An oral presentation is similar to essays and other types of academic writing. It includes an introduction, body and conclusion. Unlike academic writing, however, an oral presentation is delivered by you, in person, which means that you can use more than just words to communicate to your audience.

Put simply, you should plan to:

  1. Tell your audience what you are going to say (introduce your topic).

  2. Tell them (with a bit more detail).

  3. Tell them what you’ve told them (summarise your topic).

Give your presentations that personal touch

Giving successful presentations requires personal touches, which enable you to engage with your audience.

Managing your fear of public speaking

Many people have a fear of public speaking, there is even a name for it: Glossophobia. In this video students talk about getting over their fear of public speaking.

Tips for reducing your fear

You will have less fear of speaking if you are

  • well organised, and
  • well prepared for your presentation.

Follow these tips below:

Know the content of your presentation well so you can present to your audience, and so you can answer questions from them.

This is vital for ensuring you can pitch your presentation at the appropriate level for them. Make it interesting for your audience, tell them the purpose of your presentation and give them a reason to listen: find a relevance or importance for your audience.

Write your presentation so you can speak it and the audience can follow what you are saying. Use clear spoken language, avoid jargon, but define terms that your audience might not know. Use transitional words. Highlight important points, but have just a few key ones. Keep the amount of content manageable (for you and your audience). Consider including a take home message in the conclusion.

Practise it several times so you don’t need to read it. Use a mirror to try out facial expressions. Film yourself and watch it back. Present your talk to a friend or family member and get feedback. Time yourself so it is the correct length.

Make palm cards to remind you of what you are going to say. Check over your slides. Arrive early to the room where you will be presenting and make sure the equipment is working. Have a back-up plan in the event something fails.

To manage your nerves, do some light exercise before speaking. Use breathing relaxation techniques. Visualise yourself giving a brilliant presentation.

Speak slowly, clearly and confidently. Be aware of articulation and pronunciation; practise new words, especially technical terms. Vary the tone and pitch of your voice. Use pauses to emphasise key points.

It’s better to be too short (and allow for questions) than too long.

How to do your presentation slides

Online presentations

Giving presentations online may or may not include the audience being able to see you. When the audience sees only your slides, your personality and enthusiasm for your topic still comes through verbally in your tone, intonation, volume, and smile in your voice along with what you say and the content you present.

As with in-person presentations, being prepared is the key. For an online presentation, this will include being familiar with the technology of the online platform you will be using. It’s a good idea to practise as much as you can until you feel comfortable and confident in using the technology.

Answer true or false to the following statements.

Further resources

Always be on the look-out for opportunities to practise speaking to an audience. Also, pay attention to who your audience is: peers, lecturers, tutors, potential employer, or social gathering. Remember that for an academic presentation, your main aim is to impart your knowledge with a tone of authority and interest in your subject.

Curtin Toastmasters Club

Top 10 Websites to Make Interactive Online Presentations