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Oral presentations (tutorial)

Preparation

A recent survey stated that the average person's greatest fear is having to give a speech in public. Somehow this ranked even higher than death........Jerry Seinfield.

Most students will need to give an oral presentation at some stage of their study. While many are nervous about it, preparation is helpful. In fact the best way to cope with nerves is to know your material really well and practise, practise, practise until you can say it easily. This unit will take you through what is required to prepare and deliver an effective oral presentation.

What makes a good presentation?

  • Preparation - what to say.
  • Delivery - how to say it.

Research

The first important step in preparing what to say is to do your research. This involves researching three key areas:

  1. Research your topic. If you are unsure of your content you will not be able to speak confidently. Make sure your topic is specific enough to have a clear focus so you can identify the key ideas and concepts. It should also be broad enough to be interesting and engaging.
  2. Research your audience. Your presentation should engage everyone not just your lecturer/teacher. Does my audience need more background information on my topic? What are the expectations of my talk?
  3. Research the venue. Make sure you check where you will be standing, the seating arrangements and any equipment that you will be using such as data projectors, etc.

Plan and organise

After you have researched it is important to carefully plan and organise your information. Use the following steps to develop a clear plan for your talk:

Step 1: Brainstorm your topic.

Brainstorm the topic to clarify what you know.

Step 2: Organise your information.

Organise the material logically, e.g. chronologically, spatially (diagrams and maps), sequentially (first, second).

Step 3: Develop a plan.

For more detailed information go to the mind mapping tutorial.

Write and edit

Write your talk in full or write detailed notes.

  • Content
    Make sure the ideas are logical and clear.
    Use examples and facts to illustrate your points.
  • Language
    Use language appropriate to the audience and purpose, generally a formal but conversational tone is best (no slang or colloquial language).
  • Structure
    Summarise your talk into meaningful chunks (e.g. numbered or bullet points).
    Consisting of main points and supporting details (similiar to an essay plan).
    Use these brief notes to guide you through your talk.

Practise your presentation

  • Rehearse your talk at least 5 times and time yourself. When you know your talk well you will deliver it well.
  • Practise with a friend or family member and get feedback from them.
  • Try practising in front of the mirror.
  • Practise delivering your talk using the main points and brief notes only on cue cards. It is important that you know your topic thoroughly so that you can deliver your presentation confidently.

Practice in front of a mirror