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Author: ADMIN (ukstudent at gmail dot com)
Published: Wed, 27-Jul-2005
Rating 5.64
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ORAL PRESENTATIONS. Article by APU Student Services

This short guide is based on the materials used in the Oral Presentations workshop which forms part of the study skills workshops programme. The material included has been gathered and adapted from:

Developing Essential Study Skills – Elaine Payne and Lesley Whittaker

Studying Successfully by Ray Baxter

Study skills handouts in the Student Centre.

University of Surrey’s on-line guide – www.surrey.ac.uk/Skills/Pack/pres.html

See also:

"How not to give a presentation" – http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/321/7276/1570


• A good introduction
• A good conclusion
• Clear outcomes
• Appropriate material
• Well organised material
• Clear, logical progression
• Good supporting information – data, examples, illustrations
• Retention of interest
• Appropriate use of visual aids/handouts
• Good rapport with audience
• Appropriate use of language
• Good voice control


Initial preparation

Before planning your presentation, consider:
• Your remit
• Your objectives
• Your audience
• Your venue

Planning the presentation
Select and structure the main points and supporting information in a logical, coherent way

Practice makes perfect! Be familiar with your material, your venue and any equipment.

Effective delivery involves capturing and retaining the audience’s attention, inspiring their confidence and developing their understanding.


The design and tone of your presentation will be affected by:
• Your remit
How much time have you been allotted?
How much can you get across in that time?
Have any content guidelines been set?
(e.g. title, fixed number of OHTs)
Is a common format/style required?
• Your objectives
What do you want your audience to take away from the presentation?
Is your aim to explain, inform, persuade, debate or entertain?
• Your venue
Room size, layout, seating arrangements
Availability of audio visual equipment
Lighting, temperature, general comfort level
• Your audience
Who are they? What are their jobs/positions?
Why are they there? Are they there voluntarily or under pressure?
What is their likely attention span?
What do they already know about the topic?
How can you link new information to what they know?
Is their response likely to be positive or negative?
Will you need to win them over to a particular viewpoint?
Will anyone else be speaking for or against?
What level will you need to gear your information to?
You may need to avoid technical jargon and explain abstract concepts with clear, practical examples.


• Choose the main points (3 max. in a 10 minute presentation)
These should reflect your objectives and take
account of your audience’s needs.
• Arrange main points in a logical, structured way which is relevant to the subject:
e.g. chronological, cause/effect, problem/solution
• Choose supporting information to:
add clarity - explain complex terms through concrete examples, illustrations; remind audience of supporting themes
add authority – quote experts; make connections with other people’s work; offer evidence from research
add colour – video clips/slides; practical examples; analogies
Decide best way to present this information.
• Establish linking statements to show how main points fit together
• Develop your opening:
• introduce yourself
• capture the audience’s interest, establish a relationship
• say what you will be talking about and how
• say what you hope to achieve
- say what you expect of the audience – to
listen, take notes, ask questions (during, after?)
- inspire confidence
• Develop your ending:
• review the subject area
• summarise the main points and the process
• draw the points to a conclusion/judgement
• leave a lasting impression
• Review
• Does your presentation meet your objectives?
Is it logically structured?
Is it targeted at the right level?
Is it too long/short?
• Prepare notes –
• linear notes or index cards?
• number and keep in right order
• note main headings and key words as prompts


• Rapport
o smile, be welcoming
o check comfort levels
o look for non-verbal signs of confusion/boredom
o address audience directly, don’t read from notes
o check understanding
o invite questions
o show confidence through posture and body language
o maintain eye contact
o use controlled gestures to welcome, include, emphasise, indicate ending
• Appropriate language:
Use language that involves you with the audience, e.g. use "we", ask rhetorical questions.
Express ideas clearly:
o avoid jargon, clichι
o summarise regularly
o vary sentence length, openers, types (statement, command, question, exclamation)
o avoid messy, rambling endings or fillers
o use verbal signposts to direct listening
• Voice control
Use your voice to maintain interest, convey energy and enthusiasm:
o volume – loud enough for audience to hear, but vary for effect
o pace – speak slowly and clearly, use pauses to indicate change of direction or to emphasise a point
o pitch – e.g. raise for questions

Practical tips

Practice makes perfect! Rehearse your presentation.

Be familiar with your material and equipment

Get a good night’s sleep

Arrive early to check layout, equipment etc.

Have a warm drink beforehand to relax throat

Have a drink of water to hand

Take a few deep breaths before starting

Pause between sections, after questions, to allow comfortable breathing patterns

© Copyright for this article belongs to APU Student Services

This document was re-printed with the kind permission of Susan Butler. Original Source of the article is located here: http://web.apu.ac.uk/stu_services/essex/learningsupport/OL-OralPrsntatns.htm

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