In today’s era of globalization, more and more business is conducted in English. You can reach a much larger audience in English than would be accessible in German – indeed, to spread a product, idea, or report beyond the borders and reach an international audience, a presentation absolutely must be delivered in English.
But that means a little international know-how is essential. Particularly for those who only rarely speak English, delivering a presentation in English can be quite the challenge. And even when one has good command of a foreign language, there's a big difference between using a few everyday expressions and giving a lecture. A little preparation is absolutely essential.
The correct preparation
Always allow more time than you would for a presentation in German – you're going to need a lot more time to look up words than you might need if you could formulate your thoughts in your own language.
When you find yourself in a position in which you're uncertain, you can always fall back on a few pre-formulated questions, even drafting entire sentences. Use formulations that are typical for presentations. That could be phrases for introducing a topic (“Today, I want to talk about...,”; “I would like to outline...”), for structuring your presentation (“I'll start with...,” “I will look at...”), for summing up (“To sum up...,” “Just a quick recap of my points...”), or for starting off a discussion (“Do you have any further questions? I'd be happy to answer your questions now”).
For a discussion that goes beyond the presentation, you won't be able to plan as much beforehand, but a few stock expressions can still be useful – for example, phrases that you can use to introduce your own opinion, like “In my opinion...,” “As far as I know...,” and “In my experience...” Such formulations help a presentation sound more fluid and organized, and help the speaker keep their structure together. To avoid going off on tangents, keep your sentences short and succinct. This will make your presentation easier to deliver – and easier for other non-native speakers in the audience to understand.
The use of so-called “softeners” like “quite,” “just a little,” probably”, can make a presentation more fluid and natural, and also more diplomatic, while helping the public follow the presentation. Try to integrate such softeners into your English speech beforehand so that their use will feel more natural for you.
Try to keep the main ideas of your presentation even more precise when presenting in English to avoid getting diverted and having to improvise in a foreign language. By keeping your structure well internalized, you won't need to worry about being diverted from the main idea by questions. And should you be diverted – or run into a language barrier – don't worry too much if you make a mistake. After all, it's never easy to present in a foreign language.
Using Beamium for presentations in English
As soon as the basics of your presentation are ready, it's time to practice. Speaking English throughout the day – or even just thinking in English – can help you feel more natural when presenting later. It's even better if a native speaker can have a glance at the text and listen to the entire presentation once to work through any errors that might exist.
Beamium is a huge help when communicating and working on a presentation with friends and colleagues abroad. The web-based presentation solution makes it possible for a presentation to be transmitted live to a native speaker's device so that both partners can follow along and edit simultaneously.
Although it can be a lot of work, presenting in English is a great chance to enlarge your network and expand your reach – and, with the help of a few technical tools, open up further possibilities. More and more universities and speaking venues have the ability to deliver a presentation via live-stream, so that listeners worldwide can take part. However, while such a live-stream is usually outfitted with good sound but can leave a lot to be desired visually, and when a presentation involves a lot of slides to convey material, a lot of listeners end up dropping off. Here Beamium is particularly useful: with the browser-based tool, the public can follow the presentation acoustically on a computer or laptop, and simultaneously watch the presentation on a tablet or smartphone (or, of course, in another browser tab). For that, a participant only needs an ordinary internet browser and the ID of the presentation, which the speaker communicates at the beginning. As much as it might take to prepare a presentation in English – and deliver it – it's important to remember the benefits of presenting in English.
As difficult as it may be, the target group reached is growing tremendously – especially with help from Beamium.
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