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Creating & delivering presentations

Ben Ryan, 3rd Year BA student in Business, Economics and Social Studies (BESS), talks about his experience preparing and delivering presentations.


What are you asked to do with presentations?

I am often asked to give presentations in the form of a ‘pitch’, where I am asked to create a business idea or product and present this idea. Often there is no set template for the presentation, I can include the information I think is important and relevant. Often these presentations are delivered in front of the whole class or at tutorials.

How do you prepare for presentations?

My initial preparation for a presentation is very similar to how I prepare for other assessments such as essays or reports. First I try to understand the key points of any theory relating to the topic, identify the key authors and any relevant examples. If I am asked to deliver a business pitch, I develop my idea until I am happy with it and I outline the main points.

When creating the presentation, I first think about who my audience is going to be. Based on this, I tailor the style of the presentation (formal, informal) and identify the main points I think the audience would find interesting and relevant. I divide the length of time for the presentation between the various points, also including an introduction and conclusion. I write flashcards with the key points I want to make during the speech.

I often create a slideshow to accompany my presentation. I make sure to put only the most important information on the slideshow and try to avoid reading directly from the text on the slides. I ask myself ‘what is the purpose’ of each slide, if a slide doesn’t add anything to the presentation I remove it. I make sure to practice the presentation several times, asking my group members of friends to be my ‘audience’. I also try to have a backup of the slides in case of technically difficulties, usually one copy on a USB stick and one in my emails.

Your experience/opinion of presentations:

Group presentations can sometimes have the added difficulty of effectively dividing up the workload. While it is easy to divide the presentation into different sections and assign one to each group member, this can often create a disjointed presentation, or one that repeats itself a lot. If you are dividing up the work, make sure everyone has a very clear idea of what their section should include to avoid repetition.

Key advice you’d give to someone doing a presentation:

  • Less is more: it’s better to have a few key points/ideas discussed in depth than to be rushing.
  • Speaking in front of a group can be daunting, but the more practice you get the more comfortable you will become when giving a presentation.
  • Take your time, speak slowly and clearly.
  • Know your audience, try to make the presentation interesting and relevant to them.
  • Always ask for feedback from your lecturer/tutorial leader.

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