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How to make a killer presentation in English

Giving an oral presentation in your own language can be nerve-wracking enough, and I can only imagine what it must be like to present in a second language. You may need to give a short presentation for your class, or even in your job, but never fear. I have some tips on how to nail that presentation!

1. Don’t forget to introduce yourself

Even if you know most of the people in the room, there will be some who don’t know your name and they will be curious to know a little about you. You should also give them your job title if you’re at work and make sure you tell them what your presentation is about. See point 2 for a nice idea on how to get your audience’s attention right from the start but first, here’s some nice introductory phrases:

“Hello everyone, my name is ….”

“Good morning/afternoon/evening, my name is … and I am a ….”

“Welcome everybody, today I’m going to talk about ..”

2. Tell a story

Watch any TED talk and you’ll usually see the presenter start with a story. This is a really nice way to grab your audience’s attention right at the start of your presentation because people are curious about other people’s experiences. Make sure your story is personal (but not TMI) and that it leads directly into your presentation, common ways to do this are to tell a story about a problem and how you solved it afterwards.

3. Be visual

Remember that a picture tells a thousand words, so aim to use as many pictures and diagrams as possible. This will prevent you from using too many words on your slides; if there is too much to read, the audience will listen to you less. If there are pictures related to the topic, the audience is much more likely to remember what you talked about!

4. Signpost

During your presentation, you should tell your audience when you are changing slide, or when you want them to look at a handout or a picture. This is called signposting, and it helps your audience follow your presentation. Signposting also helps get the audience’s attention back when it starts to wander. Here’s some phrases you can use to signpost:

“I would like to shift focus now to..”

“Next, we need to consider…”

“If I could draw your attention to..”

“On your handout you’ll see..”

5. Make eye-contact

Using plenty of eye-contact will show your audience you are confident and also make them feel included, like they’re having a conversation with you. It’s fine to use notes, if you’re worried about forgetting your lines, but make sure they are bullet points so that you look down at your notes quickly to check, rather than recite what you have in front of you. When your eyes are up, you can scan the room and lock eyes with people from time to time. This will hold the listeners’ attention and make the presentation feel more personal.

6. Have some tricks up your sleeve

Humans aren’t great at paying attention: our minds wander often, so it’s a good idea to have a few strategies planned to get that attention back. You could ask the audience a question, or have pairs work together for a moment, even a joke or a short video are great ways to keep the audience engaged. Whatever you do, try to be unpredictable!

7. Slow down!

Most of us speak more quickly when we are nervous, and most of us get nervous when speaking publicly. When you practice your presentation at home, think about recording it and try to slow down a little every time you repeat. It’s almost impossible to speak too slowly!

8. End well

You should have a conclusion at the end of your presentation so that you can remind your audience what’s been said. Here are some phrases you can use:

“To summarise…”

“In conclusion..”

“To recap..”

Try to distil your conclusion into one short sentence which expresses the main offering of your presentation clearly. This will be last thing the audience hears, so you want to make it good!


Nerve-wracking (adj): something that makes you very nervous.

Never fear (phrase): don’t be afraid.

TMI (phrase): too much information. This is said as a response to an anecdote which is too personal.

Unpredictable (adj): describes a person or thing which is difficult to predict.

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