How to Start an English Language Presentation For Second-Language Speakers

Many ESL speakers, when tasked to make presentations, commit the mistake of making everything sound too formal. Truth is, much of English has gone the informal route – including getting up in front of people and giving the details of a report.

Most audiences, in fact, prefer a relatively informal delivery. That’s because it’s less stuck-up and more natural. The more comfortable they are, after all, the less of a hindrance it will be to impart your message.

However, informal doesn’t mean unstructured. Presentations, after all, are best accomplished when everything is organized for the audience’s benefit. When starting a presentation, make sure everyone is clear about what’s going to happen. However, be vigilant about keeping everything brief (use your language software to help you if you’re struggling). Here’s how you do it:

1. Get their attention. Project your voice and pipe up: “Let’s get started.” If you have a more fitting “call to action,” use it.

2. Welcome everyone. Greet your audience and welcome them to the presentation. It’s small talk, yes, but it breaks the ice and gets the ball rolling.

3. Introduce yourself. Make sure the audience knows who you are by giving your name and a short blurb about your qualifications (company, position and such).

4. Announce the purpose of the presentation. Tell them flat out what the presentation will be about. What are they going to learn? What should they get out of it? Keep it tight, though.

5. Tell them how you want to deal with questions. This is huge. People raising their hands in the middle of a presentation can be distracting. Different speakers have different preferences, so make sure you tell everyone how you’d like questions to come.