Introduction:

Opening or starting a presentation is along with the ending the two most important parts of a presentation. When you start, you need to make the audience interested in what you're going to say, and also be clear and concise about the presentation's content. There is a structure to starting or beginning a presentation which is the same in English as in other languages. Doing a good business presentation is a skill that everybody can learn.

In this online exercise on presentations, we will look at the English vocabulary and phrases which are used to start/begin a business presentation.

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Exercise: Starting a presentation

In the following text, a man begins a business presentation on improving staff performance.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are and why they are being said. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Speaker:'Good Morning ladies and gentlemen. First of all, let me start by thanking you for attending this presentation. I understand that everybody is very busy. So your attendance is very much appreciated.

My name is Russel Grants and I work as the European human resources manager for LPS. Which I have done for the past 5 years. I have worked in the field of human resources in various companies since I left university, nearly 20 years ago.

In this presentation, I am going to talk to you about why your staff are lazy and unproductive, or to put it another way, how employers and managers mismanage their staff.

Today's presentation is divided into three parts, which I will tell you about now. To begin with, I will give an overview of how current employee under-performance is costing companies millions in lost revenue, every minute of every day. Then I will explain the causes of this under-performance. And finally, I will outline an easy method to rectify this problem, which will keep your staff motivated and more productive.

If you have any questions, I would be pleased to answer them at the end of the presentation.

But before we start the first part, ask yourselves, what you would do if you could reduce the relative labour cost of each product you manufacture or sell, or each service you provide? As you all well know, labour normally accounts for about 40% of total costs in most businesses. A lot of money! Money which could be spent in other areas like Research and Development(R&D) or by reducing the price of your product.'



Quiz: Vocabulary for beginning a presentation

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A different way to say 'I am going to start with', is
         

To begin with:
(verbial phrase) It is used when introducing what the subject/focus of the first part of the presentation will be. It is also common to use 'Firstly,'. In Spanish: "en primer lugar".

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To begin with:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. A phrase used to make people think about a question or dilemma, is
         

Ask yourselves:
(phrase) This is used to focus people's attention on to a subject or issue. It is very commonly used in presentations. It is generally followed by 'what you would do if', e.g. 'Ask yourselves what you would be if you had to make such a decision?' In Spanish: "pregúntate a ti mismo".

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Ask yourselves:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3. A very polite phrase used to welcome people to the presentation, is
         

First of all, let me start by thanking you:
(phrase) It is generally followed by 'for' + 'gerund', e.g. 'First of all, let me start by thanking you for coming tonight'. In Spanish: "Permítanme antes de nada agradecerles ".

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First of all, let me start by thanking you:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4. A polite way to ask people not to interrupt during the presentation, is
         

I would be pleased to answer them at the end of the presentation:
(phrase) Normally, this phrase follows 'If you have any questions,'. The phrase is a less direct way of telling people to not interrupt you. In Spanish: "tendré mucho gusto en responder cualquier pregunta al final de la presentación.".

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I would be pleased to answer them at the end of the presentation:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5. The opposite of discuss something in depth, is
         

Give an overview:
(phrase) This means that you are going to focus on the main and most relevant points of a subject, issue, problem etc... In Spanish: "da una visión general".

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Give an overview:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. A polite way of introducing an important fact to the audience, is
         

As you all well know:
(phrase) This phrase should only be used if you believe the audience is knowledgeable on the subject. In Spanish: "Como ya saben".

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As you all well know:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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7. A different way to say 'I am going to finish with', is
         

And finally:
(adverb) It is used when introducing what the subject/focus of the last part of a section of a presentation will be. It is also common to use 'And lastly,'. In Spanish: "por último".

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And finally:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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8. A phrase used to introduce the subject of the presentation, is
         

In this presentation, I am going to talk to you about:
(phrase) You can also use 'Today, I going to talk to you about...'. In Spanish: "En esta presentación, les hablaré de".

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In this presentation, I am going to talk to you about:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9. A more professional way to say that the presentation has 3 different parts, is
         

Is divided into three parts:
(phrase) It is used when introducing what the subject/focus of the different parts of the presentation will be. In Spanish: "Se divide en tres partes".

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Is divided into three parts:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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10. A phrase used to express a point or opinion in a different and more understandable way, is
         

Or to put it another way:
(phrase) This is very common and very effective at making sure people understand what you want to say, e.g. 'the company will struggle financially in the year to come, or, to put it another way, we will make a loss!'. In Spanish: "dicho en otras palabras".

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Or to put it another way:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Practice

Now that you understand the starting a presentation vocabulary, practise it by writing your own beginning of a presentation in English with the new words/phrases.