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Library Guides

Presentations: Planning

Presentation Techniques and Strategies

This guide provides students with techniques and strategies on how to give informative and effective presentations, as well as tips on how to overcome the fear of public speaking. In most degrees, being able to give a presentation is a key academic skill that students are required to learn and demonstrate, which in turn serves students well in future employment. 

How to Persuade

The main goal of a presentation is to inform and then persuade your audience (and your marker) that your argument/ ideas/ interpretations/ findings are valid.

In order to be effective in persuading, consider the following: 

  • Know what the purpose of making the presentation: what do you want to sell or demonstrate? 
  • Know your audience: connect with your audience and understand why your topic is going to be important to them. What are you wanting them to learn from your presentation? How much do they already know? What are their backgrounds? 

Did you know that... Persuasion is a transferable employability skill!

Presentation Structure

Presentations need to be structured with an informative introduction, a logical order of key points and a reasoned conclusion. 

Below are some possible ideas for your presentation structure –

Introduction - tell them what you are going to tell them 

Outline your talk:

  • Provide a ‘map’ of your ideas with some ‘signposts’ that they can follow
  • Stick to this structure throughout

Get the audience’s attention:

  • Ask a thought provoking question or state an unusual/dramatic fact, if appropriate
  • Tell a story/anecdote or give a quotation
  • State a need or outline a problem
  • Show an exhibit or visual aid

Motivate the audience:

  • Give them a reason for listening (what is in it for them?)
  • Create a sense of importance or occasion; what you are going to say matters

Main Body - tell them

Arrange your ideas logically:

  • Start with a problem/issue and then offer a solution
  • Arrange ideas/information under topic headings
  • Compare 2 or more ideas/proposals and then suggest which one is ‘best’

Select supporting material:

  • Research material to back up your points or add variety and interest to your presentation, for example:
    • statistics, charts and graphs
    • pictures/illustrations
    • audio-visual aids
    • references to academic arguments/theories/research

Conclusion - Tell them what you have told them

Review:

  • Summarise the purpose of your talk and/or repeat key points as appropriate

Invite questions:

  • You may wish to let the audience know in advance when you will be taking questions

End with a memorable statement:

  • Return to your opening statement and answer any question you posed
  • End on a new statement (in contrast to opener)
  • Look to the future and/or call for action
  • Offer a challenge (subtle or direct)
  • Appeal for help or co-operation on an issue

Signposting and Transitioning Between Slides

As well as a logical order of key points, the presenter will need to use transitions and signposting language to help the audience navigate the presentation. Transitions can include non-verbal actions such as changing slides and pausing, but should also include spoken cues. For example:

"I will start by discussing..."

"a similar issue to consider is..."

"now that I have explored... I will now consider..."

"In contrast to my earlier consideration of..."

"moving away from..."

"it can be concluded that..."

Planning Presentations

Giving a good presentation is all about the planning. In this video we look at how to plan out your presentation to reach the goal you desire.

Preparing Slides for Presentations

In this video we look at 5 rules for making excellent slides for presentations. SUBSCRIBE to hear first when my other presentation videos are uploaded.

Useful Resources

  • Levin, P. and Topping, G. (2006) Perfect presentations! Maidenhead: Open University Press
  • McCarthy, P. and Hatcher, C. (2002) Presentation skills: the essential guide for students. London: Sage
  • Van Emden, J. and Becker, L.(2004) Presentation skills for students. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan    

Further Help

This guide was written by Dr Isabelle Coy-Dibley.

You can get more support on academic skills by attending our workshops and appointments.