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Oral presentations

'It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.'

Mark Twain

Giving an oral presentation can be a nerve-racking experience for many students. Being able to plan and present a professional presentation is a great skill to have in both your academic and professional life. Learn some basic skills to gain confidence to deliver a great presentation! This resource will step you through some of the key ideas around giving a great oral presentation.

  • Learn how to plan and prepare a presentation.
  • Find out about strategies to use when giving an oral presentation.

This resource will provide a general overview of how you can better prepare for delivering an oral presentation. You can also work through the resource before you attend the oral presentation workshop.

Watch this video of a student who talks about giving an oral presentation.

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Prepare

A professional presentation takes planning. Be clear about the purpose of your presentation.

What do you want to do?

  • Inform your audience?
  • Get them thinking about your topic?
  • Convince them of a particular point of view?

Know  your audience

  • Do they already know something about your topic?
  • How are you going to involve them in your presentation?

Plan

  • Start brainstorming your topic.
  • Start researching and finding your information.
  • Write an outline of your presentation.
  • Remember your presentation time is limited.

Start organising your material and write a rough draft. Then summarise your draft into points. Plan and prepare any visual aids you want to use.

Tip!

Use the Deakin Library Image Resource Guide or search for copyright free image sites to get some great images for your presentation.

Structure

Oral presentations should follow a clear structure.

You should include:

  • an introduction
  • the main points
  • a clear conclusion.

Introduction

The aim of your introduction is to get the attention of your audience. You might like to start with a question, a joke, a photo, or a comment that will make people think and pay attention to what you are about to say.  In your introduction clearly state the purpose of your presentation.

Some useful phrases include:

  • 'I'm going to talk about...'
  • 'This morning I'd like to explain...'

Present an outline of your talk; for example:

  • 'I will focus on the following points...' 
  • 'First of all…then…'
  • 'This will lead to…'
  • 'And finally…'

Body

In the body of your presentation you should remember to:

  • Present your main points one by one
  • Take a moment to pause at the end of each point as this will give your audience time to absorb what you are saying and take any notes
  • Use phrases to make it clear that you are moving to a new point.

Some useful phrases include:

  • 'The next point is that ...'
  • 'Now I am going to talk about ...'
  • 'Moving on to...'
  • 'I would now like to explain...

Conclusion

The aim of the conclusion is to:

  • Provide a clear summary of your main points
  • Indicate to your audience that your presentation has finished (Don't just drift off!)
  • Thank your audience.

Some useful phrases include:

  • 'To sum up...'
  • 'In conclusion...'
  • 'To recap the main points…'
  • 'Thank you. Are there any questions?'

Delivering the presentation

Rehearse your presentation as many times as you can and get feedback from friends.  It's a great way to feel more confident and in control about delivering your presentation.

  • Rehearse your presentation and get the length and timing right.
  • Ask a friend to listen and time you.
  • Practise in front of a mirror and time yourself.

What else can I do?

Some people find it useful to develop a "presentation self" - that means try to assume a different persona when you present. You could also join a conversation club at any Deakin campus and practice speaking skills with other students. Also consider the following:

Voice

  • Speak in a voice loud enough to be heard.
  • Slow down! Don't speak too quickly.
  • Remember to pause.

Body language

  • Make eye contact with your audience.
  • Try to glance around the room rather than focus on one person.
  • Don't fold your arms or have your hands in your pockets.
  • If you feel nervous, hold something or put your hands behind your back.

Annoying habits

  • Reading the presentation.
  • Speaking too fast.
  • Pacing up and down.
  • Too many gestures.
  • Speaking too loudly or softly.
  • Bad posture.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Handling questions poorly. (Don't panic if you can't answer a question. Be honest. You can say something like - "I'm not sure of the answer to that but I will try to find out later on and let you know.")

Presentation tools

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