Language tips for presenting in English
Preparation is key for any presentation, especially if you are presenting in another language. We have put together a list of tips to help you communicate better with your audience.
1. Essential questions
Seasoned presenters always ask themselves the right questions when preparing their presentation. The first important question is "Who is my audience?" taking into account the variety of different language skills your audience. Other important questions include what you would like to achieve with your presentation, how long it should be, and what is should contain.
Google Translate is a very practical tool, however it is not perfect. To reduce the risk of translation error, check with somebody who knows the language.
3. Key words
If you have a strong accent, try to have key words written on your presentation slides for your listeners.
If you are struggling with how to say a word, the easiest solution is to find an alternative word. You can find synonyms on an online thesaurus. Google Translate also has an audio option which allows you to hear how any word you type in is pronounced.
5. Slow down
Speaking slowly and clearly is always recommended when presenting. This is even more important when you are presenting in a language which is not your own, and it will help you with your nerves and breathing. Remember that speed does not show fluency.
6. Spell check
Make sure you always use a spell check programme, many of which also have useful grammar tips options, and beware of any false friends.
7. What to avoid
Be careful with cultural references as they can be specific to a country and not familiar to an international audience. Jokes can also be controversial, especially about nationality, ethnicity, religion or politics. If unsure, do not use them.
8. Double check your figures
Remember that the rules for how thousands and fractions are written vary between languages. Mistakes about the use of decimal points and commas can lead to misunderstandings.
A summary of your key points in simple language is a good idea, particularly if there are non-English speakers in the audience. You could even include a glossary of important terms.
10. Practise, practise, practise
Hearing yourself say something out loud is usually a very different experience to saying something in your head, so practise in front of an English speaker so that you feel more confident.
Presenting in another language is usually more nerve-wracking than presenting in your mother tongue but plenty of practise will help you feel more comfortable and confident.
Good luck with your presentation!
Synonyms: a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word
Thesaurus: a book of synonyms, often including related and contrasting words and antonyms.
Controversial: likely to give rise to disagreement
Repeatedly: over and over again, constantly
Nerve-wracking: causing stress or anxiety
False friend: a word that is often confused with a word in another language with a different meaning because the two words look or sound similar