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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
How many emails do you have to write a day? If you are struggling with emails in English, why not use our templates, copy and paste and just alter to suit your requirements. You have the peace of mind that the English is correct and you haven’t got to run to Google translate!
We are very sorry to inform you that shipment of your order [order number] has been delayed because [reason for delay]. Our new estimated shipping date is [new shipping date]. If you have any questions about this delay, please contact our Customer Service Department at [email address or phone number]. We will send you an email confirmation when the order has left our warehouse.
I’m very sorry that I missed the [name of meeting] meeting. [sentence with reason for missing the meeting]. I would be happy to meet with you or someone else who was at the meeting to get a summary of the discussion. Please let me know what you think would work best.
As [title of executive] of [company name], I am delighted to invite you to [event name or description], to be held on [date] at [location].This event is designed to [description of event purpose]. Here are some highlights of this important event:
I just wanted to tell you that I think that you did a great job on [project]. You worked hard and your ideas really helped us move the project along. I enjoyed working with you and I hope that we’ll be able to work together again soon.
I’m writing to tell you how pleased we were with the service provided by your company. [sentence with example or detail of excellent service provided by the company] We were very impressed with your professionalism and will certainly keep you in mind for future needs.
I am writing to tell you how much we like the that we purchased from [name of company]. We are especially impressed with [example of high-quality feature]. Please tell everyone at [name of company] how happy we are with your product.
Please respond to this email by [date or time] to confirm whether or not this time works for you. If you are unable to attend the meeting at the proposed time, please let me know what alternate times would work for you.