English for Professional Business Presentations

write Business English presentations

ESL Business lessons often focus on particular topics, vocabulary, and communication skills that are pertinent to the workplace environment and promote productive communications.

We are often asked to help students develop their English skills to deliver professional presentations. Understanding how to create and deliver an effective engaging presentation takes time to develop but there are some simple processes that will help you see instant improvements.  

 These quick tips are focused on conference call meetings as these are very common in today’s global workplace.


The Presentation

You would be amazed at just how many executives fail at the very first hurdle when opening a conference presentation to a group of executives. The first few minutes of your presentation will set the engagement levels of the attendees FOR THE WHOLE SESSION.

Let’s take a look at a conference presentation gone horribly wrong...

This was obviously a comedy sketch but it is not far off highlighting just how challenging teleconference presentations can be when presenting, however there are some simple steps we can follow to make sure our business presentations go well.

Let's take a look at some simple presentation pointers and concentrate on what type of vocabulary should be used.


The Opening

Your opening should be punctual, professional, clear and hold a nice pace. You do not want to spend 20% of your meeting on opening up the session.

  • Welcome everyone to the meeting and thank them for their attendance. Check your vocabulary and grammar and if you need to write out the opening, do so. 
     
  • If the attendee list is below ten people ask the delegates to briefly introduce themselves (note: only do this if there are people at the meeting that have never met before). Depending on the proficiency of English from your attendees you may need to manage the pace here (e.g. speed people up!)
     
  • If there are more than 10 attendees then just highlight the key business departments in attendance so everyone is clear who is represented on the call.

The Objective

Before you start presenting your attendees must be very clear on what you are looking to achieve from the meeting to keep the session on-point and focused.

  • Clearly outline the objectives of the meeting (e.g. we are here today to review the marketing strategy for Q4 and agree the key milestones for the Project Plan etc.).
     
  • Remind delegates that a copy of today’s presentation was attached to your original meeting request, but you do plan on setting the scene later for those attendees that were not able to read the presentation prior to today’s meeting.

The Governance

Remember this is your meeting. You are chairing and presenting the session so you set the standards on how you want your attendees to behave whilst you are presenting.

  • Inform the delegates who is minuting the meeting.
     
  • Be clear about how you want your attendees to raise questions before you start presenting (e.g. can they ask questions whilst you are presenting, or wait until the end of the presentation).

Set the Scene

A useful tip prior to starting your presentation is to set the scene.

This provides your attendees with the opportunity to quickly understand the key content and messages of the presentation, without having to read through each slide in detail.

Very often presentations are conducted within PowerPoint but you don’t tend to find an Executive Summary included within these types of presentations but you can and should set the scene.

  • Succinctly inform the attendees of the key discussion points of the presentation (e.g. the presentation today will cover confirmed marketing budgets, product development training schedules, media coverage and our critical milestone timings).
     
  • DO NOT just read out content word for word that you will cover later within your presentation.

The Presentation

How you choose to present the data and messages within your presentation is entirely up to you and tends to be a personal.

  • Be aware of your pace at all times. It is your responsibility to govern the timing of the presentation.
     
  • Be aware of your attendees English levels. You may need to control your pace, pronunciation and re-confirm vocabulary from your slides for some attendees.
     
  • Do not expect your delegates to remain in the meeting if you overrun.
     
  • Be diligent - record the minutes of the meeting (better still get someone else to minute the meeting for you).
     
  • Always send the minutes out in English.
     
  • Be aware of the dreaded ‘death by PowerPoint’ pitfalls.

Wrapping Up

You should always allow time for questions at the end of the presentation.

  • Invite questions (even if you allowed people to ask questions throughout the presentation).
     
  • Make sure ALL questions are recorded within your minutes and recap quickly the questions raised.
     
  • Provide timings for minute distribution and when you hope to provide answers to the questions raised.

Close It Sincerely

People are busy so taking time out of their schedule to attend your meeting needs to be acknowledged.

  • Thank the delegates for their valued input and attendance.
     

A good presenter possesses the ability to create engaging content whilst following a professional presentation structure. These areas become especially challenging when the presenter is developing content in a foreign language for an audience that does not speak English as a first language. We hope you found these tips useful.

Click here to see some other common Business topics requested by our students.