Did you know Steve Jobs, one of the world’s best presenters, took two days to prepare for his presentations?
And that’s in his native language!
Do you want to give great business presentations, too?
We can’t tell you all of Steve Jobs’s secrets, but this guide will help you give clear, organized and effective business presentations in English!
How to Rock Your Next Business Presentation in English
Let’s break your presentation into three parts: beginning, middle and end.
Before we start, make sure you’ve put your phone on silent. You don’t want to get a call or notifications from any of your business apps while you’re presenting!
You’ll also want to leave your slang at home—business presentations are a time to be professional.
1. Beginning a Business Presentation Right
We’ll break down this section into three smaller parts: introduction, outline and beginning the presentation.
First, you’ll want to greet your audience. Here are some sample phrases you can use to say hello:
- Good morning/good afternoon.
- Thank you for coming today.
- I’m pleased to see you all today.
Then, introduce yourself. The audience will want to know who you are. Telling the audience who you are creates trust early on in the presentation. If the audience trusts you, they’ll listen well and believe what you tell them.
Finally, tell your audience why you are there and what you are presenting. Here are a few ways to do so:
- I will be talking about…
- I will present our findings on…
- The purpose of my presentation is…
Here’s a complete sample introduction:
Good morning, thank you all for coming today.
My name is Joyce Fang and I am a Financial Manager at XXX Agency. Today, I will present our analysis on the top three stocks to watch in 2015.
Easy, right? In less than a minute of talking, you have already welcomed your audience, introduced yourself and introduced your topic. As mentioned, this builds trust with your audience and gets them excited to hear your presentation.
To hear how a native speaker does it, check out this video called “Start Your Speech Right.” It gives great tips on crafting a natural introduction to your presentation that holds your audience’s attention.
Outline Your Presentation
At this point, you will probably also want to give a short outline of what you will be talking about. This is as simple as showing a slide with several main points you will be talking about in the presentation.
To help you out, here are some phrases you can use to start the outline:
- Today, we will be covering…
- Today, we will go over…
- In this presentation, we will discuss/analyze/evaluate…
Keep this section short. Just one slide is enough if you’re using a PowerPoint presentation.
You will be going over each topic in detail throughout the rest of the presentation, so there’s no need to provide details now. Use words like “first,” “next,” “then,” etc. for this section.
Here’s a sample of what you might say during the outline:
Today we will be covering the top three stocks to watch in 2015. First, we will cover company revenues, over the last five years. This includes where the revenues come from, their growth and their projected growth. Next, we will review new products, services and technologies these companies are planning to introduce this year. Then, we will potential risks affecting the companies and their stock prices. Last, we will look at the management currently running these companies.
Now that you have finished the introductions, let’s get into the meat (main part) of the presentation!
Beginning the Presentation
To go from the outline to the start of your presentation (this change is called a transition), you can make the transition smooth by using one of these phrases:
- To begin,
- First, let’s talk about…
- I’ll start by giving some background information…
2. The Middle: The Heart of a Business Presentation
Your presentation will be filled with your content—the information you know all about. Here are ways to connect all of that information into a polished (really great and smooth) presentation.
Moving from Topic to Topic
When you’re changing from one topic to another, it sounds best if you use some type of transitional phrase—like I mentioned earlier. Here are a few examples:
- This leads me to my next point…
- Let’s consider…
- Now, let’s take a look at…
You may also want to talk about something you’ve said once before (like what I just did above when I mentioned the transitional phrase: I said “like I mentioned earlier”). This “re-telling” is very useful in making your presentation memorable. Here are some phrases you can use for this reason:
- As mentioned
- As we saw earlier
- As we touched on earlier
Introducing Numbers, Graphs and Charts
One of the most important and easiest ways to add value to your presentation is to use numbers. People remember numbers. Want proof? Take a look at these two sentences:
- Many companies advertise with Google.
- 84% of Fortune 500 companies advertise with Google.
Which would you remember? The first statement, using the word “many,” is a positive statement and is true. However, it is not as memorable as the second statement, and therefore, not as powerful.
Be careful! Numbers can be boring in presentations if there’s no meaning or context. Have you ever seen a slide full of numbers and data tables? I have and I can honestly say I can never remember even one of the numbers listed.
I have seen that the most effective ways to use numbers are in a quote or in a graphic, such as a graph or chart. After stating some numbers, try using one of these phrases to be more effective:
- To put these numbers into context…
- That equals…
- That is the equivalent of…
- That is equivalent to…
For example, “84% of Fortune 500 companies advertise with Google. That is the equivalent of the national revenues of China and India, combined.”
If you have some graphs or charts to show, use these phrases to introduce them:
- To demonstrate this…
- This shows/ proves…
- To illustrate this…
- This graph highlights…
This graph demonstrates the relationship between new technologies and increased stock values. Further, this next graph shows that when companies spend three months marketing their new technology, their stock value increases at a higher rate than with no marketing at all.
Here’s another presentation tip: Tell stories. The only thing people remember more than numbers is a good story. Give examples and use this time to bring your presentation to life. Here are a few ways to get started:
- For instance…
- A good example of this is…
When you tell a story in a presentation, make sure to do just that—tell it. Don’t read it from the slide. It’s best to just put an image or a few key words on the slide. Do not write out everything you will say on the slide.
This is a big mistake that many people—even native speakers—will make in presentations. If the audience can read everything you’ll say from the slide, why should they listen to you? Tons of words are hard to read, too, so use images and bullet points with key words and phrases.
3. Summary and Conclusion of a Business Presentation
Before ending the presentation, quickly summarize your topics and findings.
Summarize Your Presentation
I usually use one of my first slides again—the one that I outlined the presentation on. In addition to the main topics, though, I’ll add a key point from each part to the slide.
Keep the summary to one or two slides. Remember the goal is to remind your audience of the most important points of your presentation.
Here are some phrases you might use:
- In summary/In conclusion,
- To recap,
- We have learned that…
Immediately after, give a short, strong statement to end. This will show the finding or central focus of your presentation. End with one powerful sentence that explains why everyone just listened to your presentation. This phrase could start with:
- Based on this…
- Due to our research…
- Considering the available information…
So here’s a sample summary and conclusion. You’ll notice similarities between this summary and the sample outline at the beginning:
That covers our top three stocks for 2015. We’ve learned their revenue history as well as their projected revenue growth, due to the introduction of new products, services and technologies. We know there are certain risks with these companies, including new management and changing foreign currency rates, among others. Due to our research, we believe that these three stocks will beat the industry average, growing at 16 to 20%.
You’re almost done! Always remember to thank the audience for listening and then ask for questions. Both parts are as simple as it sounds:
- Thank you all for listening.
- Thank you for your attention.
- Does anyone have any questions or comments?
- If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask them now.
- We have some time for questions now.
While you’re making and practicing your presentation, try to guess what questions your audience will ask. This will make you more prepared for this part, which is often called the “Q&A” for short (stands for “question and answer”).
You’re Ready to Rock Your Next Business Presentation!
My last tip is not verbal (what you say), but rather visual (what you see). Remember your body language! This means to think about: How are you standing? Where are your hands? Are you smiling?
It is important to look at your audience (maintain eye contact) during your presentation. Good eye contact shows confidence and engages your audience.
Let’s end how we began, with Steve Jobs. I must share with you the best tip that Jobs mastered: Keep it simple.
You’ve seen many phrases here to help you keep the presentation professional, but it’s up to you to make the content engaging and informative, and the easiest way to do that is to keep it simple.
Joyce Fang grew up all over the United States and currently lives in Yokohama, Japan working as a freelance business plan writer and graphic designer. She has earned a Japan-focused MBA and has worked across almost every industry including finance, hospitality, retail and event management. She loves traveling, food, rugby, hot yoga and her dog, Gator.