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Giving presentations

The ability to create and deliver an effective presentation is important for certain fields of academic study, for example, business studies and languages. However, this skill is also very important in the workplace. This brief section gives you some useful advice on developing your presentation skills.

Covered in this section

  • How to approach the overall task of creating a presentation
  • How to prepare your script
  • How to practise your presentation
  • 10 mins to complete this section
  • Audio (6)

The most important thing with live presentations is to communicate clearly and make yourself understood. If you experience stage fright, do your best to prepare well. Good, solid preparation will go a long way to help you cope with your nerves. These tips can help make your presentation go smoothly.

Listen to an experienced presenter and mentor of postgraduate students, Trevor, give his advice about what you should consider before, during and after giving a presentation.

Checking what is required

Read through the assignment task carefully. Check all of the instructions and make sure you know

  • the topic and exactly what you are trying to present
  • how long your presentation should last
  • who your expected audience will be (i.e. who you are trying to convince and whether they will be hard to convince).

Preparing your script

  • Make simple notes in large writing so you can follow them easily. Notes are more useful than full sentences.
  • Incorporate words, expressions or structures from the module.
  • Highlight key words or those you find difficult to say.
  • Make a note of when to pause.

The OU booklet 'Communicating and presenting' gives you further information on this subject.


Practising

  • Try recording some short sentences then listen, evaluate and record again if necessary, to support the natural delivery of your passage.
  • Practise recording, listening and re-recording several times.
  • Finally record, and listen again a day or two later when you are fresh.
  • Try useful expressions that indicate when you are moving on or summing up. for example: 'This brings me to the next point, which is ...', 'So, to sum up ...'

Delivering the presentation

  • Avoid simply reading from your notes. It can make your delivery sound monotonous and affect your pronunciation and fluency, which would lose marks. Only look at your notes when you need to.
  • Pace the speed of your delivery. Speaking too fast can affect the clarity, but speaking too slowly may mean you run out of time.