Giving presentations in English: 16 tips for success

Class-e’s secrets for successful public speaking in English

According to Forbes, 80% of us feel nervous speaking in public. And that’s in your native language or mother-tongue.

Delivering a speech or a presentation in your second or third language is a challenge and nerves are only part of the problem. If English is not your first language, there are some things that you can do to make the process easier when presenting or public speaking in English.

  1. Think positive: you CAN do this.
  2. Ask for help: you are the expert of your subject. Ask for support from English-speaking colleagues or better, an English language professional. You cannot be the master of everything.
  3. Prepare, prepare, prepare: preparing solo is sometimes the only option, but preparing with the help of an English teacher to support you will boost your performance and confidence levels.
  4. Know your audience: find out your audience demographic. Where are they from? Who will be there? What do they expect?
  5. Find your register: once you know your target audience, you have decisions to make about your delivery tone. Is it a formal or informal context? Which language register is appropriate. Recognise the correct pitch.
  6. Don’t forget the intro: in your rush to have this ordeal over with, you may forget to introduce yourself and your theme. Make it strong and accurate and your audience will visibly sit back and listen and stop looking for so many mistakes. Your confidence will gain theirs.
  7. Provide an agenda: this helps you and your audience focus on the themes and content of the presentation.
  8. Frame your presentation: make it easy for the audience to follow your talk. Use language signposts to indicate transitions between slides or topics. This also helps keep you focussed mentally. Ask for audience questions to be kept until you are finished.
  9. Keep your audience: fear can make us monotone and non-descriptive. Keep the audience interested using adjectives and a variation in your tone and vocabulary if possible.
  10. Use strong visuals: let the pictures do the talking. Take the pressure off the talking time. Strong images can sometimes talk for themselves.
  11. Check, check, check: have someone help edit your presentation and proofread it for any mistakes or grammatical glitches. Don’t let your slides let you down.
  12. Be short and sweet: clear, direct communication is powerful. Use verbs instead of nouns, active language instead of passive language and use short sentences. This also helps avoid making unnecessary mistakes and should put you in a better comfort zone linguistically.
  13. Don’t forget the outro: it’s good practice to summarise the main points of the presentation – for clarity and to remind the audience of what they have just seen and heard, especially if there was a lot to take in.
  14. Be proud of your accent: we live in an international business world. Focus on your communication, not your accent.
  15. Practice, practice, practice: it’s true that practice makes perfect. Even if you make mistakes, the audience is very able to tell a rehearsed presentation from one that has had no work put into its delivery.
  16. And remember to breathe!

Good luck with your presentation! Here are some useful links to language tips and some inspiration:


Oxford University Press


If you would like help with public speaking in English or giving presentations in English, class-e deliver expert English language business training and can help develop your skills and build your confidence. Get in touch to find out more.

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