Friday, September 22nd, 2023

Oral Presentations

Preparing your oral presentation

  • Think about what you want to achieve: do you want to inform your audience, inspire them to think about your topic, or
    convince them of a particular point of view?
  • Think about your audience: what background knowledge do they have about your topic? Do they have any particular interests? How are you going to involve them in your presentation?


  • Brainstorm about your topic and write a rough outline.
  • Research your topic. Don’t get carried away — remember you have a limited time for your presentation.
  • Organise your material and write a draft — think about the length of time you have to talk.
  • Summarise your draft into points to write on overheads and/or cards.
  • Plan and prepare your visual aids.
  • Rehearse your presentation and get its length right. Ask a friend to listen and time you.

Organizing the content

      Introduction (may be written last)

  • Capture your listeners’ attention:Begin with a question, a funny story, a startling comment, or anything that will
    make them think.
  • State your purpose; for example:‘I’m going to talk about…’‘This morning I want to explain…’
  • Present an outline of your talk; for example:
    ‘I will concentrate on the following points: First of all…
  • Capture your listeners’ attention:Begin with a question, a funny story, a startling comment, or anything that will
    make them think.
  • State your purpose; for example:‘I’m going to talk about…’‘This morning I want to explain…’
  • Present an outline of your talk; for example:
    ‘I will concentrate on the following points: First of all…


  • Present your main points one by one in logical order.
  • Pause at the end of each point (give people time to take notes, or time to think about what you are saying).
  • Make it absolutely clear when you move to another point. For example:
  •                   ‘The next point is that …’

                      ‘OK, now I am going to talk about …’

                      ‘Right. Now I’d like to explain … ’

                      ‘Of course, we must not forget that …’

                      ‘However, it’s important to realise that…’

  • Use clear examples to illustrate your points.
  • Use visual aids to make your presentation more interesting.


  • It is very important to leave your audience with a clear summary of everything you have covered.
  • It is also important not to let the talk just fizzle out. Make it obvious that
    you have reached the end of the presentation.
  • Summarize the main points again, using phrases like:‘To sum up…’‘So, in conclusion…’‘OK, to recap the main points…’
  • Restate the purpose of your talk, and say that you have achieved your aim:‘I think you can now see that…’‘My intention was …, and it should now be clear that …’
  • Thank the audience, and invite questions:‘Thank you. Are there any questions?’

      Delivering your presentation

  • Talk to your audience, don’t read to them!
  • A presentation is not the same as an essay.
  • If you read out your presentation as if it were an essay, your audience will probably lose concentration quickly.
  • So use notes, cue cards or overheads as prompts, and speak to the audience. Include everyone by looking at them and maintaining eye-contact (but don’t stare or glare at people).

      Watch your language!

  • Keep it simple. The aim is to communicate, not to show off your vocabulary.
  • Emphasise the key points — and make sure people realize which are the key points.
    Repeat them using different phrasing.
  • Check the pronunciation of difficult, unusual, or foreign words beforehand.

      Use your voice to communicate clearly!

  • Speak loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear you. This may feel uncomfortably
    loud at first, but if people can’t hear you, they won’t listen.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rush! Speaking fast doesn’t make you seem smarter,
    it will only make it harder for other people to understand you.
  • Key words are important. Speak them out slowly and loudly. Slow down for key points.
  • Vary your voice quality. If you always use the same volume and pitch (for example,
    all loud, or all soft, or in a monotone) your audience will switch off.
  • When you begin a new point, use a higher pitch and volume.
  • Use pauses—don’t be afraid of short periods of silence. (They give you a chance to
    gather your thoughts, and your audience a chance to think.)

      Use your body to communicate, too!

  • Stand straight and comfortably. Do not slouch or shuffle about.
  • Hold your head up. Look around and make eye-contact with people in the audience.
    Do not just address the lecturer! Do not stare at a point on the carpet or the wall.
    If you don’t include the audience, they won’t listen to you.
  • When you are talking to your friends, you naturally use your hands, your facial
    expression, and your body to add to your communication.
    Do it in your presentation
    as well. It will make things far more interesting for the audience.
  • Don’t turn your back on the audience!

      Interact with the audience

  • Be aware of how your audience is reacting. Are they interested or bored? If they look confused, ask them why. Stop if necessary and explain a point again.
  • Check if the audience is still with you.‘Does that make sense?’‘Is that clear?’
  • Be open to questions.If someone raises a hand, or asks a question in the middle of your talk, answer it. If you can’t answer it, turn the question back out to the audience and let someone else answer it!
  • Questions are good. They show that the audience is listening with interest.
    They should not be regarded as an attack on you, but as a collaborative search for deeper understanding.
  • Be ready to get the discussion going after your presentation. Just in case nobody has anything to say, have some provocative questions or points for discussion ready to ask the group.

      Visual aids are very helpful because many people learn best visually.

PowerPoints can help your presentation look professional.

  • Use bold typeface and put no more than 4 to 6 main points on each slide.
  • Give the audience time to take notes.
  • Make sure the audience can see the screen
  • Color, pictures and graphs can make slides more interesting but don’t overcrowd them with too much detail
  • PowerPoints are dependent on technology working correctly so it may be a good idea to have handouts or overheads as backups.
  • Sometimes students are tempted to spend more time on producing PowerPoint graphics than on
    the actual speech. Remember — if your speech is poorly written no amount of fancy graphics will save it!


  • Distribute before or after Decide whether you want to distribute them before or after your presentation.
  • Include your references on handouts , so that people can follow up on them later. You could also include some follow-up questions for discussion.


  • Write your information on the whiteboard before you begin so you never have to turn your back on the audience or break eye contact with them. Writing on the board is also time-consuming. Use alternative visual aids wherever possible.
  • Come prepared with the right pens (use pens clearly marked ‘Whiteboard Marker’— don’t use anything else) and use large neat writing.

Dealing with nervousness

  • Smile! Your audience will react warmly if you smile, look relaxed and treat them like.
  • Confess that you are nervous! Your audience will be very sympathetic—they know how you are feeling.
  • Breathe deeply. It will calm you down and help to control the slight shaking that you might get in your hands and your voice.
  • Be well-prepared. Practice giving your talk to a friend.
  • Be organized. If you are well organized, your task will be easier. If your overheads are
    out of order, or your notes are disorganized, you may get flustered.
  • Slow down! When people are nervous, they tend to get confused easily. So your mind may start to race, and you may feel panicky. Make use of pauses: force yourself to stop at
    the end of a sentence, take a breath, and think before you continue.
  • Remember: The way you perform is the way your audience will feel. Giving an oral presentation is a performance — you have to be like an actor. If you act the part of someone enjoying themselves and feeling confident, you will not only communicate these positive feelings to the audience, you will feel much better, too. Accomplished public speakers feel nervous before and even during a talk. The skill comes in not communicating your nervousness, and in not letting it take over from the presentation. Over time, you will feel less nervous, and will able to control your nervousness.