Number. 4 © CDTL 2000
Delivering Your Presentation
Ms Verena Tay
Former Publications Officer, CDTL

You have spent hours preparing and structuring your presentation. And now you finally have to present. Consider the following tips for a stress-free delivery:

Before Taking Centre Stage

  • The more formal the presentation, the more you need to prepare in advance and rehearse both your speech and use of audio-visual aids. In this way, you become familiar with what you wish to say and how to use your aids without fumbling in front of your audience.
  • Come early to check out the venue and equipment before the audience arrives. Test the acoustics and adjust how you speak, whether you are using a microphone or not. Always have a back-up plan in case your PowerPoint slides do not work, the OHP bulb blows, the videotape jams, etc. Even if little pre-speech preparation is needed, it is always good to be early: you can settle down and focus on your task ahead, rather than be late and flustered.
  • Be conscious of your appearance. As first impressions count, it is important that you take care of how you look for your presentation to achieve the maximum positive impact.


  • Relax—breathe in and out deeply such that your shoulders do not tense and rise, but instead your ribs move in and out. In so doing, you will have more breath to release and support your voice when you want to project your voice to all of the audience.
  • To speak clearly, articulate or enunciate your words properly, but naturally. Seek help from others or a dictionary if you do not know how to pronounce any word.
  • Have variety in your voice to avoid boring your audience with monotones. Vary the volume, speed and pitch of your voice. Lower or raise your voice to give emphasis to what you want to say. Speak at a rate your audience can follow, not at such speed that they cannot grasp your words or with such slowness that they fall asleep. Change your inflections to give stress to certain words.
  • Be familiar with your notes. It is not essential to memorise every word. Your notes are there to prompt you when you are at a loss for words, or guide you back to your main point if you digress a little. But do not rely so much on them that you are practically reading from your notes all the time.
  • Speak directly to your audience—maintain eye contact with them, instead of looking away from them. This allows you to monitor their response so that you can modify your approach immediately.
  • Avoid repeated mannerisms that distract (e.g. wringing your hands, rocking back and forth, saying ‘um’/‘you know’, etc.). Make all movements as purposeful as possible. But let your hands gesture naturally.
  • Distribute handouts before or after, but not during, your speech so as not to disrupt the flow of your presentation.



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.


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