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Effective introductions when presenting in English

If you are nervous about presenting in English, making an effective introduction is especially important. An effective introduction will help your audience know what to expect and it will help you feel confident.  Once you’ve started well it is easier to keep going – and don’t forget that your audience is there to listen to what you have to say and not your English!

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Effective introductions for beginners – the 3 Ps

This simple technique always works. When you are presenting in English (or in any language) your introduction needs to answer three questions:

  1. Why are you standing there presenting? What is the purpose of your presentation?
  2. What are the steps in your presentation? What is the process you will follow?
  3. Why should your audience listen to you?  What is their payoff?

It doesn’t matter if you are introducing your team, presenting a process or giving an update on a project – the structure is the same. The 3Ps help you remember this structure, and if it helps you when you are nervous, why not use the three keywords?

Presenting in English – an example of the 3Ps in action

“Good afternoon and thank you for coming.  The purpose of my presentation today is to update you on the factory acceptance test.  The process I will follow is to first review the agreed schedule, then talk about the tools we are using and finally we will look at two problems we have found and how we will solve them.  This will take me 10 minutes. Why should you listen?  Well, your payoff is that you will be confident that we can complete the FAT on schedule and that everything is under control.”

Simple, clear and effective

If you follow this structure, your introduction will be simple, clear and effective.  Most importantly you can concentrate on what you want to say, and stop worrying about the English.

Good luck, and why not let me know how it works for you?

1 reply
  1. Will
    Will says:

    Hello Scot, as you brought up the subject of your mouth going dry due to nerves, I would like to mention a common problem with the voice, when speaking in public. When you’re nervous, your voice often sounds unnatural, which can be highly off-putting to your audience. Not only what you say, but how you say it will affect the way the audience perceives you, so what is the best way to use your voice to make an impact?

    For me it’s always helped to try to stay relaxed and just to speak naturally but clearly. Avoid trying to speak louder than you normally do, as this can often come across differently to how you expect. Also, don’t speed up excessively, which is a normal reaction to nerves. Speak at your normal speed.

    Nerves can also produce strange intonation – meaning either a flat sounding monotone, or on the other hand wild ups and downs in tone, from high-pitched to low. This problem is also best remedied by staying relaxed, if possible.

    Lastly, don’t be afraid to pause once in a while. It is especially effective to make a pause after a very important point.

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