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What is Presentation?

Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill to get your message or opinion across and, today, presentation skills are required in almost every field.


Whether you are a student, administrator or executive, if you wish to start up your own business, apply for a grant or stand for an elected position, you may very well be asked to make a presentation. This can be a very daunting prospect, our guide is designed to help.

A presentation is a means of communication which can be adapted to various speaking situations, such as talking to a group, addressing a meeting or briefing a team.

To be effective, step-by-step preparation and the method and means of presenting the information should be carefully considered.  A presentation concerns getting a message across to the listeners and may often contain a 'persuasive' element, for example a talk about the positive work of your organisation, what you could offer an employer, or why you should receive additional funding for a project.


The Key Elements of a Presentation

Consider the following key components of a presentation:

When and where will you deliver your presentation?  Will it be in a setting you are familiar with, or somewhere new?  Will it be within a formal work setting, or a less formal, social setting?  Will the presentation be to a small group or a large crowd?  And are you already familiar with the audience?

The presenter communicates with the audience and controls the presentation.

The audience receives the presenter’s message(s).  However, this reception will be filtered through and affected by such things as the listener’s own experience, knowledge and personal sense of values.

The message, or messages, are delivered by the presenter to the audience.  The message is delivered not just by the spoken word (verbal communication) but can be augmented by techniques such as voice projection, body language, gestures, eye contact (non-verbal communication), and visual aids.

The audience’s reaction and success of the presentation will largely depend upon whether the presenter’s message was effectively communicated.

Presentations are usually delivered direct to an audience.  However, today there may be occasions where they are delivered from a distance over the Internet using video conferencing.

Many factors can influence the effectiveness of how your message is communicated to the audience, for example background noise or other distractions, an overly warm or cool room, or the time of day and state of audience alertness can all influence your audience’s level of concentration.  As presenter, you have to be prepared to cope with any such problems and try to keep your audience focussed on your message.   

Ten Quick Tips for Effective Presentations

  1. Talk naturally to your audience – although it may be appropriate to read short passages avoid reading from a script for the majority of your presentation.
  2. Stand, rather than sit, and move around a little – but avoid pacing backwards and forwards like a trapped animal.
  3. Vary the tone, pitch and volume of your voice to add emphasis and maintain the audience’s interest.  Aim to speak loudly and clearly while facing your audience.  Avoid talking in a monotone voice or turning your back to the audience.  
  4. Make eye contact with your audience.  Do not stare at your feet, or the podium and avoid looking directly at any one person for more than a few seconds, gain eye contact with the individual members of the audience.
  5. Use visual aids where appropriate, graphs and charts, diagrams, pictures and video - but don’t overdo it.  Visual aids should help to illustrate and strengthen your points not be a distraction from what you are saying.
  6. Rehearse your talk and check your timings.  Always aim to finish you talk in time remembering to allow time for questions if appropriate.
  7. Prepare and structure your presentation carefully.  Introduce the subject – tell the audience what your talk is about.  Explain the points you wish to convey.  End with a summary of your points.
  8. Stay focused throughout your presentation – avoid irrelevance and unnecessary detail.
  9. Learn to channel any nervous energy, relax but stay alert.
  10. Answer any questions as honestly and concisely as you can.  If you don’t know the answer then say so and offer to provide further information at a later date.

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