An oral presentation is different from most types of assignment, in that you are required to prepare a talk or lead a discussion live in class.
- The listener of an oral presentation only has one opportunity to understand your point of view. State your ideas simply and clearly, without jargon.
- In preparing your talk, only write as much as you can say in the allocated time schedule. A good guide is 125 words per minute (e.g. approx. 1,250 words if you are speaking for 10 minutes).
- Have some kind of structure to your talk. For example a chronological/historical format, or a step-by-step, procedural structure.
- Alternatively, group similar ideas together under different themes and present each of these themes in order of priority, depending on the angle/focus of your talk.
- Another option is to structure it in the same way as an essay: introduce your main points and tell your audience what you will be talking about, put the detail supporting your main points in the body of the presentation, then sum up your main points at the end.
- Remember to prepare the listener for what section of your talk is coming up next, with phrases like “having covered the first two central points, I'll now turn to look at the third”, or "the final issue to cover is situational dependency, which I will look at now”.
- Avoid conjunctions, like “therefore”, “however”, and “additionally”. When spoken aloud, conjunctions can make your talk sound artificial and staged. Instead, try to use simple phrases like “the next point to focus on”, or “but this isn't always the case”.
- It is okay to use contractions like “I'll”, “doesn't”, etc. These enhance the flow and help to naturalise your speech.
- Avoid just reading your presentation. Instead, aim to give the presentation using just a few bullet points to remind you of the main points (if you are using PowerPoint, you can use the notes section for this). If you practice doing this a lot, you'll find it is easier than it sounds.
- Make eye contact with your audience.
- At the end of the talk summarise what you have covered. Give a brief description of each theme or step you outlined.
Sometimes when you are asked to prepare an oral presentation, you will be asked to submit a PowerPoint as part of the assignment. Read your assignment instructions carefully, as what you are asked to include in the PowerPoint can vary widely.
Here are a few tips for preparing your PowerPoint:
- To save time and make it look tidy and consistent, use a template (you can download templates here).
- Keep the text on the slides to a minimum.
- Keep the number of slides to a minimum.
- If you include references, put in-text citations in the slides where you cite the information and include a reference list at the end.
- Learn how to navigate the slides (you can find out how to use PowerPoint here).