Tips and tricks for oral presentations

Are you about to give your first presentation at uni or did you just finish giving one? Feeling a bit nervous is perfectly normal. Some tips in this article may help you... by Anita Dewi 

Image: Pixabay
Oral presentations can be successful if you have a good plan, structure, preparation and, obviously, content. Experts say that an oral presentation is a multi-modal approach to communicating ideas. This means that, in addition to using words, you also need to make the best use of eye contact, gestures, pauses, and voice tones.

Content is king
If not determined by your lecturer or tutor, you will first need to choose a topic. If this is the case, choose a topic that interests you. You should then do some research into the topic, so that you have a good general idea about it. Once you’ve done this research, narrow down your topic so that the presentation is more focused.

The structure of a presentation is very much similar to that of essays and reports. You will need an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction includes a statement of the topic, a definition of terms and/or jargons, and an outline of the talk. In the body you can then develop the topic, put forward your arguments, and support your arguments with evidence. Finally, don’t forget to sum up in a conclusion and leave a good impression at the end of your presentation.

Visual aids are also useful in oral presentations. Take time to think about key factors in deciding on visual aids as they play a key role in grabbing the audience’s attention. These key factors include the number of slides (not too many, please! We have all heard about death by Powerpoint.), highlights of key words, colours used in the slides, size and type of fonts and bullet points in use, and other illustrations such as graphs, charts, figures, and diagrams.

Practise, practise, practise
Making sure that you know your content and giving yourself plenty of practice enable you to be more confident and not resort to reading from your slides. To avoid reading, focus on key words and ideas, and place them in short bullet points or outline format. 

When you practise your presentation, don’t forget to time it so that you get a sense of how long you can go for ‘the real show’ in class. If in any case you run out of time, quickly summarise the points that you haven’t covered and focus only on the main points.

Finally, if you still feel nervous on the day of your presentation, there are some tips that have proved useful for many people:

1.     Take at least three deep breaths.
2.     Pretend that you are confident (even if you’re really not feeling so!).
3.     Speak slowly.
4.     Focus on your arguments and the content of your presentation.

As they say when one goes on stage, break a leg!

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