Library

19 September 2016

Tips and tricks for a better presentation

Oral presentations come in all shapes and sizes, but the basic skills to make a good one are all the same. Librarian Clinton Bell has all the strategies you need to overcome the public speaking nerves and make your presentation stand out from the rest...




Most university courses include at least one oral presentation as part of the assessment, and public speaking is also an important career skill. Whether it’s making a pitch at a meeting, educating clients, or presenting your paper at a conference, a lot of jobs involve public speaking.


So how can you make better presentations? There are two elements to a good presentation: what you say and how you say it. People sometimes assume that it’s the content of a presentation that matters the most, but if you really want to deliver a good presentation, both aspects are equally important.


What you say


  • Do your research. If you’re going to mention facts or statistics, make sure to get them right, and make a note of the source you got them from.
  • Use appropriate content for your presentation’s purpose. For example, if you’re pitching a project to management, they probably care more about cost and outcomes than technical details.
  • Adjust your language to your audience. People from outside your field may not understand technical terms and jargon, while those from different backgrounds might not understand slang, colloquialisms, references to books or movies, etc.
  • Be concise. If you take too long to get to the point, you’ll lose the audience’s attention.
  • Keep presentation slides clear and simple. Use normal fonts and colours, and make sure all the text is large enough to be read from the back row.


How you say it


  • Speak clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear. Take the size of the room into account and use a microphone if one is available. Think about pace as well as enunciation - if you’re nervous you may speak faster than normal, which can make it hard for the audience to understand.
  • Look and sound engaged. If you don’t seem interested in what you’re saying, your audience won’t be either. Be particularly careful if you’re reading from your notes - it’s very easy to fall into a monotone.
  • Pause for emphasis after making an important point. This gives your audience a moment to think about what you just said.
  • Act confident, even if you don’t feel confident. Try to avoid nervous body language like wringing your hands or constantly shifting side-to-side.
  • Look at your audience and make eye contact. Don’t turn your back on the audience to read your own PowerPoint slides.

For more tips on how to make a great presentation, check out our quick guide to oral presentations or try the video guides lynda.com, a video training service which Monash students can access for free through the library. Search for “public speaking” or “presentations” and you should find several useful courses.

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Image credit: ocean yamaha/Flickr (CC-BY-2.0)


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