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What to say in the introduction

What you say and how you say it is an essential part of communicating your message to the audience. Whether English is your first language or not, this section will highlight some useful phrases and vocabulary that will improve the organisation, content and delivery of your presentation.

Signposting language (the words you can use to signal the content and direction of your talk) is an important component of effective presentations

The language you use will depend, to some extent, on the context of your presentation. For example, in a formal setting (eg a talk at a business conference) you may wish to begin with:

  • Good morning, ladies and gentlemen…

However, in a less formal situation (with close colleagues or classmates), you may simply say:

  • Hello everyone…

Although presentations often contain fixed phrases, for example to signal information, the language used will contain features that make it sound natural and more informal, such as contractions:

  • I’m going to…
  • Let’s start by…
  • I’d like to…

Using personal pronouns (‘I’, ‘we’ and ‘you’) is also acceptable as these help to build connections between the presenter and the audience.

The approach to questions may differ too. In a more formal presentation, the speaker may wish to specify that questions will be taken at the end of the talk. Whereas in an internal meeting with colleagues, interruptions and questions during the main talk may be acceptable.

Table showing examples of introductory language, this table is viewable as a PDF when selected.

Your task

Listen again to Zahra’s introduction and the language she uses.

Sample audio of Zahra’s intro

In the comments, share how you would you introduce yourself in your own country. You can write this in your own language but please provide an English translation.

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This article is from the free online course:

What Makes an Effective Presentation?

Coventry University