Have Clear Objectives
Keep in mind what it is you want to achieve and what you want your teacher and audience to take away with them. With clear objectives, you can make sound decisions about how you want to create your presentation and what tone you want to set. Is the purpose of the presentation to inform, to persuade, to teach, or to motivate?
- What do you want your classmates and instructor to have understood once you complete your presentation?
- Will your audience participate in the presentation?
Knowing Your Audience
An effective presenter needs to think about the audience. Your classmates may have a variety of experiences, interests, and knowledge. Prepare for and respond to the needs of your audience. You may want to use language that gets your audience involved. Use “we” if appropriate, for example, “We can conclude that…”
- How much does your audience already know about your topic?
- How can you link the content of your presentation to ideas your classmates may already understand?
- How can you win your classmates and instructor over to appreciate your ideas or point of view?
Knowing the Requirements
Read carefully over the assignment for the presentation. You want to be certain to meet the assessment criteria by your instructor, to attain the most points.
- How much time do you have for the presentation?
- Do you have to stick to a common format?
- What guidelines have been set for the presentation?
- Are you allotted a certain amount of PowerPoint slides or handouts?
Organizing Your Speech
Once you have thought about how to design your presentation to meet the requirements of the presentation and the audiences’ needs, you can:
Choose your main ideas—you should deliver information in a logical, structured way, building on a prior point. Do the main points reflect your objectives?
Choose your supporting information—the supporting points help your audience understand your main points. These are examples, data, explanations, or details that clarify your main ideas. You might present by the form of diagrams, pictures, or media to clarify your information or your argument.
Establish transitional statements—linking statements are needed to develop the flow of your presentation. Statements that link ideas in a linear fashion make your presentation coherent. Some common linking statements are, “The next step in the design is…”, “Another important reason for this reaction is…”, “In conclusion, we can see that…”.
Develop an opening—your introduction will capture the audience (and your instructor) and set the tone for the rest of the presentation. So be sure to grab their interest and provide a structure for your audience. Begin by introducing yourself and state what you’ll be talking about and what you want your audience to do (listen, take notes, follow handouts, ask questions). Then, inform your classmates what you intend to accomplish with your presentation.
Develop a conclusion—your conclusion will tie your presentation up and leave the audience with the main points. Be sure to make a lasing impression on your audience by providing a powerful ending. You can even leave them with a parting statement to stimulate their thoughts; for example, you could end with a thoughtful quote related to your topic. If classmates are allowed to ask questions, end with more of your last words so the presentation feels complete. After organizing your speech, you can then take it to PowerPoint for visuals.
Using PowerPoint Effectively
Don’t overload the presentation
PowerPoint has so many different features such as animations, flashing text, and fancy fonts. Just because they are available to be used, doesn’t mean that you should. Think about how distracting it would be to read a slide that is flashing, or has text flying around the screen.
Keep the word count down
You are the presenter, not PowerPoint. Audience members should not be distracted from a screen large amounts of text. You want them focused on you. In addition, you will not be reading directly off the PowerPoint. A part of preparation is to be the expert in the information you are presenting.
Use images instead of words
Wherever possible use images. Images are easier on the audience and they help to re-focus the audience’s attention on you.
Use handouts for extra detail
Do not had out a copy of the PowerPoint slide. A well designed PowerPoint will only have key points, it will do no good for your audience members because you are not there the connect the key points. Create a separate handout that goes into detail about your presentation. In the handout, you can elaborate on each key point covered in your presentation.
Make it easy to read
10/20/30 Rule. Plan on a 10 slide, for a twenty minute presentation. All font should never be less than 30 points. Your presentation should be easily read at the back of the room by the person with weaker eyesight than yourself. Use generously-large fonts and make sure there is enough color contrast between text and background: white and yellow, for example, are difficult to read together. Play safe on this, colors that look ok on your computer screen will not necessarily be displayed as clearly through a projector.
Use easy to read fonts. We like Verdana, but Arial and Tahoma are good too. Avoid the weird ones and avoid type that is close together like Times New Roman.
After you have organized your presentation and the content is complete, you can practice your presentation:
Dress the Part—you are the expert; dress like an expert.
Presence—appear confident at all times. Don’t hide behind a podium or a desk. Although you should be polite, don’t apologize for any “mistakes.” You want to show that you have something interesting to present, so keep your posture up and look relaxed but excited to share your ideas.
Contact with audience—you don’t want to appear like you are speaking to an empty room, so make contact with your classmates and instructor during the presentation by using eye contact, gestures, and inclusive language, “We are learning in class that…” or, “This slide shows us that…”.
Voice—make sure your voice is loud enough for the entire audience to hear your presentation. Raise and lower your volume for emphasis. Make thoughtful changes in voice for effect. Anxiety makes presenters speak too quickly, so avoid rushing through your presentation. Vary your pace—a quicker pace to show excitement and a slower pace for emphasis.
A final word of advice—BREATHE—breathing will effect the quality of your voice and your ability to speak clearly. Use pauses at the ends of important points to catch your breath and center yourself.
Creating the Right Atmosphere
Be aware of the atmosphere in the classroom you are presenting in. A large lecture hall calls for a more formal presentation, one where the presenter carries the presentation through lecture; a small classroom can feel more intimate and conducive to interaction with the audience.
- Is the classroom you are presenting in a large lecture hall or a small classroom?
- How can you arrange the room to create the energy that you want?
- Can fellow students see your slides or pictures from the back of the room?
- How might the room arrangement affect your relationship with the audience?
- What kinds of audio-visual aids can you use in the classroom you are presenting in?
The Check List
At least a day before your presentation, be sure to run through this check list:
✓I have rehearsed my presentation in front of someone.
✓My presentation runs to the time allotted.
✓I have prepared speaker notes.
✓I have visual aids prepared visual aids that I need.
✓I have prepared copies of handouts that I need.
✓I have checked my facts.
✓I have done a grammar/spellcheck.
✓I have confirmed that the audio-visual.
✓I have saved my PowerPoint presentation onto at least 2 formats (disc/USB/email/hard drive).
✓I have practiced using unfamiliar technology I’m going to use.
✓I have sourced an alternative version of any audio or video material I’m going to use.
✓I have turned off my cell phone.
✓I will get enough sleep the night before.
✓I have considered how to relax.
✓I have thought about what to wear.
✓I have a bottle of water to drink if my throat gets dry during the presentation.
✓I will eat breakfast the day of presentation.
University of Leicester