In the previous post we talked about how to prepare a presentation in English to give you maximum confidence. The more effectively you prepare, the more confident you will feel. Here we’re going to consider what you must think about when you are actually in front of your audience.
How to effectively deliver your presentation in English
- Outline to your audience how your presentation will be structured: e.g. I will first explain…/Then I will…/After that…/Finally… Clear structuring is fundamental and really makes the difference between a professional and a weak presentation. You must keep your audience with you all the way through your talk and you do this by effective structuring. They need to know where you are in the presentation at any one time and they need to know what is coming next.
- Speak slowly and with pauses: It may not seem natural to you, but it will seem very natural to your audience. To sound professional in any presentation, we must speak 20% slower than we do in normal conversations.
- Use longer pauses to give you and your audience time to assimilate the message: the use of pauses with a facial expression of confidence is very powerful and professional. Practise this tip and USE IT.
- Pay attention to pronouncing the consonants at the ends of words. For Spanish speakers, pronouncing consonants such as “T”, or “M” at the ends of words can be difficult. But weak pronunciation of these consonants makes understanding difficult for British listeners and gives the impression of a lazy, undisciplined speaker.
- If you get blocked, repeat what you have just said with naturalness and move on to another key point. Actually, the more you worry about getting blocked, the more likely it is that this will happen to you. The first step in preventing this is through visualisation; in the lead-up to the presentation constantly visualise yourself giving a fluent, smooth talk. If you do get blocked on the day, however, have a phrase ready that allows you to repeat the previous content, for example “as I was just saying….”
- Never apologise for your level of English: Never say “My English is not very good”, this expresses a lack of confidence. On the day of the presentation, your level of English is what it is, you can’t control that, so don’t fret about it. The audience want you to do well even though your level of English might not be perfect, so don’t say anything that will affect their belief in you. If you say your level of English is weak, they will be looking for proof of that weakness. The attention has to be on your enthusiasm and content, not on any grammatical mistakes in the language.
- If you are presenting to an audience in a different country, making reference to a local news story is a good way to connect. Be careful about trying to use humour with people from a different country or culture, this can often backfire and cause embarrassment which will undermine your confidence for the rest of the presentation.
- Focus on the audience, not on you: try to send your energy out to connect to the audience, remove the focus from yourself and you will feel much more confident. For me, once I remembered and learned to do this, everything changed. I was COMMUNICATING with the audience and it is only through communicating rather than lecturing that our message is received, understood and assimilated.
Following and mastering these guidelines will really make a difference in your delivery and will contribute greatly to your confidence.
In the next post we will look at an area that non-native presenters often dread – dealing with questions.