Presentation skills

As part of your course, you may have to give a 10 - 15 minute presentation. It is easy to get overawed by the responsibility and feel unsettled about it. So here are a few guidelines to help you to deliver a good presentation. Try to avoid being too ambitious. In such a short time, you are not expected to do more than make a few main points. Keep it very simple.


Not even the most experienced speaker can get up and give a presentation without first having put in a great deal of preparation.

  1. Begin by defining your purpose and aims. Why are you making the presentation?
    • To give information?
    • To persuade?
    • To argue an idea?
  1. List what you intend to get across to your audience
    • Who are they? What do they already know?
    • What do they need to know?
  1. List what the audience will have achieved by the end
    • New factual knowledge?
    • Different perspective on existing knowledge?


In the same way that an essay is divided into three sections, the logical progression of a presentation should follow the same structure:

1. Introduction

State at the beginning what you intend talking about and why. Next mention the structure or order of your presentation. Include your opinions, results and conclusions. All this will help the audience to follow your arguments and evidence and to realise how you have reached your conclusions.

2. Main Body

This is your critical understanding of the facts. Refer to them in the light of your previously stated conclusions. Remember the audience are listening, so: don't overload the information, logically order the ideas and space out the points.

3. Summary and Conclusion

Re-state the main points. Stress your conclusions. Express your own feelings about the subject. Finally, invite questions and comments. Remember a presentation is intended to open up discussion by raising issues and suggesting interpretations and solutions.

Talking from Notes

You will be talking to the audience rather than reading to them, but it is useful to have notes.

  • Write down headings on small cards
  • Only have a single main point plus example per card
  • Include visual cues on the cards to highlight when you want to pause, emphasise a point, or use a visual aid.

Visual Aids

These can add to a presentation and also give you the confidence of knowing you are prepared - if you "dry up" the visual aid can often help you out. Keep your visual aids as simple and effective as possible. Write in large letters so the audience can read your points.


It is always a good idea to rehearse.

  1. Check your timing. It is important to get this right
  2. List what you intend to get across to your audience
    • Look at your audience - maintain eye contact, smile occasionally.
    • Consider how you stand, sit, move around the room
    • Try not to speak too quickly but be audible.
    • Vary the tone of your voice.
  1. List what the audience will have achieved by the end
    • Only display them when needed.
    • Do not stand in front of them.
    • Try to talk to the audience, not the visual aid.

Post-presentation Questions

Remember that having prepared the presentation you will know the subject in more detail than the rest of your class. If you get asked a difficult question - don't get flustered. Admit that you haven't considered that angle to the topic, then ask the questioner to answer it or throw it open to the group.