Business English- How to give great presentations at work
In our next article in the Business English series for working professionals, we shall be discussing on the most important skill set in the work place- business presentation skills. Business presentations are common assignments for middle management positions on an almost daily basis. But if you are keen to climb up the career ladder smoothly if not faster, we suggest you start earlier and familiarize yourself with these useful concepts.
Wikipedia defines a presentation as an activity that conveys information from a speaker to an audience. Presentations are typically demonstrations, introduction, lecture, or speech meant to inform, persuade, inspire, motivate, build goodwill, or present a new idea/product.
So how do you learn these skills or train yourself in one of the above-mentioned formats? Our online spoken English tutors train our students for delivering great presentations using a variety of techniques. As an online English speaking course, Business English lessons are one of our key offering. Our online English teachers offer guided conversational style methods to fine tune different aspects necessary for delivering a great presentation. Each lesson is customized to the student’s learning needs, thus making Speechify the best online English speaking course in India.
Most online English speaking classes will only train you on the verbal aspect of the presentation’s delivery method. A lot of the other groundwork which we shall discuss under “Pre-Presentation homework” is something that you need to invest yourself.
We have already covered in depth articles on effective email writing and work place negotiation skills in our earlier blog posts. Let’s start with a few basics on what any presentation will include. The key elements of a presentation consist of presenter (you), audience, message and the delivery method (either in person or online).
Pre-Presentation home work:
Consider this part of your presentation preparation as a continuous exercise irrespective of your presentation deadline. This list entails skill sets and practices that you need to continuously work on so that you are all “ready” to deliver an awesome presentation when the main day arrives.
- Practice- If you want your first presentation to start off on a good note, start practicing early. Get involved in office discussion and confidently present your views, ideas before your colleagues. You can also start rehearsing at home in front of the mirror and record your delivery, pitch and body language. Monitor your progress and keep at it till you improve.
- Body language- Your body language will reflect your confidence. Power poses (the ones you are comfortable with) help immensely with right postures and body language that commands attention and make you feel confident. Another important tip is to invest in the correct attire for the presentation (Make sure to arrange one prior and not at the last minute!). Another great tip is to smile often throughout your presentation. If you are nervous, deep breaths and sipping water through your talk can help.
- Speech Delivery- This part of your presentation delivery involves on your voice pitch and tone. Your voice must be loud and clear, if you are using a microphone, you must not have too loud breaths or should be too loud to sound shrill etc. Another important tip is the ability to engage your audience. Instead of a monologue have a dialogue with the audience members, encourage them to participate more. Also include healthy pauses in between so that your audience can assimilate information better.
- Technical prep- These are the creative aspects of your presentation. The color schemes, slide design, your presentation pictures and logo designs should be relaxing yet clear to the audience even on enlarged projector screens. If you are using audios or videos ensure that they are in working order when connected to other media. Choose clear fonts and font colors. It’s always a good practice to mask lengthy hyperlinks if you are to choose one in your slides. Familiarize yourself with the use of an electric clicker and a mouse so that you can move in closer to the audience than rather be near the podium.
For an effective presentation delivery
- Prepare well- As the presenter or key note speaker, you must be thorough with your presentation slides, material and your delivery pitch. Rehearse your slides, your body language and how you would want to introduce yourself. Know your content well, thus you won’t have to keep looking at your slides through your pitch. Prepare a list of opening dialogues that you can use to engage your audience. Also anticipate a list of questions that the audience may ask you.
- Arrive Early- Set up your slides on a projector if it’s a conference presentation. Test the microphone, the audio-video systems etc. before the presentation. Familiarize yourself with the podium, the audience seating etc Though this may seem trivial, even a 10 minute early arrival will help you get comfortable and reduce the nerves before the presentation.
- Know your subject- This is the heart of the entire show. A great presentation should be properly structured in terms of data flow. A good structure will help you remain calm, stay on topic, and avoid any awkward silences. Always have a slide that explains comprehensively the table of contents, use different media for effective demonstrations and make a list of reference resources. Invest more time on the main topic of your presentation using evidence-based examples to drive across your point clearly. Conclude promptly with a clear inference.
- Know your audience- Make time to understand who your audience comprises of. If there are significant members attending the presentation, mention them in your introductory note. Engage your audience with quizzes, questions, opinion polls etc. Adapt your speech to their interest and level of understanding on the topic, their attitudes etc. The main idea is to plan the presentation delivery with the audience’s perspective.
- Respect time- Do not extend your presentation note. Be professional and stick to the hour allotted for the topic. It is not possible to cover any topic in its entirety. So be practical and include a subject with a lot of reference material for the audience to go over later at a flexible hour. Address what you can and you can always get back to them later if you do not have all the answers.
These are just a few of the areas where you can start preparing in order to deliver effective presentations at work place. However, to perfect any skill requires consistent efforts and practice. Be patient and enjoy your small wins. They say it takes about 4 to 5 presentation performances to understand your style and improvement areas. After that, most individuals are able to sail through smoothly.
Where are you in your journey of stellar work place presentation?
Watch this space more for another in-depth article on great presentation designs