Introduction This unit introduces the skills necessary to communicate effectively and deliver successful presentations.

By taking a systematic approach to giving presentations the unit aims to develop these skills, which you may already possess.

Learning Outcomes The broad aim of this unit is to provide a framework for learning-based activities and reflective exercises. More specifically, it is designed to offer you the opportunity to:

understand the need for effective presentations; assess your own strengths and weaknesses in meeting this need; develop some of the specific skills and practices required; create a series of practical checklists and strategies; use reflection and feedback to develop further your abilities as a presenter.

Overview Have you ever had to stand in front of an audience and give a presentation?

Perhaps it was in an informal setting, such as a tutorial, day-school or residential school, and you stood there, armed with only a flip chart and marker pen. Or you may have had to present data to colleagues during a presentation at work. Even when you reprimand your children, or show them how to do something properly, you are presenting information: it is one of the most basic flows of communication.

In some cases, you may have been anxious about giving a presentation, although the degree of anxiety will have depended not just upon the actual situation, but on your own experience and temperament.

We can call upon many different skills in order to communicate effectively and professionally, and to make a successful presentation. You will already possess many of these skills, even if you are unaware of them; with practice and know-how, they can be developed further.

Although nothing can replace practical presentation experience, working systematically through the activities in this unit will give you a sound

framework on which to build both the content and the style of your presentations. The unit can also be a handy reference for future use: you can click in and out of the individual sections and search for help and information as you need it. That is why we have created the checklists and activities.

It is important to understand that effective presentation skills can be practised and learned. It is the content of your presentation, and the simple delivery of clear and reasoned arguments, which will help you to achieve your objectives. This is why the unit places a strong emphasis on preparation for the presentation to ensure that everything goes as you have planned.

You may find it worthwhile to click through the sections first to get an overview, and then identify the areas which interest you most. However, you will probably benefit most by working through the material systematically. Once you have completed an activity, reflect on what you have done and consider how the material relates to your own individual needs. The activities have been designed to engage you in the materials, so that you will ultimately present your ideas in a clear and effective manner.

Presentations can be made less threatening and more enjoyable if you confront the issues that cause you anxiety and make an action plan for each. One way of tackling a presentation is to break down the issues into manageable chunks and deal with them one by one: this is our approach in this unit. As the reader, you can be selective and strategic about using this unit and use whichever parts you feel are most beneficial. By working through the exercises (either in their given order or as you see fit), we hope you can increase your confidence in communicating your ideas to a wider audience.

Good luck!

Identifying key issues What makes a good presentation?
The activities in this section are designed to help you recall any previous experiences that may be relevant. Activity 1 Can you recall a memorable presentation you've seen? What was it that made the speaker unforgettable? Did a good presenter make dull material come alive? How clear was the message?

Identifying key issues Understanding the need for presentations
Before we start practising the various skills that should help you become a better presenter, we need to understand what is meant by ‘making a presentation’. Generally, we mean any situation which involves you speaking (usually alone) either to one individual or to a group of other people in order to make a point or share information. Many presentations also have some form of supporting visual aid such as a whiteboard, projections, or flip charts, and, in some cases, your hand gestures might be a form of visual aid. If you undertake an academic course you may be assessed on a presentation, and this may count towards your overall course grade. You may also find yourself needing to present information in less academic environments: to your work colleagues, or for a local campaign, for example, and we hope that this unit will enable you to develop your presenting skills in all these areas. There are different expectations regarding presentations, and many very different audiences. Here are some examples of the key components of a presentation:

• • • • • • •

appropriate visual aids evidence of your having practised the talk/delivery appropriate timing/length a clear story or argument in the text appropriate breadth and depth understanding of the topic and the audience a clear structure: a distinct beginning, middle and end.

All of these are important for a successful presentation, but depending on the situation, some may be more important than others. Activity 2 When was the last time you had to give a presentation (if ever)? What were the circumstances (e.g. audience size, formality, length) and how did it go overall? What could you have done differently during the presentation to make it clearer or more enjoyable for the audience? Now read the discussion Many of us are diffident about expressing our ideas and feelings. We can feel nervous or embarrassed when speaking in public or working through an idea in front of an audience. Here are some typical reactions we found when we asked other students to respond to Activity 2: I know exactly the point I want to make, but by the time I get the opportunity to express myself … all that comes out is a confused babble. I have a very definite regional accent and need to make a special effort in order to be understood. I am OK just chatting but when I get on my feet in class I can hear my voice in my head, just mumbling away. English is not my first language and I lose confidence when I have to stand up in front of others in my group … it is easier with strangers.

I find it difficult to organise my thoughts when speaking to a group or even just to my supervisor … I feel I must read from my notes directly. If you have ever felt like this, then you are certainly not alone – I think it is safe to say that we all feel some degree of nervousness in giving a presentation. But this is natural, and without having at least a little bit of anxiety you may find yourself too relaxed. Keep in mind though that a little tension is helpful because it will bring about an adrenaline rush that will get you onto your feet and ready to give your presentation.

Identifying key issues One way of tackling a presentation
One of the oldest (and probably one of the best!) descriptions of what a speaker should do during a presentation is attributed to an army commander who said that to ensure an effective presentation you simply need to: Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you just told them.

A rather more colloquial piece of advice also often given advises you to: Stand up. Speak up. Shut up. A bit blunt in the approach and language, but you might find that for certain audiences this simple A, B, C formula works well. The three steps can be thought of as the beginning (A), middle (B) and

end (C) of a story. So, as with storytelling, you need to open up the context of the talk in the A section, then present the bulk of your findings in the B section, and within C re-cap on what you have said and reiterate certain key points. Remember Presentation-giving skills can be learnt and continually improved through practice. Some tension is necessary in order to produce the adrenaline rush that initially gets you up on your feet and ready to deliver the work that you have put so much effort into. The next two sections will cover the initial planning for your talk and preparation of suitable material. We will then consider the important use of visual aids, and finally look at your delivery on the day. The ability to make clear, interesting and relevant presentations is increasingly important in today's world, both in an academic and a professional context.

Figure 1: The main steps towards making a presentation from start to completion

Planning for your presentation Introduction
The process of preparing presentations can be time consuming, but you need a plan of some kind in order to understand what your objectives are and how you are going to achieve them. Thorough planning provides you with the knowledge that you have done everything you can to ensure a successful presentation, and hence the confidence to stand up in front of a group of people. Don't assume that planning a presentation simply involves sitting down and writing out what you are going to say and show to your audience. In fact, it is a little more complex than that. You must take three key aspects into account when planning any presentation. These are the: 1. 2. 3. purpose of your presentation audience for your presentation location of your presentation.

There is considerable overlap and linkage between these aspects, but we will now look at them in turn.

Planning for your presentation Purpose of your presentation
What is the purpose of your presentation? What are you trying to achieve? You may have been given a very concise brief (or subject) for your talk, but sometimes you will only have a title or a vague description of what is required. A presentation may have any number of different purposes and Table 1 gives some possibilities. Table 1: A range of possible purposes and approaches

Purpose

Approach

To inform or describe:

Know the audience's current level of knowledge – if jargon is necessary and they are unfamiliar with it, you must explain the meaning of the words. Use anecdotes, examples and illustrations to give life and colour. Use deductive, chronological or spatial order and carefully chosen words to describe things precisely.

describing observations, background against which something has happened, facts and details

Deductive approaches can involve presentations that can be built up layer by layer, and allow the audience to understand your reasoning. Another way of understanding how you reached your final conclusion would be to present events in a timebased series (chronological).

To instruct or explain:

Concentrate on showing, either by means of diagrams, pictures or demonstrations. Your words must be chosen to produce clear visual images which the audience can grasp.

explanations, directions, instruction

Analogy can be helpful here. Describe something the audience is familiar with: ‘This process is rather like…’

you are concerned with explaining how things work, how processes or procedures are carried out, how actions are performed; you may also want to include an explanation of why things are the way they are and why certain steps are taken in a process To persuade, convince or inspire:

Usually deductive, chronological or spatial order is most suitable but if you are concentrating on why a procedure is necessary, or is the way it is, a less systematic ordering might be appropriate.

Recognise how difficult a task this is: you must appeal to the heart and the head by quoting audience benefits and evidence to back up your arguments – statistics, authoritative opinion, experience of others – but these must be accurate and relevant.

usually changing beliefs, attitudes or behaviour

Avoid generalising and exaggerating, ‘emotive’ and ‘coloured’ language. If you base your argument on

assumptions, explain those assumptions. presenting a case or an argument in favour of or against Avoid, or at least admit, your prejudices. Give some reference to the other side of the story, or your case will be weakened. Above all, (a) you must get the audience's attention, (b) find out what the audience's needs and interests are, (c) show how you can satisfy those needs, (d) ask for an appropriate reaction or approval. To entertain or amuse: More than any, this kind of speaking is an art to which some people seem born; however, since we may all have to do it sometime, it is worth learning. vote of thanks, ‘after-dinner’ speech The general guidelines are: be brief, ration the humour (quotations, i.e. other people's humour, can be very useful here); relate your speech to the audience's interests and to the occasion – be personal and particular.

Figure 2: Some reasons why we give presentations Activity 3

Try to choose a purpose from those shown in Figure 2 for each of the types of presentation listed below. You will probably be able to think of several, as some types of presentations have multiple motives:

• • • • • •

a sales presentation at a conference a training session at your workplace on a new computer system an after-dinner speech at a retirement party a formal presentation about your specialist project/subject/hobby an interview for a new job to summarise an activity at a tutorial or a day school.

Now read the discussion

Planning for your presentation Audience for your presentation
Types of audiences vary enormously – they could include customers for sales, an interview panel, relatives, work colleagues, peer groups, paying clients, tutorial groups, discussion groups. The type of audience might well influence the format of your presentation and its content. A technical presentation to a specialist audience might be more formal than one to a discussion group, though this may depend on the size of the group: a small group technical presentation could easily be quite interactive. On the other hand, an after-dinner speech at a wedding might well be presented to a fairly large audience, but they may not be impressed if you show lots of Overhead Projection Transparencies (OHTs) and lecture to them on a serious topic! Ask yourself the following questions for your intended audience:

• • • • • •

Who are they? What are their reasons for attending? How many are likely to be present? What sort of people – age, education, status? What do they already know about the subject? What are their likely attitudes/biases?

The answers to these questions will affect both the style and the content of your talk. You also need to be prepared to adjust to unexpected circumstances, for instance, what happens if you have planned a session involving group work and only one person turns up? Your audience's response may also be strongly influenced by the conditions at the venue for your talk, and we are going to explore this next.

Planning for your presentation Audience size and seating plans
The size of the audience might affect several aspects of your planning for the presentation. For example, a small group (say about 10–15) would only need a small room. The seating arrangement could be grouped around the presenter so you might prepare a more interactive approach to your presentation. There would be no need for a sound system to project your voice.

You would be able to plan for more questions and answers in your session as people tend to be more willing to ask questions in a smaller room. For a larger audience it may be harder to achieve informality, and interactive approaches may be less practical. Activity 4 Look at the shapes of the seating plans in Figure 3 below, where each square represents a chair. Decide which seating plan would be most suited to each type of audience.

Figure 3: Various seating plans You can have different types of audience. They may be in the form of:

• • • •

small group work large lecture theatre discussion group formal meeting.

Now read the discussion

Planning for your presentation Location, location, location
The location of your presentation might seem like a matter of simple common sense, but it can have significant implications for how you plan your Planning for your

presentation Thinking about the location of your presentation
Activity 5 Imagine that you have been invited to deliver a presentation at a venue that you've never been to before, about 100 miles from your home. The presentation will be one of six others during the day-long event. It is just too far to be able to make a return trip home on the same day.

Your presentation is due to start at 10.00 am with the audience arriving at about 9.30 am for registration and coffee. The most suitable train would get you there at about 9.15 am and this would mean you would have to start from home at about 5 am! There is a generous budget for the event and the organisers have asked you to let them know if you have any questions.

Write down a list of questions about the location which you could send

them to help you organise your presentation. Now read the discussion The next section looks at how you gather and organise material for your talk. content and organise yourself. Preparing your presentation

Gathering your thoughts
We assume that by now you have clarified the subject and purpose of your talk; you have identified the intended audience; and you have some idea of the situation at the venue. Now you need to focus on the material and the structure of your presentation. This is the time to gather your thoughts and assemble material that may be useful. Keep in mind that you may be able to think about the talk even at odd moments – when you are doing other jobs, for instance, or travelling to work. You may find it useful to carry a notebook to jot down ideas as they occur to you. Some of the best ideas occur when you are not actually working on the topic at hand. Sources for material could include books, journals, radio and TV programmes, the internet, discussions with colleagues and friends, and so on. You may want to consider exploring ideas and thoughts in this section as well by using various techniques.

e ideas associated with this are ‘Some strong ideas which support your conclusion – or illustrate your points – could be diagrams, text, photos or other’. At the bottom of the activity map there is a statement, which reads ‘Further refining in order to fit all the ideas together appropriately, logically and within your time slot’."/>
Figure 4: A possible activity map for constructing your content and structure in a presentation The key to organising your material is to have a definite structure. In this section we'll cover a series of exercises which illustrate the importance of having a beginning, middle and end to your talk. We won't go into depth just yet about the delivery of your presentation; we will look at the preparation you need to do to gather and organise all the information you'll be using.

If you have access to the venue, it might help to pay an early visit. The aspects you might want to check include:

• •

type and size of room seating arrangements – fixed or movable?

• • • • • • •

lighting – artificial or natural? acoustics (especially if using amplification) equipment available, e.g. whiteboard, projector, OHP location of power points position of speaker (you!) facilities for special needs – e.g. induction loop, wheelchair access safety features – e.g. fire exits.

You might try sitting in the audience area to see how it feels to be one of them. Can they see clearly? You could take along some of your planned visual aids and check they are visible from all parts.

Preparing your presentation Structure of your presentation
The content of any presentation needs to have a clear structure. This will allow the audience to understand your main themes and leave the presentation feeling that it has been a worthwhile experience. In Section 1, we suggested that most presentations work well by using ‘a Rule of 3’. This is shown below in Figure 5.

Figure 5: The three parts of a presentation

Preparing your presentation Why is the introduction so important?
It is crucial to be very clear exactly what you are going to say and do in the first few minutes. Your introduction needs to be well structured for several reasons:

• • •

You may, like most people, be at your most nervous during the first few

minutes. You may be the first or only speaker and have to ‘break the ice’, and make the

audience feel immediately that their attendance is worthwhile. You may have to follow a speaker who, through the attractiveness or strength

of personality or by reason of their subject, has achieved great acceptance by the audience.

You may have to follow some other activity which has been extremely

successful; or the ‘high-spot’ of the occasion. For any of these reasons, you have to create an immediate impression and gain the attention and interest of your audience. To achieve this you need to know exactly what you're going to say

Preparing your presentation Effective ways to begin your presentation
Activity 6

Think of a presentation you have attended. Write a list of the sorts of things the presenter put into the introduction. If you can't remember, or haven't ever attended one, think about how a book is laid out. Now read the discussion

1. 2.

Statement of subject or title – this may not seem very inspiring to the

audience but it can be short, sharp and informative. Statement of your objective and the plan of your talk – a good, safe way

to start if you have adopted a deductive sequence, but if you are trying to persuade you don't want to give the game away too early. Even where it is appropriate to include the objective and structure of your talk in the introduction, don't make this your opening remark – try one of the more interesting ideas which follow.

3.

Question –anticipate the sort of questions your audience might want answered

in connection with your subject: ‘Are the days of a Great Britain finished for ever?’ ‘Must we sacrifice the essential quality of life if we are to take full advantage of the benefits that high technology can bestow?’ The audience instinctively tries to arrive at an answer and you can go on to give yours.

4.

Mind-reading – similar to the use of the question. Anticipate the audience's

preconceived ideas; bring these into the open and correct them if necessary. ‘If I were a member of the audience tonight, I might be expecting just another "pep- talk" on safety at work. But this evening I have something more valuable to propose…’.

5.

Quotation – perhaps the easiest method to use and often the most effective.

The quotation should be from a well-known person or author known to the audience, and strictly relevant to your subject.

6.

Facts and statistics– used sparingly they can get the audience to rise to the

occasion. Most business or technical subjects offer many facts which will interest and inform your audience. Choose them carefully, make sure they are accurate and keep them simple. Contrasting facts can be particularly interesting: ‘Annually, during the 1970s, the average number of working days lost through strikes was six million, yet the average lost through industrial accidents and sickness was 300 million’. Don't be too detailed – no audience can take in numbers like 6,454,100, without plenty of time and reinforcement from visual aids. Even then, rounded figures and percentages are easier to grasp.

7.

Joke – if your experience tells you that you can do this well, then it may be

worth risking it. But people's sense of humour differs radically, and if the joke falls flat you are worse off than before. Again, it must be well told, relevant and brief.

8.

Informal – for informal occasions: for example, ‘Only a few days ago Mr Brown

and I were discussing the problem of…’. Mr Brown is on your side at once and you have avoided giving the impression of ‘making a speech’.

9.

Anecdote – must be well told, relevant to the subject, brief and, if possible,

personal (the willingness to laugh at yourself usually wins an audience over).

10.

Shock – not just the gimmicky opening, firing revolvers or letting off

explosions, which can often go wrong and is always difficult to sustain. Shock can be created through the effective use of words: ‘training is a waste of time and money…’ pause to allow the shock to take effect, then: ‘unless it is aimed at developing the team rather than the individual.’

11.

Topical story – as opposed to the humorous story. Everyone likes a story –

but only if it is skilfully chosen and told. Ideally it should have an intriguing twist and must lead into the subject.

12.

Having a ‘title’ slide – or OHT with the title of the presentation and your

name on it. This gives the audience something to look at and takes attention away from you if you are feeling nervous at the start. Here are some other ideas which can help you through the first few minutes of your talk:

Learn the first few minutes off by heart from your script. This will help

you get over the ‘stage fright’ of standing in front of an audience, perhaps for the first few times. The fact that you have learned it off by heart means you don't have to think about the first few minutes. After that you will feel more comfortable as you will begin to settle in to the presentation.

Tell people how long you will speak for, when you plan to take questions

and if there are any handouts at the end. There may be various elements to your presentation (e.g. after a short while you may want some ‘audience participation’ in the form of group work). This gives the audience something to look forward to. Telling them when you will take questions is important as you may not want to be interrupted until you have reached certain parts of your presentation or even at the end. There is nothing more off-putting to a speaker than to have the ‘flow’ of an argument broken by a member of the audience asking a question which you were just about to explain.

Use handouts as the audience may appreciate some notes about your

presentation – it saves them work and means they are concentrating more fully on what you are saying. However, it is probably best not to provide notes (particularly a complete set of your slides or OHTs) before a presentation. This can bring about the irritation of people turning over pages while you are speaking. Also, you can guarantee that some of the audience will read ahead and miss what you are saying. So, handouts are probably best given out after the presentation. Of course, with small group work you may want them to use a handout for a particular purpose during the presentation and these can be given out at the time.

Let the audience know what they will gain from your presentation.

Phrases like ‘I hope that you will all be able to understand … when I have finished’ can be very useful in directing your audience. If you don't set the scene in this way at the start you can't expect to take the audience along with you. Another useful phrase which might work could be ‘If you only remember one thing from this talk it should be…’.

Use a ‘table of contents’, for example by using a suitably labelled slide with

each main section of the talk clearly labelled in order. Then you can use these section labels on the appropriate slide during the talk. The visual listing of the A, B, and C sections can be a bit bland, but by signalling to the audience where they are going you will support them through your presentation with minimal effort.

Preparing your presentation Why it is important to organise the main body of your presentation
The main body of your presentation is the ‘tell them’ part. You have prepared your audience for what is about to happen. Now it's happening! The middle section should contain the images and words that are the main part of your topic. Unless you intend to ‘ad lib’ your way through this part, you will need to assemble and organise your material carefully. At the beginning of this section we discussed the need to allow time to gather material and thoughts. You may end up with a large assortment of ideas, notes on paper or on a PC, index cards, printed extracts, diagrams and so on. You now need to sort all this out! You may find you have too much material so you must select only the most essential, relevant information and reject the irrelevant, however much you feel tempted to include it. How much do I need to write and plan for? As a rough guide, about 110–120 spoken words per minute can be presented comfortably to an audience. Of course, you will have to allow for things like explaining diagrams and answering any queries. So a 20-minute presentation with about ten slides shouldn't involve speaking more than about 2,000 words. If you take approximately 1½ minutes per slide as an average, you'll complete the slides in 15 minutes and you'll still have about 5 minutes to answer any questions. The next stage is to look for the links between the various bits of information. When similar topics or issues crop up, they can be grouped together. It is helpful to give each group a heading. These groups may eventually become separate sections of the main body of your presentation. This process is very similar to the approaches used in note-taking and planning an essay.

Preparing your presentation Generating ideas for the main body of your presentation
The aim of this subsection is to help enable you to generate as many ideas, notes, diagrams and data that could be used in your presentation. Then you will need to ask yourself which of these ‘items’ will be most appropriate for the final presentation. Particularly interesting are the various ways in which people make notes to produce a plan. Table 2 shows five different ways in which notes can be made and what they can be used for. Table 2: Types of notes and what they can be used for

Form of notes linear (most common form of notes)

What they look like

When to use them

written along the line, usually several for recording a lot of information; pages for a big topic; lots of words but not whole sentences; use possibly to support later essay writing or revision – usually

abbreviations and possibly arrows, underlining etc. flow chart fewer words than linear notes; more flow

shortened or used as the basis for index cards during revision to show flow or direction in a science or economics but can be used for any topic; can illustrate connections between ideas

visual; ideas or information in logical process; often associated with

tabular

in table form – like this

to help categorise or analyse; to sort ideas or information in a way that is easier to handle and remember

spider or spray diagram

key words and phrases arranged in a to show connections between ideas, branching structure events, theories, etc.; as a working tool while reading, note-taking, assignment planning, and revision

diagrams and other visual presentations

formulae, drawings, pictures, or sets use like a mind-map (to provide of images with few words justification as some people may think a diagram is not really a form of notes)

Activity 7 Match the number representing the ‘Five sorts of notes’ shown in Figure 6 to the description and use of the notes in Table 2.

f notes being written inside objects. In this case the objects are bricks within a wall. The fifth set of notes is shown as being written out as a page of linear text. There are paragraphs, but no whole sentences and many words are abbreviated."/>
Figure 6: Five sorts of notes Now read the discussion Diagram-style notes can also act as part of your presentation for precisely the reasons above. If they are put on an OHT and partially covered up, you can see the topics and reveal them when you want the audience to see the titles. So they also act as a reminder to yourself about the order in which you are going to deal with a topic – so you may not even need a set of notes or script except as back-up.

Preparing your presentation Putting topics into order for the main body of your presentation
The next task is to put the groups of information, still in note form, into some sensible order. The most common methods are: • • • • • chronological order order of importance ascending order of complexity descending order of familiarity cause and effect

a narrative sequence.

Preparing your presentation The importance of visual aids in the main body of your presentation
 FPRIVATE "TYPE=PICT;ALT=This image shows a cartoon of a traveller standing in front of a finger post, which is a signpost with directional arms. In this case there are four directional arms. Two are"

Figure 7: Visual knowledge
Once you have a skeleton outline of the main body of your presentation, you can think about how you will actually deliver the material to your audience. In other words, make use of visual aids in the main body of your talk. This has several purposes: • • • Your audience can see a clear statement of your main points. If you cover an OHT with a sheet of thin paper and only reveal a bit at a time, you have a set of notes to expand upon. If you are feeling nervous, you can divert attention from yourself by giving the audience something to look at. Your audience can assimilate information from two ways at once – from your slides and from what you say. So, they are being stimulated visually and aurally. People tend to remember things that they see, or things that they have heard when they are stated with emphasis, or in a particular way.

• •

You have a permanent record of your presentation and may be able to re-use parts of it again. You have a ready-made way of producing handouts for your audience at the end of your presentation.

By using some simple graphics, such as short tables, shapes (boxes, ovals, circles, etc.) and some supporting text, you will find it becomes very easy to start building up ideas for visual aids which are effective in your presentation. You may already be starting to think about how you might deliver them, and this is addressed later on in the unit. •

Preparing your presentation The main body of your presentation: a summary
In summary: • Decide which order you are going to present the subsections in – which ones follow naturally on from each other? This is called ‘signposting’: it tells the audience where you are all going, and makes sure that there is a logical sequence to your material. Keep reminding yourself of the purpose of your presentation – it is easy to be diverted from this when new ideas occur to you. Avoid jargon if possible. If not, explain yourself or check that your audience understands. Decide on a symbol to put into your presentation notes to remind you to do this. It is easy in the onrush of events to forget to explain simple concepts and theories – you are the expert, not the audience. Use personal anecdotes or examples wherever possible to liven up the content and show that you are sharing your experiences with the audience. Don't be afraid to include a summary as you go along to make sure that you are still carrying your audience with you. There will be an overall conclusion or summary at the end of your presentation, but it doesn't hurt to check and make sure the audience is still following your line of thought.

• •

• •

A word about copyright
Copyright is becoming increasingly important, especially now that all sorts of information are available on the internet. The problem with copyright is that it can become very complicated and the legal ruling varies from one country to another. Much of the help you can get with copyright on the internet is from the United States and does not always apply in the United Kingdom or Europe. Copyright might affect your presentation if you decide to use somebody else's pictures or photographs, or even a quote in order to help illustrate your own text. If you have doubts about using something, you must at the very least acknowledge your source material so that others can also easily find the reference. Essentially, these are the main points about copyright that you should be clear about: • There is no official register for copyright.

• • •

Copyright is what is called an ‘unregistered right’ whereas patents, registered designs or trade marks are registered with an office via an official legally binding process. Copyright has immediate effect as soon as something is committed to some sort of media including paper, film, audio recording and electronic record on the internet. If you want to protect your ‘creation’ under copyright, then it is a good idea to mark the work with the copyright symbol © followed by your name and the date. This warns others against copying it, although is not a legal requirement in the UK. Copyright does not protect ideas – it protects the way the idea is expressed in the work you have produced. There are exceptions to copyright and if in doubt then check with the intellectual property office in your country. The UK address is:

• •

www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/std/faq/copyright/exceptions.htm, accessed 6 October 2006. A full list of the works protected by copyright is given on The Patent Office website at: www.patent.gov.uk/whatis-copy.htm, accessed 6 October 2006. This website also contains much more detail than is possible in this unit.
Preparing your presentation The conclusion
So now we've arrived at the section where you ‘Tell them what you just told them’, in other words, summarise the presentation. Just as you need to attract the interest of your audience at the beginning of the talk, so you must finish on a high note. The effect of the overall presentation, which is otherwise good, can be damaged by its close. Activity 8 In Activity 6, we asked you to think about a presentation you attended. This time we'd like you to think about how it ended. Did it just fizzle out, did it end with a bang or simply a re-capitulation of the main points? Try to write down some ideas about why the conclusion was memorable and what method the speaker was using to make it so.

Activity 9
Write down briefly what you think visual aids can be used for in a presentation. Now read the discussion

Discussion
You can use visual aids to: • • • • • • convey an idea, concept, theory or hypothesis illustrate your text with graphs, graphics or simply line drawings clarify a point, or restate a point for added significance summarise the structure or content of a section or topic summarise key concepts or key areas give instructions for an activity

• • • • •

present material to trigger a discussion work as an aid to personal reflection, e.g. inventories, checklists add interest and variety build up visuals to develop an idea help the audience recall a concept or idea, either from their own past or from your talk content.

It is a fortunate coincidence that many of them can act as aides-memoir to you as the presenter, which helps keep the story or argument on track. This could be especially useful if you have to speak to slides in blackout conditions, when technology is not always necessary to succeed. • • If you want to protect your ‘creation’ under copyright, then it is a good idea to mark the work with the copyright symbol © followed by your name and the date. This warns others against copying it, although is not a legal requirement in the UK. Copyright does not protect ideas – it protects the way the idea is expressed in the work you have produced. There are exceptions to copyright and if in doubt then check with the intellectual property office in your country. The UK address is:

• •

www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/std/faq/copyright/exceptions.htm, accessed 6 October 2006. A full list of the works protected by copyright is given on The Patent Office website at: www.patent.gov.uk/whatis-copy.htm, accessed 6 October 2006. This website also contains much more detail than is possible in this unit. Visual aids How to choose For many of us, how we choose visual aids equipment is largely dictated by what is available and how easy it is to produce suitable material to display with the equipment at a reasonable cost. Where selection is less constrained, it may even be appropriate to use more than one medium, especially for a protracted presentation or one with a great deal of technical or abstract material which benefits from an emphasis on visual stimuli. Generally, though, simple is best and the fewer complications that are loaded onto the inexperienced presenter, the better your chance of success will be. Some of the most interesting presentations I have been to have involved only basic (black on white) transparencies mixed with a talk and plenty of intriguing questions. Conversely, imagine a well-rehearsed talk by an enthusiast on astronomy showing full-colour video clips of stars, planets and asteroids from the Milky Way. It might be just as interesting with basic overheads, but slides which are true to colour and subject can greatly aid the audience's understanding of the subject. The most important thing to remember about visual aids is that they should be just that: visual and aids: visual – in that they make use of the most effective channel of communication, the sense of sight, not just providing the audience with something to look at, but wherever possible providing them with pictures rather than words.

aids – in that they should help, not hinder, the speaker in getting the message across, and likewise the audience in receiving and understanding the message. The primary aim of visual aids is to illustrate the key points that you need to make in your presentation, so with this in mind you need to make sure your visual aids don't have: too many points on any single slide or OHT – don't overload images so shocking or distracting that you lose your audience complex ideas which cannot be explained to the majority in the time allocated. The visual aids are there to illustrate your words (and to jog your memory) – not to tell the whole story. If the aids begin to take over you may well lose the audience's interest in what you are saying as they simply wait for more images.

Figure 9 gets the point across that CD-ROMs can hold much more information than filing cabinets, and that filing cabinets take up more office space than a single CD-ROM. A similar pictorial representation of crushed plastic bottles recycled into a fleece jumper could elicit a favourable response from your audience.

Figure 9: An example of a simple but effective visual message You should try to set your image in such a framework as to ask a question, or at least invite your spectators to ask themselves ‘Is that really so?’ Visual aids Presentation packages: pointers and pitfalls As you probably know, PowerPoint © is only one of many very popular commercial products that can be used to make presentations rapidly. You may have seen it or some other package for some of your own presentations. This unit, we hope, will have helped you to understand and practise the ‘basics’ in making effective presentations regardless of which ‘package’ or medium you ultimately use. In many cases we've observed students, professionals and others using commercial packages which have ignored the important aspects of making sensible visual slides. Of course you can use whatever software (and hardware) you have available and are comfortable with, but don't let technology get in the way of a good presentation! Not only can ‘technology’ be distracting to the audience, you may distract yourself. Some examples of how this can happen include: Using too much ‘wizardry’ such as flying objects, loud sound effects, and animations – these can be distracting.

Changing fonts, backgrounds, colours or general schemes too often creates a sense of chaos. Overloading the audience with text, photographs, bullet points or simply producing too many slides for the time allotted will be off-putting. Great slides or visuals will not be fully appreciated without a strong, enthusiastic speaker who has practised their ‘lines’ and matched the visuals to their planned text. Whichever technology package you go for, remember that the same rules still apply. One way of going back to basics which usually works well is to switch off your computer and write out some rough sketches of your slides – preferably using pen and paper! Then, after careful consideration, you should be able to put the appropriate technology to work for you in the way that you want it to. Remember to concentrate on the message and do not get carried

Visual aids Create your own visual aid
away with the technology.

Activity 10
Read this statement and sketch out on paper or in words what you think might work (on paper) as a visual aid: ‘A typical UK home produces about 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year.’ Now read the discussion

Discussion
These were our ideas (summarised here as words) although we originally did this as drawings, scribbles and words on a large white board, all contributing and commenting as we went along. We felt we needed to show how ‘big’ 2 tonnes is to the audience – we could have done this by showing the amount of void space in a home (is it less, more or the same as 2 tonnes?). We could have estimated (or calculated) how much CO2 is made per day, per kettle boiled, or relate to some typical event and related this to something else like CO2 from cars, or factories. It did depend, however, on where (exactly) this CO2 came from and where it was emitted. It was also important to know what the context was – were there other types of emissions due to UK homes? Were homes the major CO2 emitters? Either way, it seemed that a graphic of a typical UK home would be useful, along with its typical characteristics (e.g. number of rooms, heating system, age, construction, inhabitants, etc.). This seemed like it could easily take two or three visuals. Another idea we thought about was the use of smoke to represent the CO2, although we weren't sure if this was realistic. Could we use a smoky trail or picture in our visual? This got us to thinking about houses 100–150 years ago (when the environment would have been much smokier). Could we try and compare the amount of CO2 emitted back then to today? Or even 10 or 20 years ago? This could give some kind of historic trend which might be useful. We could express it as a chart (either a line or bar chart) or even in a basic table. If the data were very different we could try to determine how many ‘fold’ increase or decrease there has been over time – like ‘there is 4x more today than 10 years ago’. That would make for an interesting summary statement too.

The more we explored the potential visual ideas the more possibilities we seemed to find ourselves having. One could already sense that it wouldn't be too difficult to come up with a very interesting story about CO2 emissions from UK homes.

Figure 10: Exploring ideas about CO2

Visual aids Ten key points to consider for visual aids
Keep it simple – The audience can't do two completely unrelated things at once. They can't read your visual aid while you talk about something else; and they certainly can't look at your visual, listen to you and pass things round and look at them, all at the same time. Decide exactly what aids and equipment you are going to use – check that equipment (e.g. projectors and screens) is available before you start working on the visuals themselves. Don't assume anything – there may not even be a board, let alone a projector of the type you want. If a piece of equipment you need is not normally in the room you will be speaking in, it is really safer to take care of the arrangements for booking it and actually collecting it yourself. There is nothing worse for your confidence (or your reputation), than to turn up having based the whole of your presentation on a video, only to discover that something has gone wrong with the arrangements and there is no available video recorder, or that your video-tape and their recorder are not compatible. Organise the layout of your ‘stage’ yourself – first, find the time to get into the room and familiarise yourself with the position of everything you are likely to need. Is that table going to be big enough to get all your material on, without your having to stack things in piles? Is the screen placed so that you won't obscure it when you're talking? If not, can it be moved? If not, plan your presentation accordingly – perhaps it would be better not to use the overhead projector at all, for example. Get into the room at least a quarter of an hour before you are due to speak. Work out how you want the area you will be working in arranged so that you will be able to move easily and naturally in the space provided, and then move the furniture so that it feels right for you. Obviously, you should do this tactfully, but don't feel that you must use the room in the way it happens to be laid out. It may have been set that way for a previous speaker who had different needs; it may have been set out by the organiser working purely on intelligent guesswork – it may even have ended up that way because that was the way the cleaner left it! So check that: • • • • • the television or slide projector is correctly positioned the flip chart will be on your left when you face the audience if you are righthanded or on your right if you are left-handed the table or lectern is near enough to the OHP so that you won't have to keep skipping about between them to look at your notes an electric cable doesn't stretch across the area in which you will want to move you know how to operate the blinds quickly and smoothly when you need to

you know how to operate a particular machine and that it works.

Visuals shouldn't be too detailed – first, because your audience will probably not be able to assimilate the information quickly enough, and even if you vow to allow enough time for reading, in the heat of the moment you are almost bound to forget. Second, because you will either have to plough through detail and they will get bored, or worse, you will probably get yourself confused. Visuals must be big enough for everyone to see – the slide must occupy the whole of the screen; the slides must be clear enough and big enough for someone at the backright corner to see. Prepared slides, flip charts or transparencies always seem big enough to you, when you are up close, preparing them: they have an unfortunate habit of ‘shrinking’ to the illegible or even invisible when viewed by your audience, even in a fairly small room. If you can, sit where the audience will to check how it feels to be one of ‘them’, to see if there are any impeded views, and to make sure any screen, flip chart or ‘props’ can be seen. Be careful using pointers – while it is always better to use some kind of pointer than just your hand or your finger, it does tend to accentuate any movement in your hand, so if you are nervous it may show more. An old telescopic radio aerial is ideal as a pointer, since it can be extended to reach quite large distances and then contracted when you don't need it, but if you are nervous the end will tend to flutter. Don't leave visuals up too long – visuals left up after they have ceased to be relevant to what you are talking about are distracting. Be prepared for your machinery – when using any machinery such as a video or audio player, overhead projector, slide projector or 16mm film, do ensure that there are adequate reachable power points that can be used safely. Tripping over an extension lead is the last thing you'll want to do during your presentation. In addition, make sure that you have access to spares such as fuses for power plugs, lamps for projectors, and batteries for audio machines, cassette players, etc. Always be prepared for disaster – however well prepared you are, things can, and frequently do, go wrong. What will you do if the OHP bulb blows? If the video-tape breaks? If you open the box and find the wrong video? If the Velcro cards won't stick to their flannel board? What if the experiment doesn't work? Or if the felt-tip pen dries up? Or your lap-top crashes? And as we have listed in point 2, you should have some back-up plans. If your lap-top doesn't work, do you have hard copies of the slides in case everything else fails? Since many presentations include the same types of things, we've come up with a list of recommendations that you can follow when preparing your visual aids. We include advice about: • • • • • fonts the written word colours graphics and charts slides and transparencies.

You have only a few seconds to make your impression, so your initial visual should aim to hook your viewers as quickly as possible. It only takes four or five seconds to scan a well-

prepared visual aid and digest the material – after that, it's your job as the presenter to illuminate them by adding more information or giving examples which facilitate understanding of your expert topic.

Visual aids Fonts
When using written words, you can shorten your sentences to phrases, key words or critical messages. Use a font which is large enough to see in all parts of the audience (say 32 to 44 point size for title slides, and down to 26 for sub-titles, but certainly not smaller). These sizes may seem huge but when projected letters lose some definition so it's better to be too big than too small. You will know when the font size is right if you can read your slides from your computer screen after you have pushed your chair about 2 metres away (assuming you have the slide on the screen in its normally viewed 100 per cent size state). If you go further back and can still see them, even better. Font types that are simple and plain work well, especially when used in a bold manner, whereas more complicated, fancy (or embellished such as serif) script types tend to be misread. Italics and underscoring can also be a problem for some fonts, so be aware of this. In some cases, if you are using a software package to help construct your presentation, there is usually a help menu, or a tip menu which will not only spell-check your entire presentation, but it may suggest changes to your font size and style to improve the overall clarity.

Visual aids The written word
Just as you have limited the amount of words you are planning to speak, so should you try to limit the amount on each slide. We can't state an exact rule for this, but in general we found that the most effective presentations only had about 25 words per slide, and many had less than this. For a slide based on text only, aim for about four to six lines of text with not more than six or seven words per line: in other words, be ruthless about how much you say. Having more than two purely text slides in a row can be hard-going for the listener, so try either to alternate text-based and graphic-based visuals, or trim down your text even more. Use a mixture of upper and lower case characters, just as you would when writing, although you can be more relaxed about punctuation and grammar. Using either all capitals or all small case letters is much harder to read, and also more unnatural.

Visual aids Colours
The use of colour to emphasise text, figures or background can be highly stimulating visually, as long as you stick to a few simple rules. By using colour combinations that complement each other you can come up with simple schemes (or two to three colours) which accentuate your slides, without dominating or causing confusion. Keep in mind that colours that complement each other lie directly across from each other on the colour wheel. Some examples are: • • pure bright yellow and dark or navy blue (like the Swedish flag) brick red and light or aqua blue (used in various superstore guises)

• •

green and purple dark orange or light brown-orange and light blue.

Red-green colour combinations should be avoided due to potential issues with those who are unable to distinguish one or more colours. Clearly, you need to experiment with colours that you feel comfortable with, and don't forget those simplest of schemes, such as black on any colour, or on white (especially for OHTs). Dark blue instead of black can also be effective and you can use red to emphasise certain points, but be careful not to overdo it as your emphasis may wear off. But a word of warning if you are producing coloured OHTs – avoid text in colours like yellow – it just doesn't show up on screen! Whatever colour scheme you come up with and ultimately choose, make sure you are consistent with it, by sticking to it rigorously. There is nothing more disturbing than a major colour change during a presentation. By using the same fonts, same colour ways and a similar style throughout your presentation, you will achieve seamless quality when moving from slide to slide and also help the audience recall you because of both good layout and distinctive colour. Whatever combination you decide to use you may want to ‘test’ it on some colleagues or friends to make sure it is acceptable.

Visual aids Graphics and charts
A simple picture or line drawing can add great dimension to your presentation, but you need to be careful not to get overwhelmed by the fun it can be to overstress the visual and forget about the content (i.e. your underlying message). When using data you need to restrict yourself to the bare minimum, such as 2–3 lines per graph, or data tables which have only a few elements in them. With bar charts that compare values, you'll quickly see that more than 4 or 5 bars becomes too much visually, and you soon run out of sensible colour combinations. Charts should be easy to read and easy to assimilate – so axis labels need to be big, bold and straightforward in their units.

Top tips for slides or transparencies
• • • • • • • • • • • • Try to avoid more than four or five lines of text per slide. Choose a font size and style that is clear and simple (e.g. not Gothic). Use solid colour to highlight or emphasise text. For background colours and text, choose strong colours. Avoid red-green combinations for people who might be colour blind. Use cartoons or line drawings or good photographs. Keep slides to a minimum, perhaps eight to ten for a half-hour talk. Use a common style throughout the presentation. Try building up your slides with less content ‘growing’ into more content. Number slides and cross reference these to your text notes. Avoid small font sizes. Text simply copied onto an acetate from the printed page often cannot be seen.

• •

Avoid putting your whole script on an OHT and then reading it. Never photocopy text from typed script – it is difficult to read on an OHT.

Figure 11: Example OHTs exploring a coach company's performance Activity 11
Above are three examples of slides or OHTs which have been prepared for a presentation to a coach company meeting of shareholders about customer satisfaction. They are shown in two columns, A and B. • • For each slide, read the description of what it is trying to show carefully and then decide whether A or B is the better slide for the presentation. Then give a reason for your rejected slide from the following ideas: amount of information; choice of font; size of typeface; overall design on page; graphics.

Now read the discussion

Discussion
Title of presentation – we felt that Slide ‘A’ was probably the better of the two as it had a simple title in a clear font with a sensible size of typeface which would show up at the back of a room. The overall design was clear and uncluttered and there was a point of focus with the coach graphic. On the other hand, Slide ‘B’ had too much information on it – the title was too long. The font illustrates a common mistake in preparing slides – the author has got carried away with the power of the word processor and used more than one font (this is often the case with the use of colour as well). The font for the main title is too light-hearted for the purposes of a presentation to shareholders – it's as if the presenter isn't really serious about the issue of customer service. In addition, the overall design is too cramped, with everything squashed up into the top of the slide and the smaller font would be difficult to see at the back of the room. Analysis of customer comments – we chose these two versions of presenting data as graphs to illustrate a major difference in the use of line graphs (A) and bar charts (B). Of the two graphs, Graph B is more suitable for the purposes of the title. It shows clearly the proportion of the three different types of comment. (This could have been made equally clear by using a pie chart.) On the other hand, a line graph like Graph A is more suited to showing trends in data. We also felt that Slide A had too much information on it and the scale could not be easily read – at least Slide B had zero, 50 per cent and 100 per cent as reference points for the audience. The presenter would presumably have the exact figures for the talk. Overall, the typeface and fonts chosen were OK for both slides. As far as the graphics were concerned, it was important that the columns for Slide B were quite different colours (grey, white and black) and that there was a key for the audience to look at while the presenter was talking. The conclusion – Slide B was again the better choice because it was clear and simple. Slide A has far too much information on it and very dense text. This would lead to the audience trying to read it (with difficulty as the typeface is too small) probably while the presenter was talking, so they would miss something. It may also encourage the presenter to read the whole slide out to the audience – again, bad practice! The use of bullet points in Slide B means that the presenter can usefully ‘reveal’ each main point in turn with the use of a piece of paper

over the OHT. This can be a good technique in ‘staging’ the main points to the audience and allows you to recall what you have prepared to say for each bullet point.

Visual aids Final thoughts on visual aids
Above all, success with visual aids relies on being prepared, planning in advance how you are going to use them, and knowing what to do if things go wrong.

Delivering your presentation Introduction
Ideally you should have the opportunity to rehearse at the actual location for your presentation, but it is more likely that you will have to rehearse wherever and whenever you can. This may involve practising at home, or at odd times in your lunch hour, or even whilst driving to work (practising your delivery). It can be very helpful to enlist a member of your family or a friend or colleague to audit your run-throughs and make helpful comments. If there is nobody about for feedback, you could try using a cassette recorder: this means that you can listen to your own practice runs in the car or when doing housework. For the really brave, try rehearsing in front of a mirror as well, and study your posture, expressions and mannerisms. If you have the equipment and technical expertise, you could use a digital camera linked to your PC and a microphone system and capture the whole practice performance in a file stored in your computer. Working backwards from the presentation date, make a rough timetable. Obviously the amount of rehearsal time will depend largely on the complexity and importance of the presentation, but in general the more you practise the better you'll be on the big day. As your confidence and experience increase you will require less and less time to prepare. You will build up a mental library of visual material and a stock of scripts, many of which will need only minimal editing and updating. This is especially true of technical presentations.

Delivering your presentation Your personal image
Many of us make judgements (rightly or wrongly) on our first impressions, so your personal image is important when you are giving presentations, even though strictly speaking you will probably not be directly judged on it. Because of this, you should think carefully about the situation and dress accordingly. Try to keep these points in mind: • • • • • Do you need to dress formally? For instance, do you need to wear a suit or would a pair of jeans be ok? (It is often safer to be conventional.) Remember, neat hair and clean shoes! Can you wear something that gives you confidence and comfort (your lucky shirt?)? If you are too hot, or too cold, you will appear uncomfortable. If your clothes are too tight or your shoes too high, don't wear them.

• •

If you are part of a team, remember that co-ordination, not uniformity, is enough – unless there is a corporate image. Try to feel comfortable and enjoy yourself.

Stand up straight, breathe and smile.
Delivering your presentation The spoken word
The activity of speaking is very different from that of writing. Think about this for a moment. It is amazing how often people use ‘written English’ when making a presentation. Clearly we can speak on many different levels, and there are many different levels of written English as well – if you've ever had to read a legal document you'll know what we mean! You may feel that, as the occasion is more formal than everyday conversation, one should speak more formally. The result is either a robot-like delivery, or an extract from a text book. Another problem is the natural desire to get everything in, which can result in information overload. If you stick to a few main ideas, stated clearly with straightforward visuals and presented logically, then your presentation will have much more impact.

• • • • • • • •

Keep it simple by using everyday language and examples. You can probably make about three main points in a one-hour talk. Keep to a logical order of ideas/points. You can write a complete script initially but you should not rely on it. Make notes of your key points only. Work out a rough timetable on your notes. Illustrate your words and ideas. Be prepared to adjust or adapt your timing, technical data, language.

Technical language and conventions Within university departments and many businesses there are certain conventions or agreed terminology and technical uses of language. You will be the best person to decide what is appropriate in your own subject area. This is fine for internal presentations but remember that if you make the same presentation to outsiders you may well need to explain some terms and abbreviations. If you do use jargon that is not explained to all of the audience you will be in danger of confusing some of them. Another problem may occur if you use a certain term for something, but some of your audience know it as something else, or use your jargon for a different definition – so be sure to define your terms carefully. Accent and language Although you have probably become accustomed to hearing a wide variety of accents in your everyday life, some accents can present a problem for certain listeners. It isn't simply a question of the words used, it is more about the pattern of speech and the actual sounds made and heard. The rhythms of, for example, Afro-Caribbean English are very different from those of an American or European English speaker. On top of this, certain speakers will not be able to make the same

(identical) sounds that you can make due to the physical nature of sound. The sounds (or phonemes) that make up the talking voice are learned at a very young age, and once learned can be very difficult to unlearn. It is important to take into account your audience's background in order to ensure your message is clear, but also understood by all.

Delivering your presentation Mentored presentation
If you are undertaking an assessed presentation or viva, you may have the opportunity of developing a presentation with full support of a tutor or supervisor. There is always a risk with closely supervised or mentored work that your own individual ‘voice’ is lost. Understandably, a tutor wants you to do as well as possible and you respect their opinions and ideas. Yet many students feel uneasy about asserting their own points of view, and it can be very difficult to dispute the tutor's natural position of authority. This is where a wellprepared draft presentation, with a few well-reasoned aims and a clear progression of ideas will serve a student well in discussion. There is also the problem of time management, since in many cases both the student and tutor/supervisor are very busy.

Delivering your presentation Using notes
If you have not made a presentation before, you might feel that you should write out the whole script. This can give you a good idea about the length and how it matches up with the timing you have been given. It can also be a good way to get your creative thinking going, as well as letting you experiment with what types of spoken word you plan to use. It is also a great way to allow you to interact with the presentation content and learn it ‘deeply’. But whatever you do, don't read your written script word for word from a piece of paper, unless you absolutely have to. Even with the best will in the world, a script which is read aloud loses the ‘conversational tone’ of real speech. Your audience may even fall asleep. An exception to this might be if you have to present something in another language in which you may not be fluent, but in that case you should make it clear to the audience why you are speaking from a prepared script. So by all means you should rehearse your script, but learn what you are going to say by exploring various different ways of saying it. One way of doing this is to practise presenting (to yourself), speaking aloud, or to a small group of friends or family. Experienced presenters only use a few brief notes, or cards, to remind themselves of the main headings, or they may use the OHTs or slides as prompts.

Handling your script or notes
Clipped together – a loose bundle of paper is a recipe for disaster. It is easy to get the sheets out of order, or even drop them in a heap on the floor. You need to use a method that you are comfortable with, so if working from a full script, fix the sheets together by punching a hole in the top left-hand corner and pushing a document tag or key ring through. Numbering the sheets is a wise precaution. Ring binder – If you are not using a lectern, putting the script into a hardback ring binder keeps the pages in order. It is easy to handle and looks professional. In this way you can type, or write out each sheet carefully to correspond to each slide or each major point. Whether you opt for cards or sheets make sure to number each sheet carefully. Then if things do get out of

order you will at least have a chance to shuffle the sheets back into order fairly quickly. For ease of reading, highlight your major headings and subheadings by either writing them in a larger font than the body of notes, or with another colour ink. On each sheet write the number of any relevant slides or ‘props’ in the margin that you might need to refer to. Finally, you should note down your timetable against each slide if you can. You may need to do this as a last step, after you have practised the talk a few times, to get the timing right. Computer screen – reading text from a computer screen does take a certain amount of practice and skill but may be one way you choose to deliver your script.

Delivering your presentation Delivery style
We all have our own delivery style with various idiosyncrasies. It is not within the scope of this unit to try and say which of these personal habits is, or is not, appropriate, but most successful presenters will follow the basic points outlined here.

Tips for a successful delivery
• • • • • • • • • Make sure the words you use are your own. If you need a full script, type it double spaced, with one page per slide. Using notes, put them on cards and link them together, and either way, make sure you underline or use bold for key phrases and words. Separate your ideas or main points. Give detailed information in a handout after your talk – it detracts if given too soon. Label and number all slides or OHTs – label or number your notes to correspond. Ensure any carousels are in order and tape them shut. Note on your cards the appropriate and corresponding slide or OHT number. If a third person is operating your visual aids you need to agree your signals such as ‘Next slide, please’ or ‘Stop’. You may prefer to use cues such as objects, rather than notes.

Try to avoid over-use of the same phrase, word or gesture.
Delivering your presentation What can you do if you are nervous?
If you have a nervous habit, it may become distracting to the audience to the point that they no longer listen to your talk but are waiting for you to say ‘err’ or stroke your chin. You might think that by concealing your anxieties you'll feel better, but unless you hide behind a huge sheaf of notes in your trembling hand, or completely freeze, the audience will seldom be aware of your difficulties. Some nerves will be expected and most audiences are sympathetic, provided that you try to get your message across in a professional and competent manner. If you feel you are especially prone to nervousness, you can try various coping strategies, such as relaxation techniques and breath-control methods. These help the body to reduce stress, and can

help you calm yourself, allow you to function in a professional and effective manner, and continue on through the presentation with increased confidence. This unit doesn't cover relaxation or controlled breathing, but there are many good books that do.

Delivering your presentation Starting off
• • • • Learn your first lines. Make the first words you speak as simple and comfortable as possible. Thank the person who has introduced you. Greet the audience, or give the title of the talk.

Delivering your presentation Finishing
When the presentation is over there may be questions which you either need to answer directly, or indirectly if members of the audience come up to you after the talk. Although every presentation is different, many talks follow some sort of routine and at the end of the talk it is no different. Here are some suggestions that you might follow to get you through the end of your talk. As a good presenter you should give people time to applaud and express their enjoyment or thanks for your talk. This is the standard way of the audience saying thanks for your presentation, and you should enjoy the experience as you've worked hard to explain your material in a suitable way. You will mostly likely have some queries from the audience and you should try to answer each question as best as you can. In some cases you might not know the answer, and you should say so, rather than guess or bluff. You can't be expected to know the answer to everything and the audience will realise and understand that. If you make an educated guess, or an opinionated response, you should qualify it as such, and explain your reasoning. Make sure you then collect all your equipment, leaving handouts and information leaflets if relevant. Find the organisers and make your goodbyes if you are going, if not sit back and relax a bit to admire the next speaker. If you can be dispassionate enough, evaluate your performance or at least make a few rough notes while everything is fresh in your mind.

Delivering your presentation Evaluating
You need to know how well your presentation has been received. Ask yourself some questions – did the slides really work the way I wanted them to? And could they be made clearer? Did the script give me enough material to work with? You may also want to note which questions were asked repeatedly – this may be an area which needs further clarifying in either the visual aid or the way you present it. Was it what the audience were expecting? What about the length and pace of the presentation? The answer to these questions can be valuable to your development as a presenter.

Delivering your presentation Team or group presentations
When a team is reporting on a group activity or where pieces of work are related to each other and to the overall presentation, room planning can get complicated. If one speaker is handing over to another you need to consider the ‘choreography’. You also need to consider the logistics of a joint presentation. You may well have been in the audience and observed some of the problems, but if run well a presentation given jointly can be highly effective, as each presenter can portray their own point of view or findings. The change-overs need to be relatively smooth to avoid distraction. These are some of the questions you need to ask yourselves when planning to have an effective presentation with more than one person presenting: • • • • • • Do you have to pass over a microphone, or turn one off? Is the lectern the right height for all the speakers? Will there be trailing cables or remote control leads? How will seating be arranged on stage so no one will be in the way of the current speaker? Who will handle the different sets of slides or overheads? How do you ensure a smooth hand-over and conclusion?

What happens about questions?

Further reading and sources of help
Gordon Bell (1987) The Secrets of Successful Speaking and Business Presentations, Heinemann. Vivian Buchan (1995) Make Presentations with Confidence, Cassell. Tony Buzan (2003) Use Your Head, 6th edn, BBC Consumer Publishing. (A very useful book on ‘mind maps’.) Dale Carnegie (2001) The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking, Pocket Books. Sally Cook (1998) Guide for Public Speakers, Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Ros Jay and Antony Jay (2003) Effective Presentation, Davies Black. Peter Kenny (1982) A Handbook of Public Speaking for Scientists and Engineers, Institute of Physics Publishing. Dorothy Leeds (2000) The 7 Powers of Questions, Perigee Books. Steve Mandel (2000) Effective Presentation Skills, 3rd edn, Crisp Publications Inc. Robert Nelson and Jennifer Wallick (1990) Making Effective Presentations, Scott, Foresman. Andrew Northedge, Jeff Thomas, Andrew Lane and Alice Peasgood (1997) ‘Chapter 3: Working with diagrams’, The Sciences Good Study Guide, The Open University. (This chapter offers excellent examples and advice on how to create and use diagrams to great effect. It covers spray diagrams, graphs, figures and flowcharts. You may also find this text useful for making notes and supporting your preparation phase in making presentations.) Open University, OU Student Toolkit 4 – Reading and Note Taking, OU Student Toolkit 5 – Essay and Report Writing Skills, available from all Regional Centres.

Open University (1996), B570 Presentation Skills Handbook, Open University Press. Malcolm Peel (1995) Improving your Presentation Skills, Kogan Page. Nicky Stanton (1996) Mastering Communication, Macmillan Press. Cristina Stuart (1988) Effective Speaking, Pan. Websites are a valuable source of ideas and developments in the field of presenting. Apart from Hints and Tips pages, there are case studies and the latest in the technology available for presentation support. www.presentations.com , accessed 6 October 2006. Everything about presentations as this is the site for a magazine about the subject! Use the ‘Archives’ to read the range of articles about presentations – for example, the latest on web copyright crackdown, chart design tips, digital imaging report, and so on. www.google.co.uk , accessed 6 October 2006. A very fast search engine which will help you to identify up-to-date information on your chosen topics. Don't forget things like ‘quotations’ which are available via this search engine. www.patent.gov.uk/copy.htm , accessed 6 October 2006. The Patent Office website which will give you detail about copyright issues, for example, what it is, how long it lasts, ‘fair dealing exceptions’, exceptions in education. This is useful because it gives a UK perspective on the topic, rather than an American one, which doesn't necessarily apply in this country. www.templetons.com/brad/copyright.htm , accessed 6 October 2006. If you do want a USA perspective, this is a good site as an introduction! You will find several useful links from here – for example, the US Library of Congress copyright site and copyright sites in Australia and Canada. www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/std/faq/copyright/exceptions.htm, accessed 6 October 2006. This site looks at exceptions to copyright. www.microsoft.com/education/default.asp?ID=PPTTutorial , accessed 6 October 2006. For those who want to find out more about PowerPoint presentations, this site provides a tutorial to either download or carry out online. You will also find related resources such as Tips and Tricks for PowerPoint 2002 and PowerPoint 2002 Articles. www.kumc.edu/SAH/OTEd/jradel/effective.html , accessed 6 October 2006. This is the homepage of The University of Kansas Medical Centre website online tutorial series, Effective Presentation. This is an excellent site with much advice on aspects of presentations and useful links to other websites.

Do this
Now you have completed this unit, you might like to: • • • Post a message to the unit forum. Review or add to your Learning Journal. Rate this unit.

Try this
You might also like to: • Find out more about the related Open University course

• •

Book a FlashMeeting to talk live with other learners Find out about what its like to study at the OU.

Create a Knowledge Map to summarise this topic.

Acknowledgements
The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence. Thanks are due to Simon Betts for his work on the draft materials and to our critical readers, David Horan, Janine Talley, Patrick Kelly and Graham Cox. Production team – Clive Barrett, Marian Galvin, Winifred Power, Mandy Anton, Victoria McCulloch, Tony Seldon. Financial support was partly provided by the Faculty of Technology. Unit image courtesy of Lachlan Hardy at Flickr •

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful