Thursday, July 28, 2011

Be more coherent using Linking Words and Phrases

Along with confidence and credibility, coherence is a quality the audience looks for in a speaker and in their presentation.  The Concise Oxford dictionary says that the adjective "coherent" describing a speech means that it is "logical and consistent; easily followed". Language provides us with many devices we can use to show how our ideas are connected so that our thinking is easily followed.  In my experience, however, these devices are not always readily available to us when we are speaking our second or third language.

During the past couple of weeks I've been working with a client who, like most English speakers, did not have English as his mother tongue.  We had noted that his presentations sometimes lacked coherence even though his thinking was logical and were working together to improve this. I was reminded of how valuable it is to show how ideas are connected, in other words to show our thinking.

My client achieved great results simply by using linking words and phrases to show how his ideas were connected and point to his thinking.  At once his seemingly disconnected and random points hung together like beads on a thread.  The flow of his speaking became easier as well and he was able to speak more comfortably without referring to his notes as often as he had been.

Whether or not you are a first language English speaker you might find it helpful to use more of these words and phrases to connect your ideas and show the logical structure of your presentation. Of course, you can use them in your writing too.

Beware! Using a few linking words here and there is not a magic cure-all for poor thinking, inadequate research and lack of planning and certainly won't make a brilliant presentation out of a few random bullet points.  However, especially if English is not your first choice of language to speak in then these words and phrases may be helpful to you.


To extend the idea: further; furthermore; in addition; as well as this; firstly . . . secondly

To state the idea again in another way:  that is; in other words

To show contrast in ideas or to note exceptions: however; on the other hand; nevertheless; unless; either . . . or; neither . . . nor

To explain a cause or reason: because; for this reason; owing to; for this/ these reason/s

To show results: as a result; for this/these reason/s; consequently

To introduce an illustration: for example; for instance; this can be seen in; as shown in; as shown by

To introduce a similar idea: this is similar to; similarly; in the same way; also; not only . . .  but also

To reach a conclusion: therefore; thus; finally; in conclusion; to summarise; to sum up; from this we may conclude that ...

To join one section to the next: "Having covered ... I'm now moving on to discuss ..."; "This brings me to ..."; "That brings us to ..."

If you'd like more clarity on using words to show logical thinking you might like to browse this article.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Presentation Basics: Step-by-Step Preparation for Beginners


Roughly note all your ideas on paper, mind-mapping is a useful technique to use.

Gain understanding of your audience, their needs and expectations.
Know your audience, their needs and expectations 

Establish your specific purpose, turn it into a statement, write it down: 'My purpose is to ...'  Ask yourself: “What do I want my audience to think and do as a result of listening to my speech?”

From your rough ideas, select the main ideas your audience will need to hear if you are to achieve your stated purpose.  It is usual for a successful presentation to have between three and five main points.

Plan your introduction:
  • Clearly state your purpose
  • Give background to your main topic
  • Give an overview of your presentation
Plan your conclusion:
  • Clearly connect your conclusion to your purpose
  • Briefly reinforce your main points
Prepare the body:
  • Use a set structure that gives logical flow and coherence
  • Clearly state your main points, make sure they are connected to your purpose
  • Support and explain main points with examples, statistics, research findings, charts, graphs, photos, references etc
  • Clearly connect your main points as well as ideas within main points to ensure coherence
  • Integrate relevant visual aids into the body
Practise and adjust your presentation until you are comfortable with it and timing is correct

Good luck with your presentation!