Exercise 6. Read the given tips on how to make a successful business presentation. Match the sub-titles below with the most appropriate tip.

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Exercise 6. Read the given tips on how to make a successful business presentation. Match the sub-titles below with the most appropriate tip.


ASpeak Slowly

BPrepare with a Watch


DHave Strong Openings and Conclusions

ESpeak with Emotion

FVideotape Yourself

GFocus on Content

HUse Stories

IRemember Key Words, not the Whole Speech


Think very deeply about the message you want to send to your audience. When you are preparing, MOST of your time should be spent on crafting this message. Even if your speaking style is awkward, you will be successful if the message is right.


An interesting opening using a question, statistic or interesting quote will make the audience wonder what is next. A strong conclusion will ensure your audience remembers your message!


People who try to memorize their entire speech word for word often look awkward and uncomfortable. What is worse, if they forget something, they are lost and look very unprofessional. Instead, just remember five or six keywords and fill in the sentences as you go.


Teacher Joe prepares his speeches wherever he goes - on his way to work, during a break, while sitting on the toilet. To make sure he will not waste his listeners' time, he always uses a stopwatch. By timing yourself, you will be able to cut out unnecessary parts of your speech and really fine-tune your message. (See number one above!)


Stories are one of the most powerful ways to communicate. Stories help your audience listen carefully and remember your message better. You don't need long, complex stories. Simple events from your own experience are an excellent way to show what you mean.


Our schools and work environment encourage us to use our logical left brain, but most people make decisions using their imaginative right brain. When you appeal to people's emotions, you reach them in a way facts and figures can rarely do.


Take some deep breaths before you speak and keep your body upright and relaxed during your presentation. Only use hand movements or body movements when they really match what you are saying. With more experience, you can add more "body language", but at first, keep it simple.


When you speak slowly, you have more time to think about what you want to say and how you can adapt your message to this particular audience. The audience will also be more likely to remember what you say, which is, after all, your main goal!


Teacher Joe often makes a before and after video of his students. They are always shocked to see their first presentations but very pleasantly surprised by the improvements in later presentations. Rather than just say "Practice makes perfect", you can SEE it in a video.


1.G; 2. D; 3. I; 4. B; 5. H; 6. E; 7. C; 8. A; 9. F

Exercise 7. Reading

Read the following article about basic presentation skills.

Basic Presentation Skills


Now let us get down to the basics of presentation skills. First of all, you need to think about the topic, the audience, the occasion, the venue. Then, you have to collect, select, and organize your material. After that, you need to prepare aids, and rehearse your speech. Thereafter, you will present your ideas using effective language and body language. Finally, you will take questions from the audience and answer them. These steps to a presentation can be represented in the form of the following flowchart:




Now let’s consider these steps one by one.

Know your topic.

When choosing among possible topics, you should consider three questions:

1. Is the topic appropriate for your audience?

2. Is it appropriate for you?

3. Is it appropriate for the speech occasion?"

Topic is one of the two main aspects of a presentation: content and code, matter and manner, subject and style. Code, manner, and style refer to language and body language. Content, matter, and subject refer to ideas, thoughts, opinions, and information. Admittedly, the manner of our speaking is as important as the matter, because more people have ears to be tickled than understanding to judge.

Topic is the soul of a presentation. So, we cannot think of a presentation without a topic. In a good presentation we find a perfect fusion of matter and manner, subject and style. When a presenter fails to integrate the two, his performance falls short of being effective. Some speakers have brilliant ideas, but they are poor at presenting them. On the contrary, some presenters are amazingly magical in their expression, though they do not have world-shaking or cutting-edge ideas. In-between, we have people who have something to say but can't, and people who have nothing to say but keep on saying it.

The important point here is that topic is the backbone of a talk. A talk without a topic is like a flight without a navigator. Now, a crucial question is who chooses the topic? Well, there are two possibilities. The presenter can choose the topic; alternatively, the organizer may suggest a topic. So, when you are invited to speak, the first question you would like to ask is: What is the topic? Are you going to talk about business environment in India? Do you want to talk about the advantages of outsourcing work to India? Do your audience want you to tell them about the pitfalls of doing business in China or do they want some advice on doing business in Japan? Does your firm want you to speak about personnel motivation?

Theoretically, you are capable of handling any business related topic under the sun. However, the fact remains that different people are good at attacking different types of themes. By the same token, some people are good at statistical presentations, some are good at analytical presentations, and some are good at powerful persuasive speeches. People have their preferences, strengths and weaknesses. So, the individual speaker is the best person to know her own interest areas. She may be quite comfortable with certain topics and talk about them with facility. On the contrary, she may not feel at ease with some other subjects. If she thinks she cannot handle a particular area, it would be a wise gesture to tell the organizer frankly. If she does not do that, then she may end up making a fool of herself. As the old saying goes, nobody is perfect. An encyclopedia is the result of team effort, not the job of a single individual. William Hazlitt, an English essayist, wrote a wonderful essay titled 'Ignorance of the Learned' the moral of which is that all of us are ignorant in different ways. Wise people know what their strengths and weaknesses are and make their choices accordingly. If the presenter is not pragmatic enough to admit her ignorance and attempts to be a jack-of-all-trades, then she will lodge herself in deep waters. That was what happened to an anecdotal business executive who agreed to make a speech about 'Twenty-Point Program' launched by the government of India as a poverty eradication scheme. He did not know what the contents of the program were; neither did he attempt to find out. Consequently, this was the 'thesis' of his speech: "What's a twenty-point program? Well, it's a program with twenty points."

Know your audience.

Well, you know your topic, but do you know anything about the people you are going to address? Would it be an idea to gather some information about them? In my view, it is a good idea to have a comprehensive audience profile: their age group, gender split, education level, job type, experience, domicile, religious and political affiliation, their role models, their personality types, and of course, their expectations. I know this is a tall order! However, some information about your audience is necessary. In fact, a complete profile of the audience would be an ideal thing. Let me tell you that it is not difficult to produce an audience profile. The organizer of the presentation can arrange it for you.

Audience profile has many advantages. It can help you make your choices in terms of what to say and how to say it. Let me explain this with a couple of examples. Let us think of a situation where you are addressing semi-literate, rural audience, and your topic is Using the Internet to Export Farm Produce. Would it be a good idea to use technical words, formulae and jargon? Needless to say, it would not be a wise thing to do so. Instead, you would prefer everyday language and examples. On the contrary, when you are addressing business leaders, professors and researchers, you might like to use specialized terms and expressions. The choice of your language and illustrations will be determined by the educational level, and job profile of your listeners.

Additionally, you need to know the role models of your audience. As you know, Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama are iconic personalities symbolizing national aspirations of Vietnamese, Indian, South African, and Tibetan people respectively. You may inadvertently say something unacceptable about these great personalities, which may offend your audience. Moreover, it is advisable to know whether you are addressing new audience or old audience. If you do not, then you might lodge yourself in a difficult situation like the following speaker: Once a popular speaker flew to Ho Chi Minh City to give a speech to a large gathering. Her topic was 'Foreign Investment in Vietnam'. She had given this talk so many times that she knew it by heart. When the driver picked her up at the airport, she asked him: 'Who are my audience this time?" "The same people you spoke to last year when you talked about Foreign Investment in Vietnam," the driver said.

Audience is central to communication as all communication is targeted at them. We cannot afford to ignore our audience or be indifferent to them or undermine their role. A presenter is a presenter by virtue of their existence and their attendance. In the absence of the listener, the speaker loses her identity as a presenter. Here, I would like to record that the nature of the audience has a direct bearing on the choice of the topic. Hence, the best topic is the one that suits your audience, you, the type of occasion, and the length of time you have. Just as you can enjoy talking on a subject you know well, or you are interested in, your audience can enjoy listening to a talk that attacks a topic relevant to their needs and interests. Your audience will listen willingly if your topic is of concern to them. Therefore, it is necessary to perceive their individual interests and their interest as a group.

Equally importantly, you need to have a clear understanding of your objectives. You can grab the attention of your audience and sustain their interest only if your objectives are clear. One simple way to understand the purpose of your presentation is to answer the questions: Why do your audience want to hear you? Why do you want to address them? You must define your general and specific purpose: to interest or amuse the audience, to inform or teach them, to stimulate or impress, to convince or persuade. When you know your audience and your objectives, you can use a variety of techniques to maintain audience attention: inviting them to participate, exercising their imagination, arousing their curiosity, role playing, stating striking facts and statistics, and telling a story.

Understand the occasion.

It is common knowledge that some occasions are informal and some occasions are formal. For example, a friendly gathering is an informal occasion and a business meeting or conference is a formal occasion. The topic, the style, and the occasion should match with one another. The speaker who loses sight of this common sense principle projects a poor image of herself. The audience will tend to conclude that the speaker is so much engrossed in herself that she forgets the demands of the occasion. Her aim is to express something she very much wants to, but has had no occasion to express. In all probability, such a speaker would turn out to be a big bore. When you know the nature and type of the occasion, it is easier for you to choose a topic that suits it.

To cut the long story short, if you want to succeed as a speaker, you should understand the dictates of the occasion.

Check the location.

The success of your presentation will depend on several factors. One, you need to understand your audience. Two, you need to know the nature and type of the occasion. Three, you should familiarize yourself with the location. If possible, you should visit the place a day or two before your presentation. You should see whether things are in working condition. When you visit the location, you can decide where to keep the lectern, the projector, video player, etc. You can decide where you will stand, where you will keep unused transparencies, and where you will keep the used ones. You can check the furniture, switchboards, fans, and other gadgets, and arrange an appropriate and convenient seating arrangement: oval, circular, etc. You can also check the acoustic conditions of the hall. This is important, because in some places the speaker's voice echoes. The hall may not be sound proof or may be on a busy and noisy street. In such circumstances, you will find it difficult to concentrate on your presentation. The audience will find it difficult too. At times, the hall may be too big for a small number of listeners; conversely, it may be too small for a big audience. In the former situation, people will get a feeling of emptiness; in the latter case, they will feel suffocated. This will adversely affect your presentation. You know you have prepared thoroughly and your material is very useful, relevant, informative and interesting; your tone is lively, interested, and enthusiastic; you sound very positive, friendly and straightforward; and you have a great sense of humor. All these qualities are, no doubt, important, but if the hall is too small or too big; the acoustic conditions are poor, the furniture is uncomfortable, the gadgets are old and decrepit, and the venue is noisy, then it is hard for a talk to succeed.

Collect your ideas.

Well, you have familiarized yourself with the audience, occasion and location. Now, it is time for you to gather material. Where do you get your material? Well, the first great source of material is your own head. You can brainstorm on the topic and jot down your own ideas. I am sure you have read something about the topic or heard some speeches or have thought about the topic. You can recollect your ideas, thoughts, experiences, and observations and write them down.

When you have brainstormed and listed your own ideas, you can look for more ideas in newspapers, magazines, books, and encyclopedias. Fortunately, there is no famine of ideas; they are floating around you all the time. You need to catch them and internalize them, personalize them, and support them with your own experiences and observations. Furthermore, you may interview some public speaker, specialist or expert, or discuss your subject with your friends, colleagues and family. Yet another source is the audio-visual library. You can have a look at its catalogues to identify relevant cassettes/DVDs, view them and select portions, which you think will add spice to your presentation. The audio-visual impact will enliven your speech.

The Internet is a rich source of information. You can get information about nearly any topic-advertising, managerial styles, personnel management, inflation, recession, equity markets, etc. And it is not at all difficult to access the Internet. Just get some website addresses, type them in the search box and hit the Enter key, and the whole magic box will display a wealth of data. It is an 'open sesame' to a flood of information.

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