FIVE WAYS TO GIVE AN EFFECTIVE PRESENTATIONArticle Date | 24 September, 2023
An effective presentation effectively conveys ideas and leaves a lasting impression on the audience. A strong example of this was the unveiling of the iPhone 7 by Steve Jobs, where he used a visually engaging presentation with a captivating style to launch his product – it set a trend of simplicity and succinct presentation styles that did not overly rely on data-drivel.
At LSST, we firmly believe in the significance of presentations as a crucial aspect of the academic journey. Further, students are required to deliver presentations at different stages during their courses. This practice enables students to develop transferable skills to shape their confidence and communication ability. Here are five ways to give an effective presentation:
1. Use Visual Aids
Visual aids are tools that can be employed to make the information that is being delivered to the audience easier to understand through pictures, videos, and/or PowerPoint presentations. Adding images to a PowerPoint presentation can help to move the message forward and would assist the audience in understanding what is bewding relayed. It has been proven by researchers that images enhance memory and learning (Hosie, 1996).
Additionally, when designing the slides it is good practice to keep inclusivity in mind. Some members of the audience may suffer from dyslexia. This can impair their learning process. The Dyslexia -friendly style guide can be used to make the information in the presentation more accessible for them. The Arial theme font of size 12 should be used for lettering to be clearer. It is always best to give an overview of the contents and not overload the audience with information. Instead, it is more effective to keep the information concise, highlighting the main elements. It is crucial that all information, charts, or graphs must be correctly referenced to demonstrate good referencing skills. To ensure any presentation is visually appealing while the information is easy to absorb, minimise the number of slides and use high contrast colours with large fonts. Remember you are the presenter, and the slides are there to aid you.
2. Strategies to engage the audience
The engagement strategy that a presenter adopts affects the efficacy of the message and the attention span of the audience (Bernhardt and Fischer, 2006). It is important to break the ice and grab the attention of the audience from the get-go. One of the tactics to do this is to start by asking a rhetorical or literal question at the very start like; what do you already know about the topic? Did you know a fact about the topic? This allows the audience to begin thinking along the lines that are supported by the information in the presentation.
Additionally, audience participation must be encouraged for engagement, for instance asking the audience what they already know about the topic or what they understand of it. Another technique to keep your audience engaged is by the presenter using pauses in their speech effectively, which gives the audience a few moments at various points to absorb the information that is being presented.
These pauses can also help the presenter to collect and compose their thoughts and avoid speaking monotony or rushing through their words.
More so, the presenter must be aware of the general capability of the audience as English may not be their first or second language. So, words need to be clearly pronounced and an avoidance of any slang or colloquial terms is important, for everyone to be able to understand what is being said and for effective learning of the information given in the presentation.
3. Harness Your Nerves
Feeling anxious when needing to speak in public is common and quite natural. Research shows that up to 85% of people experience some level of anxiety when they need to speak in public (Munohsamy, Chandran and Rahman, 2015). Due to the severity of nerves, not all aspects may go as per plan, so at this point, cue cards can be used as reminders, and these may include a list of 3-6 bullet points. However, one must make sure that the audience’s concentration does not divert from the presenter.
Stage fright is a common response to our body’s flight or fight response. Many strategies can be considered prior to giving a presentation. For example, engaging with breathing exercises before going on the stage can help get fresh oxygen into the lungs and the brain, which can help to think clearly. Additionally, the presenter can familiarise themselves with the surroundings of the stage to feel calmer before presenting. Speakers like Matt Abrahams provide great presentations on how to calm your nerves while public speaking.
Lastly, a good presenter always maintains eye contact; this may be difficult as nerves can get the better of you sometimes, but it is important nonetheless, as it helps the audience stay connected to you as the speaker as you deliver your presentation. So, focus on what you need to present, look up at the surrounding environment, harness your nerves, and give a rocking presentation!
4. Time Management
Managing the time is crucial not only for the presenter to finish on time but also to make an impact on the audience – no audience likes over running presentations. An effective presenter should leave their audience with key information and aids. As such, primarily, it is important to know the time limit in which the presentation needs to be delivered. This enables the presenter to know the exact number of slides and the time that must be spent on them. Ensure that you leave a few minutes aside for any technical difficulties or Q&A opportunities for the audience.
Practice makes perfect. The more the presenter practices the more confident they are while presenting. Practice gives them the opportunity to be comfortable on stage. It is also a good idea to practice with a timer and/or with the practice presentation being recorded so it can be reviewed to see if any changes need to be made to the information or performance. You can also practice in front of friends and family to get feedback on how well you have presented and what changes you may need to make.
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Bernhardt, B. and Fischer, K.S. (2006). Presentations That Keep Your Audience Interested and Awake. The Serials Librarian, 50(3-4), pp.315–318. doi:https://doi.org/10.1300/j123v50n03_17.
Hosie, J.A. (1996). The Effect of Experimental Design on Memory for Typical and Distinctive Faces. Memory, 4(2), pp.175–198. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/096582196389031.
Munohsamy, T., Kumari Chandran, S. and Rahman, M. (2015). (PDF) Anxiety in Oral Presentations among ITB Students. [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279197656_ANXIETY_IN_ORAL_PRESENTATIONS_AMONG_ITB_STUDENTS [Accessed 21 Sep. 2023].
TEDx Talks (2018). Speaking Up Without Freaking Out | Matt Abrahams | TEDxPaloAlto. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIXvKKEQQJo [Accessed 15 Sep. 2023].
www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Steve Jobs Introduces the iPhone. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTVjIm8K-nk [Accessed 15 Sep. 2023].