Top tips for giving a presentation in a foreign language
Giving a presentation can be a stressful experience for many of us; even more so for those who are presenting in a second language. If you have such a presentation coming up, deep breaths; we are here to help. Here are some top tips to help you when giving a presentation in a foreign language.
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Do not start your presentation with an apology that this isn’t your native language. Do not; you have nothing to apologise for. So long as you are aware of your language shortcomings and have done all you can to address them, no one else in the room needs to be made aware. You have been asked to give a presentation because this is something you are knowledgeable about, it isn’t a test of your language skills. Smile confidently even if you feel anything but; how many people in your audience could actually be up there in your place? You’re doing great!
Keep it simple
Yes, it is very tempting to incorporate all the latest buzzwords into your presentation so that those who are listening know you are relevant and up to date with all the best business lingo. It’s also tempting to use all the technical language you can get your hands on to demonstrate your expertise. Though if you are nervous about speaking in another language this outlook will trip you up the second you come across a difficult pronunciation or don’t quite get the gist of what you are trying to communicate. Keep the language you use easy to help you get your point across. It is far better to sound knowledgeable and use simple language than to come across as unprepared and out of your depth.
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Be prepared (but don’t parrot)
Of course you want to be well-versed in what it is you have to say, but you don’t want to sound like you are regurgitating a memorised script. So practice, practice, and practice some more, though not to the point where your words come out monotone. If it helps make some notes or flashcards for prompts you can refer to if you need additional material or get stuck when speaking. This way you can jot down the crucial details you are worried about forgetting and know that they are within your grasp. You can also practice your speaking out loud over and over, so you know what parts of the presentation need more work. But more importantly than just repeating the words you need for that presentation, speak in that second language as much as you can. The more natural it feels to speak the easier your words will flow when you need them.
There are going to be words that catch you out in a presentation; this is true whether you are a native speaker or a second language speaker. When you know what you want to say, jot down any words you know will make you stumble, and practice them as much as you can. And while you focus on pronunciation also be aware of intonation, and where stresses should fall. The best way to perfect your pronunciation is to hear native speakers saying those words correctly and mimicking them until the words feel more natural on your tongue. And if you are still concerned, then have a synonym that’s easier to pronounce as a backup option, or a short phrase to get your point across instead.
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Above all else, it is essential that you understand everything you are going to talk about in your presentation. If there is a new strategy you’re needing to explain but haven’t quite grasped it yourself, or a change of procedure you aren’t quite sure of the details of, you will trip up. What you want to achieve by the time of your presentation is the confidence to talk about those new strategies, procedures, and so on, in a variety of different ways. You want to be an expert in those things, so if someone stops you and asks what you mean, you can explain in another way. When you plan the presentation, pretend you are mentoring a new colleague; how would you get the information across so that they can understand and can go on to use that knowledge for themselves?
If you’re looking for a little more confidence for your next presentation in a second language, why not contact us to see how we can help? Our courses are designed to fit into any schedule and are tailormade to your specific needs. Drop us an enquiry and see how we can help you walk into that presentation room with your head held high!