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{March 6, 2010}   Giving an academic presentation

Read this information about how to give a good academic presentation and then put what you have read into practice with the exercises that follow the information.

How to prepare

Planning what you’re going to say is essential, but try not to write a word-for-word script. There is nothing worse than listening to someone recite off by heart a pre-prepared text. Write a few key words on some small cards (flashcards) that you can use while you are talking.
Practise, practise, practise!!! You should know the content of your presentation before standing in front of your class. Ask a friend to listen to your talk before the big day. You can also record yourself doing it with only your flashcards to help you.
Don’t leave preparation until the night before, as you need time to know your content.

What to prepare

Flashcards: around five to ten, with key words on them to remind you what you’re going to say.
Prepare some questions to ask your audience at the end of your presentation, just in case they don’t have any themselves, or give them a few questions at the start of your talk that they can answer at the end.
PowerPoint Slides. These should only show a few key words.
Board pens and a board rubber. Your teacher should provide them for you but make sure you have them to hand before you begin your talk. Prepare what you’re going to write on the board.
The lighting. If you are using slides, before your presentation, ask a friend to turn the lights on and off so that your audience can see both you and the slides.
Handouts. Tell the audience at the start if you have prepared a handout. It should only include the important facts and figures that you mention. If your presentation contains vocabulary that is new to your audience then prepare a mini-glossary. Distribute it before your talk so that they are familiar with the new words before you speak.
If your talk is about a newspaper article then distribute copies to the students and allow time for them to read it before you begin your presentation.
If your talk is about a product then if possible have an example of it. Props are a good way of keeping people’s interest.

How to deliver

Stand where everyone can see you and maintain eye contact with as many people as possible. Don’t stare at one person, the wall or the floor.
Don’t stand in front of any slides or board work you use.
Speak at a natural pace.
Don’t simply read your presentation.
Do not direct your talk solely to the teacher. The other students will lose interest if they feel the talk isn’t directed at them.
Only mention a limited number of key points in your talk. At the end you should briefly summarise what you’ve said so that your audience know you’ve finished.
Thank them for listening.


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