Oral presentations, given before any audience, need preparation. Speaking about a topic that you are enthusiastic about will naturally awaken the interest and curiosity of others.
Research the Topic
As with any report or presentation, research your topic by using data, statistics and information collected from the library, encyclopedia or online academic databases.
Take notes, and use only relevant information. Be sure to write down your sources, URLs and where you found any quotations. While researching, start thinking of what visual aids you will need and where to get them.
If you want to start out your presentation with a quote, such as: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page” (St. Augustine), a good place to look is www.WorldofQuotes.com.
Outline the Topic
Write a rough outline of your presentation. Begin with main headings, and then add details afterwards. Be sure to develop your presentation in a logical manner. The easier a speech or oral presentation is to follow, the more the audience will remember what it is about.
Study an example of an outline: Outline
Write the Manuscript
Write the manuscript in the form of an essay (see: How to Write an Essay). Besides helping you to remember the progression and facts, it will also give you the self-confidence you need, if anyone should ask questions at the end. Once you have familiarized yourself thoroughly with the contents, make index cards using the headings from your outline. This way you will be forced to avoid reading from a manuscript,which easily becomes monotonous and boring.
Make your oral presentation more interesting or amusing by using visual aids. We are all stimulated through our senses. Colorful PowerPoint demonstrations (See How to Make a PowerPoint), animations, short videos, pictures, audios can be used to support, demonstrate or emphasize your factual information.A good site to look for images and videos is: www.flickr.com.
A few rules of thumb to follow:
- Avoid reading long sentences from either an overhead or a PowerPoint slide.
- Speak freely, only using your index cards to keep you on track.
- Always check that any text which appears on a screen is readable by the audience.
- Always contrast text and background.
- Do not overload your presentation with visuals - they should underline something in your presentation, and should not overshadow you, the speaker.
- Find the best examples, and choose only those which are relevant to the theme.
- Videos or audios which take longer than a few minutes should not substitute for a lack of factual information.
- There are two schools of thought regarding hand-outs:
- Do not to give out hand-outs too early, because the audiences will read them instead of listening.
- Distributing hand-outs early helps the audience relax and listen more because they do not have to write everything down.