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Developing and giving presentations

Giving presentations can be quite nerve-wracking particularly if you’re not used to public speaking. You will give many presentations throughout your studies and with careful planning and practice, your presentations will be effective and engaging. Follow these tips.

Developing your presentation

Check the presentation assignment details

Your lecturer will mark your presentation against specific criteria so check the presentation assignment details and marking rubric if they’re available as a starting point. This example presentation rubric gives you an idea of elements that are common in high and low-quality presentations. Aim for high quality!

Plan your presentation

Once you know what you’ll be marked against, start planning your presentation. Effective presentations should hook the audience from the start and engage them throughout. Develop a plan that takes into consideration:

Your audience

  • Who are they?
  • What do they value?
  • What do I want them to take away from my presentation?

Your purpose

  • What is the purpose of my presentation?
  • Do I want to persuade my audience?
  • Do I want to inform my audience?

The context

  • Where will I present?
  • How much time will I have?
  • What presentation aides do I need to include?

Write a presentation outline

Your presentation should include:

An introduction:

Your introduction should briefly outline what you will cover in your presentation. Try to hook your audience with a thought-provoking statement or image to capture their attention.

A body:

The body of your presentation includes the main content. Your content should be structured in a logical and coherent manner so it’s easy for your audience to follow.

A conclusion:

Your conclusion should sum up the main points of your presentation. You could include a list of key takeaways that you want the audience to remember from your presentation.

This downloadable  presentation outline template will help you plan what you will cover in each part.

Develop your presentation

Once you have planned your presentation outline, develop your presentation. Regardless of the programme you use, follow these tips:

  • Use a simple and consistent design
  • Select fonts that are easy to read – avoid cursive fonts
  • Ensure text is at an appropriate font size
  • Place dark fonts on light backgrounds and vice versa
  • Allow for plenty of white space
  • Use bullet points and lists – you can elaborate on these points through your speech
  • Select meaningful images and visual aides

MS PowerPoint includes templates that you could use. You could also use the following programmes:

Giving your presentation

Public speaking tips

TED Talks are globally renowned for their engaging public speaking events. In the following video, TEDx Speaker Coach Amy Wolff elaborates on the following top five tips for public speaking:

  1. Know your content
  2. Be authentic – be yourself
  3. Make eye contact
  4. Relax your hands
  5. Avoid the use of filler words such as umm, ah

Practice your presentation

When you give your presentation, there are eight main areas you need to attend to. Take note of the following and try the practice exercise.

Volume People need to be able to hear you without shouting. Try to project your voice out to people who are furthest away. Breathe deeply to project your voice out.
Clarity Speak clearly so people can understand what you are saying. Make sure you take the time to pronounce words properly.
Pace It is very common to speak quickly when you are nervous. Consciously try to slow down your pace when you are speaking.
Pitch Vary your voice tone to engage the audience. People quickly lose interest if you speak in a monotone (a flat voice with no variation). Emphasise certain words and phrases.
Pause Pauses are an effective way to hold the audience’s attention. You can hold a pause for a few seconds to give the audience time to reflect on your message.
Rapport and stance Look directly at the audience when you are speaking and try to appear interested and excited about what you are saying. Smile and use hand gestures to convey your message where appropriate. Stand up straight as this displays confidence and will help you speak clearly.
Dress Dress appropriately for the audience. You want people to take you and what you say seriously so be mindful of the way you present yourself.
Timing Pay attention to timing and stick to the allocated time. Rushing if you run out of time can make you appear hurried and stressed. Marks can also be deducted if you go over time.


Practice your presentation

Create some cue cards noting key points that you want to address in your presentation. Refer to these occasionally throughout your presentation. Taking note of the areas above, practice your presentation and video record yourself on your phone or device. Watch your recording and assess your delivery against this rubric.