You are on page 1of 3

A brief guide to making oral presentations

Introduction In order to prepare an effective oral presentation, it may be useful to consider the following three aspects: 1. content 2. structure 3. delivery

1. Content Your presentation should be relevant and interesting Relevant? What is the purpose of the presentation? Who are your audience? What are the most important bits of information to get across? Interesting? Again, think about your audience! (What is interesting to you, may not be interesting to them.) Research the subject thoroughly. You should to be able to speak confidently and be prepared to answer questions.

2. Structure Your presentation should be concise and the content should be arranged in a logical order. Take out anything that is irrelevant or superfluous as this will disrupt the flow. One suggested formula to follow is 1. Introduce yourself (your group) and give a brief outline of your presentation what are you going to cover in the talk. 2. Explain what the task was, or what your subject was, as concisely as possible. What were the aims of the task/investigation? 3. Describe what you did, why you did it and how you did it. 4. Give any outcomes/results from what you did 5. Discuss your outcomes or findings (positive and negative) and give your conclusions (have evidence to back up opinions or recommendations) 6. Conclude with a brief summary of what you have presented. Audience attention span fluctuates. People are generally most attentive at the start and end of a talk, so dont hide the most important bits in the middle of your talk re-emphasise the important points in your concluding remarks.

3. Delivery There are many factors that contribute to the successful delivery of a presentation. These include voice body language timing visual aids (e.g. slides)

3.1 Voice Although you should speak with a natural voice, dont be too informal and try to practice the following speak clearly dont shout or whisper, and dont rush or speak deliberately slowly speak to the audience not to the blackboard or screen or into a script dont read from a script (you will not be communicating with the audience). If you feel you may need a prompt, use cue cards (numbered to correspond to the slide numbers and in case you drop them)! modulate your voice vary the speed and pitch of your delivery. A monotonous voice will switch an audience off very quickly use pauses for emphasis at key points remember to breath! Taking deep breaths helps you to project, control and modulate your voice. Deep regular breathing also helps to dispel nerves.

3.2 Body language Along with what youre saying and how youre saying it, your body language during a presentation also expresses your thoughts, attitudes and feelings. Body language can enhance, or detract from, your presentation. You want to appear relaxed, confident and enthusiastic choose your position carefully (relative to the audience, screen, desks, microphones etc) and then dont move around too much. you can use your hands to emphasise points but dont wave them around too much and keep them out of your pockets! look at the audience as much as possible (but dont focus on an individual). Eye-contact helps to engage the audience, builds your confidence, and gives you feedback be aware of, and try to control, nerve-induced mannerisms. Watching a video of yourself presenting may be uncomfortable but it will very quickly reveal any bad habits.

3.3 Timing It is vital that you stick to the agreed timing for your presentation (allowing time at the end for questions, if required). So, stick to your plan do not digress or ramble or you will run out of time or have to rush the important parts of the talk rehearse, and if youre over-running, take something out! Dont try to cover too much

3.4 Visual aids/slides Often you will be using some form of presentation software, such as PowerPoint, to prepare and display slides. The following tips are a good starting point dont put too much information on one slide it will be difficult to read and will divert attention from what you are saying as a general guideline you should allow at least one minute per slide (and often considerably longer) use a suitably sized font (typically 20pt minimum, and preferably a bit larger) that is clear and enlarges well (True Type) pictures, diagrams, graphs etc must be clear when projected and labels/captions etc must be easily legible (avoid large tables of data) keep it simple! Dont use detailed backgrounds they are distracting and make the text difficult to read keep it simple! Stick to simple colour schemes, with good contrast between background and text, and avoid light colours that dont project well. keep it simple! use animations and slide transitions sparingly - they quickly become a major distraction check for spelling mistakes at least three times!

Group Presentations In addition to the guidelines given above, a group presentation requires some additional planning and extra consideration. you must all know who is doing what and when rehearsal is even more crucial for a successful group talk think about what group members do when they are not speaking. If it is not your turn to speak you need to stand/sit still and ensure anything you do is not distracting make sure that all slides are formatted consistently and are in the correct order

Practical details double check the time, location and duration of your presentation check the format your presentation should be in, do you need it on a USB drive? (Dont just assume that you will be able to use your own laptop). make sure that you have the correct version of your presentation file make sure that you know how to use the equipment in the room (before your presentation)

Conclusion The key to putting all of this into practice and delivering a successful presentation is preparation and practice.