How to Prepare a Presentation in English Successfully
This lesson on how to prepare a presentation in English has been updated since its original posting in 2016 and a video has been added.
Giving a presentation is already difficult to do, even in your native language. But to give a presentation in English? Well, it can feel impossible, maybe even terrifying.
If you’re nervous, you might be worried about:
- What if your audience doesn’t understand?
- What if you use the wrong word or – worse – forget your words?
- What if someone asks a question and you don’t understand?
These are all common questions about giving a presentation in English. And the good news is: it is possible to give a presentation in English with confidence.
Whether you are presenting information about your company or presenting a proposal to a new client, presenting a new idea to your boss and colleagues or presenting to an audience at a conference, these are the strategies you need to best prepare for your next presentation in English.
These are exactly the same strategies native English speakers use to prepare for their presentations, too!
7 simple strategies to prepare a presentation in English.
Lesson by Annemarie
7 Strategies to Prepare a Presentation in English
Strategy 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
I know this sounds simple but this is maybe the most important step! That’s why I said it three times.
Before you do or write anything, spend some time thinking about what you want to say for this opportunity to present. You can use these two questions to help you:
- Where is your audience now (before your presentation)?
In other words: what do they currently know or not know? Is there something they are missing?
Imagine your presentation is a map and Question 1 is your Point A.
- Where do you want your audience to be after your presentation?
What do you want your audience to know or do or think or believe after your presentation?
On your presentation map, this is your Point B.
And now think of the steps you need to help your audience go from Point A to Point B.
Strategy 2: Know Your Who and Your What
Who is your audience? You want to know the kind of people you will be speaking to so you can offer the right information, use the right language and think about the best visual aids.
For example: Imagine you design applications for smart phones. You’ve designed a great new application for children and you want to market/sell this application. As the designer you understand all the technical words and information about the application. And now you have the opportunity to present to a group of moms at a local school. It would be AMAZING if every mom in the audience bought your application.
How should you present to them? Do you want to use a lot of technical words? Will they understand them? Or should you use more common, everyday language that is clear and simple for everyone?
What is your purpose? Generally, presentations are used to teach, to inform, to motivate. to persuade or to encourage action. When you understand the purpose of your presentation, it will be easier for you to use the correct language and the correct style. It will also help you organize your presentation well.
“These are the seven strategies you need to prepare for a successful presentation in English, for any situation!”
Strategy 3: Get Organized
Presentations in English generally have 3 parts:
- Opening (Introduction)
- Body (Main Points and Details)
- Closing (Summary)
In the next several weeks, you will learn exactly what you need for each section of your presentation.
For now, it is important to think how you can organize your information into these 3 parts.
Important advice: Limit the number of main points in your presentation from 3 to 5 (no more than 5!). You want your audience to be well-informed but not overwhelmed.
Strategy 4: Show, Don’t Tell
In English, we love stories and pictures to help us remember information.
What about you? Have you ever listened to a presentation that has a LOT of numbers and statistics and data and dates? Do you remember any of that information now? Most people say no to that question.
In English, the expression “show, don’t tell” means help your audience understand your main points through stories, visual aids and/or strong action words.
People remember stories, not numbers.
When you can, use a story or a great visual aid to help your audience remember your key points.
For example: If you are presenting scientific information and you want to use a number to talk about how many cells are in the human body. According to an article by Smithsonian, there are 37.2 trillion cells in the human body!!! How many is that?
I have no idea!
Instead you could use a picture to help you. Imagine the largest sports stadium and every seat is filled. Show this picture and now tell people how many full stadiums you need for 37.2 trillion.
With a picture, your audience can visualize this big number. And it will be easier to remember.
Strategy 5: Talk, Don’t Read
This one is so important. Please, please, please do not read your presentation.
For an audience, when someone reads a presentation it:
- Is boring
- Shows you didn’t prepare well
Of course, you can use note cards to help you remember and to stay focused. But talk to your audience. Look at your audience. Move around. Be comfortable and natural.
The more you prepare, the more you practice, the easier this will be! And your audience will enjoy your presentation so much more!
Also, do not be afraid to go slow!
A good presentation does not mean speaking fast. Remember: this is the first time your audience is hearing this information. They need time to hear and to think about what you are saying. You will help them (and you!) if you speak slowly.
By speaking slowly, you will also have more time to think about what you want to say in your presentation, remember the key points and make fewer mistakes!
Strategy 6: Think Ahead
One of the scariest parts of a presentation in the Q&A ( = question and answer) part of the presentation. Most people fear they will not:
- Understand the words of the question
- Understand the accent of the person speaking
- Know what to say
- Remember the words they need
A Q&A session doesn’t always happen but if you have to do this, here is how you can calm your fears:
Review your presentation. Think about your audience (remember the Who Are They question!). Can you identify any likely questions?
Give your presentation to your peers, colleagues, friends, and family. Ask them what questions they have. It is possible they will have some of the same questions as your audience.
Now make a list of possible questions and prepare your answers ahead of time. Practice giving these answers when you practice your presentation.
The more prepared you are, the easier a Q&A session will be.
Strategy 7: Practice, Practice, Practice
I cannot say this enough. You must practice. Say your presentation out loud many times. Practice your presentation in front of your work colleagues, your friends, your family.
The more you practice, the more prepared and confident you will be.
And you can kiss some of those fears and nervous feelings goodbye!!*
*[Idiom] kiss something goodbye: to end or lose something. So, you can end your fears and end your nervous feelings!
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
Now that you’ve had time to review the lesson, I’d love to hear about your experience.
Have you had to prepare a presentation in English?
Please take a moment to share your advice on how to best prepare. What has helped you the most? You might have the perfect strategy for someone else in our Confident English Community.
You can share your advice and ideas in the comments section below. That is the best place to get feedback from me and learn from others.
Have a great week and thank you for joining me! ~ Annemarie
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Thanks you for sharing your strategies to elaborate a presentation. I think this is very comprehensive and useful because it shows all the important steps to create a presentation. Very interesting.
I’m so glad to know it was helpful!
I am going to present my ppt for the college assignment and these are very wise advice which I’m sure they make my presentation more prepared.Tysm
I love all your videos.
Thanks for sharing!
thank you for sharing about this. this is very helpful.
Thank you so much for your great presentation tips which we will implement in our areas. I used to so much mistakes that I realized after watching your video… Thanks once again for your valuable guidance..
so far, I haven’t had any experience in creating a presentation. but I am sure that everything is ahead
Very interesting your advices, sorry rigth now I haven’t give the presentation in english but I’m working to be confortable when I have to speak in english. You prononciation is very helpfull because I’m crying to repeat your video to improve my one. Very good video and so thank you
I appreciate u for the seven strategies of presentation may his soul peace and rest
Thank you very much ,this is very useful for me
Hello Annemarie! You are doing a great job these seven strategies are very useful for us in a presentation I am one of the students who always nervous on the stage so I like the point of doing “practise and practise” is great of becoming a good presenter. Thank you so much.By sharing one thing that my pronouncing and my grammar is very bad so I also have to do so many practices to become a good in English. I am not from a good background my family is very poor so I am doing my best for my family.
I can relate to that.
Thank you so much for sharing your strategies. All the seven strategies look very important and helpful. I particularly strongly agree with the 7th one. Without practicing in advance, it seems for me to easily lose confidence while making a presentation. I might need to be more diligent to prepare all the things in advance.
Thanks again for your very useful lecture! Hope you have a great weekend.
You’re very welcome, Erin. I’m happy to know it was helpful to you! Best of luck as you continue to prepare for things in advance. 🙂
Thank you indeed.I am a syh person and I get excited easily.I should practise and record myself.
I LIKE YOUR PRONOUNCIATON
Thank you for your comment. I’m glad my lessons are useful to you. And I definitely recommend recording yourself. It’s a great way to make progress and overcomes fear.
It’s very useful and done with the help of a clear and simple language, as usual. I’m agree with Tatyana, it’s real and nice presentation about “how to be ready to the presentation”. 🙂 I have a big expirience in the presentations but all of them were in my native language or with the help of an interpreter. To my mind this strategies are common for all the languages and the most important thing not to neglect them and not to be lazy to do all the steps you’ve spoken about. So I think in a few weeks I’m going… Read more »
Great advice, Dzmitry! Thank you for sharing. And you’re right, these strategies are true no matter what language you’re presenting in and it’s essential not to neglect a single step. I love your advice on including a little joke to relieve the stress. 🙂
Actually I am university’s professor and I always use English texts for my teaching materials. Unfortunately I have no experience on giving presentation in English. I have been invited as an expert to give a talk in an academic conference in English
and I don’t know can I do it perfectly or not? would you please give me some hints in this context.
What an honor to be invited to speak as an expert! That’s great. Click here to find all my lessons on Giving Presentations in English. If you’re looking for more personalized assistance or one-on-one help, I provide that to students who purchase classes from me or join one of my courses.
Best wishes with your presentation!
I did a presentation in English in front of my class and my topic was “how to get confidence to speak in front of class?” I did gramatical mistakes but my respectful teacher helped me a lot. I m bery impress from you. You r doing very well.
Dear Annemarie ..I did a presentation in English at course it talked about how to be happy .. I practiced my talking a lot but when I started I forgot a lot f notes cuz this is my first presentation and I wanted to make a creative end I chose to make audience dance about ‘macrena dance’ In the final of the presentation, I received positive feedback from audience and I felling I proud of my self
Wonderful, Khaled. And congratulations. Presentations are challenging but it sounds like you were well prepared. You deserve to feel proud of yourself.
Thank you so much Anne, iam grateful to this information. it is timely, I needed it.
I give organization Presentations, but I must admit that iam still nervous.(stage freak)
thank you I look forward to more guidance and skills
You’re very welcome. I’m happy to know this lesson was timely and useful for you. The key to overcoming stage fright and nerves is practice. 🙂
These are very usefull informations Annemarie thank you.In fact I have never give a presentation in English.
It is so easy to understand your text and fortunately you use simple words for us.Buy the way i can apply your advices in my language too.I love your lessons and try to read all of them if i have time.
Thank you so much for you kind comment! I’m thrilled to know these lessons are useful to you!
And, if you do give a presentation in English in the future, don’t forget to use these lessons to help you prepare!
Can you tell me, what is your native language?
Thanks again Sümeyye! ~ Annemarie
Dear Annemarie, you shared the highlights of a good presentation, and it will be excellent to bear the ability to present it as a freely talk, without reading, or thinking about the next sentense, the next part of the topic or stucking in the next werb what doestn’t want arise in my mind . I would like to see the audience enjoing my talk because it is running fluently. I started to go on that way with your encourage. Thank you
Thank you so much for this comment. I’m thrilled to know this was useful to you. And yes, your improvements in English are growing every day!
It’s very useful lesson for me! I don’t have a big experience in presentations, it’s quite scary for me especially the presentations in English! And it was very informative to read about main strategies which could help to prepare for presentations! It’s so clear and intresting, I have even a feeling of trying to do that, to practice a liitle)))) And thank you for new vocabulary, I love ” a killer presentation” and the idiom ” to kiss something goodbye”!) And in my opinion, your online lesson is also like a little presentation! I like how you focused on the… Read more »
Thank you so much for your comment! And I am so glad it was useful even if you don’t have to give too many presentations.
I think some of the guidance for a good presentation can also be useful for many other speaking situations in our daily life.
And I’m happy you liked the vocabulary expressions! They are great expressions to know!! 🙂
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. ~ Annemarie
Thank you so much