Number. 3 © CDTL 2000
Preparing for Presentations
Ms Verena Tay
Former Publications Officer, CDTL

When preparing for effective presentations, be conscious of the following:

  • situation: when and where you are speaking,
  • purpose: what you want to achieve with your speech,
  • audience: who you are giving the speech to, and
  • method: how best to accomplish your purpose.


  • Select a topic you care about to sustain your interest while researching it.
  • Research widely for supporting material. Record and cite all sources to gain credibility.
  • Reduce your aim into one sentence to clarify your intent and create a framework for your presentation.
  • Develop only four or five main points so as to focus your audience’s attention.
  • Structure your presentation in one of the following ways:
    • topical: when one idea seems to proceed naturally to the next,
    • chronological: use a time sequence as an organisational framework,
    • spatial: organise material according to physical space, or how parts fit into a whole,
    • compare and contrast: highlight the differences/similarities between concepts,
    • classification: put things into categories,
    • cause and effect: show how two events are related to each other, and
    • problem and solution: offer plausible solutions to given problems.

Structuring Your Presentation

  • Keep the presentation as brief and precise as possible to sustain audience interest.
  • Begin clearly by introducing the aim of your presentation to compel the audience to listen to you.
  • Connect your points using transitions such as ‘and’, ‘in contrast’, ‘more importantly’, ‘in comparison’, ‘Now we’ve dealt with X, let’s look at Y’, and other similar phrases.
  • Conclude effectively by reviewing previous points instead of disclosing new information.
  • Concentrate on your message—keep your presentation simple. Audio-visual aids can help your audience stay focused and retain more information. But unless well thought out, the use of audio-visual aids may detract away from or clutter your delivery. Unforeseen problems (e.g. equipment failure) may also easily derail the most planned of presentations.
    • Choose the most appropriate tool to suit the purpose and venue of the presentation.
    • Ensure that everyone can read your written points. The words on an OHP transparency should be of a font large and simple enough for easy recognition. When using a flip chart or white board, write in large block letters for legibility; use dark colours to write on a light background and vice versa.
    • Avoid cluttering slides with too many specific details. List your ideas briefly in point form. Have only a few items, rather than squeeze large amounts, on a single slide. Present statistical information using charts or graphs to let your audience comprehend facts easily.



Pennsylvania State University—SpCom 100A (Effective Public Speaking) Website. (last accessed: 1 June 2000).

Feierman, Art. (2000). The Art of Communicating Effectively. Presenting Solutions. (last accessed: 7 May 2003).

Sprague, J. & Stuart, D. (1996). The Speaker’s Handbook (4th ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Stuart, C. (1989). How to be an Effective Speaker: The Essential Guide to Making the Most of Your Communication Skills. Lincolnwood, Illinois: NTC Business Books.


Back to Top