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Oral Presentations

 

Purpose

The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce or reacquaint you with the basics of preparing and delivering an oral presentation. Use this information and the activities as a guide when you are faced with the task of preparing and presenting an oral report. Asian man giving a speech.

 

Goals and Objectives

Upon completion of this tutorial, you will be able to:

 

Activities

Read the materials about making oral presentations, and complete the activities as you prepare and practice your presentation.

Note: All external links in this tutorial will open in a new window or tab.

 

References

Summary

Instructor's Guide

 

Types of Presentations

There are two basic types of presentations (or oral reports) that you will likely be called upon to deliver during your educational career and beyond — informative presentations and persuasive presentations.

 

Informative Presentations

Woman giving an informative speech.

The purpose of an informative presentation is to promote understanding of an idea or to convey information. They are often used to provide people with information about a concept or idea that is new. A presentation on "Endangered Species in the South American Rain Forest" is an example of an informative presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persuasive Presentations

The second type of presentation is a persuasive presentation. The goal of a persuasive presentation is to influence a change in the belief, attitude, or behavior of another person when that person has some degree of free choice. Expanding upon the example provided above, a persuasive presentation would not only inform the audience members about the South American rain forest and its endangered species, but would also try to get them to take specific and appropriate action to save these species.

 

Woman giving persuasive speech.

Both types of presentations can be used to start a discussion by providing information on a given topic followed by time for questions, answers, and discussion.

  

Steps in Preparing a Presentation

Planning Your Presentation

A labyrinth Preparing a presentation can be an overwhelming experience if you allow it to be one. The strategies and steps below are provided to help you break down what you might view as a large job into smaller, more manageable tasks.

 

Step 1: Analyze your audience

The first step in preparing a presentation is to learn more about the audience to whom you'll be speaking. It's a good idea to obtain some information on the backgrounds, values, and interests of your audience so that you understand what the audience members might expect from your presentation.

 

Step 2: Select a topic

Next, if possible select a topic that is of interest to the audience and to you. It will be much easier to deliver a presentation that the audience finds relevant, and more enjoyable to research a topic that is of interest to you.

 

Step 3: Define the objective of the presentation

Once you have selected a topic, write the objective of the presentation in a single concise statement. The objective needs to specify exactly what you want your audience to learn from your presentation. Base the objective and the level of the content on the amount of time you have for the presentation and the background knowledge of the audience. Use this statement to help keep you focused as you research and develop the presentation.

 

Preparing the Content of Your Presentation

Step 4: Prepare the body of the presentation

After defining the objective of your presentation, determine how much information you can present in the amount of time allowed. Also, use your knowledge about the audience to prepare a presentation with the right level of detail. You don't want to plan a presentation that is too basic or too advanced.

The body of the presentation is where you present your ideas. To present your ideas convincingly, you will need to illustrate and support them. Strategies to help you do this include the following:

And remember, as you plan the body of your presentation it's important to provide variety. Listeners may quickly become bored by lots of facts or they may tire of hearing story after story.

 

Step 5: Prepare the introduction and conclusion

Once you've prepared the body of the presentation, decide how you will begin and end the talk. Make sure the introduction captures the attention of your audience and the conclusion summarizes and reiterates your important points. In other words, "Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Then, tell them what you told them."

During the opening of your presentation, it's important to attract the audience's attention and build their interest. If you don't, listeners will turn their attention elsewhere and you'll have a difficult time getting it back. Strategies that you can use include the following:

It is also during the opening that you want to clearly present your topic and the purpose of your presentation. Clearly articulating the topic and purpose will help the listeners focus on and easily follow your main ideas.

During the conclusion of your presentation, reinforce the main ideas you communicated. Remember that listeners won't remember your entire presentation, only the main ideas. By reinforcing and reviewing the main ideas, you help the audience remember them.

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Practicing and Delivering

Step 6: Practice delivering the presentation

Most people spend hours preparing a presentation but very little time practicing it. When you practice your presentation, you can reduce the number of times you utter words and phrases like, "um," "well," and "you know." These habits can easily diminish a speaker's credibility. You can also fine-tune your content to be sure you make your most important points in the time alloted.

In addition to planning the content of your presentation, you need to give advanced thought to how you want to deliver it. Do you want to commit your presentation to memory, use cards to guide you, or read from a script? Or, you might want to use a combination of methods. To help you decide, read the advantages and disadvantages of the four delivery methods described below.

 

Speaking from Memory

A human brain.

A distinct advantage of speaking from memory is your ability to speak to the audience without relying on notes or a script. This allows you the flexibility to move away from the podium and to maintain eye contact with the audience. However, speaking from memory has disadvantages, too. Presentations from memory often sound rehearsed and the possibility exists that you'll forget an important point, present information that's inaccurate, or completely lose your train of thought. If you decide to deliver your presentation from memory, have notes handy to jog your memory just in case!

 

Speaking from Notes

A note card.

Many people like to speak from notes. Typically these notes are either on cards or paper in outline form and contain key ideas and information. The benefit of delivering a presentation from notes is that you sound natural rather than rehearsed and you can still maintain relatively good eye contact with the audience. The down side is that you might not express your key ideas and thoughts as well as you may have liked had you planned your exact words in advance.

 

Speaking from Text

Gettysburg Address speech

Speaking from text involves writing your speech out, word for word, then basically reading from the text. As with speaking from memory, an advantage of this method is that you plan, in advance, exactly what you're going to say and how you're going to say it. A disadvantage is that you might appear to the audience to be stiff or rehearsed. You will need to make frequent eye contact and speak with expression to maintain the audience's interest.

 

Using a Combination of Methods

You may find the best method to be a combination of all three. For instance, experts suggest you memorize the first and last ten minutes of your talk so that you can speak flawlessly and without notes. Notes may be suitable for segments of your presentation that you know very well, for example, relating a personal story. Finally, speaking from a text might be appropriate when you have quotes or other important points that you want to make sure you communicate accurately and completely. You can make a smooth segue to written text by saying something like: "I want to read this quote to you verbatim, to ensure that I don't distort the original intent."

 

Being a Credible Speaker

Have you heard someone speak whom you thought lacked credibility? Did you dismiss what he or she had to say because you thought it was probably not true? That's what typically happens when a speaker lacks credibility. While it's always important to be thought of as believable, it's especially important when you speak to a group of people, and vital if you plan to deliver a persuasive presentation. Without credibility, members of the audience may dismiss what you have to say as either unimportant or untrue. The guidelines that follow are provided to help you learn how to become a more believable speaker.

 

Be accurate and exact with quotes, names, dates, and facts.

If you want people to believe you, you have to earn their trust. That means getting the facts straight. Research the information you're going to present to make sure it's accurate and make sure you report it correctly. Practice pronouncing names correctly, and state dates, facts, and quotes accurately. Copy information that you think you might misstate and read it from your notes if necessary.

 

Provide support for your ideas.

It's not enough just to make a statement, you need to back it up by providing factual information, quoting an expert, or speaking from experience. The point is, it's not enough to state your ideas, you need to be able to explain why you have those ideas.

 

Dress in a professional manner.

Man in a suit.

If you want to be taken seriously, then dress accordingly. Being the worst dressed person in the room just won't do. You don't need to have the most expensive clothes or the most current wardrobe, but do look well groomed. Like it or not, research has determined that people are influenced by the appearance of the speaker.Hobo thinking - I get no respect.

 

Use visual aids that look professional.

Visual aids can enhance your presentation if they are well designed and look professional. Be certain to use the visual aids when you practice your presentation.

 

Know your material.

Knowing the material will help you speak more quickly and fluidly. Research has shown that a speaker's credibility is enhanced by speaking more quickly and without hesitation (uh, well, you know) or qualifiers (sort of, kind of, I guess). People who speak faster are perceived to be more intelligent, more confident, and more effective than people who speak slower. Knowing your material will also help you reduce hesitations and qualifiers that might diminish credibility.

 

Use language that's appropriate for the audience.

Don't try to impress them by using words they don't understand. If your subject is new to audience members, be certain to explain jargon they might not comprehend. Also, be certain to use your best grammar. Slang can be appropriate for the right audience, but the use of incorrect grammar may be taken as a lack of knowledge on your part.

Using Humor Effectively and Controlling Your Nervousness

Using Humor Effectively

Three people laughing. Integrating humor into your oral presentation helps enhance and maintain the audience's attention and interest. Here are some pointers for effectively incorporating humor into your presentation.

 

Controlling Your Nervousness

Most people are a little nervous when they speak in public. In fact, a little nervous energy can enhance a performance or presentation. It is important to control this nervous energy, however, so that it remains a positive motivating force rather than a debilitating one.

Man gasping and nervous.

 

Delivering the Presentation

How you say things may often appear to be more important than what you say. Have you listened to charismatic speakers who gain and maintain the attention of the audience? Have you also encountered speakers who quickly put an audience to sleep? Experienced presenters learn to communicate effectively by using voice, gestures, and visual aids while trying to establishing a comfortable environment for the audience.

 

Voice

Talking lips. Using your voice effectively can have a great impact on your delivery. The best speaking voice is conversational, natural, and enthusiastic. Use the following guidelines to develop an effective speaking voice:

 

Gestures

Speakers often communicate with their audience either intentionally or unintentionally using gestures and other physical behaviors. Use the guidelines below to help use gestures to your benefit:

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Visual Aids in Presentation

Man in front of a slide presentation. Visual aids can help you emphasize main ideas, illustrate a concept, or stimulate the interest of your listeners. Examples of visual aids include posters, overheads, flip charts, photographs, computer-generated slides, and three-dimensional effects.

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Establishing a Comfortable Environment

While you won't always have control over the environment when you do a presentation, there may be ways you can modify the environment so that it is both comfortable for you and the audience members. The guidelines that follow are intended to help you become aware of environmental factors that can affect the delivery of your presentation.

References

 

Content

For additional information on oral presentations, please consult the following references:

 

Image Credits

Human Brain

Note Card

Gettysburg Address Speech

Man in a Suit

Hobo Thinking

People Laughing

 

Summary

 

Suggested Criteria for an Excellent Oral Presentation

By taking the checklist below and turning it into a matrix, you will have a useful tool for evaluating your oral presentation. You can provide this checklist to other's listening to you in any practice sessions to obtain feedback on your presentation. You may want to include additional items, depending on the requirements of your oral presentation. A downloadable RTF file of this checklist is included in the left sidebar of this page.

  1. The presentation was relevant to the audience.
  2. The information presented was accurate and relevant.
  3. The information presented was at the right level of detail.
  4. The presentation was well organized and the ideas flowed logically.
  5. The presenter's introduction captured the interest of the audience.
  6. The presenter established the purpose of the presentation during the introduction.
  7. The presenter used evidence and examples to support his or her ideas.
  8. The presenter reinforced the main ideas at the conclusion of the presentation.
  9. The presenter carefully timed the presentation so that it "fit" into the time allowed.
  10. The presenter established a comfortable environment.
  11. The presenter showed evidence of being prepared by not overly relying on notes.
  12. The presenter's use of his or her voice was natural and effective.
  13. The presenter's hand and facial gestures were natural and effective.
  14. The presenter controlled nervousness so that it did not distract the audience.
  15. The presenter established eye contact with the audience.
  16. Any humor used in the presentation was effective and not offensive.
  17. The presenter's use of visual aids was appropriate for the setting.
  18. The presenter used visual aids primarily to emphasize key points.
  19. Visual aids were professional looking and followed text size/amount guidelines.
  20. The presenter effectively managed the use of visual aids by paraphrasing information presented on them and displaying them for an appropriate period of time.
  21. The presenter stayed within the given time limits for making the presentation.

 

Oral Presentation Evaluation Matrix

 

 

Category

Does Not Meet Expectations

Meets Expectations

Outstanding

How to Improve

Relevance

Relevance of presentation to the audience

Mixed several irrelevant points together

Points were mostly relevant to t he audience

All points were relevant to the audience

 

Content

Information presented

Used inaccurate irrelevant, or inappropriate level of information that might hinder communication

Used accurate, relevant information

Used varied information, of which all was accurate, relevant, and at the right level of detail

 

Organization

Overall organization of presentation

Used unclear organization to present ideas.

Presented ideas in a somewhat organized manner.

 

Presented ideas in a polished, well organized manner

 

Introduction

Vague introduction. Didn't introduce topic well

Introduced topic with one or two brief sentences

Introduction captured audience interests and established the purpose of the presentation

 

Body

Lacked facts or used inappropriate facts and examples that didn't support main ideas. No logical sequence of information

Presented with a logical sequence but not presented in a fluent manner

Used evidence and examples to support main ideas in a fluent manner

 

Conclusion

No conclusion

Vague conclusion

Conclusion reinforced the main ideas in the presentation

 

Time Management Strategy

Effective use of time

Didn't conclude presentation in assigned time or concluded earlier than the assigned time

Kept to time limit and delivered in the assigned time

Carefully timed so that it "fit" into the time allowed. Spent appropriate amount of time on topics, allowed time for questions, and answered questions effectively

 

Environment

The presenter didn't care about establishing a comfortable environment.

The presenter had little control, but made as many adjustments as possible.

The presenter established a comfortable environment

 

Presentation

Controlling nervousness

Presenter's nervousness distracted the audience

Presenter's nervousness was apparent only occasionally

The presenter controlled nervousness so that it did not distract the audience

 

Practice

Mastery of the subject

Read from notes most of the time. Searched for words frequently with long periods of silence

Spoke with occasional hesitations without overly relying on notes

The presenter showed evidence of being prepared by not overly relying on notes, and spoke in a fluent and spontaneous way

 

Delivery

Verbal

Could not be understood because of inappropriate rate, volume, or articulation

Could be understood, but the presenters voice did not effectively enhance the presentation

The presenter's use of his or her voice was natural and effectively enhanced the presentation

 

Non verbal Expression

Did not exhibit poise or used ineffective or distractive hand or facial gestures

Used positive hand and facial gestures

The presenter was poised and hand and facial gestures were natural and effectively enhanced presentation

 

Eye contact

Established no/indistinct eye contact

Established eye contact with the audience

Established direct, consistent eye contact with the audience

 

Effective use of humor

No humor was used

No humor was tried or humor was used in an intrusive way

Any humor used in the presentation was effective and not offensive

 

Visual Aids

Use of visual aids

Included no graphics or pictures or used irrelevant and distracting visual aids

Included graphics and pictures that were relevant to the topic

Used good quality visual aids that were appropriate for the setting

 

Visual aids design

Included no graphics or pictures or used distracting/ poor looking visual aids

Graphics and pictures were visible to all

Visual aids were professional looking, and followed text size/amount guidelines. Graphics and pictures were attractive, creative and precise so as to enhance the presentation

 

Effective management of visual aids

Included no graphics or pictures or the use of visual aids was distracting

Used some kind of visual aids to facilitate the presentation

The presenter effectively managed the use of visual aids to enhance the effect of the presentation

 

Overall

Overall impression

Very boring, unpleasant to listen to, very poor presentation

Somewhat interesting. Could make some improvements

Very interesting, pleasant to listen to, very good presentation

 

 

Activity 1: Review Quiz

 

Take the quiz below to evaluate what you have learned.

 

 Toggle open/close quiz group

 

Instructor's Guide

Quizzes, Reflective Questions, and Activities

The following assignment is embedded in the Oral Presentation tutorial:

 

Relationship to Other iStudy Tutorials

If instructors are planning on using several iStudy tutorials, this tutorial should be used after any data collection and data analysis tutorials.

 

Suggested In-class Methods of Presentation

Optional Lecture

The instructor may want to cover the information from the iStudy tutorial in a traditional lecture format. This information is summarized in the Key Points section listed below.

Group Activity

Place the students into small (3-5 person) groups. Assign each group one of the following topics:

Each group must use the iStudy tutorial as the source of information to gather data for putting together a short oral report on their topic.

Each group member must orally present at least a portion of their group's topic. The instructor may (optionally) use the Suggested Criteria for an Oral Presentation (listed below) as a means of scoring each group.

Individual Activity

Assign each student the task of preparing and delivering a short oral report. The instructor should use the Suggested Criteria for an Oral Presentation (listed below) as a means of scoring each individual.

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Key Points

Types of Presentations

Steps in Preparing a Presentation

Being a Credible Speaker

 Use Humor Effectively

 Controlling Nervousness

Visual Aids in Presentations

Establish a Comfortable Environment

Suggested Criteria for an Excellent Oral Presentation

A downloadable RTF file of this checklist is included in the left sidebar of this page.

  1. Did the speaker make the presentation relevant to the audience?
  2. Was the information presented by the speaker accurate and relevant?
  3. Was the information presented by the speaker to the right level of content?
  4. Was the presentation well organized, and did the ideas flow logically?
  5. Did the speaker's introduction capture the audience's interest?
  6. Did the presenter establish the purpose of the presentation during the introduction?
  7. Did the speaker use evidence and examples to support his or her ideas?
  8. Did the speaker reinforce main ideas during the conclusion of the presentation?
  9. Did the presentation carefully time the presentation so that it "fit" into the time allowed?
  10. Did the presenter establish a comfortable environment? This includes adjusting lights, cleaning of white or chalk boards, and arranging chairs.
  11. Did the presenter show evidence of being prepared by not relying too much on notes to deliver the presentation.
  12. Was the presenter's use of his or her voice natural and effective in maintaining the audience's attention?
  13. Were the presenter's hand and facial gestures natural and effective in maintaining the audience's attention?
  14. Was the presenter able to control nervousness to the point that it did not distract the audience?
  15. Did the speaker establish eye contact with the audience?
  16. Was humor on the part of the presenter effective and not offensive?
  17. Was the presenter's use of visual aids appropriate for the setting?
  18. Did the presenter use visual aids primarily to emphasize key points?
  19. Were visual aids professional looking and were guidelines regarding text size and amount followed?
  20. Did the presenter effectively manage the use of visual aids by paraphrasing information presented on them and displaying them for the correct period of time?

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Oral Presentation Evaluation Matrix

 

Category

Does Not Meet Expectations

Meets Expectations

Outstanding

How to Improve

Relevance

Relevance of presentation to the audience

Mixed several irrelevant points together

Points were mostly relevant to t he audience

All points were relevant to the audience

 

Content

Information presented

Used inaccurate irrelevant, or inappropriate level of information that might hinder communication

Used accurate, relevant information

Used varied information, of which all was accurate, relevant, and at the right level of detail

 

Organization

Overall organization of presentation

Used unclear organization to present ideas.

Presented ideas in a somewhat organized manner.

 

Presented ideas in a polished, well organized manner

 

Introduction

Vague introduction. Didn't introduce topic well

Introduced topic with one or two brief sentences

Introduction captured audience interests and established the purpose of the presentation

 

Body

Lacked facts or used inappropriate facts and examples that didn't support main ideas. No logical sequence of information

Presented with a logical sequence but not presented in a fluent manner

Used evidence and examples to support main ideas in a fluent manner

 

Conclusion

No conclusion

Vague conclusion

Conclusion reinforced the main ideas in the presentation

 

Time Management Strategy

Effective use of time

Didn't conclude presentation in assigned time or concluded earlier than the assigned time

Kept to time limit and delivered in the assigned time

Carefully timed so that it "fit" into the time allowed. Spent appropriate amount of time on topics, allowed time for questions, and answered questions effectively

 

Environment

The presenter didn't care about establishing a comfortable environment.

The presenter had little control, but made as many adjustments as possible.

The presenter established a comfortable environment

 

Presentation

Controlling nervousness

Presenter's nervousness distracted the audience

Presenter's nervousness was apparent only occasionally

The presenter controlled nervousness so that it did not distract the audience

 

Practice

Mastery of the subject

Read from notes most of the time. Searched for words frequently with long periods of silence

Spoke with occasional hesitations without overly relying on notes

The presenter showed evidence of being prepared by not overly relying on notes, and spoke in a fluent and spontaneous way

 

Delivery

Verbal

Could not be understood because of inappropriate rate, volume, or articulation

Could be understood, but the presenters voice did not effectively enhance the presentation

The presenter's use of his or her voice was natural and effectively enhanced the presentation

 

Non verbal Expression

Did not exhibit poise or used ineffective or distractive hand or facial gestures

Used positive hand and facial gestures

The presenter was poised and hand and facial gestures were natural and effectively enhanced presentation

 

Eye contact

Established no/indistinct eye contact

Established eye contact with the audience

Established direct, consistent eye contact with the audience

 

Effective use of humor

No humor was used

No humor was tried or humor was used in an intrusive way

Any humor used in the presentation was effective and not offensive

 

Visual Aids

Use of visual aids

Included no graphics or pictures or used irrelevant and distracting visual aids

Included graphics and pictures that were relevant to the topic

Used good quality visual aids that were appropriate for the setting

 

Visual aids design

Included no graphics or pictures or used distracting/ poor looking visual aids

Graphics and pictures were visible to all

Visual aids were professional looking, and followed text size/amount guidelines. Graphics and pictures were attractive, creative and precise so as to enhance the presentation

 

Effective management of visual aids

Included no graphics or pictures or the use of visual aids was distracting

Used some kind of visual aids to facilitate the presentation

The presenter effectively managed the use of visual aids to enhance the effect of the presentation

 

Overall

Overall impression

Very boring, unpleasant to listen to, very poor presentation

Somewhat interesting. Could make some improvements

Very interesting, pleasant to listen to, very good presentation

 

 

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Assessment Criteria

Through observing both the group's and the individual's activity, the instructor may assess student performance. Assessment criteria are as follows (instructors supply the percentage weights):

 

Assessment Criteria

Where

Domain

Activities

%

iStudy Tutorial

Knowledge

By listing and giving examples, the student can identify:

  1. two different types of oral presentation,
  2. three main parts of report
  3. behaviors of a credible speaker, and
  4. elements of a comfortable environment.

 

iStudy Tutorial

Application

By giving examples and/or reasons why they are important, the student can distinguish:

  1. four methods of delivery, and
  2. six steps of preparing a presentation. 

 

iStudy Tutorial

Application & Synthesis

The student can make a successful oral presentation under the suggested criteria provided in Teacher and Student manual.

 

 

 

 

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