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040 How to build the body of a presentation

Introduction

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of The Art of Business English. This week we are going to continue with our mini-series on presentation skills. Today I want to cover how to develop the body of your presentation and cover some essential language to help you confidently move through the delivery of your presentation.

If you’re the type of person who struggles with confidently delivering an effective presentation in English, then this episode will arm you with the tools you need to present like a champion. If you haven’t taken a look at episode 39 on how to open a presentation, then I encourage you to do that. There is some very important information that will help you to better develop this stage of your presentation.

In today’s episode I will be covering the following:

  1. Key elements to a successful presentation body
  2. Expressions to help you have a more fluid and controlled presentation
  3. A short example of how we can bring the language together to create a clear and concise body

OK, let’s get started by looking at the necessary elements. 


Key elements

 

So, you should recall that in the previous episode I discussed the importance of having a very clear core message. This is our communicative objective, we must have a central message as this is the central piece that all our points in the body of our presentation must support.

You will also recall that I mentioned the three steps of preview, give and review. Preview is the introductory stage where we explain what we are going to discuss, give is the body of the presentation and this is where we discuss all the points that support our core communicative objective and finally review where we summarise and conclude our presentation.

Today we are going to be focusing on the give stage of the presentation, however it is critically important that you understand that this three-step process actually continues throughout the body of the presentation. What do I mean by that? Well, in the body of your presentation you will have your main ideas, which are all linked to your core message. When you introduce each of these ideas you will follow the same principle of preview (where you introduce the main idea), give (where you explain the main idea with support evidence or arguments) and review (where you summarise and bring that idea to a close before moving onto the next one). So, what I am saying is that the preview, give and review model is used at the macro and micro level across your presentation.

 I will now explain it simply. At the centre of our presentation is the core message or communicative objective. This must be very clear and convincing. Around this main idea, we have 3 or 4 main points, which, must be clearly aligned with our main idea. The purpose of our main points is to help transmit to the audience the core message of our presentation. Following on from that, the 3 or 4 main ideas but also have supporting information, evidence and examples. Supporting information is how we demonstrate the validity of each of our main idea, which in turn helps to validate our core message. So, you can see that every step of the process is linked, with the objective of validating our core idea. I hope that is clear, if you do have questions, then please shoot me an email, I will be more than happy to clarify it.

Right, you may be wondering how to build strong supporting information. If you are, then here are some ideas for you. One thing make sure that these fit the form of the content of your presentation.

  • Problem – solution
  • Cause – effect
  • Facts and figures
  • Illustration (visual or verbal analogy) or example
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Quantification

Remember, people always move away from situations of pain or discomfort, towards comfort and pleasure. If you are trying to convince your audience you must present your core idea as the solution to whatever pain or discomfort it will solve.

So, to summarise, we must have our core message clear from the beginning as it is the foundation of our presentation. We need to follow the 3-step process of preview, give and review across our presentation. We also need to structure our presentation around our core idea with 3 or 4 main ideas. These ideas are aligned with our core message and finally, these ideas are validated with supporting information or evidence.

Now we are going to look at some essential language and expressions to help you structure your presentation body ideas.

 

Language and expressions

 

I’m going to go through some essential language now. I’ll start by listing the function and then review the related expression.

 

FunctionExpressions
 Sequencing:Firstly, I would like to begin with... (formal)
 Secondly, I will take a look at...
 Next (thirdly), I will move onto...
 Lastly (finally), I’d like to discuss...
 In the beginning...
 To begin with...
 Following on from that...
 In the second place...
 In conclusion I would like to reiterate that...
 In conclusion.../I’d like to conclude by stating...
  
 Adding:In addition to this point... Furthermore/Moreover...
 I might add that... (To emphasis, be sure to change the tone of your voice).
 As well as..., there is also...
  
 Giving examples:For example,
 To illustrate this point, let’s consider...
 For instance, we could...
  
 Expressing contrast:On the one hand... on the other hand...
 However, we mustn’t forget...
  
 Generalising:On the whole...
 In general, ...
 Generally speaking...
  
Stating preference:I’d rather... than...
 I prefer... to...
  
 Signalling:OK then that is all I want to say about...
 That covers my second point...
 A quick summary of this point...
 Fine that covers the main points then...
  
 Moving on:Let’s move onto the next point...
 I would like to go onto the next issue...
 And that brings me to my last point.
  
Focusing attention:In addition to this point I would like to draw your attention to...
 Let’s take a closer look at...
  
Changing directions:I will just go back to my original point...
 Let me digress for a moment...
  
 Returning:Back to what I was saying...
 As I was saying before...
 Looking back to what I mentioned earlier...
  
 Referring to visuals:If we just take a look at this chart...
 Now if you look at this graph you will see...
 The horizontal axis shows...
 While the vertical axis represents...
  
 Clarifying:Is everyone OK with that?
 Was my last point clear?
 Any questions up to this point?
  
 Involving the audience:As you will all be aware...
 Stefano can I ask you to…
 Giorgi, would you like to add anything to what I said about…
 Marco, would you mind?

 

 

OK, so there you have the building blocks for creating a presentation body. Remember what I said in last week’s episode. It is essential that we plan and write out our presentation before we load up PowerPoint. We need to be able to brainstorm and put ideas down in a mind-map form as opposed to the linear work flow of PowerPoint. We will use PowerPoint at the very end, but not as a central part of our presentation, only as a supporting tool with relevant graphical information as opposed to text.

In the next part of the episode, I am going to show you what a typical presentation body will look like.

 

An example of a presentation body

 

We are going to continue with John’s presentation from last week’s episode. I will introduce one main idea from his presentation and show you the language and preview, give, review process we can follow.

If you recall from last week, John was giving a presentation to management about sales from the Christmas period, his main points in the body were, the results from the Christmas sales campaign, current market trends and finally forecasts for the coming year.

So, let’s take a look at how this might look in the body.

 

Right, let’s begin with the sales data and analysis. I want to look at two important pieces of data. The overall financials from this period, and secondly an analysis of individual product categories…. On the whole, we had a very positive Christmas…

Well, that is all I want to say about that. Now I’ll move on to my second point today, market trends.

In this part I want to look at two main things, current market trends and then secondly where we see ourselves in 6 months’ time. So, …

That covers my second point.  Is everyone OK with that? If that is clear, I’ll continue with my last point, forecasts.

Well, here I will be going into more detail, not only looking into market trends, but also looking at how we expect the company’s sales to evolve in the third and fourth quarter. Firstly, …

That brings me to the end of my last point, I would now like to conclude by quickly summarising the main ideas.

 

OK, there you have a very basic outline of the body of a presentation. Obviously, there is a lot of information that you need to fill in to form the actual contents, however today I want to show you how easy it is to use signalling and sequencing language to introduce an idea, then bring it to a close and then transition on to the next idea.

Let’s quickly review it together. You can see that each idea has a mini-introduction. For example, Right, let’s begin with the sales data and analysis. Then a closing remark, Well, that is all I want to say about that, and finally a transition to the next idea, Now I’ll move on to my second point today, market trends. When we use these expressions effectively we can easily structure the body of our presentation and obtain a very clear flow.

 

Final thoughts

 

Well, that brings us to the end of this episode. You now have the tools to develop the body of your presentation. If you’re working on a presentation at the moment, send it through and I’ll give it a quick review and my comments.

As always, I hope you have found this episode useful and of value. If you did enjoy it please feel free to share it with your friends, family and colleagues and be sure to give us a 5-star review over at iTunes.

Well, that’s all from me, until next week, take care and have a great week.

 

Pronunciation training

Listen to the following 10 words. Then record yourself below. Try and match the correct pronunciation and intonation.

Aligned - summarised - structure - reiterate - signalling  - core - encourage - purpose - pleasure - forecasts


Now complete the quiz below matching the correct vocabulary.

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If you have every felt frustrating speaking English, or worse you worry about feeling embarrassed or looking ridiculous in front of your next customer or colleague, then you know how important it is to feel comfortable and confident when you need to speak English for work or when you're traveling.

 


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Andrew


Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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