presentation tips

How to sound like a native English speaker when giving a presentation [VIDEO]

This is actually a good content marketing lesson, which I'll explain as you read on. But first, some background. This video is from my presentations site and it was made in response to a question I got on YouTube. The question was about sounding more natural when speaking English, and sounding like a native English speaker. Many English language learners feel that they have to sound like a native speaker... thats a good goal, but it isn't always necessary to sound native when speaking English. Anyway, check out the video to see what I mean. Content marketing lesson from this

This video is also an example of how you can engage your audience and build greater trust with them. Did I have to respond to the question by making a video? No, of course not. But I feel that when someone takes the time to not only watch, but to reach out and ask a question related to a challenge they are having, they're likely to be pretty happy to get a video just for them.

Personally, I tend to get a poor impression of people who don't respond to relevant questions or comments so I do my best to reply to people that contact me. It's also a great way to be congruent with the persona/image one has in the mind's on your audience.

Anyway, here's the video and below that is a text version of what I talked about in the video.

What the real issue is

Whenever somebody asks this question, it's usually because you really care about your English presentation performance. You probably understand how important it is to give a good presentation in English. And you probably think that what is holding you back from giving a good presentation is your English speaking ability. But in my experience, the real issue is not so much your English ability, as it is the fact that you are presenting in English by memorizing a script.

Why that is a problem

Well, the problem with that is that your script was probably not written in a natural native English-speaking kind of way. It was likely written to be more, or as much as possible, grammatically correct and with the best vocabulary you could think of.

So memorizing it becomes an issue

When you memorize a presentation script that was not written in a natural way, there is no way you can deliver the presentation and sound natural. Not even a great actor could do that.

Another thing

If your audience is made up of non-native English speakers, then they likely won't care that you don't sound like a native English speaker. It would be impressive, though, and there are some ways to help you.

Here are 3 things you can do to sound more like a native English speaker...

1. Use simple vocabulary that a 10-year-old child can understand

Be sure to avoid complicated, overly technical or very advanced words and sentence structure.

The reason is because to sound more natural, you must use more common and natural sounding vocabulary and sentences.

2. Go to

Use it to check your presentation script for clarity, sentence structure and vocabulary usage.

This is a great app because it clearly points out how readable your writing is, which in turn, determines how natural sounding your presentation script will be.

3. Give yourself enough time to prepare

You need time to write your script and edit it to sound more natural.

Preparing for a presentation at the last minute or with little time to go over your script, is a recipe for a poor sounding presentation.

To wrap up

Remember that the most important thing is working from a good script. You should try to avoid sounding too academic. Instead, aim for being understood by your audience, as that is far more important.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Good luck and thanks again to Ton Rod!

This was very nice!

Just got a super-nice comment on one of my presentations videos... Comment of YouTube Channel Carl Kwan 2013-09-27 at 11.41.02 AM

So happy to know that people are learning and using the tips.

Thanks to Sky and everyone else for the continued support.

New videos coming soon... Just been busy with all the PowTooning lately :)


Presentation Quick Tip #8 - How to Create Presentation Content Your Audience Will Care About

Choosing presentation content is often one of the most difficult tasks a presenter faces… with getting up and giving the presentation right up there, too. So I thought I'd offer a simple, effective tip when you have lots of stuff to talk about or when you're not sure where to start. Please check out the video or skip down and read more on this topic.

If YouTube is unavailable in your area, please click the following link to watch or right-click to download: Presentation Quick Tip #8 - How to Create Presentation Content Your Audience Will Care About

Video length 1:23 (Click CC for captions or read transcript below)  

Too much to say, too little time

Most people want to include as much as possible because it seems like the right thing to do. Or it might come from thinking that it's what your teacher or boss wants. The problem is how to fit everything in and meet your time restriction. Or not talk so much and so long that your audience turns into slobbering zombies. Interesting for a movie, but not your presentation.

It's a human thing

The thing to remember is that human beings can only remember approximately four things at a time. If you talk about too much, there's no way they will remember. So it's better to keep the number of topics you cover from three to five.

But I've got a gagillion things to talk about…What do I do!?

Obviously, you can't include a gagillion things, or even a bazillion, which is significantly less…I'm sure. So you need a process to hack away at what's important from what's unimportant. Not only will this help you focus on core topics, but it will help your audience better understand, and remember, the essence of your presentation.

Try this four step process…

Step 1: Make a list of everything you want, or think you should talk about. Everything. Just do a complete data dump and don't worry about what's good or bad.

Step 2: Cut that list in half. Be like a serial presentation content killer. Choose victims that are not necessary for understanding or that will take away from your presentation's focus and hack and slash them off your list.

Step 3: Now look at what your audience wants to hear, their goals, reasons for attending your presentation, etc. You should have identified this early on. Looking at your audience profile, go through your list and remove stuff they don't care about. Be ruthless in doing this, as your audience will thank you for being focused on what they want to hear.

Your audience will continuously pay attention because they are hearing what they want to hear. Always remember to think about why the audience would want to spend their precious time listening to you.

Step 4: Look once again at what you want to say, what the audience wants to hear and knock out anything else that doesn't add value or help you reach your goals and your audience's goals. You should now be able to get down to three to five life changing, universe moving, mind shattering topics… Or at least what you and your audience will be excited about.

So remember

Be ruthless in rooting out content that will not add value to your audience, that will not move them to action, or that will not persuade or motivate them. You can now focus on delivering focused, clearly defined information.

A final tip

If necessary, provide supporting evidence or additional information you didn't talk about in a document. Ideally, give this document to your audience at the end of your presentation so they don't sit there reading it while you're talking. You can even tell the audience that you will cover some core topics, and that everything else will be given to them afterwards.

If you have any questions or comments about this tip, please let me know by writing in the comments section below.

Thank you.




(Whuh, whuh, whuh!)

Pretty fast.

Hi, it's Carl Kwan here and this is Presentation Quick Tip #8.

In this video, you're gonna learn about how to create presentation content that your audience will care about, which is, you know, really important.

What you want to do is take your list of topics that you want to cover, or the points you want to cover, write them all down.

Just throw everything in there.

And then, cut it in half.

Think about what is non-essential, what is essential and just immediately cut it in half.

Then, take your audience's perspective and look at what content they would be interested in and why they would want to spend their valuable time listening to that content.

You'll probably be able to, kwhuh, cut your content in half.

You love that kwhuh, cutting sound, don't you?

Anyway, so cut your content again.

Then, look at your content, look at the topics you want to cover.

And again, go through that list and cut them again.

Try and get down to say, three to five really crucial, important, great pieces of information that you want to share with your audience.

And that is how you create presentation content that your audience will care about.

And this was Presentation Quick Tip #8.

If you have any questions or comments about this one, please leave them below this video.

Talk to you again soon.

Bye, bye.

Presentation Quick Tip #7 - 3 Tips For Using Questions To Start A Presentation

In this Presentation Quick Tip #7 video, you'll learn three tips when using a question to start a presentation. Beginning a presentation with a question is a great idea, as my buddy Jonathan Li recommends. However, you need to be aware of what may happen when you open your presentation with a question. So what you'll learn is what can happen and what to do. Please check out the video or skip down and read more on this topic.

If YouTube is unavailable in your area, please click the following link to watch or right-click to download: Presentation Quick Tip #7 - 3 Tips For Using Questions To Start A Presentation

Video length 1:17 (Click CC for captions or read transcript below)  

Here's the thing

There are so many ways to start a presentation. Asking a question is one of the most tried and true methods. However, presenters, especially less-experienced ones, have to be careful because asking a question may not always get you the result you want.

I've seen this many times…

The presenter comes up all ready to go. Slides look nice, the presenter looks fairly confident and the audience is sitting in anticipation. Then the speaker asks a question that he or she has rehearsed and looks out to the audience expecting an answer.

Disaster and panic

Or is that panic and disaster? Either way, what happens next is the audience sits there completely silent. Awkwardness ensues and the speaker asks again. More often than not, our presenter is now frazzled by the experience and is unsure what to do. He or she was going to use the audience's response to segue into the presentation, but the only thing he or she is thinking about is, "Oh crap, now what!?"

Why it happens

Sometimes, people just simply don't know the answer. This can be a good thing because you now have their attention. Sometimes, people are just too shy to answer. This happens a lot in Asian cultures. But something more evil is when people don't want to answer just to see you squirm and get uncomfortable. This can happen if you are being evaluated, like in a sales or investment pitch or if you're speaking to classmates who want to see you get embarrassed. Nasty.

Have no fear, the answer is here

Sorry about the cheesy rhyme. Anyway, to avoid feeling like the temperature suddenly shot up and worrying that your face is now beet red, here are three things to do when using a question to start a presentation…

1. Ask a question, but don't wait too long for an answer

In this case, you can give the answer because people may not know or don't want to answer. Either way, you're not wasting time waiting and it can be an effective way to keep the audience's attention. This works especially well when you are sure they will not know the answer.

2. Ask questions, then ask specific people to answer them

Instead of waiting, just motion or point to someone to answer. This also saves time and it also gets the audience involved. If the first person you ask doesn't know, ask someone else. If nobody knows, great! You have their attention and can now teach them something new.

3. Ask rhetorical questions, questions that make a point and don't need an answer

I like these because they are a great way to get your audience to agree with something you want to say. You can even ask them to raise their hands to say whether they agree or not. One sneaky trick is to use a tag question, something like, "It's nice out, isn't it?" because they always have to agree with what comes before the question. Like I said, sneaky, isn't it? :)

So there you go. Now you know what to do when starting a presentation with a question.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.






Bet you thought I was Bruce Lee!

Hi, it's Carl Kwan here and this is Presentation Quick Tip #7.

Now, it's a really good idea to begin your presentations with a question, as my buddy Jonathan Li in Hong Kong recommended.

Now, one thing, though, you do have to be careful of is that sometimes people will not answer because either they don't want to, or because they really don't know the answer.

So there are three things you should do when asking questions.

Number one, ask the question but don't wait too long for an answer.

Number two, ask the question and then point to someone specifically to answer the question for you.

And finally number three, ask a rhetorical question, a question that people already know the answer to.

Then that way, you're not wasting time waiting for people to answer your question, in case they really don't know or they're not being very nice and don't want to answer.

So make sure you do use a question to start your presentations, that's very good, but also be mindful of those three things.

That is Presentation Quick Tip #7.

If you have any questions about this one, please leave them below this video.

Thanks for watching.

Talk to you again soon.


Presentation Quick Tip #6 - How To Keep Your Audience Engaged

One of the biggest fears or moments of panic is when you see your audience becoming disinterested in your presentation. They are either not paying attention, being distracted by the latest game or, more than likely, the latest Grumpy Cat photo. Whatever it may be, you as the presenter hate that moment. But it doesn't have to be that way...

Check out the video for a quick explanation of what to do or keep reading for an in-depth look at this topic.

If YouTube is unavailable in your area, please click the following link to watch or right-click to download: Presentation Quick Tip #6 - How To Keep Your Audience Engaged

Video length 1:08  

Yes, it's true that people have a limited attention span, but it doesn't mean we have to let that rule, or ruin, our presentations. What you have to do is re-engage or reacquire their attention just before their attention span heads south.

How long before that happens?

Most experts say that human attention span ranges from 5-10 minutes, depending on which expert you're referring to. With so many distractions, especially from always present smart phones, I'm sure the limits of human attention have gone down.

In the case of presentations, it's better to err on the lower end of the scale. Therefore, I suggest re-engaging or re-acquiring the audience's attention once every 3-5 minutes.

Great, but how the heck do I do that??

To be honest, it actually doesn't matter what you do. The point is that if you've been speaking for a few minutes, you have to break the monotony and snap people out of their trance. I'm not saying that your content is boring. I'm just saying that you must do something.

For example, you could show, or talk about, something relevant to your presentation. A video demonstrating your point is always good. In fact, Apple uses this technique in all their presentations.

Another thing you could do is give your audience an interesting fact or statistic that reinforces what you're saying. Again, just make sure it's relevant.

If you have time and it's appropriate, or if you plan it, you could tell a personal story related to your topic. But be careful that the outcome of your story isn't predictable or your audience will lose interest before you ever finish.

Finally, a live demo of some sort can also be used. If possible, get your audience directly involved to connect them what you're saying in a more direct, tangible way.

The point is...

Whatever you do, just make sure you do it and be aware of your presentation's timing so your audience never has a chance to go off into la-la land... Unless that's what you're trying to do.

Thanks and talk to you next week.




Hi, it's Carl Kwan here with Presentation Quick Tip #6.

In this week's video, you're going to learn about how to time and space out the content in your presentation to keep your audience from getting bored.

Now, everyone has a very limited attention span.

They can only pay attention for maybe 3-5 minutes, maybe 7 minutes if you're lucky.

So what you wanna do is after 3-5 minutes, you wanna say, "But here's something really interesting."

And then present a fact or a statistic or some kind of really interesting piece of information that will re-engage your audience.

And make sure though that that piece of information really is interesting or they're still gonna be bored.

So remember, if you want to engage your audience and keep their attention, and make sure they don't kinda start dozing off, every 3-5 minutes introduce something that is going to be interesting to them…A stat or a figure, or whatever kind of fact or information that they will find interesting, that'll re-engage them.

And that is Presentation Quick Tip #6.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below this video.

Thanks for watching.

Talk to you again soon.


Presentation Quick Tip #2 - Use A Quote To Introduce Topics

It's time for Presentation Quick Tip #2 and this time I wanted to talk about how to use quotes in presentations. Specifically, how to use a quote to introduce topics because I think a lot of people are confused by how to best use quotes in presentations. And so I've got a simple, super-useful way to use quotes that you'll find very handy. Instead of your typical, "Now I'm going to talk about Topic A," start talking about your topic with a relevant quote.

Here's how it would work…

If your topic was about increasing productivity, then find a quote about getting things done. For example, here's a great quote from one of my personal heroes, Bruce Lee: “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.”

What YOU can say during your presentation is, "Bruce Lee once said, 'If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.' and that's why I wanted to discuss some ideas about increasing overall productivity.

But here's the coolest part…

You can now summarize your presentation using the quotes, instead of just listing what you said. Now you can say, "We heard that Bruce Lee said, 'If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.' I then introduced three ways we could boost productivity."

Pretty cool, huh? I knew you'd think so.

Anyway, below is the video I made about this Presentation Quick Tip and the video script is just below the video.

Hope this helps and talk to you again soon.



If YouTube is unavailable in your area, please left-click to view or right-click to download the video here: Presentation Quick Tip #2 - Use A Quote To Introduce Topics

Video length 0:53



Hey there, it's Carl Kwan here.

So in this video I'm going to give you another presentation quick tip, while on vacation.

What you can do when you introduce a topic to get the audience's attention is to use a quote.

And one of the best ways you can do that, is to say, "Henry Ford used to say: If you think you can, or you think you can't, either way you're right."

That'd be a great way to segue into a topic about motivation or getting things done.

Then at the end of your presentation, you can then repeat the same quote to reinforce what you taught to your audience or what you said to your audience, help them refresh their memory.

So use it to introduce your topic, then also use the quote to summarize your presentation.

And that is a presentation quick tip for you.

If you have any questions or comments about this one, please let me know by leaving your questions or comments below this video and we'll talk to you again soon.

Thanks. Bye-bye.

Presentation Quick Tip #1 - Use a picture as a PowerPoint background

Presentation design is an expression that probably draws some cringes from people. Understandable since most of us just want to quickly get our PowerPoint slides finished before our boss or teacher wants them. So in this very first Presentation Quick Tip video, I share with you a speedy way to add some flair to your PowerPoint presentations. All you have to do is use a photo as your background, instead of the plain white or whatever colour the template is. I'll go into more detail on exactly how to do it in another post. The main thing is to use photos that are relevant to your presentation topic. For example, if you're putting together a presentation about your latest quarter's sales results, use photos of your product, or photos from sales team meetings, whatever.

The challenge of course is getting the photos. But with smartphones being so popular, it's just a matter of remembering to capture the moment wherever you happen to be and saving those in a well-named folder. Just hold your camera steady, keep the light source behind you and snap away.

One thing to not do is take pictures of people when there's overhead lighting only. Everyone will end up with big black bags under their eyes and forever hate you for taking such an awful picture of them.

Anyway, check out the video for more information.

Thanks and look for the follow up to this Presentation Quick Tip.


If YouTube is unavailable in your area, please watch or download the video here: Presentation Quick Tip #1 - Use a picture as a PowerPoint background

Video length: 0:58