Making a presentation in your first language is hard enough, so what if you have to do one in English?
Here are ten ways to reduce the stress:
1. Find out who will be there
Find out as much as you can about your audience before. If you’re speaking to non-native speakers, you should avoid complicated vocabulary and grammar.
2. Keep it short and simple
Just because your presentation is in English, it doesn’t mean you have to prove how good your English is. Keep it short and simple – your audience will remember your message much better this way.
3. Avoid unpronounceable words
If there are tongue-twisting words or expressions in your presentation that you have a problem pronouncing, look for alternatives.
4. Learn the names of charts and graphs
If you need to use charts and graphs, learn the names of these. Do you know the difference between a line graph, a bar chart and a pie chart?
5. Learn some new ways to describe trends
Learn some good vocabulary to describe trends. Sales can increase or decrease, rise or fall, or even soar, rocket or plummet. And an increase or decrease can be sharp or steady.
6. Practise your numbers
Numbers may be easy to read, but it’s often easy to make a mistake with pronunciation. Don’t mix up nineteen (19) and ninety (90). When talking about people or money, a billion is a thousand million (1,000,000,000). And don’t forget that English uses the decimal point (.) and comma (,) in different ways than many other languages.
7. Leave questions until the end
Allowing questions in the middle of a presentation can affect the timing and, if they’re complicated, can put you under a lot of pressure. Tell your audience that there will be time for questions at the end of your presentation.
8. Practise and get feedback
Like many things in life, practice makes perfect. Ask colleagues or friends to listen to your presentation, and they’ll give you some valuable feedback, too. You are your biggest critic. Making a video of yourself will give you a different perspective.
9. Check your equipment
Do you need a laptop? Then you might need a socket, a projector or Wi-Fi. Organise this in advance and test it an hour before your presentation.
10. Be natural
If we focus too much on the words we say, it’s possible to sound like an emotionless robot. Try to let your voice go up and down naturally, stress important words and leave pauses after key ideas for a greater impact.