and the visual aids (pictures, charts and data designed to help people understand or remember particular information) are clearly structured – easy to follow
  • how the information is mixed with interesting examples and stories – people want to hear how the presenter relates personally to the subject

The way the presentation is delivered:

  • rapport with the audience – members feel that the presenter understands them
  • eye contact – the way the presenter looks at the audience
  • loud enough voice
  • variety in your tone of voice – it’s important not to speak in a monotone and to vary the speed that you speak at

The way the presenter feels about the topic, the audience and himself/herself:

  • confident and relaxed look
  • enthusiastic about the topic
  • positive attitude
  • interested in the audience and getting them involved – participating in their minds

Presentation tools and Visual Aids

  • Whiteboard
  • Screen
  • Remote Control
  • Flipchart
  • Projector
  • Handout
  • Laptop
  • Slides

Key steps in a presentation

Introduction

Tell them who you are if they don’t know you and more importantly, tell them what you are going to talk about in the presentation. At this stage, it’s very important to grab their attention and give them a good reason why they should stick around for the next half hour or 3 hours to listen to you.

Main Part

In this part, you are going to deliver the main content of your presentation in the most interesting manner possible.

Closing

In this part, you will sum up and remind them of what you have told them in the presentation, and maybe, give them the opportunity to ask questions if they have any.

Closing and dealing with questions

You can close your presentation by saying “That brings me to the end of my presentation. Are there any questions?” but the more important thing is that you need to be prepared to answer or not answer questions in a polite and professional way.

Here are some typical ways to handle questions based on the questions and the situation:

  • That’s a fair point…
  • That’s confidential. I’m afraid I can’t tell you.
  • That’s not really my field, but I can put you in touch with someone …
  • Well, I think that goes beyond the scope of today’s presentation.
  • I’m afraid we’ve run out of time.

Intercultural Aspects

  • Avoid mannerisms – irritating ways of moving and speaking – such as overusing ‘Er …’.
  • Be careful with humour. For example, don’t make jokes about people in the audience.
  • Dress formally unless you know for sure that the occasion is informal.
  • Maintain eye contact by looking round the room at each person in the audience for about a second, before moving on to the next person. Don’t concentrate on just one or two people.
  • Face the audience at all times: don’t speak to the equipment or the screen.
  • Remain standing: don’t sit. Stay more or less in one place and don’t move around too much.
  • Smiling is fine at appropriate moments, but not too much: it can seem insincere – as if you don’t mean it.
  • Use gesture – hand movements – to emphasize key points. Point with your whole hand, rather than just one finger.
  • Respect the audience. Don’t make exaggerated claims – don’t say things are better than they really are.
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