Guidelines and Suggestions for Giving Oral Presentations (with or without visual aids) Jef De Wachter & David Perry

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1 Guidelines and Suggestions for Giving Oral Presentations (with or without visual aids) Jef De Wachter & David Perry <jef. : The Introduction Introduce yourself State the topic of your presentation Give an overview / explain briefly how the presentation is structured I ll first talk about the history of the company, then I ll continue with their current activities and I ll close with an overview of their future plans. Tell the audience when they can ask questions If you have questions, feel free to interrupt me during the presentation. or If you have questions, you ll have the opportunity to ask them at the end of my presentation. Either before or after the Introduction you can use (if you want to) a creative opening or icebreaker to get the audience s attention. a strong quote get the audience to do something refer to a current, relevant event ask the audience a question NB If you ask the audience to do something it should be relevant to your talk and you should use the results. If you ask a question you must know what you will do if no-one answers. The question should also be relevant. During the presentation Moving from one topic to the next. There are typical phrases which you can use for this such as: A related topic is The next point is... Guidelines for Ops 1

2 I d like to move on to... Now I m going to talk about... This brings us to... Don t always use the same phrase(s). Try to inject some variation. Ask yourself what alternative sentences you could use. Presenting numbers or amounts Never read long numbers in full. For example, if the total budget for a project were euros this amount would appear on the screen but you would say something like: The total budget for this project is just over euros. If there are many amounts or items to be presented, don t mention all of them! People lose interest!! Talk about only the most important ones. Say : Here you see a breakdown of the costs. The main costs are It is not sufficient to simply mention numbers, you should comment on or interpret them. In other words, tell your audience what you want them to know! To do that, decide what will be meaningful to your audience; i.e., will exact numbers constitute information or just be bits of data? What you say: Staff costs were just under nine thousand euros while travel costs were just under fifteen thousand euros. On the screen: Item Euros Materials 7912 Staff costs 8863 Travel costs Total It can be a good idea to combine exact figures on the screen and the use of percentages. Percentages provide a context for the data and can be more meaningful. Guidelines for Ops 2

3 What you say: Staff costs represent 28% of the total budget, while travel costs account for 47%. On the screen: Item Euros % Materials Staff costs Travel costs Total Be enthusiastic! That s the best way to maintain the audience s interest. Handling hostile questions Repeat or paraphrase hostile questions in a positive way. This gives you time to think. As you reply, gradually move your eye contact and body language away from the hostile questioner to the rest of the audience, thus inviting further (friendly) questions. Or continue with the next point in the presentation. Concluding the presentation Announce the end in time. For example, when you start your last main topic say something like; My last topic today is or I would like to finish this presentation by saying something about. Before thanking the audience for their attention give a very short summary of the key points. Announce the end. The following are examples of appropriate closing sentences!! This is the end of my presentation. Thank you for your attention. Are there any questions? If you ask for questions and there are none, the presentation simply fades into nothing. Have one idea or thought you can close with and thus end on a positive note. Guidelines for Ops 3

4 Make it clear when your presentation has finished. Use a final slide saying Thank you or Any questions. Body language Maintain eye contact with the audience!! All of the audience in all of the room; the right, the left, the middle, the front AND the back. Don t forget the back! If you use a screen don t look at it or read from it. Don t stand in front of the screen. Don t move around or start balancing from one leg to the other. Try not to stand too far from the screen. The audience haven t gone to watch a tennis match! Don t forget to maintain eye contact. Using visual aids Maximum number of words per slide = 30/35 Use bullet points or short dashes to identify the points you re making. For example, is the information on slide 1 or slide 2 more memorable? Slide 1 Water Pollution Slide 2 Water Pollution Water in rivers, lakes and seas can be polluted by various chemical compounds found in cosmetic products, detergents, food processing waste (which can include oxygen-demanding substances, fats and grease), petroleum hydrocarbons, including fuels (gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuels, and fuel oil) and lubricants (motor oil), and fuel combustion byproducts, stormwater runoff, as well as insecticides and herbicides, and a huge range of organohalides and other chemical compounds. Chemical products rivers, lakes, seas. Include: cosmetics detergents food waste fuels lubricants insecticides herbicides Guidelines for Ops 4

5 Make sure the font is appropriate and the text can be seen from the back of the room. Use suitable colours. Yellow can be difficult to read and many people find it hard to distinguish between red and green when they appear together on a screen (in a graph for example). Use a consistent layout. Don t use complex graphics. If you use graphs or figures, NEVER overload your slide with small figures. They must be readable from a distance. The use of images next to text improves the quality of your slides considerably. Graphics are used to support or illustrate the point you are making. Make sure they do not confuse or distract. Say much more than what is on your slide! There should be a balance between spoken text and what appears on the screen. As a general rule one PowerPoint slide averages between seconds of talk. Other visual aids include videos, realia (objects) and working models. Videos make sure they really do help understanding. Realia - should be used and not just be there to decorate the podium. Working models - sometimes don t work. It s a good idea to have a video of the working model actually working just in case it fails during your presentation. Preparing a presentation Define your objectives: what do I want to achieve? Do I want to inform people about something or do I want to persuade them? Decide what you want the audience to know at the end of the presentation that they didn t know before. Decide what you will say and in what order (what topic will you cover first, second, etc?) For example, if you want to persuade your audience, you may have to organise your presentation in the following way: 1) define the problem 2) identify valuable solutions 3) make your recommendation 4) support this recommendation with strong reasoning Guidelines for Ops 5

6 5) conclusion Decide HOW you will say it, make a time schedule, decide on your slides (graphs, tables, images?) As soon as you know the content of your presentation, start practicing. Nowadays audiences (including students!) have certain expectations. A bad show can ruin your presentation. The audience won t find a topic interesting if it isn t presented well. Your audience will probably be able to clearly remember three things from your presentation? Which will they be? Your weapons are WHAT you say, HOW you say it (including tone of voice and body language) and WHAT YOU SHOW on the slides. A reminder of some Don ts Don t just read from a paper. This is a presentation, it is not a reading exercise! But nor is it a memory exercise. You can use notes, even have the complete text with you, but don t just keep your eyes glued to the text. Don t limit yourself to saying what is on each slide. Your audience is not stupid and can read; possibly they can read better than you can say the words! They will expect more from you than simply repeating the words on the screen. Don t NOT look at the audience. The audience will feel totally neglected. If you are not interested in them they will not be interested in you. Serves you right! Don t break all the rules concerning visual layout (see below). Don t say Before we take a break. You ll lose the audience as they will start thinking about the break. Don t give out handouts before your presentation. Don t apologise or make excuses you ll lose credibility. Don t mumble or speak too fast. Speak loud enough and give the audience time to assimilate what you re saying. Checklist Introduction: Did the introduction capture your interest? Was necessary background given? Guidelines for Ops 6

7 Was a clear purpose conveyed? Organisation: Was the objective of the talk clear (inform, persuade, teach)? Was the organisation of the presentation clear? Were transitions between sections clear and effective? Did the organisation lead to a clear conclusion? Was the amount of information correct for the time allotted? Content: Was the organisation of research and/or examples clear? Did the speaker(s) support their points? Was the supporting material relevant, up to date? Were sources for data or ideas acknowledged? Was the amount of information correct for the time allotted? Conclusion: Were key points reinforced? Was a sense of closure provided; was it appropriate? Was a course of action proposed? Visual Aids: Were visual aids used effectively and appropriately? Did aids connect to the subject? Were they relevant? Were the aids free from typos/distracting effects? Was the text easy for the audience to read? Was the amount of information on slides correct? Were the slides guides (not read verbatim by presenter)? Did the graphic slides have titles? Was the amount of information correct for the time allotted? Delivery: Guidelines for Ops 7

8 Were the speakers natural, enthusiastic, confidant? Were they clear/loud enough, correct pronunciation? Were appropriate gestures, posture, expressions used? Did the speaker(s) make eye contact? Were questions answered accurately, clearly, effectively? Language: Was the language used too simple/technical, for audience? Was the language used appropriate? (no slang or jargon) Were any technical, or difficult, words/concepts explained? Were the style and tone maintained throughout? Guidelines for Ops 8

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