English for Presentations at International Conferences by Adrian Wallwork

Category: Communication

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Why: I need to improve the way I prepare my presentation.
Goal: make a comprehensive presentation for international audiences.

Action: Introduce yourself before you start speaking.

3 Key Concepts

  1. Do better prep work, so that your audiences don’t have to.
  2. Your credibility affects: practice your self-introduction like a pitch!
  3. Formulate a clear storyline.


Reading is energy-consuming. The reason why only half of our population read merely 1 book a year! How well your writing is, rendering to how much work the readers need in order to digest the content.

Reduce their work, here is how!

The first step is to know your audience. At which depth you need to explain a concept depends on their familiarity with the topic. If you are likely to have mixed audiences, do not make assumptions that they may know. Thus, you’ve gotta find the right balance and prepare extra slides.

The second step is to limit the number of ideas. Indicate the point that will make your presentation stands out and stop adding more. Multiple ideas in one page is confusing and therefore inefficient.

Rule of thumb: 1 work per sentence, 1 insight per paragraph, 1 idea per slide.

In the book “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser, he talked about the sentence that does new work, and only one work each time.

Credibility is like a promise. “My presentation is worth your time.” How the audiences judge your credibility impacts how much attention they would give to you. Therefore, it is helpful to tell your audience about yourself, your knowledge, and your experience with the topic. Fail this and your results won’t matter.

Look like you know what you are talking about is to know it.
Look like you know what you are talking about is to know it.

The clear storyline, here are typical sections in the presentation.

  1. Outline: Why?
  2. Methodology: How?
  3. Results: What did we find?
  4. Discussion: So what?
  5. Future work: What next?
  6. Thank you: That’s all folks

Only taking care of orders is not enough. You should adjust the length of each section according to the emphasis. Do not spend half of your time explaining the second or third sub-idea, and then have one slide on the main idea.

Moreover, the book offers many more tips and techniques to prepare a presentation that would be comprehensive for the international crowd. I am now more aware of the problems that usually occur at these conferences. The insights lead to a more thoughtful preparation, where audiences can digest information more easily.

Goal check: I learned guidelines to simplify my presentation.

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