Effective oral presentations

Presenting in another language can be very challenging but it can also be very rewarding.  To be able to present well is a very valuable skill both in business and academia.

Below are some examples of effective English presentations (by both native and non-native speakers) in a variety of contexts.  When watching the videos, look at how the presenters are not relying on written material but rather using body language and eye contact effectively to engage directly with the audience. Also watch how they use well-timed (and often long) pauses to control their speed and highlight important points.

After watching the videos, read the transcripts and look at how the presenters use simple language and repetition to help the audience follow their narrative.   Notice also how they use personalized language (eg. personal pronouns: I, you, we) and rhetorical questions to create a stronger connection with the audience.

Presenting suggestion
Most first-time presenters speak too quickly and rely on reading from a lengthy manuscript. In addition to rehearsing your presentation in advance, try videoing your rehearsal (eg. on a smartphone or tablet) and playing it back. This will help you to easily identify problems with delivery such as speed/pausing and body language.


  Video link Comment

Questions of Culture, by Sajjid Zhahir Chinoy      (8min).  University of Richmond commencement   address, May 12, 1996.

Good example of using effective vocal variety, pausing, and repetition. Transcript


Steve Jobs’ Stanford Unverisity commencement address, June 12, 2005 (15min).

Example of effective structure/organization. Rhetorical questions etc. also used well to connect with audience.Transcript


Barack Obama’s Democratic National Convention keynote address, July 27, 2004 (18min)

Good example of pausing for effect.Transcript


Michelle Obama’s Eastern Kentucky University Class of 2013 commencement address (20 min, starts from 5min).

Also effective connection with the audience though eye-contact & body language.Transcript


Martin Luther King – I have a dream “The March in Washington” 1963.

Effective use of repetition and pausing for effect.Transcript


Ronald Reagan’s televised speech after the space shuttle Challenger disaster. (4min).

Effective choice of words and quotations ie. exactly the right words exactly the right way.

7 John F Kennedy inaugural address, 20 Jan 1961 (4min).Transcript
8 Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, speaks at the 2013 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference in Washington, DC.
Filmed October 4, 2013 (25min).Although there are some issues with pronunciation etc. these are overcome with effective use of humor and personalized
storytelling to connect with and entertain the audience.Transcript

Related links:

How do I plan my presentation?

Phrases to help the audience understand your presentation





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