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Category Archives for Skills

Asking Questions a Skill for Everyone?

asking qeustions

Yes, absolutely! Asking questions is a skill everyone needs and should have.

Why is asking questions important?

Well, depending on the situation, there are many good reasons for asking questions. Let me tell you about my experience.

I get excited when I get to meet new people; however, that hasn’t always been the case. I remember dreading social or networking events. After working all day, I often felt drained of energy to really engage with new people at such events. I always wanted to make a connection with people instead of just attending (being present). I felt empty and unable to contribute to conversations. Until, I discovered the easy and simple trick of asking questions. This skill was and still is a game changer. No more feeling awkward or not knowing how to start a conversation and how to keep it going. Asking questions has helped me feel more comfortable and at ease.

You can use the skill of asking questions for many reasons, here are my favourite five:

1. Leading & steering conversations  

Whoever asks will lead and steer the conversation in the intended direction.

2. Gathering information

In order to make a connection, it is so important to find common ground with your conversation partner.

3. Understanding a topic or someone’s view

I learn a lot about my conversation partners when I ask them to explain a topic or their point of view. 

4. Generating ideas 

When listening to people in a discussion, I love generating new ideas or views on a topic by asking questions. It broadens my mind. 

5. Eliminating confusion

Sometimes misunderstandings can harm a connection in process. Asking questions has often helped me save connections and relationships. 

 

In case you think you are too shy or you don’t know how to apply the skill of asking questions, here is one very simple strategy everyone can apply, who hasn’t started asking questions.

What about you?

You can mirror the question as an answer and then just add “What about you?” or even shorter “And you?”. 

That’s the strategy and once you feel more comfortable and confident, you’ll start asking questions yourself.

So, do you have any questions for me?

Here is one question for you: are you interested in learning the skill of asking questions in English conversation? Then connect with me on social media like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter.

That wraps it up for today

I hope you’ve found this useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

Different Types of Listeners – Which are You?

types of listeners

Last week’s post was about the must-have superpower of listening, while talking about it on the podcast Yvette and I also mentioned there are different types of listeners. So, today I’m covering different types of listeners. While researching for this topic I came across many websites, which described numerous types of listeners. I’m going to break it down to just four types.

Listener Types 

1. Non-listeners 

The name says it all, they don’t listen to what you are saying. Instead they prefer hearing themselves talk. Sometimes endlessly. Surely you’ve noticed someone turn the conversation so that he or she could talk all the time. Non-listeners have a lot on their minds and they have to let it out. Who knows, they might explode otherwise 😉

2. Minimal listeners 

These listeners are the step before non-listeners. They are quite similar to the non-listener; they are more interested in what they have to say. Instead of paying attention to what you are telling them, they can use your words as a form of introduction for their talk and they don’t mind interrupting you to let you know their thoughts, even if you haven’t finished. Minimal listeners tend to be less patient. They don’t care much for visual communication. They might start rolling their eyes, checking their smart devices or start fidgeting. 

3. Pretend listeners

This listener type listens to your words, but doesn’t hear the feelings you’re conveying with your words. The pretend listeners observe your character, judge what you say and then decide on their response. Depending on how well they pretend, it can be difficult to tell the difference. 

4. Active listeners

This type of listener is what makes listening a superpower. Active listeners pay absolute attention to what you are saying and to what you are communicating nonverbally.  They show their interest by nodding or giving short reassuring responses. They do not interrupt and they ignore everything and everyone else around them. You become the centre of their universe. 

Be honest, which type are you?

Non, minimal, pretend or active listener? 

I hope you’re ready for the truth? We’re probably all these types of listeners at different times and situations, depending on the conversation, the conversation partner, the circumstances and how we feel. As much as we would like to be active listeners all the time, we have to face it, it’s not always possible. Imagine, you receive a call from a friendly call centre wanting to sell you their latest high priced product. That’s probably the situation I turn into the non-listener and interrupt the caller in a friendly way and just say “I’d like to save us both the time, I’m not interested, but thank you anyway.” Do you see what I mean?

Being aware of these different types of listeners and accepting the fact that we all can transform into these types is the first step to changing our behaviour. We have to set our priorities accordingly. It’s our decision what type of listener we want to be. I’ll let you in on a secret. When someone needs me to be an active listener and I can’t be just that, then I’ll ask them, if we could have the conversation at a later time, when I know I can listen actively. The benefit on both sides is significant. There is no shame in admitting you’re not ready and it’s better than turning into a different type of listener.

 

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

The Must-Have Superpower: Listening

superpower listening

Listening is the Must-Have Superpower

Yes, you’ve read correctly. I’ll repeat it again for you. Listening is the must-have superpower.

Are you somewhat confused about this statement? Then please bear with me, while I explain and give you four steps on how to perfect your listening skills and become a great communicator.

Preferably you enjoy having conversations with people. Conversations are dialogues, i.e. one person says something while the other person is listening and vice versa. If you’ve watched famous speakers, presenters and entertainers closely, you will have noticed one skill they all have in common. It’s listening. Why is it so important? When listening carefully to what your conversation partners are saying, you are showing them that you respect them. You are spending your valuable time listening to their hopes, thoughts, ideas and anxieties.

They will love you.

Just think about the last time you had to share some vital information. How did you feel when you told someone who really listened to you? You felt relieved, understood, accepted, respected and connected. The person, who only listened to what you had to say, connected with you. You trust this person now more than others. If you asked for this person’s advice, you’d take it. Do you see why I call it a must-have superpower? With this superpower people will feel attracted to you.

They will want to be around you and want to learn from you.

Some people have this superpower naturally, others don’t. However, don’t worry! You can learn the skill of listening, in case you are not gifted with this talent. You will need discipline, practice and these steps: 

1. Visual Communication 

Look at the person you are having a conversation with. Look them in their eyes. By keeping eye contact you are showing them that you acknowledge what they are telling you. You are giving them your attention. Ignore others around you and focus on the person talking to you. Avoid distractions concerning the connection process. Same thing goes for your devices. Just look around you the next time you sit in a café or restaurant. Most people are more engaged with their smart devices than with the people around them. If you want to make a special connection, learn to ignore your devices. You can mute them or switch them off.

2. Be Empathetic 

When concentrating on your conversation partner, put yourself in his or her position. Think of how the person is feeling. How his or her day was. How is he or she feeling, excited, overwhelmed, angry? Observe the body language and ask questions, which underline the vibes you are sensing.

3. Listen Actively

Recap what you’ve heard to show that you are listening and that you truly hear what your conversation partner is telling you. Be curious and ask follow-up questions to signal your interest. Tell your conversation partner which feelings or vibes you are sensing. Try to be his or her mirror, which speaks to them and comforts them.

4. Stay Open-Minded

This is possibly the most difficult step. You won’t be successful at mastering the superpower of listening if you judge the person who is talking to you. You’ll be preoccupied with your thoughts. Having your own opinion is absolutely fine and legitimate. Just put it aside and don’t let it get in the way of making a connection with your conversation partner. He or she will notice if you are not open-minded and start judging.

Remember, your aim is to establish a strong connection.

 

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

The Two Missing Ingredients for Delivering a Memorable Presentation or Speech

missing ingredients salt and pepper

Memorable Presentation or Speech

So, you’ve gone through all the steps and strategies I’ve told you about so far. You’ve done your homework; you clearly understand your topic and message. You know your audience’s benefit. You’ve made an outline of your presentation or speech and you’ve practised numerous times, in front of a mirror, your dog even your best friends and family. But there still is something missing. You’re not happy with the outcome because you want it to be memorable.  Now there are many ingredients for your presentation or speech to be memorable for your audience. Maybe the location is special; there will be music and a big light show before you go on stage. Or a presenter will introduce you as a special guest presenter or speaker. Possibly a big video screen will show you, your slide show or a video. In this day and age video is very important. It is pushed by social media because it grabs people’s attention. I confess, I enjoy a good video too. But honestly, next time you want to watch a TED talk, don’t watch it; listen to it instead. Listen to the voice and to the pauses. These two ingredients make all the difference. 

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”

This is a quote by Mozart. Make sure to consider his advice for your next presentation or speech. Your words are the notes, which will sound good and leave an impact on your audience with the silence or the pauses in between.

Your Voice

Most people do not recognise that their voice is a powerful instrument. Before considering these three points about your voice, I’d suggest recording yourself and then listening to the recording. Many people have difficulties with this exercise, as they don’t like the sound of their own voice. If you are one of those people, please do not give up and flush everything down the drain. Please consider that you always sound like that to other people and I don’t want you to change your voice. I want you to listen to the recording carefully for these three distinctions:

1. Volume 

Concerning the volume of your voice answer these questions:

How loud are you?
Do you have a powerful voice?
Is it difficult or even unpleasant for you to speak up?
Are you used to using a microphone?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting you should shout at your audience. Please don’t do that. I’m asking you to vary the volume of your voice during your presentation or speech, in order to grab and maintain your audience’s attention. If you’ve never used a microphone before, please test it first. Depending on the microphone there are different aspects to consider. You’ll feel more confident if you test it before. Have someone sit at different positions in the room and tell you how well you are heard at each position. 

2. Tone 

Do you remember what your mom or dad did when you had fallen and hurt yourself as a child? They’d take you in their arms, hold you tight and speak to you in a soothing voice while applying a Band-Aid. Possibly, you remember your parents, coach or team members cheering for you at a sport event. Or you remember a recent event you attended, which put you to sleep, because the speaker’s voice didn’t have any variation. Use your voice to make your audience feel comfortable and at ease, to feel excited and fired up or to put them to sleep, it’s up to you. Changing your tone during your presentation or speech will prevent your audience from drifting away. You will help them to focus on your topic. Using pauses here is another possibility to gain attention and interest. If you want to involve your listeners by asking them real questions, your intonation needs to go up at the end of the question. 

3. Pitch 

Do you have a high or low voice? It is easier to listen to people who have a low voice than to people with a high-pitched voice. If you have a high pitch then practise speaking in a lower pitch. Don’t go too low, as your voice still needs to sound natural. 

 

 Pauses 

Remember Mozart’s quote? The notes are your voice and the pauses are the silences between. Another great way to emphasise your words and draw your audience’s attention is to use pauses. Pauses before moving on to the next point also give your audience the necessary time to grasp and understand what you are saying. Some speakers like using pauses to build tension and excitement. Instead of using  fillers (the um and ah sounds), try pauses next time. It’s not something you’ll be able to change overnight, but it is worth a try.

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found these two ingredients useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

Remember your Presentation, do not Memorise

remember not memorise

Remember not Memorise

As a trainer I’ve often been asked how I manage to remember my scripts and if I memorise them. Well, honestly no, I don’t memorise them and I don’t think it’s a good strategy. I’ve seen many people try to memorise their presentations and speeches. Only a few people managed to memorise successfully. The majority failed, got stuck and started looking in their heads for the right word and lost their train of thought. Of course, this gives the audience the impression you are unprepared and that you don’t know what you’re talking about. So the trick of being able to give a presentation or speech successfully without using a script or cue cards is to remember your key points or message.

This involves practice as well as a certain level of eloquence.

How do you remember all the details? 

  1. The first step is to clearly understand your topic or message, be an expert in it. If you have done your homework properly around your presentation, you will know what I mean. In case you’re unsure then read this blog post about perfecting your presentation first.
  2. The second step is to define the benefit your audience will have from the information you are giving them.
  3. The final step is to make an outline of your presentation or speech.

1.  Understand your topic

I’m sure you could talk endlessly about your hobby, because you are deeply interested in it. You know everything there is to know about it. Now concerning your presentation or speech topic, try putting in a similar amount of enthusiasm. This requires preparation and practice, however, in return you will receive more confidence and the ability to talk about your topic naturally. 

2. Define the benefit

This can be difficult, as we sometimes assume our audience knows just as much about our topic as we do. Nevertheless, this is a crucial point, which needs your full attention. Once you have defined which benefit or benefits your audience should have from your presentation or speech, you will be able to deliver the necessary information and arguments to help them reach their benefit. 

3. Make an outline 

After understanding your topic and defining the benefit, it’s time to write an outline. You can use one sheet of paper or Post-its and a pen or you use a mind map program. I like using MindMeister.  (If you purchase a subscription using the link, I will receive a commission). Whatever method you decide on, write your defined benefit down first. Now come up with a maximum of three points around the benefit. 

Here is a simple example:

Defined benefit: get water coolers for the employees

  1. First point: drinking enough water keeps you hydrated
  2. Second point: being hydrated helps you concentrate and perform better at work
  3. Third point: better concentration and performance at work leads to higher return on investment 

You see mapping out gives you an exact roadmap and it’ll be quite easy to remember the points. I’ve watched many students give three to four minute presentations during their oral exam using this method. Some prepared one flip chart sheet containing three bullet points. Each bullet point only consisted of one key word, which they used to help them remember their points. Some used samples of their product instead to explain the benefit. They did not memorise their content and they didn’t need cue cards.

In case you’re thinking now that all of them had a very high level of English, actually it differed, however, what they all had in common was, they were all learners of English.  

Why you shouldn’t memorise your script

As mentioned before, I believe memorising your script is a bad idea for different reasons. Here is another one to consider: it’s nearly impossible to change and adapt your content if you’ve memorised it. Imagine you only have five minutes instead of ten or vice versa. What will you do?

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this method useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

Presentation Basics the Venue, Equipment, Hardware and the Performance

presentation basics

Presentation Basics, the Venue, Equipment, Hardware and the Performance – just so it’s clear this is the final part of the basics

Just like last week’s post, this one is covering the last points of Presentation Basics, the Venue, the Equipment, the Hardware and the Performance. In case you’ve missed the first part, you can find it here and the second part is here. By the way, you can download all points as a PDF document to help you prepare for your next presentation hereAre you ready for the final part of Presentation Basics?

 

Here we go:

 

The Venue, the Equipment and the Hardware

This is another important aspect of making your presentation a success. Just imagine, …

… you are invited to attend a presentation the following week. You accept the invitation because the topic sounds promising. So you make sure you get to the venue on time, as you want to have a good seat. A seat from which you can see and hear everything clearly and comfortably. You get there and all the seats have already been taken. Other people, who didn’t get a seat anymore either, are standing at the back of the room. It’s very crowded, you are now in a bad mood and very disappointed. Due to bad lighting and speakers you cannot see or hear anything properly. You are considering leaving the presentation. The speaker starts and at that moment you pray that the presentation will be worth it. Unfortunately, your prayers weren’t heard…

Needless to say this imagined presentation is a failure. In order to prevent some similar scenario happening to you, please consider the following guiding questions:

  • Is the size of the room adequate for the number of people attending?
  • What are the seating and lighting  arrangements?
  • Will you need a microphone?
  • Are the speakers working properly?
  • Which hardware will you use for your presentation?
  • Will your laptop hook up to the projector?
  • Have you made emergency backups?
  • Do you have handouts?
  • Who is responsible for your slideshow? Is someone helping you?
  • Have you tested everything before?

 

Finally, we’ve reached the last point:

The Performance

I had already mentioned in my blog post titled “How can I perfect my presentation in English?”  – in case you missed it, just click on the title – how important practice is. Having trained many students to give a short presentation as part of an oral business exam, I cannot emphasise this enough.

Practise your …

  • presentation
  • body language
  • pace and timing
  • voice

In case you’re wondering why practice is so important, I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s something my Dad told me back in the day. I remember he was driving me to school early in the morning and I had an exam that day. I was terribly nervous. He asked me if I had practised. I replied that I had practised numerous times. Then he looked at me, smiled and said then you have no reason to be nervous. That’s another reason why practice is so important. It helps you overcome nervousness.

That brings me to the end of the final part of presentation basics. In conclusion, please consider …

All aspects together will make or break your presentation! 

 

That just about wraps it up for today

 

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming course about presentations. Check out all the information about it here.

 

Please join me again next week, when I cover tips on how to overcome nervousness before your presentation, so you can communicate successfully in English and get your point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

 

PS Our new podcast is finally available on iTunes and Spotify. Check it out and subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode.

If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do!

Presentation Basics the Structure and the Slides

perfect presentation

Presentation Basics, the Structure and the Slides – just so it’s clear this is another part of the basics

Just like last week’s post, this one is covering the next two points of Presentation Basics, the Structure and the Slides. In case you’ve missed the first part, you can find it here. By the way, you can download all points as a PDF document to help you prepare for your next presentation hereAre you ready for the second part of Presentation Basics?

 

Let’s get started with the next points of presentation basics:

 

The Structure

Your presentation’s structure depends on many aspects, some I told you about last week, like your “why”, your audience and your topic. You need to consider those aspects before you start building the framework, which will be a perfect fit for your content.
Your structure needs to have three parts:

  • an introduction
  • a main part
  • a conclusion

The introduction

In this part you want to ensure you will have your audience’s complete attention for the duration of your presentation. That’s why you inform them about yourself, your company, your position, your expertise, about what they are going to hear and/or see and why they should pay close attention to your presentation. Let them know how long your presentation is going to last and when they can ask their questions. Tell them what they don’t know yet and what they have to know. 

The main part

If necessary, this can be split into sections, however, preferably not more than three. If you need to make sections and to avoid confusion, please make sure you keep your audience informed about which section you’re covering at that moment. Introduce your point, explain it and give examples. Make sure you have supporting points and evidence. Finish the section by recapping and returning to your point.

The conclusion

Once you have reached the end, announce it. Summarise the key points or key benefit your audience needs to remember and give them your call to action. Thank them for their time and attention and invite questions.

 

Finally, let’s move on to my next point:

The Slides

 Your slides are visual aids, which really help and support you and your presentation. When designing the slides, please consider these guiding questions:

  • Do all slides match? Do they have the same design / font / colours? 
  • How many slides do you have?
  • Is there text on the slide? How much text is on each slide?
  • Does each slide have something important to say?
  • Is each slide a real visual aid?
  • Can you use a picture or simple graph instead of text?
  • Does each slide reinforce or clarify a point?

With the slides you want to help your audience see your point and/or their benefit. Avoid having your audience read too much text from your slides. Keep eye contact with your audience for at least 90% of the time. Do not turn your back on them. Speak before you click for the next slide.

You are in charge of the slides, do not let them take charge of you! 

 

That just about wraps it up for today

 

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming course about presentations. Check out all the information about it here.

 

Please join me again next week, when I cover part three of presentation basics to help you communicate successfully in English and get your point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

 

PS Last week’s post might be interesting for you too. Read it here.

If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do!

Presentation Basics the Purpose and the Audience

presentation basics purpose and audience

Presentation Basics, the Purpose and the Audience – just so it’s clear this is part of the basics

Of course, there is more to presentation basics than the purpose and the audience. However, you should start with these two points before you do anything else.

Before going on, I need to tell you this post will be shorter than the others for two reasons:

  1. Yvette and I have broken down presentation basics into three parts and this is part one. 
  2. I wanted this post to be a short, useful and a doable guide, without any overwhelm.

 

Next week, I’ll cover the next two points of presentation basics. By the way, you can download all points as a PDF document to help you prepare for your next presentation here.

 

Let’s start with the first point:

 

The Purpose

Finding both your own and your audience’s “why” is the first step for establishing common ground. It will make your life a lot easier. Then you will be able to build a relationship with your audience. If your listeners feel you understand them and you know what their needs and struggles are, they will be interested in what you have to offer.

 

The purpose of your presentation has to be clear from the very beginning, otherwise your presentation will not be successful.

 

An effective way of finding the purpose of your presentation is to ask yourself a few simple questions. These are the same questions I ask myself before my presentations to ensure that my audience benefits from them. Honestly, even a training session is a presentation.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What’s your goal?
  • What is your benefit from the presentation? How do you benefit from the presentation?

 

Take your time thinking about these questions and finding the answers. Don’t worry if it’s the same one for all three. I recommend writing down the answers, as this will help you to keep them in mind and to focus on them.

After finding your “why”, it’s time to focus on your audience’s “why”.

 

  • How will your listeners benefit from your presentation?
  • What should your audience’s benefit be?
  • Which reaction would you want your audience to have after your presentation?

 

By answering these questions you should find the common ground you’ll need. I’ll give you an example. Just think of commercial ads on television or YouTube. They are small presentations. Many show a customer’s problem or struggle in the first few scenes. In the end, somehow magically the same problem has been solved because of the presented product or service, which is the solution.

Do you get my point?

 

Finally, let’s move on to the second point:

 

The Audience

If you’ve ever had anything to do with marketing, you’ll know why this point is a game changer. Being able to put yourself in your audience’s shoes is not only helpful, it’s crucial. By that I mean you should really change your viewpoint and consider your audience’s needs, struggles and challenges, their current mood, their cultural background and their level of expertise. Of course, finding out how many listeners you will be addressing is just as important. This information you’ll need for another point, which I’m covering in part three of presentation basics. Below are a few guiding questions I use to help myself understand my audience.

 

  • Who are they? Are they team members / suppliers / customers / founders?
  • What do they do? Are they engineers / trainers / doctors?
  • What is their cultural background?
  • What mood will they be in?
  • Where will they listen to you and see your presentation?
  • Are they experts or non-experts concerning the topic and the language?

Here again, please take your time to consider the answers to these questions and write them down. Think of the example I mentioned before.

Good commercials (presentations) always consider their audience. Otherwise, they’re not good.

 

That just about wraps it up for today

 

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming course about presentations. Check out all the information about it here.

 

Please join me again next week, when I cover part two of the presentation basics to help you communicate successfully in English and get your point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

 

PS Last week’s post might be interesting for you too. Read it here.

If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do!

 

 

How can I perfect my presentation in English?

perfect presentation

This is a new part of the series “How can/do I …?“ questions.

Today I will tell you about tips and suggestions on how you can perfect your presentation in English.

I’ve been helping all kinds of people, from students to other experts in their field, how to communicate successfully in English for over 20 years. During this time I have been asked numerous questions. I’d like to share with you some of the most frequently asked questions my students have asked me about communicating in English and the solutions I’ve suggested, which have helped them.

There are many different opinions out there concerning giving  a successful presentation.

In my opinion, it’s best to start by answering these questions first:

  • Why should you give a presentation?
  • What is your intention? Do you want to inform, persuade or sell a product / a service?
  • How long should a presentation be? Up to 10, 20, 30, or even 60 minutes? Some people have told me about the presentations they have attended, which lasted for hours without any breaks!
  • What is it about?
  • Which messages does it contain?
  • Who is it for? Who is your audience? (Other experts, suppliers or customers) Where are they from?
  • Where and when will you give it?

 

The questions above are actually crucial to set up a road map for your presentations. Please take your time and answer them in detail.

The next step is to structure your presentation into three parts:

1. Introduction

2. Main Part

3. Conclusion

1. In the introduction part of your presentation…

you introduce yourself, your company or purpose and you introduce your presentation. That means you tell your audience what you’re going to tell them in the main part. It is best to have no more than three messages in your main part, which you should structure by using signposts, e.g. firstly, secondly and finally. Giving your audience an idea of your presentation agenda is important. During your introduction, you should tell your audience how long your presentation will last and if you will answer the questions while you are presenting or after. This is really important. Do not make a quick decision about this, as it is crucial. Some people love having questions fired at them during their presentation and even invite their audience to do so, others don’t.

One reason can also be the time factor.

If you know you have all the time in the world, you can invite your audience to interrupt you with their questions. Surely it is easier if you’ve given the presentation before and you know what kind of questions to expect and you know the answers to the questions. Plus if you have studied the topic so intensely that you could even give the presentation in your sleep. In that case, go ahead, you have my blessing and allow for questions during your presentation. However, if you have never given the presentation before and you have a time limit, then ask your audience to wait with their questions till you have finished. This strategy is better if you feel nervous and are afraid of losing your train of thought after answering each question. Typically this part does not take up much time and it is the shortest part of your presentation. However, make sure you have your audience’s attention, and your audience knows why they should pay attention, i.e. you have told them what they will gain from your presentation.

2. In the main part of your presentation …

you deliver your message(s). You tell your audience your topic. Please consider more than three messages will be difficult for your audience to remember. So focus on three key points you want to tell your listeners. It can be helpful for you to write down the three points into three short sentences. Once you have mentioned the first key point, you then explain it and give examples and finally you recap. Follow this procedure with all your key points. If you are using slides for your presentation, please make sure that your visual aids reinforce your messages and clarify your examples.

 

Common mistakes to avoid for a perfect presentation are:

  • having too many slides
  • too much text on each slide
  • you read the slides
  • not interacting with the audience, instead you only look at the screen during the presentation

 

All your slides have to have the same design, i.e. please use your corporate fonts and colours throughout the entire presentation. Using a picture can be much more effective than too much text. If you have too much text on your slides your audience will struggle to read the text and will not listen to you anymore. This is not what you want to achieve. Instead, use images such as pictures to display feelings or graphs and diagrams when presenting complicated facts or figures. Only include information which is really necessary. Keep an eye on your audience. Do not turn your back on them. Announce the next slide before you show it, like this, you will seem to be in control of the slides and not the other way around.

3. In the conclusion part of your presentation …

you summarize your key messages. This is where you can put in your call to action. Don’t forget to thank your audience for their attention and time. If you told them at the beginning they could ask questions at the end, then this is when to invite them to do so confidently.

Make sure you consider the following points:

  • listen carefully to each question
  • show interest by making good eye contact and avoid negative body signals
  • signal you have acknowledged the question; one possibility of doing this is to echo the question, i.e. repeat it with different words. (Like this you can make sure you have understood the question correctly and it gives you time to find the right words for your answer. Plus it’s very helpful if you have a large audience, as often some people might not have heard the question properly and will be happy you repeated it)
  • by thanking the person for their question, you show that you value the question
  • show empathy when required to make your audience feel more comfortable
  • your answer should be as short and clear as possible
  • if necessary offer to meet up and go into more detail later on, in order to ensure that others can ask their questions
  • should someone asks you a question you cannot answer, then be honest and admit it. Offer to find out and deliver the answer within a period of time. After all, even though we are experts, we still are human.

 

Based on my many years of experience, I suggest first getting comfortable with this simple road map, which you can follow and build on. However, there are a few more steps to take before you perfect your presentation in English. I’ll be going into more detail about each step in the upcoming weeks.

 

I’ll tell you the most important step: it’s practice.

Not even talent can beat the experience you acquire through practice.

 

That just about wraps it up for today

 

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

 

I hope you’ve found the road map useful and you’ll join me again for another FAQ and my tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

 

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

 

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do!