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E’ con piacere che ILS presenta Shanthi Streat, ILS English Language coach, come guest blogger del mese. Shanthi è un’esperta di lingua inglese e comunicazione.
You have to present confidently the quarterly results of a project you’ve been working on to the Board in English in a week’s time.
What’s the first thing that crosses your mind?
- OMG, my English isn’t good enough!
- I don’t have the right vocabulary.
- My grammar is atrocious.
- What if I go blank?
You contact your local Language school if you could have a few lessons to refresh or learn more sophisticated vocabulary.
Ideally, you’d like to be given a blueprint of the ‘right’ words you can use in your presentation. It doesn’t matter which words. So long as you have that list you can hold onto for security.
I have a session with you to discuss this presentation. I ask you the following questions:
- What is the objective of the presentation?
- What are the key points you want to highlight and how are you going to use your slides to make your points?
- Who is your audience?
- How much information does your audience need to hear and is that reflected in your presentation?
Feeling slightly irritated, you begrudgingly share this information all the time telling me that all you need is the right vocabulary. The irony of it all is that you answer my questions in English using the words you want to use in the presentation. Your English isn’t a problem.
So why are you stressed out?
Well, you’re thinking as you’re speaking which makes it exceptionally hard for you to keep track. As you explain one thing, you diverge onto a different thought track. As you do that, you’re grappling for your words that are not coming out fast enough. So, you mistakenly believe that the reason you’re struggling to find your words is because you don’t have enough of them (words).
Spoiler alert: you have an abundance of words. You don’t need more to present confidently. What you need is structure.
When you don’t know what your beginning, middle and end are, no amount of new shiny words is going to help you present confidently. The only thing that’s going to help you is to pause and reflect on how to create the building blocks of your story.
Here are 3 stress-free steps to present confidently
You work for an international company. Last quarter, you were tasked with reducing the operating costs of 2 applications by 50% by the end of the quarter.
You have 20 minutes to present your results to the Board.
Step #1: Answer these 4 questions
- What’s your objective?
- Who’s the audience?
- What are the key points you want your audience to hear?
- How much information do they need and how are you going to present it?
Step #2: Tell your story
No matter what you’re presenting, remember you’re telling a story. People love stories and your audience is no different. Every story has a flow. It has a beginning, middle and an end. In your case, your beginning is the problem, the middle is how you solved the problem and the end is the impact of your solution. Using the following reflection prompts, sketch your outline.
- What was the problem?
- What wasn’t working?
- What was its impact on the business?
- What measures did you and your team implement to solve the problem?
- What challenges did you face along the way?
- How did you overcome them?
- What improvements did you make?
- What was the outcome?
- How much did you save the company?
#3: Edit and eliminate
You only have 20 minutes to present your report. You need to be concise which means editing and eliminating all extra information. Conciseness is crucial for any presentation.
I suggest you:
- look at your notes from your audience’s eyes and start editing,
Work from a ‘need to know’ basis,
- ask yourself, “Is this going to add value or is this simply for my benefit?” If it is the latter, remove it.
Now that you have everything (structure + clarity + conciseness), you’re ready to face the Board. By using a few simple reflection strategies, you now have a clear reflection framework you can apply to your future presentations. You know what questions to ask yourself first and how to use the answers to tell your story clearly and confidently. You have the confidence to use the English you already have to make an impact.
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