How to Improve your Presentations in English

Most of my students already do great presentations in their own language, so I usually teach them key phrases and expressions so they can do the same in English. However, I’ve seen my students benefit a lot from watching real presentations like this one. Let’s watch this timeless Steve Jobs’ presentation: Why is it so memorable? What are the phases and expressions I could also use in my next presentation?

Steve Jobs’ 2007 presentation for the very first iPhone is definitely an unforgettable pitch. It is considered Jobs’ best presentation ever, and here are some speaking techniques and also expressions to help you deliver a better presentation.

Jobs begins his presentation by reviewing the “revolutionary” products Apple has introduced before. He says: “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. And Apple has been – well, first of all, one’s very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career” He goes on to describe the 1984 launch of the Macintosh as an event that “changed the entire computer industry.” The same goes for the introduction of the first iPod in 2001, a product that he says “changed the entire music industry.”

The theme
During the whole presentation Jobs states how important this presentation is, because “we have reinvented the phone”. The presentation is based on this idea and everything is constructed around it.

The teaser
A teaser is a strategy for attracting the audience’s attention. Jobs teases the audience by saying: “Today, we are introducing three revolutionary products. The first one is a wide-screen iPod with touch controls. The second one is a revolutionary new mobile phone. And the third one is a breakthrough Internet communications device.” He repeats the three devices several times then says, “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device…today Apple is going to reinvent the phone!”

So, what’s the takeaway?

  • Bring in something unexpected in your presentations. He could have chosen to just say: “I’m here today to show you the new iPhone” But instead, he chooses to build up tension and intrigue, connecting the new product with something the audience will easily relate to.
  • Jobs also uses the wonderful formula: one slide, one key point. For example, when he introduced the “three revolutionary products” in the description, he didn’t show one slide with three devices. Instead, he talks about each feature (a widescreen iPod, a mobile phone, and an Internet communicator), in one separate slide for each.
  • Finally, Jobs makes the slides highly visual. No bullet points or data, just images. Very memorable!

Five Key Expressions you Can Use on your Next Presentation:

  1. To build anticipation and express how excited you are: This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years.
  2. Giving some background information: So, before we get into it, let me talk about a category of things.
  3. Rhetorical questions: So what do you do? Well, how do you solve this? Now, how are we gonna communicate this? Isn’t that great?
  4. To catch your audience’s attention: Now, let me show you something else.
  5. To close your presentation, go back to the main theme and round up the idea: I think that if you have a chance to get your hand on it, you’ll agree, we have reinvented the phone.

Improve your Presentations in English with Steve Jobs.jpg

I hope these are helpful thoughts. If you’re still struggling with your English for presentations, do let me know in the comments below. What are other areas you struggle with? What have you found helpful in order to improve?


About Susana Castaneda

I am a Business English teacher, teacher trainer and business owner. I write based on my experience and knowledge as an entrepreneur and teacher in Lima-Perú. If you find these useful, thanks in advance for your comments ;)
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