Any presentation requires planning and preparation. Delivery is dependent upon the following factors:
• how clearly you speak
• how well you understand your audience
• how to open and ‘hook’ an audience to listen
• how to choose, plan and structure your content
• how to handle Q&A
• how to use PowerPoint
• how to form the key message you want the audience to retain
• to have a variety of methods on how to open a presentation, connect with an audience, and close powerfully.
• how you handle presentation fears and nerves
Preparing the Presentation
Preparing for a presentation is similar to preparing for a written assignment. You will go through a similar process in planning, researching and writing your presentation.
As with a written assignment, you will need to:
• Understand the question and topic you are going to cover.
• Determine the level of knowledge of your audience.
• Undertake background reading and research.
• Organise your material and draft in order to cover what is the appropriate amount of information in the time given for the presentation.
• Organise what you are going to say in point form as it is better to speak to the audience directly rather than read to them.
• Plan how you will engage the audience: whether it is appropriate to use a short video, use graphics, ask the audience questions.
• Prepare your visual aids: powerpoint slides, video, handouts.
• Rehearse your presentation, preferably with a friend who can listen to you, time you and give constructive feedback.
• Structuring the Presentation
As with written assignments, a well thought-out structure will assist in making the presentation a coherent piece of work with your aims easily-understood by the audience.
A broad structure to follow could include:
• Introduction: where you introduce your audience to the topic including the main points you will be covering.
• Body: where you develop your main points, give evidence or examples and provide links between ideas. This is also the part where you will use visual aids to keep your audience engaged.
• Conclusion: where the main points are summarised and the question is answered in light of the points made.
• Delivering the Presentation
The following are some of the strategies you can use to deliver a good presentation.
• Prompt cards
: Use prompt notes in point form so that you talk to the audience rather than read from notes. These can be sequentially numbered palm-sized cards.
• Plan your opening:
Plan your opening comments to engage your audience and to highlight your topic. Using a quotation, a controversial statement or a rhetorical question are all effective strategies.
Use appropriate language, normally a formal but conversational tone is appropriate. Do not use slang or colloquialisms. Be careful not to use acronyms that have not been explained. Be mindful of the use of jokes into your presentation as this is not always culturally appropriate.
If you are nervous about giving presentations, then prepare well. Also, some techniques to reduce anxiety include:
Taking some deep breaths and regard your presentation as a 'performance’of being a confident public speaker.
Slow down your speech, speak clearly and at a moderate pace.
Use pauses to emphasise the point you are making and to catch your thoughts and where you are up to.
Make eye contact with the audience.
A good speaker should prepare carefully for their talk and be:
• Indicate the structure of your talk and give your audience a clear sense of direction.
• Make your material relevant to the topic and to the audience.
• Show that you enjoy your subject.
• Maintain control throughout your talk by researching and preparing your material carefully. Practise using the equipment in advance, and be ready to answer audience questions.
• Use formal language and ensure that the style and content of your slides are appropriate.
• Provide sources for your information. Include references when necessary and be prepared to give your audience a short bibliography on request.
• Keep your audience's attention by using good eye contact and delivering your material as a talk, rather than reading from your notes or reciting from memory.
Key points to remember:
Improve your skills in handling presentation fears by practising in front of a group of friends for example.
Improve your technique in understanding your audience by reading their body language, expressions and reactions.
• Forming the key message you want the audience to retain will depend on how clear and concise the structure of the content is.
• Have a variety of methods on how to open a presentation to connect with an audience and also close making an impact. For example, a rhetorical question, a short story.
• Improve your skill in handling Q&A by predicting what types of questions may be asked and prepare some responses.