Making and Delivering a Good Presentation
Most of us do not enjoy speaking in front of others. However, often as part of a course syllabus, we are required to create and execute class presentations. Look at the following points on how to make sure your presentation is the best it can be, in both its creation and delivery.
What is a Presentation?
- Aside from communicating your information orally, a presentation is not all that different from a written paper
- You will gather information, make arguments, and support them through evidence
- You will have an introduction, body, and conclusion
- In the introduction, you will share your thesis and how you plan to argue that thesis
EX: Harry Potter is the most successful book ever written (thesis). I intend to discuss the number of copies sold around the world, its intergenerational appeal, and the number of adaptations it has inspired including movies and theme parks. (How you plan to argue the thesis).
- The body will be the biggest section of your presentation
- In presentations, transitioning between arguments is important so your audience knows when to shift their thoughts
EX: “The second reason Harry Potter is the most successful book is…” or “Next, we will look at….”
- With the conclusion, you are summarizing all your main points and hammering the thesis home
- Make sure your audience is aware you have reached the end
- When you are finished, stop talking
EX: “… is why Harry Potter is the most successful book ever. Thank you.”
What is your Presentation About?
- Before you begin putting information together, ask yourself what the purpose of your presentation is
- Is the point to be informative and educate your classmates on a particular topic?
- Or is it to be persuasive and get your classmates to side with your argument?
- Once you know if your presentation is informative or persuasive, ask yourself if the information you are gathering is relevant to your purpose
- As with anything else, you will find it easier to work on and be more passionate in your delivery, if you select a topic you are interested in
- Your enthusiasm for the topic will not pass unnoticed by your audience
- They will be more engaged, your confidence will increase, and so will the quality of your presentation
- Just as you would with a paper, figure out what your main points are and list them in your presentation
- This will be similar to a table of contents
- Make sure they are listed in an order that is logical and flows well
- You can also use these main points as retrieval cues for yourself to recall the information you wish to discuss
Practice. Practice. Practice
- Just as your papers go through several drafts, so should your presentation
- Run through your presentation several times before the “big day”
- You don’t want to discover as you’re giving your presentation that something doesn’t work, slides are out of order, there are spelling
- Figure out what doesn’t work beforehand and fix it. This means there will be no surprises
- Be on the lookout for long pauses
- Be on the lookout for complicated sentences or words you stumble on.
- Can you change them to something easier and smoother?
- Be aware of filler words such as “um” and “like” and “you know” and “uh”
- Your audience will pick up on this and find it distracting
- Talk slowly. You want your audience to understand what you are saying
- Practice with the voice you will use on the “big day”
- You will want to speak loudly when you are presenting, and your loud voice is different than your regular speaking voice. Get accustomed to what you sound like and how it feels to speak loudly
- Keep practicing until you are comfortable with the presentation to an extent where you know it inside and out
- This will help you feel prepared and calm because you know what you’re doing
- See if you can present to your roommates, family, or peers and ask them for advice
- Your words might make sense to you, but to another, they need more explanation, more examples, etc.
- They can also provide feedback on the physical aspects of your presentation: if you are talking too quickly, using repeat phases such as “um” and “uh”, fidgeting, etc.
- It’s okay to have talking notes, however, your talking notes should not be used as a script you read from word by word
- The best presentations are ones delivered in part spontaneous and in part planned
- Have cue cards of major talking points as reminders (and if more than one cue card, number their order)
- Know your information, know exactly what you want to talk about, but be free with your language. You know what you want to say, and that can be worded differently every time you give the presentation
- Maintain eye contact
- This makes it more comfortable for the audience to listen to what you are saying
- It also makes the audience less frightening to you by engaging with them