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Oral presentations: important tips

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Oral presentations can make a lot of people nervous for a lot of reasons. But, if we shed some light on how to do them well, maybe you’ll see that they’re not so scary after all.

So how do we do better?

Don’t miss the mark!

What goal is your presentation trying to achieve?

Do you want to inform? Educate? Persuade? Each of these involves a different approach. Identify what type of presentation you’re giving, and it will help you to tailor your presentation style and give you a clear goal. You should also take a close look at the marking rubric to see what you need to achieve if the assignment brief is a little unclear.

Prepare accordingly!

This means that you should know your stuff and know your audience.

How well do you understand the topic? Have you prepared enough to answer any follow-up questions that the audience might ask? If you’re practising with friends, make it meaningful. Ask them to be attentive, to ask you lots of questions, and to point out any part that might be hard to understand. Be ready to work iteratively, and re-word or rearrange your presentation to make a core idea clearer. This is especially important for an audience that might not have the same level of understanding as you do.

Keep it simple, and make it flow

Like any good story, you want your ideas to flow in an order that makes sense.

Don’t dive right into a topic that the audience might not be familiar with, and don’t leave gaps that might lead to confusion for the listener. Any topic or idea that you introduce in the presentation should relate to the rest of the presentation in some meaningful way. Likewise, any idea or discussion that you revisit during the presentation should add more meaning and value to what you have already talked about. If a section of your presentation doesn’t do any of these, leave that part out. This is about trying to avoid repetitiveness, and it will help you to retain your audience’s attention.

Craft your presentation slides

Try not to cram too much information into one presentation slide! Slides support and enhance what you’re saying, not the other way around.

You can use your favourite tool to create your slides – for Uni presentations, my go-to is Canva because it’s free and super-duper easy to use. For professional presentations, PowerPoint is what I use because most companies will have their own standard assets (like photos and templates) for professionalism and branding.

And that’s it! Know the purpose of your presentation, prepare accordingly, and share your ideas in a way that flows like a good story. If you’re still a bit stuck, or looking for more advice, make sure you visit the Library’s very own Oral Presentations guide for more helpful tips. Good luck!

Patrick Catambay

Written by Patrick Catambay, Peer Academic Mentor and Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) (Hons) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) student.

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