How to Organize Your Introduction for a Presentation in English

May 1, 2018 | 45 comments

This lesson on how to organize your introduction for a presentation in English has been updated since its original posting in 2016 and a video has been added.

Getting ready to present in English? Here’s how to make sure your introduction for a presentation in English is successful.

But first… When you think about a presentation, I know you’re thinking about something like a TED video or a presentation at a conference. You’re thinking about a speech, with PowerPoint slides and a big audience.

But did you know we use the same skills when we share new information or ideas with our work colleagues? Or when we tell stories to our friends and family? The situation or speaking task may be different but we still use the same skills.

When presenting information or telling stories, we need to:

  • Capture a listener’s attention
  • Share information, ideas, or opinions
  • Give the important details
  • Make your information memorable
  • Get your audience (family, friends, colleagues or strangers) to agree, to take action, to change their mind, etc.

So today you’re going to learn how to take the first big step in your English presentation: how to start with a great introduction.

The introduction is the most important part of your presentation. It is the first impression you’ll make on your audience. It’s your first opportunity to get their attention. You want them to trust you and listen to you right away.

However, that first moment when you start to speak is often the hardest. Knowing how to best prepare and knowing what to say will help you feel confident and ready to say that first word and start your presentation in English.

Be sure to include these 5 things in your inroduction.

Lesson by Annemarie

How to Organize Your Introduction for a Presentation in English and Key Phrases to Use

Organize Your Introduction Correctly

Okay, first let’s focus on what you need to include in your English introduction. Think of this as your formula for a good introduction. Using this general outline for your introduction will help you prepare. It will also help your audience know who you are, why you’re an expert, and what to expect from your presentation.

Use this general outline for your next presentation:

  1. Welcome your audience and introduce yourself
  2. Capture their attention
  3. Identify your number one goal or topic of presentation
  4. Give a quick outline of your presentation
  5. Provide instructions for how to ask questions (if appropriate for your situation)

Use Common Language to Make Your Introduction Easy to Understand

Great, now you have the general outline of an introduction for a speech or presentation in English. So let’s focus on some of the key expressions you can use for each step. This will help you think about what to say and how to say it so you can sound confident and prepared in your English presentation.

“The introduction is the most important part of your presentation. It is the first impression you’ll make on your audience. It’s your first opportunity to get their attention. You want them to trust you and listen to you right away.”

Welcome Your Audience & Introduction

It is polite to start with a warm welcome and to introduce yourself. Everyone in the audience will want to know who you are. Your introduction should include your name and job position or the reason you are an expert on your topic. The more the audience trusts you, the more they listen.

Examples:

  • Welcome to [name of company or event]. My name is [name] and I am the [job title or background information].
  • Thank you for coming today. I’m [name] and I’m looking forward to talking with you today about [your topic].
  • Good morning/afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I’d like to quickly introduce myself. I am [name] from [company or position]. (formal)
  • On behalf of [name of company], I’d like to welcome you today. For those of you who don’t already know me, my name is [name] and I am [job title or background]. (formal)
  • Hi everyone. I’m [name and background]. I’m glad to be here with you today. Now let’s get started. (informal)

Capture Their Attention

For more information about how to best capture your audience’s attention and why, please see the next session below. However, here are a few good phrases to get you started.

Examples:

  • Did you know that [insert an interesting fact or shocking statement]?
  • Have you ever heard that [insert interesting fact or shocking statement]?
  • Before I start, I’d like to share a quick story about [tell your story]…
  • I remember [tell your story, experience or memory]…
  • When I started preparing for this talk, I was reminded of [tell your story, share your quote or experience]…

Identify Your Goal or Topic of Presentation

At this stage, you want to be clear with your audience about your primary topic or goal. Do you want your audience to take action after your talk? Is it a topic everyone is curious about (or should be curious about)? This should be just one or two sentences and it should be very clear.

Examples:

  • This morning I’d like to present our new [product or service].
  • Today I’d like to discuss…
  • Today I’d like to share with you…
  • What I want to share with you is…
  • My goal today is to help you understand…
  • During my talk this morning/afternoon, I’ll provide you with some background on [main topic] and why it is important to you.
  • I will present my findings on…
  • By the end of my presentation, I’d like for you to know…
  • I aim to prove to you / change your mind about…
  • I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about…
  • As you know, this morning/afternoon I’ll be discussing…

Outline Your Presentation

You may have heard this about presentations in English before:

First, tell me what you’re going to tell me. Then tell me. And finally, tell me what you told me.

It sounds crazy and weird, but it’s true. This is how we structure presentations in English. So today we’re focusing on the “First, tell me what you’re going to tell me” for your introduction. This means you should outline the key points or highlights of your topic.

This prepares your listens and helps to get their attention. It will also help them follow your presentation and stay focused. Here are some great phrases to help you do that.

Examples:

  • First, I’m going to present… Then I’ll share with you… Finally, I’ll ask you to…
  • The next thing I’ll share with you is…
  • In the next section, I’ll show you…
  • Today I will be covering these 3 (or 5) key points…
  • In this presentation, we will discuss/evaluate…
  • By the end of this presentation, you’ll be able to…
  • My talk this morning is divided into [number] main sections… First, second, third… Finally…

On Asking Questions

You want to be sure to let you audience know when and how it is appropriate for them to ask you questions. For example, is the presentation informal and is it okay for someone to interrupt you with a question? Or do you prefer for everyone to wait until the end of the presentation to ask questions?

Examples:

  • If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to interrupt me. I’m happy to answer any questions as we go along.
  • Feel free to ask any questions, however, I do ask that you wait until the end of the presentation to ask.
  • There will be plenty of time for questions at the end.
  • Are there any questions at this point? If not, we’ll keep going.
  • I would be happy to answer any questions you may have now.

Capture Your Audience’s Attention

Do you feel unsure about how to capture the attention of your audience? Don’t worry! Here are some common examples used in English-speaking culture for doing it perfectly!

Two of the most famous speakers in the English-speaking world are Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey. While Steve Jobs is no longer living, people still love to watch his speeches and presentations online. Oprah is so famous that no matter what she does, people are excited to see her and listen to her.

BUT, if you listen to a speech by Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey, they still work to get your attention!

The don’t start with a list of numbers or data. They don’t begin with a common fact or with the title of the presentation. No – they do much more.

From the moment they start their speech, they want you to listen. And they find interesting ways to get your attention. In his most famous speeches, Steve Jobs often started with a personal story. And Oprah often starts with an inspiring quote, a motivational part of a poem, or a personal story.

These are all great ways to help your audience to listen to you immediately – whether your presentation is 3 minutes or 20 minutes.

Here’s how you can do it.

Like Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey, start with a:

  • Personal story or experience
  • Motivational quote or line from a poem or book
  • Joke (be careful with this – make sure it translates easily to everyone in the audience!)
  • Shocking, bold statement (Think of Steve Jobs’ quote: “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.”)
  • Rhetorical question ( =a question that you don’t want an answer to; the focus is to make someone think)

And finally, consider audience participation. Ask a question and get your audience to respond by raising hands.

Get the complete Presentations in English Series:

Part 1: How to Prepare for Your Presentation in English

Part 2: How to Start with a Great Introduction in Your Presentation

Part 3: How to Organize Your Presentation in English

Part 4: How to End Your Presentation Powerfully

As I mentioned in the video, I have two question for you today:

  1. What is the best introduction you’ve ever heard? Have you watched a TED Talk or a presentation on YouTube with a great introduction? Tell me about it. What do you think was great about the introduction?
  2. What frightens you the most about preparing your introduction in a presentation? Share your concerns with me so I can help you overcome any challenges you have.

Be sure to share in the comments below to get feedback from me and to learn from others in the Confident English Community.

Have a great week!
~ Annemarie

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