| Number. 3
© CDTL 2000
Publications Officer, CDTL
When preparing for effective presentations, be conscious of the
- situation: when and where you are speaking,
- purpose: what you want to achieve with your
- audience: who you are giving the speech to,
- method: how best to accomplish your purpose.
- Select a topic you care about to sustain your interest while
- 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
- 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
- spatial: organise material according to physical
space, or how parts fit into a whole,
- compare and contrast: highlight the differences/similarities
- 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
- 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
Pennsylvania State University—SpCom
100A (Effective Public Speaking) Website. http://www.la.psu.edu/speech/100a/
(last accessed: 1 June 2000).
Feierman, Art. (2000). The Art of Communicating
Effectively. Presenting Solutions. http://presentingsolutions.com/effectivepresentations.html
(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.