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Giving Presentations

This guide will help you design and deliver an effective presentation. It's full of tips for both beginners, who need to learn the basics of delivering a presentation, as well as students who want to perfect their presentation skills.

Understanding your Assignment

As with any assignment, it's important to first check the assignment requirements before you start planning your presentation. Read over the assignment requirements and make sure you understand the following:

  • Is it a group or individual presentation?
  • Is there a time limit or requirement? 
  • Are you allowed to use videos? If so, how long can videos be? Instructors generally do not want videos to take up a big portion of your presentation, but short videos can help to illustrate a point
  • What's the topic you will be presenting on? Do you get to choose? 
  • Are you required to prepare a visual component such as a PowerPoint or a poster?
  • What is the purpose of the presentation? Are you summarizing an issue to inform your classmates? Are you presenting a paper you wrote? Are you trying to convince them of a particular argument related to an issue? Are you leading discussion on a reading?

Planning your Presentation

A good presentation requires careful planning. In general, you will need to follow these steps to plan a successful presentation:

  1. Brainstorm and outline: What's your topic? What do you know about the topic? What do you want your audience to know? 
  2. Research: Use research to support your argument, find examples and statistics, or to learn more about your topic.
  3. Write an outline
  4. Write a draft.
  5. Plan any visual aids such as PowerPoint or any activities you want your audience to participate in
  6. Practice, practice, practice!  Make sure your presentation is not too long, and edit it down as needed.

Organizing your Presentation

A good presentation should be well organized, with a beginning, middle and end. 

Beginning:

The beginning of a presentation is very important! This is when you have an opportunity to grab the audience's attention, and set the tone for your presentation.

  • Use an attention grabber. Some attention grabbing techniques include: asking a thought-provoking question, showing the audience am intriguing picture, telling a story or use a real life example related to your topic, sharing a shocking statistic related to your topic, sharing a powerful quote, playing a short video
  • Introduce yourself and the topic you will be discussing
  • Outline what you will be talking about. 

Body:

  • Discuss your main points in a logical order
  • It should be clear to your audience when you are moving from one point to another
  • Use examples to support your points

Conclusion:

  • Summarize the main points
  • Avoid providing new information at this point, but you can state any additional questions that you think your research has led you too
  • Use language that lets your audience know that your presentation is coming to an end
  • Avoid ending with "that's it!" or apologizing for your presentation
  • Thank the audience for listening and invite questions

Signal Words and Transition Phrases

Using transition and signal phrases throughout your presentation will help keep it organized and ensure your thoughts are communicated clearly. Try using some of the phrases below to introduce ideas and structure your presentation.

Introducing your presentation:

  • The topic/question I will be discussing today is...
  • This presentation will investigate/examine... 

Providing an outline:

  • I want to start by..., then I will... 
  • This presentation is divided into [x number] of parts. First I will... then I will..., finally I will conclude by...
  • There are [x number] of points I will discuss: A, B, C and D
  • Let's begin by looking at... before examining... 

Introducing your main point: 

  • A significant issue is...
  • A major concern is...
  • The central problem is...

Rephrasing your main point:

  • In other words...
  • Another way to think about the problem is...

Moving to another point:

  • Now let's consider...
  • I'd like to move on to examine...
  • Now, turning to the issue of...

Introducing an example:

  • A case in point is...
  • Take the case of...
  • This is illustrated/demonstrated by...
  • An example of this is...

‚ÄčIntroducing images or explaining visuals: 

  • This image/diagram illustrates...
  • As you can see here...

Introducing and integrating videos:

  • We will now watch a short video that illustrates...
  • In the video we've just watched, it is important to note that...
  • As the video demonstrates...

Conclusions:

  • ‚ÄčTo sum up...
  • In conclusion...
  • In summary...
  • To summarize...
  • To conclude...
  • Therefore... 

Inviting and Answering Questions:

  • I am happy to take questions now.
  • That's a very interesting question. In my opinion,...
  • Thanks for your question. What my research shows is that...
  • That's a relevant question, but it is out of the scope of my research.
  • I'm afraid I cannot answer that question, but that's an interesting topic.

The above tips have been adapted from RMIT University Study and Learning Centre's "Oral Presentations: Signalling and Transition Phrases."