Today I want to introduce some useful phrases and expressions to help you give business and academic presentations. Check out my blog to find a full transcript with all of the phrases I mention included.
Giving presentations can be a daunting task, especially if you need to do it in your second language. Looking at the faces of people in suits, probably bored people, as you try to explain yourself eloquently and hope you understand any questions they ask is never fun. Most people hate public speaking. Despite this, it is definitely an important skill to learn – most people will need to give a presentation at least once in their life; be it at university, work, or even in job interviews. This episode is not a complete guide on how to prepare and give a presentation, but will introduce some natural sounding phrases and expressions you can incorporate into your next presentation! They won’t be useful for everyone, and not for every presentation, but they will help to structure and guide the direction of what you want to say!
If you are giving a formal presentation as a representative of a company, then you can use the phrase on behalf of…. Especially used to welcome people to your office, thank them for coming, or thank them for taking time out of their schedules. On behalf of Thinking in English, I’d like to thank you for listening to this episode.
In a less formal meeting, you might hear the phrase kick off or kick things off. This can be used to move from pre-presentation introductions or conversation to the full presentation. Even though we are still missing a couple of people, I’m going to kick off the presentation.
Another useful type of phrase to use is one that thanks people for arriving even though the conditions are not ideal. For example, thank you for coming on such a rainy morning, or I’m grateful for your attendance last thing a Friday afternoon, or I appreciate you being here on short notice. Each of these phrases acknowledges that the situation is not perfect, and that the audience has made an effort to attend.
It is also important to give the topic or aims of the presentation at the beginning. You could do this by simply saying, In this presentation, I am going to introduce… . Another nice option is to tell people what they will know at the end of the session: By the end of this session, you will know more about…
Structure, Organisation and Rules
Even in a short presentation, giving a brief structure of a presentation is really helpful. It makes you stay focused, and it helps the audience understand your points. There are many ways to do this. For instance, My presentation is divided into 3 sections. Section 1 will look at… or Today I’m going to talk about three important issues. First…
Rules are also important in a presentation. When can people ask questions? Here are three phrases for three different possibilities. If you want people to ask questions at any time, you can say Feel free to interrupt if you have any questions. If you want people to ask questions in your presentation but not to interrupt, you can say If you have a question, please raise your hand and I’ll try my best to answer. And if you don’t want any questions until after you have finished, you can say If you have questions, please wait until after the presentation to ask them.
The main body of the presentation will be mostly your content and ideas. However, there are still some useful phrases to help you begin and move smoothly through your topics. To start your main body, you can say let’s start with, let’s get started, without further ado, Let’s kick things off, I’d like to start by talking about… All of these phrases are perfect for showing that your introduction has finished and you’re starting the real presentation.
Most presentations have more than one section or point. So, here are a few phrases to help you transition between sections. Now let’s turn to; Next; let’s move on to; what about…? Well…. . If you are a regular listener of Thinking in English, you will probably recognise some of these phrases from previous episodes as I tend to use them a lot!
Conclusions and Questions
Usually, you will end a presentation by summarising what you have talked about. Good phrases to use when doing this include, In brief, I discussed…; To refresh your memory…; hopefully you now understand….
Questions are probably the scariest part of a presentation for English learners. You can practice and practice and practice giving a presentation, but someone will always ask you a question you don’t understand. Here are some useful phrases to help you deal with the situation. Phrases like Are there any questions?; I’m going to open up the floor to questions; and I’m happy to answer any questions, introduce the question section,
When someone asks you a question, don’t answer straight away. Instead, try saying something like Thank you for your question; I’m glad you asked that; or That’s an interesting question. This gives you time to think before you answer, and is also polite.
If you don’t understand a question, it is okay to ask for clarification or say that you don’t know. Being honest is better than pretending you know the answer and lying. Although you could say Could you repeat the question? I think asking Could you clarify what you mean? is a better option. This is because the audience will reword their question and give more details (which hopefully will help you understand). And if you don’t know the answer, the phrase I don’t know off the top of my head means that you can’t remember the information but you will be able to find it later.
Hopefully now you will be able to use some of these expressions and phrases to give a presentation!