To WHOM are you presenting?

  • Get clarification on your audience: to whom you are speaking will determine your style, language, and level of detail.

On WHAT are you presenting, and WHY?

  • You will likely have more information that the audience needs to know. Consult the presentation assignment again: determine its objectives, and be sure to communicate only the key necessary points; cut out all extraneous information.

HOW can you prepare effectively?

If using Powerpoint slides, create these first. Be sure not to copy/paste the contents of your presentation verbatim here – instead, use an image and bullet points. The audience should listen, and not read, for the information.

  • Include an introductory slide with your name and some information about you as the first slide.
  • Include an outline of your presentation as the second slide – this will help your audience follow your talk more easily.
  • Structure the following slides of your Powerpoint in sections – again, this will help your audience follow your talk more easily.
  • Include an outline of your presentation as the last slide, too – this will give the audience an opportunity to think through your points sequentially and contextualize each key idea within a greater whole.

Having made the Powerpoint, either make a bullet-pointed list of key ideas to cover during each slide, or write out your speech verbatim. Practicing with these materials will also help you time your presentation.

  • Practice in front of friends, classmates, and/or colleagues. Time yourself, make notes on your pros and cons afterwards, and solicit honest feedback from your listeners.

WHEN presenting:

  • Dress the part: consider the culture of the space in which you are presenting, and dress accordingly.
  • Though you might have written your presentation out, try to talk as much as possible instead of reading verbatim. Talking will engage the audience more effectively.
  • Make eye contact with the audience – draw them in.
  • Invite questions along the way, or if not, clarify that the audience should hold their questions until the end.
  • Don’t rush through your presentation – pace yourself.
  • Approach humor with caution – comedy doesn’t always translate; use your best judgment.
  • Relax, and be yourself – authenticity speaks volumes and will help connect you to your audience.
  • Finish strong – invite questions, comments, and continue to engage with your audience.