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Don?t be a sleeping pill

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur von Business Spotlight
Präsentationen sind für viele Menschen der Alptraum schlechthin ? erst recht, wenn sie dabei Englisch sprechen sollen. Gegen die Nervosität helfen zwei simple Regeln: Vorbereitung ist alles. Und: Sie müssen nicht perfekt sein.
Hello, everyone. Let me start with an apology. To be honest, I haven?t really had time to prepare properly for this article about giving presentations. Also, I don?t really have enough space here to give you all the advice that I probably should. And I?m a bit nervous about so many people reading this. But, anyway, I?ll start and see how far I get. Oh, and yes, if you have any questions, then do e-mail me sometime..

If you are still reading and not asleep by now, I?m sure you?ll agree that wasn?t a very inspiring beginning. Unfortunately, such openings are typical of many presentations. Instead, you should start clearly and confidently by introducing yourself and telling people what you are going to do, not what you can?t do

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Around a third of German-speakers who need English at work have to give some sort of presentation. Yet, few of us are naturally good speakers in public, even in our own language. However, by observing some simple rules, we can improve our performance dramatically: Prepare properly. This is the golden rule. Think about who your audience are, why they have come to hear you and the most important points you want them to take away with them. If you have the chance, visit the room where you will be talking beforehand. Check also that the equipment works

Structure your talk clearly. Write down a summary structure for yourself on one side of a piece of paper. If you cannot do this, you probably have no structure. Tell or show your audience your structure. A good rule is: Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you have told them

Do not overrun your time. Aim to finish five minutes early and allow enough time for questions. After you have finished preparing your speech, go through it again and cut out 25 per cent of the content and visuals. Many German-speakers make the mistake of giving very linear talks, starting at the beginning of time and going chronologically through every development before getting to the main point. By this time, your audience is asleep, either literally or metaphorically. Adopt the American approach and get to the point quickly.

Don?t be too serious ? another typical fault of German-speakers. This does not mean that you should tell jokes all the time. However, an amusing anecdote can be a nice way of starting your talk. Also, the audience will respond to your body language: If you smile, they are more likely to be on your side. Try it

Use rhetorical questions. Why? Because, as here, they get the attention of the audience. Also, vary the length of your sentences for dramatic effect. It works. Believe me

Pause now and again. This also helps to get the attention of your audience. For example, take ten to fifteen seconds to have a drink of water. This may seem like a long time to you in this situation, but it won?t to your audience

Don?t worry about being perfect. Your audience will normally be impressed by the fact that you are talking in a foreign language, and mistakes are often charming. Indeed, your audience may feel less warm towards you if you deliver your talk in perfect English

Record your presentations sometimes and listen to them. Did you speak too quickly or too slowly? How was your intonation? Does your voice fall away at the end of your sentences? (At a recent conference, someone told me that my voice fell away, making it sound as though I wasn?t convinced about what I was saying.)

If you ask for questions at the end, then give people time to think about them. Answer questions in a honest and relaxed manner. Try not to take criticism personally. If you don?t know an answer, offer to find out ? or ask other people in the audience if they know.

Summarize the main points. Finish on a high point. Sit down. Well done.

Useful phrases
>>Good morning, everyone, I?d like to get started.
>>The topic of today?s presentation is ...
>>I?ve divided my presentation into three parts.
>>First, I?ll talk about ... Second ... Third ...
>>If you have any questions, please feel free to interrupt me.
>>So, to begin, I?d like to look at ...
>>If there are no questions, I?ll move on.
>>OK, let me come back to the main point.
>>Now I would like to move on to look at ...
>>Finally, let?s consider ...
>>OK, that brings me to the end of my presentation.
>>Before I finish, I?d like to summarize the main points.
>>Thank you very much for your attention.
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 20.02.2002