Helpful Hints

  1. When developing your oral presentation, complete the Introduction and Conclusion sections after you have fully developed the Body of the presentation.
  2. When you are writing out your presentation, try to organise your information into main headings and supporting details or examples, much like an essay plan. If you know your topic well enough, you can use these headings as ‘cues' while you deliver the talk. This technique will prevent you from simply reading your talk, which is boring to the audience.
  3. Make absolutely certain in your mind the central message you wish to convey. This is critical to a good presentation. If you do not have the message of your talk firmly established in your mind, then you are unlikely to be able to let anyone else know what it is.
  4. Time your presentation carefully to suit the time made available for you. A presentation that is too short wastes the opportunity to fully present arguments and ideas while an overly long presentation represents a discourtesy to organisers and other speakers and may bore the audience.
  5. Plan to introduce yourself to the audience, even if they already know you this act represents not only a welcome courtesy but also a distinct beginning for your talk.
  6. At the beginning of the presentation, try to grab the audience's attention by providing an interesting quotation, an amazing fact or an amusing anecdote. Telling a joke is somewhat risky and should generally be left to only experienced public speakers or natural born stand-up comics.
  7. The Introduction should be clear and lively to create a good first impression with the audience. Show them that you are both interested and interesting.
  8.  In the Body, accompany points of argument with devises such as examples and analogies which will illustrate and reinforce your ideas with the audience in a memorable and illuminating way. It is particularly useful to use examples that the audience will relate to in order to bring your talk to life and to make it more meaningful to the audience.
  9. Engage your audience in other ways. For example, use personal references involving 'you…' – such as 'You may wonder why this was approached in this way' or 'You may find this surprising, but …'.
  10. Unlike the case in written communication, repetition is considered a useful device in oral presentations. Repetition of a word, a phrase or an idea is useful for emphasis eg 'Physical illness can be caused by fear: fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of something that may not even happen.'
  11. Verb signals should also be used. A prior indication or warning of what will be coming later in the task is a useful method of maintaining audience interest and keeping them oriented as to where the talk is going. For example:
    • 'In a few moments I will give you some statistics that will shock you …'
    • 'There are three ways of accomplishing this. The first …  The second … Last, but not least …'
    • 'I will explain that point in detail later.'
    • Cue in your Conclusion by saying something like: 'In conclusion …' or 'To conclude, …'. This will alert the audience to the fact that the main points of the talk are to be restated and conclusions drawn. If some members of the audience have been lost during the Body then this cue will regain their attention and focus.
  12. End your presentation clearly and courteously by saying: 'Thank you'. Avoid endings such as: 'Well that's it' which tend to trivialise the activity.
  13. Ensure that you always use language and examples that are non-discriminatory.  
  14. When taking questions remain calm and courteous at all times. Keep a good humour and answer questions honestly. In particular, don't be afraid to say: 'I don't know.'