Presenting Great Presentations

Presenting Great Presentations

Presenting Great Presentations

Decide on the purpose your oral presentation.

  • To instruct
  • To persuade
  • To inform
  • Or a combination of these?

Determine who your audience is then answer these questions:

  • What is your audience’s level of expertise on the topic?
  • What are their expectations for the presentation?
  • What attitudes do they have about you and your presentation?
  • Do they have a bias—will they only see the topic from one perspective?

Select the format best suited to you and your audience:

  • A scripted talkis one that you write out completely and read it back to your audience or recite it from memory.
  • An outlined talkis one that you prepare a detailed outline of what you plan to say.
  • An impromptu talk is one that you give on the spur of the moment.

Decide on a few points to present.

Realistically, most people can only listen attentively for no more than 20 minutes. Therefore, oral presentations require that you be selective. What you select depends on your audience.

Make the structure of your talk evident.

  • Announce, explain, and review.
  • Tell people the three or four things you will discuss.
  • Explain those points in the body of your discussion.
  • Conclude by reviewing your key points.
  • Use transition phrases to signal new topics.

Use a conversational style.

  • Use your natural speaking voice--but make sure you can be heard.
  • Don’t be too informal or fill your presentation with slang.
  • Use "you" and "your" to make your audience feel included.
  • Keep sentences shorter than you might when you write.
  • Choose words that will not intimidate your audience.

Look at your audience.

  • Establish and maintain eye contact with the whole audience as you speak.
  • Look at the audience before you speak.
  • Look at different parts of the room as you speak.
  • If your audience doesn’t appear friendly, look at features on people’s faces such as their noses rather than their eyes.
  • Practice in front of a mirror looking out at an audience.

Be enthusiastic.

  • Smile.
  • Be energetic.

Prepare for questions.

  • Think about what some of the questions your audience might have before your presentation.
  • Try to say something like "that is a good question" or "I'm glad you raised that point."

Practice if you are nervous.

  • The more you practice and the more comfortable you feel with your material, the less nervous you will be.
  • If you move around when you speak, make deliberate moves designed to highlight a new point or major point that you are making.
  • Keep hands out of your pockets, away from your earrings, and out of your hair and so on.
  • If you have nervous hands, clasp them behind your back. Rehearse so that you find your own comfortable pose.

Use visuals.

  • Visual aids to help your listeners to listen and to keep track of your key points.
  • If you use PowerPoint use a large enough font and don't make your slides too complex.
  • Don't try to use too many slides.
  • Use slides with contrasting colors or negative slides.
  • Minimize clutter.
  • Not everything needs to be on a slide.
  • If you have to use overheads rather than the computer, practice putting them on the projector or ask one person to do that.
  • Organize and practice before hand.
  • The purpose of slides is to save time, increase interest and attentiveness, clarify or emphasize an idea and increase audience recall of presented information. Be sure your slides effectively accomplish your desired goal.

This information was compiled from the following materials:

Adler, Ronald. Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions.New York: McGraw Hill, 2005.

Burnett, Rebecca E. Technical Communication.Boston: Thomason Wadsworth, 2005.

Foundation Coalition First-Year Curriculum Materials - ArizonaStateUniversity.