Presenting in English for Second Language Speakers

Now, you are able to talk to your colleagues using English. Your English has gotten better and you now feel more confident in talking in social settings. However, you have an upcoming presentation with the senior management of a potential client company and you feel like you are back to square one. How should you prepare for an English presentation in an environment outside your comfort zone?

Presenting in English is not easy. Presenting by itself is already a nerve-racking experience, especially when you have an important project to win. Add with the fact that you need to use English as people from multiple countries would be present. How would you do this?

Here are some important things to take note while doing presentations in English.


1. Know what you are presenting

This is the key – you need to master your content 100 per cent. And by this, we really mean that you know the business terms and the proper phrases to use in your area of work. Using day-to-day English may get the point across when you are chatting informally, but in an important presentation, you just can’t take the opportunity lightly.

Read books that talk about your industry. Take note on the terms and words that they use. Prepare. Research. And practise… a lot.

2. Don’t use too many slides

While second language-English speakers may feel more confident in using more slides so that they can write a lot of their presentation materials and read from there, it is really not advisable.

Using too many slides (especially slides with a lot of words) will kill your presentation. Instead, a good presentation uses more charts and pictures. Try to link your points by telling stories – as people relate to stories better (and yes, they remember them better too).

The trick is to put the difficult keywords or the important phrases on the slides. This will act as a reminder to you. You may be tempted, but don’t just throw all ten sentences of what you want to say into that one slide.

3. Build your confidence

As second language speakers, you may not feel confident, especially when giving presentation to natives. However, by showing that you’re not confident would put an emphasis on your inability to present professionally. If you are not even sure of your presentation, why should the others listen to you?

Always talk slowly and clearly. Make sure your voice is loud enough to be heard in the room. The audience will forgive your wrong pronunciation and foreign accent. But they won’t be as forgiving if you waste their time with an inaudible presentation.

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.