Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

how to organize your presentation in English

Have you done a lot of presentations in your academic life or your career?

How do you like to organize your presentations?

Organization is the key to a good presentation that pulls people in.

Today we’ll show you one simple way to organize a presentation and to put words to your organization so that people know what to expect.

Today we have a question from a listener:

Hi Lindsay, Michelle, Jessica,

I am  Stefano, from Italy.

Thank you so much for answering to a couple of questions of mine in previous casts. Improving my English with you is a pleasure!

As a university teacher, I have a new question referring to the set of expressions that I can use at the beginning and at the end of each lecture.   What expression can I use to briefly introduce topics at the beginning of the lecture, just to give students an overview before diving into each of them individually?  As to the end of the lecture: how can I tell that I’m going to summarize the topics previously discussed?

 How can I tell students to study again the assigned material as to be well prepared for the upcoming exam? (I read expressions like “brush up” and “bone up” but I’ve never heard them in real life so maybe they are a little bit obsolete or too formal?)

Many thanks for your wonderful work!




Great question Stefano!

Today we’re going back 2,400 years to grab some advice from a famous philosopher.

The advice is from Aristotle on how to structure a speech.

This is called a “Aristotelian triptych”

Later, we’re going to show Stefano how to articulate the structure into English.


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3 parts to your structure:

  • First: Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
  • Next: Tell them (the content), the lecture.
  • Last: Tell them what you told them.
  • *Bonus: Tell them what to do next.

But Stefano wants to know how to plug in the right English phrases here for a more formal speech as a university professor.

Let’s break down some vocabulary for each part of the presentation.


1) Tell them what you’re gonna tell them:

  • “Today we’ll be discussing”: This is more formal. We did an episode about using “we’ll be + ing when you talk about formal plans. A formal presentation would be another great place to use this. 
  • “What we’re going to do today is this”: This is more casual, more human, less formal and “professor like.” It sounds more like you are running a workshop but could be useful but it really depends on your class.

2) Tell them: Here is you deliver the content

3) Tell them what you told them:

  • “To summarize what we talked about today..”. (swap in “discussed” to make it more formal)
  • “I’d like to sum up what we went over in this lecture. (more casual)
  • “Let’s sum up…”
  • “To sum up…”


4) Tell them what to do next:

  • “Your assignment for next time!” or “Your assignment for next time is…”
  • “Please be sure to review your notes before the next class.”
  • “You’ll want to make sure you are familiar with the material before our next class.”


Slang phrases:

Can you say “brush up” here?

Not exactly.

Brush up is more about when you had a skill and didn’t do it for a while then you went back to it.

It’s not so much about reviewing lecture notes.

What about bone up?

Maybe, but it might sound kind of strange. Maybe too casual for the situation.



Keep your framework simple.

If it worked for Aristotle then it should work for you.

Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them, and tell them what to do next.

Make sure you are familiar with very casual phrases like brush up and bone up before you use them in the classroom as a professor.

Yes it’s about Connection NOT Perfection but it also matters how you appear in front of your students when you are in the position of authority.

 Watch college lectures to see what kind of vocabulary professors are using or watch an online EdX video or sit in on your colleagues during their lectures.


What questions do you have today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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