Welcome BritIt Readers!
I hope you are suited and booted in preparation for my series of Business English blog posts. On a monthly basis, I’ll be giving you suggestions and insights on how you can improve in a range of corporate soft skills. Can you talk the business talk or do you only walk the business walk? Well, today you can find out as we are examining excellence in communication with a focus on presentations.
Business Communication Excellence – Presentations
Giving a presentation might look easy in the hands of the TED Talks speakers, but it is a skill which requires a great deal of planning, practice and fine-tuning. Let’s get down to business and look at 8 dos and don’ts of giving a presentation.
Dos for English Language Presentations
- Use simple visual aids. Members of the audience don’t want to see an overcrowded slide with lines and lines of text. A golden rule I once heard is: 6 words per line, 6 lines per slide. Select your visuals sensibly and for maximum impact and use as few slides as possible.
- Rehearse and learn your presentation by heart. This will give you confidence and allow you to let your personality out of the box. Practise how you deliver your presentation and consider words you’d like to stress or highlight and where you might pause. All of this will increase the dramatic impact of your presentation.
- Engage with your audience. This often comes with experience but even a novice can try to experiment with audience engagement. Emphasise parts of your presentation with hand gestures, move around the room, make eye contact and feel free to use humour which is culturally appropriate for the audience you are addressing. Never underestimate the power of making your audience smile and warm to you/like you!
- Have a snappy introduction and memorable conclusion. Tell a short story or anecdote at the start of the presentation. All of the TED Talks speakers do it. Leave them with a quote or joke at the end. You want the audience to leave the room with something to think about.
Don’ts for English Language Presentations
- Read from your slides. Your audience can do that! The slide should support your presentation and the things you say, not lead it.
- Speak in a monotonous voice. This can be a danger particularly if you have followed the first ‘Do Tip above and learnt your presentation off by heart. Your tone can affect the audiences’ interest levels. Vary it as much as possible. Also if there is an English word you find particularly difficult to pronounce, why say it at all? Leave it out. Try practising in front of friends and ask them for feedback on your style of delivery.
- Go on for too long. The length of a presentation is often determined by external factors beyond your control, but you can consider how you break up dry parts of your presentation. Insert anecdotes, an engaging visual, or even a discussion in pairs. Your audience members will then experience a change, like a car shifting gears. You don’t want to get stuck in the same gear for too long!
- Use too much animation in your slides. Nowadays, we are blessed with all kinds of technological aids, but too much moving, flashy animation can distract the audience members from the single most important part of the presentation – You!
Engaging presentations don’t happen overnight, but follow these tips and with a bit of practice you will be well on your way to business communication excellence and success!
What do you find most challenging about delivering presentations in English?
Let me know via the comments box and I’ll do my best to advise.