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Presentation Skills

                            Good presentation skills are useful for critiques, assessments, interviews, applications (for funding or jobs), presenting proposals or research findings, selling your work and many other professional practice instances. Please look through the below tabs for some guidance on planning, creating and delivering a presentation.

Top Tips Checklist
Download the Top Tips Checklist to make sure your well prepared.

Planning your presentation

  • Read the brief. What are your aims and objectives?  What is the brief asking you to do? Identify your main aims, themes and issues.
  • Create a structure following the guidelines of the brief. For example, draft some bullet points to help you cover an introduction, main body and a conclusion. This will keep you focused and ensure you are answering what the brief is asking you to do.
  • Discussing your draft with peers is a helpful way to gain feedback on if they understand your concept and if it answers the brief. It may make sense to you, but is it translatable to your audience.
  • Have a think about exactly what content are you going to include. Draft your slides paying attention to what visual aids will you use and how to balance this with the written content. Consider the visual impact of your material and identify appropriate visual props.
  • Consider your time frames. This should be in the brief and is normally relatively strict. Make sure you haven’t got more, or less, information than you need to answer the brief. Make sure you organise and book the appropriate resources you will need (e.g. digital projector)

Creating your presentation -

  • When writing a presentation it is important to consider issues around how you will deliver this material to your audience in a clear and concise way. Some people are so overwhelmed with nerves that bullet points aren’t helpful and a script is more beneficial. However, other rather brief bullet points and use their slides to prompt their discussions. Whichever your preferred method remember to keep the focus on the brief and what information is essential to convey to your audience.
  • If using data, references and images through your presentation, it is important that you know their context and understand them. There is little value in adding plentiful images which fill the screen if they offer no context to the discussion. You may be asked questions on the relevance of some of the information you provide.
  • Keep your presentation simple. You can create aesthetically pleasing presentations without unnecessary clutter or distracting transitions. When sitting in the audience through a transition heavy presentation it can be distracting and disorientating. You want the focus to be on what you are showing the audience.
  • Learn how to use the software you are designing your presentation in. There will be many benefits of programmes such as Keynote and PowerPoint that can help you.
  • You will often be delivering your presentation in a room that may be unfamiliar to you. Be prepared for this. If you know the room and the software, go to this space the day before and test that you presentation works. If this is not possible then have a number of back-up’s should your presentation not load; for example save it on a USB in different formats (Keynote and PowerPoint), email yourself a copy. Try to get to the room early and download your file, checking it loads.
  • Anticipate a short amount of time for questions and have answers prepared. Practice always makes perfect.

Delivering your presentation -

  • Think about how you will deliver your presentation. Tone of voice, volume, pace, body language, pauses and breaks, whether you are seated or standing, and your personality are all vital to consider when present to your audience. This is all perfected through practice and it is important to remain relaxed, well practiced, know your subject. Allow time to compose yourself before your presentation (do not work up to the last minute)
  • It is very natural to suffer with nerves through your presentation. You can help overcome some of your nerves if you know your subject, practice, time yourself and remember to breathe. You can place pauses through your notes so you have time to gather your thoughts. Take a bottle of water in with you and take sip if nerves overcome you. It will give you some time to regain your composure. Breath work before you resent can help to control. Presentation nerves can be positive! Breathe work will combat nerves.
  • Practice, practice, practice, Face the audience, don’t talk to the screen. Make eye contact with the audience. Don’t just focus on one person; engage the whole audience.
  • Don't rely on a script. Use cue cards so you don't forget what you are saying.
  • Take note of your body language. If you look confident, this will help you to feel confident.  
  • Try to get someone to take some feedback for you if any is offered through the presentation and be open to positive and negative feedback from tutors; try not to be defensive) 

Learning Development Tutors
Learning Development Tutors work with students to help ensure they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to be successful learners.  For more information about Learning Development Tutors and to book a tutorial see - Academic Skills.

Further Reading
Available from the Library -