In this Issue
Letters to the Editor
Write to Us
Spread the Word
Back Issues

Issues in Business
English teaching
Classroom management
for Business English

Birthday Greetings
MED Magazine celebrates
its second birthday

Language Interference
Borrowing and false friends
between Greek and English

Focus on Language

Word Formation
Word families,
prefixes and suffixes
UK version ¦ US version

New word of the month
New words in journalism
and the media

Top Tips for Business English
Teaching presentation skills:
Presentation Essentials 1
Activities ¦ Teacher's notes


Top Tips for Business English
Teaching presentation skills 1
by Rosemary Richey

Language level
Language and skill components
   A Starting up a presentation
   B General language points
Teaching ideas and resources
Next in the series


We are continuing our series of tips for teaching typical business skills with some ideas for teaching presentations skills, and more specifically, how to begin a presentation.


Language level

The language and skills featured here are suitable for upper intermediate and advanced levels.



1 Presentations often pose a dilemma for most non-native speakers of English. They may feel comfortable with presentations in their own language, but the style and special language in English can stir up a lot of uncertainty and self-consciousness.
2 To ease students’ anxiety about presentations, have them discuss in pairs or groups the following topics:
  Do you routinely give presentations as part of your work?
  Do you give presentations in your own language and/or in English?
  Do you give individual or group/team presentations?
  Who is your audience? Are they local or international?
  What are qualities that make a good presentation?
  What are the strong points of your presentations?
  What are your positive and negative observations when others are making presentations?
3 The students can share their answers to the above questions with the whole class. This will also give you a clear idea of what attitudes, strengths and weaknesses they may have in giving presentations.


Language and skill components

1 Each step of a presentation requires certain lexis to reflect good communication skills in English. The following list identifies key functions and useful language associated with the introduction and the starting off of a presentation.

A Starting a presentation

function language
introduction Good morning/afternoon. I’d like to introduce myself. I’m John Jones, the new marketing manager for Sun Tours. I appreciate you taking the time to attend this presentation.

I’m going to

talk about ...
present ...
give you an overview of ...
inform you about ...
(for academic or lecture style) The subject of my presentation/paper/speech is ...
length I’ll take about ... minutes of your time.
I plan to be brief. I’ll only take ... minutes of your time. 
This should only last/take ... minutes.
My presentation will take/last
(about/roughly) ... minutes.


Let me give you an idea of what I’m going to talk about ...
I’ll be speaking about these/the following main points ...

My presentation will focus specifically on ...


I’d be glad to take your questions while I’m speaking/at the end of my talk.
I’ll open it up for questions and comments at the end of the presentation.
Please interrupt/stop me if something isn’t clear/you need clarification.

starting off

Let’s start with a brief background of our tour company.
We are pleased to introduce/announce our ...
Now let me turn to ...
That brings me to ...


B General language points

For the first stages of a presentation review and emphasise language such as:
use of I’d/would like to or I’d/would be glad to
use of the active form: Guests give us good feedback on our tours.
use of the present simple: Currently/Presently/At the moment/At the present we have over 1000 customers.
use of the past simple: Last year/Back in 2003 we launched several travel packages.
use of the present perfect: Over the last few month/Recently, we’ve seen a big demand for city tours.
sequencing with firstly, secondly, then, next: Firstly, let me give you a quick history of our tour company. Secondly, I’ll speak about ...


Teaching ideas and resources

Presentations need ample time for effective practice. This involves preparation in and outside class. In addition time will also be spent on the actual execution of the presentations in class. The time necessary to prepare will depend on the size of the class and the type of presentation assigned (individual or group).

For any presentation, a good approach is to break down the practice into organisational sections. With each step students can gradually build both their skill and language confidence. Try the following tips to practise introducing and starting up presentations:

Have the students do an individual, five-minute informal mini-presentation, just from the introduction to starting off with the main body. Assign a topic of personal interest such as a favourite restaurant, hotel, recipe, etc. Students do peer feedback and give positive and negative comments.
Review the parts of a presentation by giving the students cut-up strips or cards with the organisational steps. (See more about this in the activitiesin this issue.) The students put the stages in order. Elicit discussion about why each of the steps is important.
Involve students with peer correction while practising each step of a presentation. The students can devise a presentation checklist and evaluation sheet listing the main parts of a presentation, and including notes about visual aids or promotion materials/items. They use this sheet as a guide for comments and observations.
Discuss the impact of body language and eye contact on a good presentation. Students make a checklist of do’s and don’ts.
Look at videos on the first steps of a presentation. Students make notes and discuss positive and negative observations.
Assign students to view/listen to a prominent figure, e.g. a politician or business person, while making a speech or presentation. (This can be taken from either a BBC or CNN website.) Students give a short report of their observations.
Give students a chance to practise both individual and team presentations to give them a feel for the dynamic of both.


Next in the series

The December issue of MED Magazine will feature some teaching tips for the latter stages of a presentation. In the meantime, you can email me with your feedback and suggestions on any Business English concern on this page.