3. Planning and preparation
Structure (1) The introduction to a presentation
Good morning / afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
(Ladies and) Gentlemen …
I plan to say a few words about …
I’m going to talk about …
The subject of my talk is …
The theme of my presentation is …
I’d like to give you an overview of …
I’ve divided my talk into (three) parts.
My talk will be in (three) part.
I’m going to divide …
In the first part …
Then in the second part…
My talk will take about ten minutes.
The presentation will take about two hours … but there’ll be a twenty-minute break in the middle. We’ll stop for lunch at 12 o’clock.
Policy on questions / discussion
Please interrupt if you have any question.
After my talk there’ll be time for a discussion and any questions.
Effective presentations – planning and preparation
Questions and / or discussion
What to include
Length / depth (technical details)
Number of key ideas
beginning, middle, end
Formal / informal
Enthusiasm / confidence
Variety / speed
Gesture / movement
Type / design / clarity
Script or notes
Size / seating
Equipment (does it work?)
Simple / clear
Look at the following situations.
A medical congress in
on new techniques in open heart surgery.
The Purchasing and Product Manager of
a Taiwanese company interested in buying
some production equipment from your company.
An internal meeting of administrative
staff to discuss a new accounting procedure.
A staff meeting to discuss a charity event for
Imagine you have to give a brief presentation in two of the above situations. Make brief notes on the following:
a. Will your talk be formal or informal?
b. What are the audience’s expectations in terms of technical detail, expertise, etc.?
c. What is the audience’s probable level of specialist knowledge? Are they experts or non-experts?
d. How long will your talk be: five minutes, twenty minutes, half an hour, or longer?
e. What is your policy on questions? Will the audience interrupt or will they ask questions afterwards? Will there be any discussion?
f. How will you help the audience to remember what you tell them?
In any presentation the beginning is crucial. Certainly some things are essential in an introduction and others are useful. Here is a list of what could be included in an introduction. Mark them according to how necessary they are using the following scale:
1 2 3 4 5
Subject / title of talk.
Introduction to oneself, job title, etc.
Reference to questions and / or discussion.
Reference to the programme for the day.
Reference to how long you are going to speak for.
Reference to the visual aids you plan to use.
The scope of your talk: what is and is not included.
An outline of the structure of your talk.
A summary of the conclusions.
a. eight advantages of using visual aids
b. three warnings about using visual aids
4. Image, impact and making an impression
Dinckel and Parnham (1985) say that ‘The great danger (in using visual aids) is that presenters place the major emphasis on visual aids and relegate themselves to the minor role of narrator or technician. You are central to the presentation. The visual aid needs you, your interpretation, your explanation, your conviction and your justification.’
Visual aids can make information more memorable and they help the speaker. However, they must literally support what the speaker says and not simply replace the spoken information. It is also not enough to just read the text from a visual aid.
There are many advantages to the correct use of visual aids. They can show information which is not easily expressed in words or they can highlight information. They cause the audience to employ another sense to receive information, they bring variety and therefore increase the audience’s attention. They save time and they clarify complex information.
Relegate = a retrograda, a degrada
Types of visual support
Visual: film / video / picture / diagram / chart / pie chart / plan / map
x axis / horizontal axis
y axis / vertical axis
left hand / right hand axis
overhead projector (OHP)
Introducing a visual
I’d like to show you …
Have a look at this …
This (graph) shows / represents …
Here we can see …
Let’s look at this …
Here you see the trend in …
This compares x with y
Let’s compare the …
Here you see a comparison between …
Pie chart = diagrama circulara (rotunda, “placinta”)
Flow chart = schema procesului tehnologic / organigrama
Diagram = diagrama
Bar graph = diagrama cu bare
Table graph = grafic stil tabel
Line graph = grafic cu linii
overhead projector = proiector
transparency / slide = slide-uri
(slide) projector = dia-proiector
slides / diapositives = diapozitive
flip chart = panou cu foi de hartie detasabile
whiteboard = panou alb din material sintetic
Describing the speed of change
A dramatic dramatically
A marked markedly
A significant increase / fall To increase / fall significantly
A slight slightly
To go up
To increase an increase
To rise a rise
To climb a climb
To improve an improvement
To go down
To decrease a decrease
To fall a fall
To decline a decline
To deteriorate a deterioration
To recover a recovery
To get better an upturn
To get worse a downturn
To level out a leveling out
To stay the same
To reach a peak a peak
To reach a maximum
To reach a low point
To hit bottom a trough
To undulate an undulation
To fluctuate a fluctuation
Using visual supports
Visual must be:
Use media which suit the room and audience size.
Overhead projector (OHP)
- Transparencies / OHT’s / slides (Am.E.)
- Slides / diapositives (Am.E.)
Video / computer graphics / flip chart / whiteboard
Use of visual aids
Combination of OHP and flip chart with pens often good.
First visual should give the title of talk.
Second show structure of talk – main headings.
Keep text to minimum – never just read text from visuals.
Do not use too many visuals – guide is one per minute.
Use pauses – give audience time to comprehend picture.
Never show a visual until you want to talk about it.
Remove visual once finished talking about it.
Switch off equipment not in use.
Use of colour
For slides, white writing on blue / green is good. Use different colours if colour improves clarity of message (e.g. pie charts.).
Use appropriate colour combination: yellow and pink are weak colours on white backgrounds.
Use of room and machinery
Check equipment in advance.
Check organization of room, equipment, seating, microphones, etc.
Use a pointer on the screen (not your hand).
Have a good supply of pens.
Check order of your slides / OHT’s, etc.
You in relation to your audience
Decide appropriate level of formality, dress accordingly.
Keep eye contact at least 80% of the time.
Use available space.
Move around, unless restricted by a podium.
Draw a line graph for use in a presentation. Choose any situation or subject, real or imagined. If possible draw the picture on an overhead transparency.
Then present the graph as you would in a presentation. Your description should last no more than one minute.
If possible, construct a graph that makes comparisons possible. Use solid, dotted or broken lines (or colours) to make the picture clear.
5. The presentation
Read the following passage and identify at least six recommendations about speaking technique which can help to make the message in a presentation clear.
You’re lost if you lose your audience
Clear objectives, clear plan, clear signals: the secrets of presentation success.
Any presentation requires a clear strategy or plan to help you reach your objectives. The aim is not to pass away twenty minutes talking non-stop and showing a lot of nice pictures. It is to convey a message that is worth hearing to an audience who want to hear it. However, how many speakers really hold an audience’s attention? What is the secret for those who do? First, find out about the audience and what they need to know. Plan what you’re going to say and say it clearly and concisely.
A good speaker uses various signals to help hold the audience’s attention and make the information clear. One type of signal is to introduce a list with a phrase like There are three things we have to consider. The speaker then says what the three things are and talks about each one at the required level of detail. For example: There are three types of price that we have to think about: economic price, market price and psychological price. Let’s look at each of these in more detail. First, economic price. This is based on production costs and the need to make a profit … and the speaker goes on to describe this type of price. After that, he goes on to talk about the market price and so on.
Another signaling technique is to give a link between parts of the presentation. Say where one part of the talk finishes and another starts. For example, a well organized presentation usually contains different parts and progression from one part to the next must be clear, with phrases like That’s all I want to say about the development of the product. Now let’s turn to the actual marketing plan. This technique is very helpful to the audience, including those who are mainly interested in one part only.
Another type of signaling is sequencing of information. This usually follows a logical order, perhaps based on time. So a project may be described in terms of the background, the present situation and the future. Key words in sequencing information are first, then, next, after that, later, at the end, finally, etc.
Still another technique which helps to emphasize key points is careful repetition. Examples are As I’ve already said, there is no alternative but to increase production by 100 per cent or I’d like to emphasize the main benefit of the new design – it achieves twice as much power with half as much fuel.
A final point concerns timing and quantity of information. Psychologists have suggested that concentration is reduced after about twenty minutes without a break or a change in activity. Furthermore, audiences should not be overburdened with technical details or given too many facts to remember. It is claimed that to ask people to remember more than three things in a five-minute talk is too much. Some say that seven is the maximum number of any length of presentation. Any such calculations are probably not very reliable, but every speaker needs to think about exactly how much information of a particular type a specific audience is likely to absorb and to plan accordingly.
Read the following text and identify the following:
a. the relationship between the main body of the presentation and the introduction
b. a recommendation on one way to divide the main body of the talk.
The main body of the presentation contains the details of the subject or themes described in the introduction. All the above techniques are especially useful in making the main body easily understood. They help the audience to follow the information and to remember it.
They also help the speaker to keep to the planned structure and to know exactly what stage has been reached at all times during the presentation. Clear structure doesn’t just help the audience! In many presentations the main body can be usefully divided into different parts. The main parts, each with a main heading, are referred to in the Introduction. Clearly there are many ways to divide the main body of presentation and often different parts will themselves be divided into smaller sections of information:
Introduction Main body of information
First part Second part Third part
The information below is part of a Product Manager’s notes for a presentation on an advertising mix for a new range of beauty products, with the brand name Cheri. He is talking to a marketing team set up to promote the new range. Use the notes to give a presentation of about 5 minutes using listing, linking and sequencing where necessary.
Advertising mix for Cheri beauty products
Above-the-line advertising Below-the-line advertising
youth magazines in-store on-pack targeted
women’s magazines e.g. e.g. mailing
free samples joint promotions
Begin as follow:
‘ Good morning, everyone. I’d like to talk about the advertising mix for the new Cheri range of beauty products. We are planning two categories of advertising, above-the-line and below-the-line. I’ll talk first about… ‘
Merchandising: Any direct efforts to encourage sales of a product, increase consumer awareness, etc.
Above-the-line advertising: Mass media advertising, such as television, radio and newspaper.
Below-the-line advertising: Forms of advertising at the point of sale or directly on the product, such as packaging, shop displays, etc.
Structure (2) The main body
Signaling different parts in a presentation:
Ending the introduction
So that concludes the introduction.
That’s all for the introduction.
Beginning the main body
Now let’s move to the first part of my talk, which is about …
So, first … To begin with …
There are three things to consider. First … Second … Third …
There are two kinds of … The first is … The second is …
We can see four advantages and two disadvantages. First, advantages.
One is … Another is … A third advantage is … Finally …
On the other hand, the two disadvantages.
First … Second …
Linking: Beginning a new part
Let’s move to (the next part which is) …
So now we come to …
Now I want to describe …
There are (seven) different stages to the process
First / then / next / after that / then (x) / after x there’s y, last …
There are two steps involved.
The first step is … The second step is …
There are four stages to project.
At the beginning, later, then, finally …
I’ll describe the development of the idea.
First the background, then the present situation, and then the prospects for the future.
Structure (2) The main body
Organization of presentation
Logical progression of ideas and/or parts of presentation.
Sequential description of processes.
Chronological order of events, i.e. background -- present -- future
A i a.
B i. a.
C i. a.
Internal structure of the main body of a complex presentation
Signaling the structure
Use listing techniques.
Link different parts.
Use sequencing language.
Signaling the structure …
Makes the organization of the talk clear
Helps the audience to follow
Helps you to follow the development of your talk.
6.The end of the presentation
Read the following text and identify:
a. a potential problem at the end of a presentation.
b. three ways to avoid the problem.
Open for questions: The silent disaster
A nightmare scenario is as follows: the speaker finishes his talk with the words ‘Any questions?’ This is met by total silence. Not a word. Then an embarrassed shuffling, a cough … how can this be avoided? A possible answer is that if the presentation has been good and the audience is clearly interested, someone will have something to say.
Another way to avoid the nightmare of utter silence is to end with an instruction to the audience. This should ensure immediate audience response. Giving an instruction is often useful in sales presentations and where the audience has special requirements.
A sales presentation
After talking about his or her products or services, the speaker wants the audience to explain their needs and says:
‘Okay – I’ve told you about the ways Snappo can help companies like yours. Now for us to do that, we need to know more about the way you work. For example, tell me about your particular situation, tell me what in particular may interest you … .’
This places a responsibility on the audience to respond – unless of course they have a completely negative view of both the presenter and the message! Assuming they are well-disposed towards the potential supplier, it is probably in their interests to offer some information and begin discussion.
A training manager
Speaking to an audience of Department Managers, vice-presidents, or potential trainees, the Training Manager has outlined recommendations and explained what is available. He/she can end with:
‘Right! I’ve told you what we can offer. Now tell me what are your impressions, what are your priorities and what else do you need to know now?'
Another option is for the speaker to have a question prepared. Ask something which you know the audience will have to answer. This often breaks the ice and starts discussion. It may be possible to single out an individual who is most likely to have a question to ask you or a comment to make, or it may be apparent from earlier contact perhaps during the reception or coffee break, that a particular individual has something to say or to ask.
Handling questions is thought by many speakers to be the most difficult part of a presentation. Why do you think this is?
Here you have a list of the pieces of advice you need in handling questions:
Check understanding if necessary by paraphrasing.
Listen very carefully.
Don’t say anything you’ll regret later.
Ask for repetition or clarification.
Agree partially before giving own opinions: Yes, but…
Tell the truth (most of the time!)
Imagine that you have given a talk on Marketing in Japan at a conference on business trends. What would you say in these situations? If you need to, refer to the Language Checklist.
At the end of your presentation, move to comments / discussion / questions.
A member of the audience suggests that you said that many small retail outlets, small shops, had actually closed down in recent years. In fact, you said this process has been going on for a long time. Politely correct the other person.
Ask the audience for comments on why this has happened.
Agree with someone’s suggestions, but suggest other factors. One is the increasing number of take-overs of smaller companies.
A member of the audience
says the following: ‘I … understand that
a report showed that 700 new drinks came out in
Someone suggests that in
A speaker says something you don’t understand. What do you say?
The end of presentation
Ending the main body of the presentation
Right, that ends (the third part of) my talk.
That’s all I want to say for now on …
Beginning the summary and/or conclusion
I’d like to end by emphasizing the main point(s).
I’d like to finish with …
A summary of the main points.
Some observations based on what I’ve said.
Some conclusions / recommendations.
A brief conclusion.
There are two conclusions / recommendations.
What we need is …
I think we have to …
I think we have seen that we should …
Inviting questions and/or introducing discussion
That concludes (the formal part of) my talk.
(Thanks for listening) … Now I’d like to invite your comments.
Now we have (half an hour) for questions and discussion.
Right. Now, any question or comments?
So, now I’d be very interested to hear your comments.
Understood but difficult or impossible to answer
That’s a difficult question to answer in a few words.
it could be …
in my experience …
I would say …
I don’t think I’m the right person to answer that. Perhaps (Mr. Holmes) can help …
I don’t have much experience in that field …
Understood but irrelevant or impossible to answer in the time available
I’m afraid that’s outside the scope of my talk / this session. If I were you I’d discuss that with …
I’ll have to come to that later, perhaps during the break as we’re short of time.
Sorry, I’m not sure I’ve understood. Could you repeat?
Are you asking if …?
Do you mean …?
I didn’t catch (the last part of) your question.
If I understood you correctly, you mean …? Is that right?
Checking that your answer is sufficient
Does that answer your question?
Is that okay?
Structure (3) Ending the presentation
Restates main point(s).
Restates what the audience must understand and remember.
Contains no new information.
States the logical consequences of what has been said.
Often contains recommendations.
May contain new and important information.
Inviting questions implies that the audience is less expert than the speaker.
Beware of the ‘nightmare scenario’ – total silence! Have one or two prepared questions to ask the audience.
Keep control of the meeting.
Inviting discussion gives the impression that the audience have useful experience, so is often more ‘diplomatic’.
You still need to control the discussion.
Inviting discussion and questions
Offer the best solution.
Keep control, limit long contributions, watch the time.
Listen very carefully.
Ask for repetition or clarification if necessary.
Paraphrase the question to check you understand it.
Give yourself time to think – perhaps by paraphrasing the question.
Check that the question is relevant. If not, don’t answer if you don’t want to.
Refer questioner to another person if you can’t answer.
Suggest you’ll answer a question later if you prefer.
Check that the questioner is happy with your answer: eye contact and a pause is often sufficient.
Don’t allow one or two people to dominate.
Signal when time is running out – ‘Time for one last question’.
At the end, thank the audience.
Read Mr. Lopez’ presentation and try to match the titles (used in his rough plan) of the different parts of his presentation to the right text body.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen; we haven’t all met before so I’d better introduce myself. I’m Luis Lopez from the development department of Citrus Incorporated… I should say before we start that I hope you’ll excuse my English. I’m a little out of practice…
Anyway, I’m going to be talking this morning about a new product which we are planning to launch in two months’ time; it’s called KOOL-OUT, that’s K-O-O-L dash O-U-T, and it’s a lemon-flavoured drink…
Well, I’ll start with the background to the product launch; and then move on to a description of the product itself, I’m going to list some of the main selling points that we should emphasize in the advertising and sales campaign. I think if you don’t mind, we’ll leave questions to the end…
Now firstly, as you all know, we had a gap in our soft-drink product range for the last two years; we have been manufacturing mixed-fruit drinks and orange drinks for the last ten years, but we stopped producing lemonade two years ago; I think we all agreed that there was room on the market for a completely new lemon-flavoured drink … Secondly, the market research indicated that more and more consumers are using soft drinks as mixers with alcohol, so in other words, the market itself has expanded.
This brings me to my next point which is that we have rather new customer-profile in mind; I must emphasize that this product is aimed at the young-professional, high-income, market and not the traditional consumer of old-fashioned lemonade. At this point we must consider the importance of packaging and design, and if you look at the video in a moment, you’ll see that we have completely re-vamped the container itself as well as the label and slogan…
Now to digress for just a moment, the more sophisticated packaging means a high unit cost, and this may be a problem in the selling area, but we’ll have a chance to discuss that aspect later… so … to go back to my earlier point, this is a totally new concept as far as Citrus Incorporated are concerned; as you see we are using both the new-size glass bottle and the miniature metal cans.
Finally, let’s look at the major attractions of the product. In spite of the higher price it will compete well with existing brands; the design is more modern than any of the current rival products, and incidentally the flavour is more realistic and natural… it’s low calorie, too.
O.K., so just before closing, I’d like to summarize my main points again… We have KOOL-OUT, a new design concept, aimed at a relatively new age and income group; it’s designed to be consumed on its own, as a soft drink, or to be used as a mixer in alcohol-based drinks and cocktails. It comes in both bottle and can and this will mean a slightly higher price than we are used to; but the improved flavour and the package design should give us a real advantage in today’s market… well, that’s all I have today for the moment, thank you for listening, now if there are any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them…
Use the phrases written below to construct a similar presentation to be given to a client.
a. Now, to change the subject for a moment…
b. Before I finish, I’d like to run through the main points again…
c. I’ll begin by describing ---------, and then go on to ---------, and I’ll end with -------- .
d. In conclusion…
e. I want to stress…
f. Good afternoon.
g. That brings me to the end of my presentation.
h. I’d like to talk about…
i. To return to the point I made earlier…
j. First, let me introduce myself; I’m ------- from ---------- .
k. Feel free to interrupt if you have any questions.
l. Thank you for your attention.
m. First of all … Next …
n. Please excuse my rather poor English!
o. I’d like now to turn to…
p. If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them.
q. At this point we have to bear in mind…
While you were speaking your colleague, or your customer may interrupt to make a point. You will have to deal with it! Look at the interruptions listed below and some possible replies. Match the reply to the interruption.
a. You haven’t mentioned the price yet!
b. Your product is more expensive than your competitor’s!
c. I’d like the exact specifications, please!
d. I still don’t understand the difference between the de-luxe and economy models!
e. Your new model seems much heavier than the old one!
I take your point… but have you taken into account the improved durability?
I’ll be coming to that in a moment.
You’re right, but on the other hand our product has a number of unique design features.
Our technical department will be able to give you an answer on that.
Let me clarify that for you.
It is a very good policy to try to anticipate questions or problems and to deal with them before your audience raises them. Here are some examples of how you can anticipate.
I can hear you say: why is this so costly?
I wonder why it’s so expensive?
Now, you may well ask, what does the mean by ‘up-market’?
You will have noticed that I haven’t given any figures.
Where’s the statistical data?
An obvious problem at this stage is the choice of colours.
Does it only come in black?
How would you anticipate the following questions? Example: Why is it so heavy? An obvious problem is the weight.
a. Why is the delivery period so long?
b. What’s ‘top quality’ specification?
c. Do the accessories have to be so expensive?
d. Why doesn’t he mention the price?
e. Can he prove what he says with figures?
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