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Preparing for a presentation

1. Objectives

Work out the objectives of your talk. Do you want your audience to discover something new, believe something different or adopt a new course of action? Deciding the reason for your talk will help you to structure and pitch it.

2. Audience

It's important to know your audience so you can pitch your presentation well. Your presentation shouldn't repeat material contained in lectures and reading. Your job is to tell the audience something they are not likely to know.

3. Research

Make sure you read widely so you can make your case and show that you have considered contrary evidence. Your material should be focused on the title of your presentation and relevant to the point you are trying to make.

4. Structure

Your presentation needs to have a clear structure. Organise the material by themes or issues: do not simply summarise a number of papers in the order you read them. Focus on a few key points and explain them fully so the audience can digest and remember them.

See Beginning, middle and end below for an examples of how to structure your presentation

5. Main points

Give practical examples that will be relevant to the audience and show how they illustrate the point. Use concrete rather than abstract language whenever possible.

6. Beginning and end

Your opening sentence should be more dynamic than ‘This talk is about...' Get right into the topic. The opening and conclusion are the only sentences that you should write out in full.

7. Timing

If you find your talk is too long, work out what can be cut. Remember to leave time for questions.

8. Rehearsing

Practise your presentation in advance, ideally in front of an audience. This will help you to work out how long it takes and you will become more confident and less reliant on notes. See Delivering a presentationIt is also possible to record a PowerPoint presentation with narration with Windows 10, should you wish to practice. The short video below (recorded in PowerPoint) explains how:

Presenting to students

Beginning, middle and end

Introduction

    • Who you are and why you are giving this presentation.
    • What the presentation is about and what you will cover.
    • Explain your objectives.
    • Give the background to the presentation.
    • Say what's in it for the audience.
    • Use an attention grabber at the start: image, quote, shocking statistic etc.

Middle

    • Give details of your topic in a logical order.
    • Recap each section and signpost the next one.
    • Use real examples to illustrate your points.
    • Tell the audience how the information applies to them.
    • Back up the claims that you made at the start. 

Conclusion

    • Summarise your main points.
    • Explain the benefits that your solution, options, conclusions etc. will bring.
    • Say what you want the audience to do next.
    • Ask for questions.
    • Explain how to get in touch with you.
    • Use a closing attention grabber.
    • Try to end on a high. Avoid saying ‘That's it.'
Both the introduction and the conclusion should summarise the talk in a sentence or two.

1. Tell the audience what you're going to tell them.
2. Tell them.
3. Tell them what you told them.

Next page - Digital tools for presentations