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How to prepare and deliver an effective oral presentation

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  • Peer review
  • Lucia Hartigan , registrar 1 ,
  • Fionnuala Mone , fellow in maternal fetal medicine 1 ,
  • Mary Higgins , consultant obstetrician 2
  • 1 National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2 National Maternity Hospital, Dublin; Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Medicine and Medical Sciences, University College Dublin
  • luciahartigan{at}hotmail.com

The success of an oral presentation lies in the speaker’s ability to transmit information to the audience. Lucia Hartigan and colleagues describe what they have learnt about delivering an effective scientific oral presentation from their own experiences, and their mistakes

The objective of an oral presentation is to portray large amounts of often complex information in a clear, bite sized fashion. Although some of the success lies in the content, the rest lies in the speaker’s skills in transmitting the information to the audience. 1


It is important to be as well prepared as possible. Look at the venue in person, and find out the time allowed for your presentation and for questions, and the size of the audience and their backgrounds, which will allow the presentation to be pitched at the appropriate level.

See what the ambience and temperature are like and check that the format of your presentation is compatible with the available computer. This is particularly important when embedding videos. Before you begin, look at the video on stand-by and make sure the lights are dimmed and the speakers are functioning.

For visual aids, Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Mac Keynote programmes are usual, although Prezi is increasing in popularity. Save the presentation on a USB stick, with email or cloud storage backup to avoid last minute disasters.

When preparing the presentation, start with an opening slide containing the title of the study, your name, and the date. Begin by addressing and thanking the audience and the organisation that has invited you to speak. Typically, the format includes background, study aims, methodology, results, strengths and weaknesses of the study, and conclusions.

If the study takes a lecturing format, consider including “any questions?” on a slide before you conclude, which will allow the audience to remember the take home messages. Ideally, the audience should remember three of the main points from the presentation. 2

Have a maximum of four short points per slide. If you can display something as a diagram, video, or a graph, use this instead of text and talk around it.

Animation is available in both Microsoft PowerPoint and the Apple Mac Keynote programme, and its use in presentations has been demonstrated to assist in the retention and recall of facts. 3 Do not overuse it, though, as it could make you appear unprofessional. If you show a video or diagram don’t just sit back—use a laser pointer to explain what is happening.

Rehearse your presentation in front of at least one person. Request feedback and amend accordingly. If possible, practise in the venue itself so things will not be unfamiliar on the day. If you appear comfortable, the audience will feel comfortable. Ask colleagues and seniors what questions they would ask and prepare responses to these questions.

It is important to dress appropriately, stand up straight, and project your voice towards the back of the room. Practise using a microphone, or any other presentation aids, in advance. If you don’t have your own presenting style, think of the style of inspirational scientific speakers you have seen and imitate it.

Try to present slides at the rate of around one slide a minute. If you talk too much, you will lose your audience’s attention. The slides or videos should be an adjunct to your presentation, so do not hide behind them, and be proud of the work you are presenting. You should avoid reading the wording on the slides, but instead talk around the content on them.

Maintain eye contact with the audience and remember to smile and pause after each comment, giving your nerves time to settle. Speak slowly and concisely, highlighting key points.

Do not assume that the audience is completely familiar with the topic you are passionate about, but don’t patronise them either. Use every presentation as an opportunity to teach, even your seniors. The information you are presenting may be new to them, but it is always important to know your audience’s background. You can then ensure you do not patronise world experts.

To maintain the audience’s attention, vary the tone and inflection of your voice. If appropriate, use humour, though you should run any comments or jokes past others beforehand and make sure they are culturally appropriate. Check every now and again that the audience is following and offer them the opportunity to ask questions.

Finishing up is the most important part, as this is when you send your take home message with the audience. Slow down, even though time is important at this stage. Conclude with the three key points from the study and leave the slide up for a further few seconds. Do not ramble on. Give the audience a chance to digest the presentation. Conclude by acknowledging those who assisted you in the study, and thank the audience and organisation. If you are presenting in North America, it is usual practice to conclude with an image of the team. If you wish to show references, insert a text box on the appropriate slide with the primary author, year, and paper, although this is not always required.

Answering questions can often feel like the most daunting part, but don’t look upon this as negative. Assume that the audience has listened and is interested in your research. Listen carefully, and if you are unsure about what someone is saying, ask for the question to be rephrased. Thank the audience member for asking the question and keep responses brief and concise. If you are unsure of the answer you can say that the questioner has raised an interesting point that you will have to investigate further. Have someone in the audience who will write down the questions for you, and remember that this is effectively free peer review.

Be proud of your achievements and try to do justice to the work that you and the rest of your group have done. You deserve to be up on that stage, so show off what you have achieved.

Competing interests: We have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: None.

  • ↵ Rovira A, Auger C, Naidich TP. How to prepare an oral presentation and a conference. Radiologica 2013 ; 55 (suppl 1): 2 -7S. OpenUrl
  • ↵ Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for making good oral presentations. PLos Comput Biol 2007 ; 3 : e77 . OpenUrl PubMed
  • ↵ Naqvi SH, Mobasher F, Afzal MA, Umair M, Kohli AN, Bukhari MH. Effectiveness of teaching methods in a medical institute: perceptions of medical students to teaching aids. J Pak Med Assoc 2013 ; 63 : 859 -64. OpenUrl

oral presentation help

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20 Tips For Preparing An Effective Oral Presentation

oral presentation help

Don’t mind the informal me, I just seem to love that ‘down-to-earthness’ – I personally believe that such disposition is a better facilitator of effective communication.

Without much ado, I am going to share with you some ideas on what I can safely call most people’s nightmare (next to examinations, of course) – An oral presentation.

Organizations and other platforms have also come to discover the essence of an effective oral presentation. How it can move an employee from a zero state of mind to an excited state of mind after a brief but powerful presentation.

oral presentation help

Businesses are not left out too as it has become a core value that has to be portrayed to convince potential clients about a business idea.

Read this: How to manage your time effectively

Essentially, oral presentations are nothing to be scared of.

They add some kind of depth to the learning experience.

Not having this depth is what we should be scared of. Self-expression is just one of the core pillars of assessing how much and how well a student or presenter has assimilated the content of instructional material.

Overall, some of the most faced challenges associated with oral presentations are content and stage management which shall be discussed broadly here.

Whether you are a student, employee, professional or businessman , you sure need this skill to make a good impression.

Enjoy these tips, internalize them and start putting them into good practice. At the end of this write-up, you will discover the peculiar challenges of stage fright, how to deal with it and a few tidbits on presentation etiquette.

oral presentation help

1. Know the content

Nothing breeds confidence like competence and nothing breeds competence like preparation . Being vast in and thoroughly familiar with whatever the subject of a presentation will, in no small way, reinforce your sense of having something genuinely interesting to offer.

With this in place, the presentation ceases to be a mere talk or some kind of recital. It indeed becomes an active engagement of the audience on a journey of discovery. All you need do is just visualize yourself as a tour guide or a curator in a museum.

All you need do is to relate antecedents, history, origins, facts, figures and aspects of the subject matter in such a way as to stimulate their imagination.

You lead the audience on, not exactly projecting yourself but helping them see what needs to be seen. You wouldn’t want to go to the stage and destroy the expectations of people eagerly waiting to listen to you.

2. Define the purpose of the presentation

A presentation isn’t just a list of random facts. It makes a specific point, just like laboratory reports or essays.

Without a clear purpose in mind, your presentation will most likely be a jumble of unorganized factual information, putting your audience in the dark about your true intent.

What is the most important message you want to convey to the audience? Consider this to be the idea or theme of your presentation.

Your presentation’s goal(s) could include, but are not restricted to, trying to inform, inspire, or persuade.

Remember that what you say as well as how you say it must be consistent with the presentation’s goal.

3. Be natural

The mistake a lot of presenters make is thinking that great presentations are all about big vocabulary and sophisticated terms.  

May I indulge you in a different perspective – great presentations are all about presentations done in the most natural way. Be calm, relax and flow effortlessly .

Do your presentations like they are your daily routines. Help your audience feel like – “yes, I agree with what he is talking about”.

Rather than trying to charm the audience with a sophisticated style, be more committed to capturing their imagination through simple cues and vivid expressions.

There is a child in everyone, no matter how old. If possible, add a little humour here and there but try not to overdo it. Ensure you stay on track.

Read this: How to ask questions smartly

4. Invoke curiosity

oral presentation help

This aspect is what makes your audience hooked until the end of your presentation. They want to know where you are headed. They can’t risk being distracted until you finish. All you need do is reawaken that curious infant in the brief moment of your presentation.

It is for this reason that presentations adopt visual aids and graphical tools. The world-famous PowerPoint computer application also goes hand in hand with projectors – large screens for a clearer, broader view.

Where else is such pervasive attention given to pictures and descriptive tools apart from a kindergarten? Such applications show that there is a childlike nature in every man. Invoke it!

Read: How To Celebrate Failure For Success

5. Get your audience involved

Get your audience involved in your presentation. Don’t stand behind a lectern all through, tale a brisk, confident walk and project your words into the minds of your audience. Don’t let the lectern come in between you and the audience.

Try to get your audience out of their seats, laughing, raising hands or even standing by your side to make an analysis. Getting your audience to laugh is not as difficult as you might think. For example, you might try, “Ladies and gentlemen, I was told to announce something very critical to the success of today’s event. Even though I don’t think it’s my place to begin my presentation with an announcement that has nothing to do with my topic.”

“Anyway, I’ve been asked to tell you that in the event that you laugh too hard, don’t cause a stampede or fart too loud.” 😆 

Get free tips and tricks that will help you to achieve success faster 😉

6.  Gesticulate

If you can request a cordless lavaliere mic, pls do, so that you can be as flexible with your hands as possible. A handheld mic might become tiring if your presentation takes a while.

Your audience will only remember 30% of what they hear & see but 70% of what they do will stick to them forever.

7. Project your words

Two things that can make your projection so vivid and impactful are a clear voice and clarity of communication. Try to emphasize the last sound of each word which will help you to sound very polished. This may sound odd to you when you start but eventually sound normal as you get used to it.

8. Take a pause

oral presentation help

I cannot stress this enough. Take your time to pause! It kinda helps your audience to brainstorm, evaluate and re-evaluate. You shouldn’t say more than six to eight words at a time without a pause. As longer sentences reduce readability, longer spoken words also reduce absorption.

Use a full voice, then pause. Think of great speakers that utilized a full voice and paused. They did efficiently well. Such presentations drop some value within you.

9. Use acronyms

After you have written all the words on index cards, try to think of an acronym or Slang abbreviation that has every point you want to talk about. Use this strategy to keep your presentation in order.

For example, you may have written on a marriage/relationship index card – ask, support, kiss . Think of the first letter in each word and arrange them to ASK or any other word of your choice.

ASK will keep you on track this way:

A – Ask what he thinks

S – Support his opinion first

K – Kiss him when the discussion ends

You must have practised what you will say about each word beforehand. You will only use the acronym to keep track which the audience has no clue about. They will only think you are so perfect! If your oral presentation takes time and involves longer acronyms, you could keep your index card(s) on you just in case you get lost. 

10. Give life to figures

The Simplest Ways To Make The Best Of Oral Presentations

The best way to do this is to put a ‘Point’ of mind-gripping information (pictures, graphs, a phrase or table, flow charts, diagrams or a statistic) on some slides and speaking to them.

While the audience is fixated on that slide, all you need do is try to make them see the aspects of the slides that are hidden. Hence, you help to make their imagination make up for the rest of the story.

Such information is alike in features such as introduction, plot build-up, themes climax/anticlimax, a hero and his trials/triumph and so on.

And like a good storyteller or the mythical Pied Piper, the story or the music as the case is, becomes the object of the audience’s attention. The presenter is merely an intermediary.

oral presentation help

11. Face the object

Sure, it is not bad to feel weird for a moment. Gain your confidence back by becoming the audience for a moment.

Face the presentation with your hands towards the slide, board or what have you? Making this brief move takes a whole lot of burden off as you see that you do not have to be the audience’s object of attention for a while.

You can use this moment to stealthily move from your weak points to your strong points as you gain your confidence back .

The Simplest Ways To Make The Best Of Oral Presentations

Not all presentations have to be a serious one looking like a board meeting. It doesn’t have to be a brainstorming session to close a million-dollar deal. Smile if you can.

In fact, you should smile. It will reduce any pressure you might be feeling. You never know how powerful a smile can be until you smile at a confused child who looks at you and then returns the smile.

While you smile, make good eye contact with them and gesticulate as often as possible. This will create a good impression on your audience and make them connect with you easily.

Read this: Amazing facts about your handwriting

13. Intrigue them with stories

The Simplest Ways To Make The Best Of Oral Presentations

Whether it’s a story your grandfather told you or a story you learnt while growing up, people would love to listen. Stories are interesting ways to give your audience a light mood.

Who doesn’t like the taste of a little icing on the cake or peanuts in the chocolate? Just something a little bit different to ease the whole seriousness of the atmosphere.

Professional speakers are becoming professional storytellers ,  primarily stories about themselves or someone they know so well . If you can tell a story about each word or topic on your cards or slides, your speech will have a better flow.

14. Take corrections politely

One mistake people do is to try to show that they know better than their judges.

Judges, examiners, instructors or even a member of your audience can come into your presentation abruptly. Prepare your mind ahead for this and don’t fidget.

A simple “Noted, sir” “sorry, I skipped that” or “thanks for the feedback” would go a long way in determining your final presentation score.

Be courteous and mindful of harsh emotions as you face arguments or opposition. A wrong approach in dealing with this can ruin everything you have started. So be cool with everyone.

As a matter of fact, who you are and who the audience perceives you to be is a measure of the weight of your words.

Hence, it is safer to use universally acceptable codes of conduct and principles of etiquette that will put you in the good graces of the audience.

15. Define your target audience

The audience’s reaction is the only way to judge a good presentation. What do they currently know about your subject matter?

What are their perceptions about your subject matter: will they accept whatever you say, or will you have to persuade them to change their views? Do they have a good command of the English language?

An effective oral presentation requires much more than simply presenting your ideas or giving a presentation. It is all about clear communication and connecting with the audience.

Preparation is required to create that type of presentation. You must learn about your target audience to tailor your message.

If you’re talking to experts in your field, for example, you don’t have to explain all the terms you’re using but if you expect your audience to disagree with your assertions, it’s a great idea to provide additional illustrations and go into greater detail when presenting the evidence.

You can outline your presentation with your audience in mind to explain your main points and maintain a logical flow. The more you understand your target audience, the better you will be able to communicate with them.

16. P redict your audience’s thoughts and tell them

If you’re lucky enough to predict what is on their minds, you’ll get almost 100% attention from your audience. This lowers the barriers between you and them.

They’ll say “hey, he’s so clever hahaha”. Wow, you’re absolutely right! Tell them you know what they are thinking and answer a question they haven’t yet asked you.

17. Practice your presentation beforehand

The Simplest Ways To Make The Best Of Oral Presentations

You should start with yourself first. Talk to yourself, then move on to talking to a friend or small group of friends. When you build more confidence, start by speaking for free to become more professional.

You could begin by speaking to associations and clubs. Your audience may give you more networking opportunities when they enjoy your free presentations. There are business owners in your audience or people who work for businesses looking for speakers.

In fact, t here is much more to learn while you practise. By the time you become well-known, you can start charging a token or your prices can even become non-negotiable. 😉 

18. Explore every possible detail about your subject matter

To prepare an effective oral presentation, you must thoroughly understand your subject matter, which means knowing far more than you will present.

There is no such thing as too much research. The more familiar you are with your content, the more settled and confident you will feel when presenting it to a group.

Take notes as you read about your topic. Then organize your notes for your presentation. The most straightforward structure is an outline.

In most cases, a concise outline will serve as a good template for presenting your topic. The introduction, body, and summary make up a concise outline.

  • Introduction

In the introductory part, you must provide a concise context for your discussion. This is where you describe the problem or issue that the presentation will solve.

You want to immediately grab people’s attention, stimulate their interest, and get them pondering about your topic. That is what creating engaging content is all about.

The bulk of your presentation. It provides specific examples to back up your main point. This is where you add important facts, statistics, and details to your discourse.

Make certain that your material is presented articulately, with each point connected to another and clear progressions.

To summarize, highlight the previous points briefly. Use keywords from your introduction to restate your argument.

Take note of transitory phrases or words like “in summary.” Appreciate the audience for their time and, if the presentation format allows, gladly accept their questions.

A clear structure helps to support a clear and focused message, and it prevents you from jumping from concept to concept, which can make it difficult for your audience to grasp your presentation.

Having this in place, the presentation is no longer just a discussion. It truly becomes an active participation of the audience on a discovery journey. All you have to do is relate the subject’s antecedents, background, facts, statistics, and features in a way that stimulates their curiosity.

19. Use visual aids to supplement your content

It is easier to deliver an oral presentation when you employ visual aids. Visual aids, such as PowerPoint slides or printed handouts, provide structure to your presentation and assist the audience in comprehending the key points.

Since the majority of information is deemed and grasped visually, you may need to resolve this in your presentation by including a few visuals.

This would help the audience follow your discourse and possibly discuss a few of your points after the presentation is finished.

A good visual aid , as obvious as it may seem, must remain visual. Visuals can be bulleted lists or outlines, diagrams or figures, or pictures that depict crucial points that would be difficult to explain orally. Visual aids should be used to supplement, not compete with, your presentation. Use them only when they are necessary or beneficial.

20. Anticipate questions and prepare thoughtful answers in advance

A key component of preparing for an effective oral presentation is anticipating questions and creating thoughtful responses beforehand.

It demonstrates that you are knowledgeable about the subject and that you gave the subject some research. It also helps establish credibility and demonstrate your knowledge.

Additionally, it might assist you in remaining composed and assured throughout the presentation, especially if you are posed with unexpected questions. A few strategies for getting ready for questions are as follows:

  • Researching your topic thoroughly: This will enable you to answer any questions that may come up about your subject matter.
  • Identifying key points of confusion: Think about what aspects of your presentation may be most difficult for your audience to understand and prepare answers accordingly.
  • Practicing your responses: Rehearse answering potential questions so you are more comfortable and confident when answering them during the presentation.
  • Being open to feedback: Encourage your audience to ask questions and be open to feedback , even if it is critical. Take the opportunity to address any misconceptions or confusion that may have arisen during your presentation.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected: Sometimes, the questions you get may be totally out of the blue, be prepared to answer those as well.

In summary, your oral presentation is highly related to your motion, posture, gesture, gesticulation, eye contact, pausing effect, response to applause and so on.

The evolving nature of education has seen many lecturers and teachers adopt oral examinations as an integral part of grading students’ performance.

That is apart from lines of study such as Medicine (Viva) and Law (mock trials) that already have oral-related content as a part of their continuous assessment.

It also affords the teacher the opportunity to do more than just teach but to also be a kind of ‘coach’ that nurtures not only the content but also the delivery of knowledge . As a teacher myself, I do subscribe to this method of teaching; after all, was it not Einstein that said – If you cannot explain it simply, then you do not understand it all.

In oral presentations, especially ones that adopt projected information, the words you speak are more important than the words you display.

However, the pictures you use are just as important as the words you speak. In no place is the saying truer – a picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Therefore, being in a position where you have to present your own perspective, with your own words and in your own style goes a long way in shaping your intellectual capabilities . It also builds self-confidence in those that eventually master it.

I wish you a hitch-free and mind-blowing experience in your next oral presentation. 😉 . Which of these tips has helped you tremendously?

Share with love!

oral presentation help

Post Author: Ikeoluwa Ogedengbe

24 replies to “20 tips for preparing an effective oral presentation”.

Wonderful post! Putting these suggestions into practice will make anyone a ‘better’ presenter! Multiple thumbs up!

Sure, they will. Thanks for reading!

Thanks for this post, I believe it will help me gather more confidence in public speaking.

All the best in your next public speaking engagement, Josephine.

Love this post! I have a fear of public speaking so this checklist is so helpful! Thanks for sharing!

I’m glad you love it, Lissy.

Cool, just cool. I like it.

Thanks, Yeahme.

Thank you these are great tips! I have always had a lot of self confidence but always struggle with imposter syndrome so I get so nervous before public speaking!

Aww, I am sure these tips and a lot of practice will take the nervousness away.

This reminds me of my speech 101 class in college. I definitely with these tips — especially the one about knowing the content. Nothing prepares you more than knowing what you are talking about.

That’s absolutely right!

I used to work for a company that offered feedback for corporate leaders on presenting and I agree with everything you say. Bringing your personality into a presentation or speech can make a huge difference but it can take practice to get comfortable enough to bring that energy.

Yes, practice does a lot to make one perfect. Thanks for your input, Sarah.

This is a very helpful post. I wish I had read this when I was still a student. I didn’t like oral presentations and this could have given me a better perspective.

Awww, You may pass on the message to young students to ensure they get it right early.

Great read. Very helpful for my upcoming convention. Thanks for sharing.

I’m glad this helped. I wish you a splendid convention, Allison.

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How to Do an Oral Presentation

Last Updated: February 14, 2024

This article was co-authored by Vikas Agrawal . Vikas Agrawal is a Visual Content Marketing Expert & Entrepreneur, as well as the Founder of Full Service Creative Agency Infobrandz. With over 10 years of experience, he specializes in designing visually engaging content, such as infographics, videos, and e-books. He’s an expert in Making content marketing strategies and has contributed to and been featured in many publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, and INC.com. This article has been viewed 47,177 times.

The power of words can control the thoughts, emotions and the decisions of others. Giving an oral presentation can be a challenge, but with the right plan and delivery, you can move an entire audience in your favor.

Researching Your Presentation

Step 1 Determine your topic.

  • If speaking about the effect of junk food on an adult’s mind, include the increase of serotonin, a happiness hormone. Then inform the audience how fast the hormone drastically depletes to give out worse feelings. This gives the perspective that even the advantages of junk food are outweighed by the negative effects.

Step 4 Research, research, research.

Writing Your Script

Step 1 Write the body of your script.

  • Make sure to begin each argument with a clear description of the content such as. "The result of eating junk food has increased negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem". This gives the audience a quick outlook of what the argument is about. Always remember to state how the argument relates and supports the topic question.

Step 2 Start the introduction.

  • If necessary, this is where you could include, "My name is ___ and I will be speaking about the effect on junk food on our minds." Then you include a brief out view of each argument you will be speaking about. Do not include any information about your arguments in the introduction.

Step 3 Prepare a strong conclusion.

  • Some example concluding sentences include, "The entire process of the mind, changed by a simple bite of a cookie. Our entire body's control system, defined by our choices of food. The definite truth. You are what you eat."

Practicing and Performing

Step 1 Prepare your cue cards.

  • Taking the effort to memorize your script allows you to keep eye contact with the audience and brings confidence to your speech. Reading from an entire script can easily cause you to lose your place and stutter. Also make sure they are the same size and only put important key words or those that are hard to remember. This allows you to easily flip through and read off the cue cards.

Step 2 Use the aid of visual images or videos if allowed.

What Is The Best Way To Start a Presentation? . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

Expert Q&A

  • Always record yourself for time and clarity of voice. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 1
  • Watch online speeches to get an idea of how to tone your presentation. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Research persuasive language techniques. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

oral presentation help

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  • ↑ http://tutorials.istudy.psu.edu/oralpresentations/oralpresentations3.html
  • ↑ https://www.princeton.edu/~archss/webpdfs08/BaharMartonosi.pdf
  • ↑ https://education.seattlepi.com/give-good-speech-presentations-college-1147.html
  • ↑ http://blog.online.colostate.edu/blog/online-education/presentation-tips-for-college-students/

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5-Step Guide of How to Prepare for an Oral Presentation

Oral presentations provide an essential method of demonstrating the results of your learning or research process. In the social sciences, where communication with people is a central issue, oral speech is recognized as a necessary academic skill. The success of your oral presentation depends on how professionally and effectively you can narrate, organize, and demonstrate the material. In this guide, you will learn how to prepare for making a public address, organize your material, and deliver it in a manner that will help you achieve your goals.

Step 1. Preparation

Always consider your audience.

You are unlikely to gain any attention or credit for inappropriately addressing the needs of your target audience. For example, when presenting research results to college students or a group of professors, you will likely choose a different style, structure, and delivery depending on the audience. Thus, it is vital that from the start, you consider your audience, including age ranges, professional occupations, and the level of information your listeners have on the topic you intend to present.

Establish goals for your speech

Without a proper motivation or aim, your speech will probably meander through a collection of disorganized facts, leaving your audience unenlightened regarding your intentions. Therefore, next one to consider is the goal or goals for your speech. These may include but not be limited to informing, motivating, or convincing. Keep your goal in mind throughout the process of arranging the content and delivering it to the audience.

Create effective notes

While it is not usually acceptable to confine yourself to reading from your notes during an oral speech presentation, it is appropriate to use brief notes with key information or a structure to remember. If you rely solely on your memory and eschew written assistance, you may forget to address crucial topics due to nervousness or distractions. Thus, it is also an excellent practice to include important names and spellings of terms you will use, or leave blank spaces to be able to edit the note before the speech if it requires immediate changes.

Step 2. Content Arrangement

Write an outline.

An outline that has a clear structure including an introduction, body, and conclusion will, in most cases, become a solid framework for delivering your thoughts or results of your study. A speech that follows a clear structure will serve your aim better than a simple list of facts or items you would like your audience to know. As the outline stage is generally a continuous process, it may be necessary to include blank spaces or rearrange the content to achieve the best possible composition.

  • Introduction In the introduction section, similar to the introductory portion of an essay, you need to concisely present the background for your discussion topic, let your audience know why it is worth speaking about and researching, and explain the point of your presentation. It is also important to give your audience a preview of the structure of your speech and the topics included. Thus, the purpose of an introduction is to grab the listeners’ attention. After all, one of your goals should be to spark your audience’s interest in your material.
  • Body The body should present a logical order for your claims in defense of your main argument, supported by evidence. Using examples to illustrate various points can be helpful in informing or convincing an audience. Ensure that you present your material coherently, connecting each point to the next and employing clear transitions. This section should take up most of your presentation time in order to cover your topic sufficiently.
  • Conclusion In the conclusion section, sound academic practice suggests that a concise summary of all presented material can help the audience revisit the material they have just received for better retention. Thus, you should restate the purpose of the speech or research with reference to how it was achieved so that the oral presentation reaches a logical end. When wrapping up a speech, be aware of the use of transitional words or phrases to mark this section, such as “in conclusion.” If the format of the presentation permits, you may thank the audience for lending you their attention and welcome their questions.

Step 3. Summarize your ideas

In each section of your speech’s framework, you need to begin with a short synopsis of what you achieved or want to deliver. Oral presentations in an academic environment are allocated a limited amount of time, so there is a need to deliver your content and achieve your goal in a concise manner. In addition, lengthy thoughts can be difficult to follow, and you may risk losing your audience’s attention or creating confusion. However, it is also important not to shorten the ideas excessively and to always ensure the completeness of the message.

Step 4. Support your content with visual materials

As a majority of information is perceived and understood visually, you as a presenter may need to address this in your speech by including some material that the audience can see. This will help the audience follow your narration and perhaps discuss some of your points after you have finished the presentation. It may be tempting to place text on the presentation slides and read from them directly, but it is best to use bullet points, pictures, graphs, and other illustrative materials. The reason for this is that the audience may cease to pay attention to you, instead reading what you have written on the slide. To address that, you need to include only the key information in bullet points (if you include text at all) that you also explain in your speech. When using video or PowerPoint presentations to assist you in a speech, you must refer to and interact with it to truly utilize its potential. Otherwise, it will only serve as a distraction and will detract from your speech rather than assisting you.

Step 5. Delivery

Create text for a speech, not for reading.

The oral presentation format requires the speaker to deliver material intended to be listened to, as written text may be comprehended poorly within the limited presentation time. Given the differences between written and oral speech, you might need to use shorter sentences in order to be easily understood. Even if you are presenting research results to academics, there is no need for excessive use of terminology. However, you should avoid using colloquial language in order to remain within professional boundaries.

Highlight key ideas

To make sure the audience remembers the core parts, you may use memorable quotes, images, varied tone of voice, or language constructs. All of these techniques can help you emphasize the items the listeners need to remember. While the summary and restatement of goals in the conclusion section assists in this, using additional aspects of delivery for the most important points is rarely excessive. It ensures that the audience understands why these ideas are critical, without which you risk failing to achieve your presentation goals.

Demonstrate the mastery of oral communication

You should consider practicing delivery of the material to an audience beforehand, paying particular attention to the tone of voice, volume, speed, clarity, and other parameters. It is crucial to speak at a normal—or even slightly slower—pace to ensure everyone has the time to comprehend the information you relay. Here you need to accept the notion that not everyone might be equally knowledgeable of the topic you present, so by keeping an average pace of delivery, you will be considerate of their level of understanding. Pausing after key moments may also be appropriate in oral presentations, as it aids the audience’s comprehension.

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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

  • Carmine Gallo

oral presentation help

Five tips to set yourself apart.

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).

I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

oral presentation help

  • Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman  (St. Martin’s Press).

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  • Typical speaking tasks

Oral presentation

Giving an oral presentation as part of a speaking exam can be quite scary, but we're here to help you. Watch two students giving presentations and then read the tips carefully. Which tips do they follow? Which ones don’t they follow?


Watch the video of two students doing an oral presentation as part of a speaking exam. Then read the tips below.

Melissa: Hi, everyone! Today I would like to talk about how to become the most popular teen in school.

Firstly, I think getting good academic results is the first factor to make you become popular since, having a good academic result, your teacher will award you in front of your schoolmates. Then, your schoolmates will know who you are and maybe they would like to get to know you because they want to learn something good from you.

Secondly, I think participating in school clubs and student unions can help to make you become popular, since after participating in these school clubs or student union, people will know who you are and it can help you to make friends all around the school, no matter senior forms or junior forms.

In conclusion, I think to become the most popular teen in school we need to have good academic results and also participate in school clubs and student union. Thank you!

Kelvin: Good evening, everyone! So, today I want to talk about whether the sale of cigarettes should be made illegal.

As we all know, cigarettes are not good for our health, not only oneself but also other people around. Moreover, many people die of lung cancer every year because of smoking cigarettes.

But, should the government make it illegal? I don’t think so, because Hong Kong is a place where people can enjoy lots of freedom and if the government banned the sale of cigarettes, many people would disagree with this and stand up to fight for their freedom.

Moreover, Hong Kong is a free market. If there's such a huge government intervention, I think it’s not good for Hong Kong’s economy.

So, if the government wants people to stop smoking cigarettes, what should it do? I think the government can use other administrative ways to do so, for example education and increasing the tax on cigarettes. Also, the government can ban the smokers smoking in public areas. So, this is the end of my presentation. Thank you.

It’s not easy to give a good oral presentation but these tips will help you. Here are our top tips for oral presentations.

  • Use the planning time to prepare what you’re going to say. 
  • If you are allowed to have a note card, write short notes in point form.
  • Use more formal language.
  • Use short, simple sentences to express your ideas clearly.
  • Pause from time to time and don’t speak too quickly. This allows the listener to understand your ideas. Include a short pause after each idea.
  • Speak clearly and at the right volume.
  • Have your notes ready in case you forget anything.
  • Practise your presentation. If possible record yourself and listen to your presentation. If you can’t record yourself, ask a friend to listen to you. Does your friend understand you?
  • Make your opinions very clear. Use expressions to give your opinion .
  • Look at the people who are listening to you.
  • Write out the whole presentation and learn every word by heart. 
  • Write out the whole presentation and read it aloud.
  • Use very informal language.
  • Only look at your note card. It’s important to look up at your listeners when you are speaking.

Useful language for presentations

Explain what your presentation is about at the beginning:

I’m going to talk about ... I’d like to talk about ... The main focus of this presentation is ...

Use these expressions to order your ideas:

First of all, ... Firstly, ... Then, ... Secondly, ... Next, ... Finally, ... Lastly, ... To sum up, ... In conclusion, ...

Use these expressions to add more ideas from the same point of view:

In addition, ... What’s more, ... Also, ... Added to this, ...

To introduce the opposite point of view you can use these words and expressions:

However, ... On the other hand, ... Then again, ...

Example presentation topics

  • Violent computer games should be banned.
  • The sale of cigarettes should be made illegal.
  • Homework should be limited to just two nights a week.
  • Should school students be required to wear a school uniform?
  • How to become the most popular teen in school.
  • Dogs should be banned from cities.

Check your language: ordering - parts of a presentation

Check your understanding: grouping - useful phrases, worksheets and downloads.

Do you think these tips will help you in your next speaking exam? Remember to tell us how well you do in future speaking exams!  

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  • Presentation

Oral presentation skill: what it is and how to develop it

onliner content creation team

  • May 1, 2022

oral presentation skills

In each private and professional environment, effective communication is a fundamental skill. Among the various types of communication, oral shows stand out as an effective capability of conveying information, ideas, and opinions. Whether in academic, business, or social environments, the potential to deliver a compelling oral presentation can notably affect how your message is received. This article will discover what is oral presentation skills, the purpose of oral presentation, how to use them effectively, and when to use them in Presentation design services.

oral presentation help

Table of Contents

What are Oral Presentation Skills?

Oral presentation skills refer to the ability to convey information and ideas through spoken words, body language, and visual aids in a structured and engaging manner. It involves organizing thoughts, tailoring content to the audience, and delivering the message confidently and clearly.

These skills encompass verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, ensuring your message is understood, remembered, and impactful.

The Purpose of Oral Presentation

These are the main purpose of Oral presentation skills:

1-Inform and Educate:

Oral presentations are an advantageous tool for disseminating know-how and information. Whether it is a business proposal, research finding, or an academic seminar, the main purpose is to inform and instruct the target market about the subject matter.

2-Persuade and Influence:

In a professional context, oral presentations are frequently used to persuade and affect stakeholders, customers, or colleagues. It could be a sales pitch, a project proposal, or a motivational talk to inspire action or change.

3-Showcase Skills:

Presentations can also showcase your expertise and proficiency in a particular field. A well-delivered presentation can leave a lasting impression and enhance credibility and reputation.

purpose of oral presentation

The different types of oral presentations

Luckily, there are different types of oral presentations. The type you give will depend on what’s needed in the situation! For example, an informative speech is typically used to educate your audience about something specific while a persuasive one tries convincing people around them that they should do/believe so-and it doesn’t matter if this works because both have their own purposes behind them anyway.

How to Use Oral Presentation Skills Effectively?

Here are some tips to improve your oral presentation skills effectively:

Know Your Audience:

Tailor your presentation to your audience’s needs, interests, and knowledge level. Understand their expectations and adjust your content accordingly to ensure maximum engagement.

Structure Your Presentation:

Organize your content into a clear and logical structure. Typically, a presentation consists of an introduction, main points with supporting evidence, and a conclusion. Ensure smooth transitions between sections to maintain flow.

Engaging Visuals:

Utilize visuals such as slides, videos, or props to complement your verbal message. Visual aids can enhance understanding and retention but avoid overwhelming the audience with too much information.

Practice and Rehearse:

Practice your presentation multiple times to become familiar with the content and delivery. Rehearsing also helps reduce nervousness and build confidence in communicating effectively.

Eye Contact and Body Language:

Maintain eye contact with the audience and use positive body language to create a connection. Gestures, facial expressions, and posture can convey confidence and enthusiasm, enhancing the impact of your message.

How to develop your oral presentation skills

To improve your oral presentation skills, be prepared and know the material inside out. Additionally, practice makes perfect! It’s helpful to pay attention not just to what you’re saying but also to how YOU are sounding–that is assuming people will actually listen anyway (which they won’t).

Eye contact can help engage an audience as well by making them feel like their opinion matters or that this person truly wants input from every single individual present at any given time during a speech/presentation session…all while smiling confidently with pride because these techniques work wonders even on oneself.

When do you need to Use Oral Presentation Skills?

1-academic settings:.

Students often use oral presentations to share research findings, present projects, or defend their theses. Mastering these skills boosts grades and prepares students for future professional endeavors.

2-Public Speaking Engagements:

Speaking at conferences, seminars, workshops, or occasions allows sharing knowledge, network, and construct recognition as a professional in your field.

3-Social and Personal Life :

Strong oral presentation capabilities are precious in daily life, whether or not speaking at family gatherings, handing over a toast at a wedding, or sharing thoughts in a neighborhood meeting.

4-Social and Personal Life:

Strong oral presentation skills are valuable in everyday life, whether speaking at family gatherings, delivering a toast at a wedding, or sharing ideas in a community meeting.

oral presentation help

Tips for delivering an effective oral presentation

Here are a few tips to help you deliver an effective oral presentation. First, start off by grabbing your audience’s attention with an interesting opening sentence or phrase; keep them interested in what comes after that! And remember not everyone will understand all the jargon used during a technical conversation so try keeping things clear and simple – even if it means sacrificing some depth knowledge (which isn’t always bad!).

Practice makes perfect – the more you present, the better you’ll get!

Presentations are a common occurrence in today’s business world. Whether you’re giving an oral presentation to your team or pitching for investors, being able to communicate effectively and inspire lively will set clients’ minds at ease when they hear from YOU! Here is some advice on how best to approach this essential skill: Maintain eye contact with every person who speaks during yours as well as their own reactions; don’t get distracted by anything around them (including other people) because it can cause hesitation which makes someone else more comfortable speaking up instead – even if what was said wasn’t exactly relevant towards our current topic discussion., Use gestures often so everyone understands where certain points lie within the overall message.

Based on your current knowledge about what is Oral presentation skills, you are aware that they are valuable in today’s fast-paced and interconnected world. Mastering these skills allows you to communicate your ideas effectively, influence others positively, and showcase your expertise. You can become a confident and impactful communicator in any setting by understanding the purpose, honing the techniques, and recognizing when to employ oral presentation skills. So, embrace the challenge, practice, and watch as your ability to connect and inspire others soars to new heights.

What are the 5 Ps of oral presentation?

The 5Ps of Oral presentation are planning, preparation, practice, performance, and passion, which can guide you to a successful presentation.

What is the difference between public speaking and oral presentation?

The main factor of public speaking is the involvement with the live audience. However oral presentations can be carried out with or without a live audience.

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21 Tips and Strategies Supporting Learners’ Oral Presentations

Design & assign.

oral presentation help

There are many options to consider when assigning an oral presentation. As you answer the following questions, reflect on your own commitment to continue using traditional oral presentations for evaluation.

Determine Oral Presentation Type

If you answered “No” to at least half of the questions, you may want to consider the following alternative formats that mitigate some of the specific anxieties your ELLs experience with oral presentations. While the default may be the traditional individual or group presentation of concepts in front of the whole class, there are a number of alternatives that may serve the same purpose.

oral presentation help

Consider the different types of presentations and the steps that you can do to help your learners succeed.

Types of Oral Presentations

Short oral talks in a group

Usually a short oral talk in a group is informal with little time to prepare for this type of speech. Learners  share their thoughts or opinions about a specific topic. This type of talk follows a structure with a brief introductory statement, 2-3 ideas and a concluding statement.  These brief oral talks can help students develop confidence because they are presenting to a small group rather than the whole class. They do not have to create and coordinate visuals with their talk and the talk is short. There still needs to be substance to the talk, so participants should be given advance warning that they will be asked to speak on a particular topic.  One advantage is that several students in the class can be presenting simultaneously; however, as a result, in-process marking is not possible.

Formal oral presentations in front of class

Formal oral presentations in front of the class usually require individual students to make a longer presentation, supported with effective visual aids. Adequate time has been given for the presenter to prepare the topic. This type of presentation can be used to present research, information in general, or to persuade. The presenter is often put in charge of the class during the presentation time, so in addition to presenting, the presenter has to keep the class engaged and in line. Formal oral presentations often involve a Q & A. Most of the grading can be done in-process because you are only observing one student at a time. It is very time consuming to get through a whole class of presentations and have the class engaged and learning and you are giving up control of many course hours and content coverage.

Group Presentations

college students talking around a table

  • Tips for giving a group presentation

Sharing Presentations Online

Students can be made the presenter in online platforms to complete presentations.  Zoom, Blackboard, WebEx and other similar software allow the moderator (Professor) to make specific participants hosts which enables them to share their screens and control the participation options of other students in the class.  As each platform has variations on how to share documents and control the presentation, it is important that students are given specific instructions on how to “present” using the various platforms.  If possible, set up separate “rooms” for students to practice in before their presentation.

  • Instructions for screen sharing in Zoom
  • Instructions for screen sharing in WebEx
  • Instructions for screen sharing in Blackboard Collaborate

Use Oral Recordings of Presentations Synchronously or Asynchronously

Consider allowing students to record their presentations and present the recording to the class.  While this would not be appropriate for a language class where the performance of the presentation is likely more important than the content, in other classes providing the opportunity for learners to record multiple times until they are satisfied with the output is an ideal way to optimize the quality of the presentation as well as reduce the performance related stress. The presentation can then be shared synchronously in class or online with the presenter hosting and fielding questions, or asynchronously posted on a discussion board or other app such as Flipgrid with the presenter responding to comments posted over a set period of time. A side benefit to the use of some of these tools such as Skye and Google Meet is that they are commonly used in the workforce so it good practice for post-graduation application of skills.

Possible Tools for Recording and Sharing

  • Flipgrid – an easy to use app that lets students record short video clips and resubmit as many times as needed. The video stays in the Flipgrid app for other students to see (if shared) and allow for easy teacher responses whether via video or text. (Asynchronous)
  • Skype   – Follow the instructions to record and share a video on the MS website (Either if posted on course platform)
  • Google Meet – Follow the i nstructions to record and share a presentation on Google Meet . (Either if posted on course platform)
  • Zoom – students can share their narrated PPT slides via Zoom (don’t forget to enable the sound)
  • Powerpoint – Recording of narrations for slides
  • Youtube – Recorded videos can be uploaded to Youtube to share by following instructions to upload Youtube video
  • OneDrive – most institutions provide OneDrive accounts for faculty and students as part of Office 365. Students can save their video in OneDrive and choose who to share it with (faculty member, group, class)

Presenting in Another Language

If the goal of the presentation is to demonstrate in depth understanding of the course content and ability to communicate that information effectively, does the presentation have to be done in English?  Can the student’s mastery of the subject matter be demonstrated in another language with a translator? It would still be possible to evaluate the content of the presentation, the confidence, the performance, the visual aids etc.  On the global stage, translated speeches and presentations are the norm by political leaders and content experts – why not let students show the depth of their understanding in a language they are comfortable with?

If a more formal type of oral presentation is required, is it possible to give students some choice to help reduce their anxiety?  For example, could they choose to present to you alone, to a small group, or to the whole class?

Teach Making a Presentation Step by Step

Don’t assume that all the students in your class have been taught how to make a presentation for a college or university level class. Furthermore, there are many purposes for presentations (inform, educate, persuade, motivate, activate, entertain) which require different organizational structure, tone, content and visual aids.

  • Ask the class to raise their hands if they feel ♦ very comfortable presenting in front of the class, ♦ somewhat comfortable presenting in front of the class or ♦ not comfortable presenting in front of the class.  This will help you gauge your learners’ prior experience / comfort and also let learners in the class see that others, both native speakers and ELLs are nervous about presenting orally in class.

Provide Clear Instructions

  • Write clear, detailed instructions (following the suggestions in Module 3).
  • Ask students to download a copy to bring to class and encourage them to record annotations as you discuss expectations.
  • Example: How many slides should you use as your visual aid? Do you need to use outside sources? What tools can you use to create this presentation?
  • Include the rubric that you will use to grade the presentations and explain each section, noting sections that have higher weighting.

Provide a Guide to Planning

  • Have students write a description of the target audience for their presentation and explicitly state the purpose of the presentation.

student sleeping behind pile of books

  • Encourage students to read widely on their topic. The more content knowledge the learner has about the topic, the more confident the learner will be when presenting.
  • Teach students how to do an effective presentation that meets your course expectations (if class time does not permit, offer an optional  ‘office hours’ workshop). Remember – many of your students many never have presented a post-secondary presentation which may cause significant anxiety. Your ELL’s experiences with oral presentations may be limited or significantly different in terms of expectations based on their prior educational contexts.
  • Have students view examples of good presentations and some bad ones – there are many examples available on YouTube such as  Good Presentation vs Bad Presentation .
  • Provide specific guidelines for each section of the presentation. How should learners introduce their presentation? How much detail is required? Is audience interaction required? Is a call to action expected at the end?
  • If audience interaction is required, teach your students specific elicitation techniques (See Module 3)
  • Designing Visual Aids Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo
  • Presentation Aids Video
  • Paralinguistic features like eye contact are potentially culture – bound. If the subject that you are teaching values eye contact, then include this expectation in the presentation. On the other hand, if your field of study doesn’t require presentations typically, consider valuing the cultural diversity of your learners and not grading learners negatively for not making eye contact.
  • Review the rubric. Let learners know what you are specifically grading  during the presentation. The rubric should be detailed enough that learners know what elements of the presentation are weighted the heaviest.

Model an Effective Presentation

A good speech is like a pencil; it has to have a point.

  • Provide an exemplar of a presentation that you have presented yourself and recorded, or a presentation done by a previous student for which you have written permission to share.

Require Students to Practice

  • Practice saying the presentation out loud
  • Practice with a room mate/ classmate / family member / friend
  • Go on a walk and talk – encourage students to get outside, and go for a walk – as they walk, they can say their presentation orally out loud. The fresh air and sunshine helps one to relax and reduce anxiety, so it is easier to focus on the talk.
  • Record a practice presentation. Encourage students to find a quiet place to record and to use headphones with a mic to improve quality of the recording.
  • If time allows, build formative practice presentations into the schedule. Have students practice their presentation in small groups and have other group mates give targeted feedback based on content, organization and presentation skills. Provide a checklist of expectations for the others in the group to use to provide specific, targeted feedback to the presenter. Students can watch their performance at home along with their peer’s feedback to identify areas for improvement.

oral presentation help

  • If you have assigned oral presentations in your class, review the course outcomes and the content covered in the assignment and determine if a formal oral presentation is necessary. 
  • Think of one alternative you could offer to students who struggle with individual assignments.
  • Annotate your assignment with notes indicating possible modifications you could make to improve the inclusivity and equity of the assignment.

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How to deliver an oral presentation

Georgina wellstead.

a Lister Hospital, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

Katharine Whitehurst

b Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Buket Gundogan

c University College London

d Guy's St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Delivering an oral presentation in conferences and meetings can seem daunting. However, if delivered effectively, it can be an invaluable opportunity to showcase your work in front of peers as well as receive feedback on your project. In this “How to” article, we demonstrate how one can plan and successfully deliver an engaging oral presentation.

Giving an oral presentation at a scientific conference is an almost inevitable task at some point during your medical career. The prospect of presenting your original work to colleagues and peers, however, may be intimidating, and it can be difficult to know how to approach it. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that although daunting, an oral presentation is one of the best ways to get your work out there, and so should be looked upon as an exciting and invaluable opportunity.

Slide content

Although things may vary slightly depending on the type of research you are presenting, the typical structure is as follows:

  • Opening slide (title of study, authors, institutions, and date)
  • Methodology
  • Discussion (including strengths and weaknesses of the study)


Picking out only the most important findings to include in your presentation is key and will keep it concise and easy to follow. This in turn will keep your viewers engaged, and more likely to understand and remember your presentation.

Psychological analysis of PowerPoint presentations, finds that 8 psychological principles are often violated 1 . One of these was the limited capacity of working memory, which can hold 4 units of information at any 1 time in most circumstances. Hence, too many points or concepts on a slide could be detrimental to the presenter’s desire to give information.

You can also help keep your audience engaged with images, which you can talk around, rather than lots of text. Video can also be useful, for example, a surgical procedure. However, be warned that IT can let you down when you need it most and you need to have a backup plan if the video fails. It’s worth coming to the venue early and testing it and resolving issues beforehand with the AV support staff if speaking at a conference.

Slide design and layout

It is important not to clutter your slides with too much text or too many pictures. An easy way to do this is by using the 5×5 rule. This means using no more than 5 bullet points per slide, with no more than 5 words per bullet point. It is also good to break up the text-heavy slides with ones including diagrams or graphs. This can also help to convey your results in a more visual and easy-to-understand way.

It is best to keep the slide design simple, as busy backgrounds and loud color schemes are distracting. Ensure that you use a uniform font and stick to the same color scheme throughout. As a general rule, a light-colored background with dark-colored text is easier to read than light-colored text on a dark-colored background. If you can use an image instead of text, this is even better.

A systematic review study of expert opinion papers demonstrates several key recommendations on how to effectively deliver medical research presentations 2 . These include:

  • Keeping your slides simple
  • Knowing your audience (pitching to the right level)
  • Making eye contact
  • Rehearsing the presentation
  • Do not read from the slides
  • Limiting the number of lines per slide
  • Sticking to the allotted time

You should practice your presentation before the conference, making sure that you stick to the allocated time given to you. Oral presentations are usually short (around 8–10 min maximum), and it is, therefore, easy to go under or over time if you have not rehearsed. Aiming to spend around 1 minute per slide is usually a good guide. It is useful to present to your colleagues and seniors, allowing them to ask you questions afterwards so that you can be prepared for the sort of questions you may get asked at the conference. Knowing your research inside out and reading around the subject is advisable, as there may be experts watching you at the conference with more challenging questions! Make sure you re-read your paper the day before, or on the day of the conference to refresh your memory.

It is useful to bring along handouts of your presentation for those who may be interested. Rather than printing out miniature versions of your power point slides, it is better to condense your findings into a brief word document. Not only will this be easier to read, but you will also save a lot of paper by doing this!

Delivering the presentation

Having rehearsed your presentation beforehand, the most important thing to do when you get to the conference is to keep calm and be confident. Remember that you know your own research better than anyone else in the room! Be sure to take some deep breaths and speak at an appropriate pace and volume, making good eye contact with your viewers. If there is a microphone, don’t keep turning away from it as the audience will get frustrated if your voice keeps cutting in and out. Gesturing and using pointers when appropriate can be a really useful tool, and will enable you to emphasize your important findings.

Presenting tips

  • Do not hide behind the computer. Come out to the center or side and present there.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience, especially the judges.
  • Remember to pause every so often.
  • Don’t clutter your presentation with verbal noise such as “umm,” “like,” or “so.” You will look more slick if you avoid this.
  • Rhetorical questions once in a while can be useful in maintaining the audience’s attention.

When reaching the end of your presentation, you should slow down in order to clearly convey your key points. Using phases such as “in summary” and “to conclude” often prompts those who have drifted off slightly during your presentation start paying attention again, so it is a critical time to make sure that your work is understood and remembered. Leaving up your conclusions/summary slide for a short while after stopping speaking will give the audience time to digest the information. Conclude by acknowledging any fellow authors or assistants before thanking the audience for their attention and inviting any questions (as long as you have left sufficient time).

If asked a question, firstly thank the audience member, then repeat what they have asked to the rest of the listeners in case they didn’t hear the first time. Keep your answers short and succinct, and if unsure say that the questioner has raised a good point and that you will have to look into it further. Having someone else in the audience write down the question is useful for this.

The key points to remember when preparing for an oral presentation are:

  • Keep your slides simple and concise using the 5×5 rule and images.
  • When appropriate; rehearse timings; prepare answers to questions; speak slowly and use gestures/ pointers where appropriate; make eye contact with the audience; emphasize your key points at the end; make acknowledgments and thank the audience; invite questions and be confident but not arrogant.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with regard to the content of this report.

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Published online 8 June 2017

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

In the social and behavioral sciences, an oral presentation assignment involves an individual student or group of students verbally addressing an audience on a specific research-based topic, often utilizing slides to help audience members understand and retain what they both see and hear. The purpose is to inform, report, and explain the significance of research findings, and your critical analysis of those findings, within a specific period of time, often in the form of a reasoned and persuasive argument. Oral presentations are assigned to assess a student’s ability to organize and communicate relevant information  effectively to a particular audience. Giving an oral presentation is considered an important learning skill because the ability to speak persuasively in front of an audience is transferable to most professional workplace settings.

Oral Presentations. Learning Co-Op. University of Wollongong, Australia; Oral Presentations. Undergraduate Research Office, Michigan State University; Oral Presentations. Presentations Research Guide, East Carolina University Libraries; Tsang, Art. “Enhancing Learners’ Awareness of Oral Presentation (Delivery) Skills in the Context of Self-regulated Learning.” Active Learning in Higher Education 21 (2020): 39-50.

Preparing for Your Oral Presentation

In some classes, writing the research paper is only part of what is required in reporting the results your work. Your professor may also require you to give an oral presentation about your study. Here are some things to think about before you are scheduled to give a presentation.

1.  What should I say?

If your professor hasn't explicitly stated what the content of your presentation should focus on, think about what you want to achieve and what you consider to be the most important things that members of the audience should know about your research. Think about the following: Do I want to inform my audience, inspire them to think about my research, or convince them of a particular point of view? These questions will help frame how to approach your presentation topic.

2.  Oral communication is different from written communication

Your audience has just one chance to hear your talk; they can't "re-read" your words if they get confused. Focus on being clear, particularly if the audience can't ask questions during the talk. There are two well-known ways to communicate your points effectively, often applied in combination. The first is the K.I.S.S. method [Keep It Simple Stupid]. Focus your presentation on getting two to three key points across. The second approach is to repeat key insights: tell them what you're going to tell them [forecast], tell them [explain], and then tell them what you just told them [summarize].

3.  Think about your audience

Yes, you want to demonstrate to your professor that you have conducted a good study. But professors often ask students to give an oral presentation to practice the art of communicating and to learn to speak clearly and audibly about yourself and your research. Questions to think about include: What background knowledge do they have about my topic? Does the audience have any particular interests? How am I going to involve them in my presentation?

4.  Create effective notes

If you don't have notes to refer to as you speak, you run the risk of forgetting something important. Also, having no notes increases the chance you'll lose your train of thought and begin relying on reading from the presentation slides. Think about the best ways to create notes that can be easily referred to as you speak. This is important! Nothing is more distracting to an audience than the speaker fumbling around with notes as they try to speak. It gives the impression of being disorganized and unprepared.

NOTE:   A good strategy is to have a page of notes for each slide so that the act of referring to a new page helps remind you to move to the next slide. This also creates a natural pause that allows your audience to contemplate what you just presented.

Strategies for creating effective notes for yourself include the following:

  • Choose a large, readable font [at least 18 point in Ariel ]; avoid using fancy text fonts or cursive text.
  • Use bold text, underlining, or different-colored text to highlight elements of your speech that you want to emphasize. Don't over do it, though. Only highlight the most important elements of your presentation.
  • Leave adequate space on your notes to jot down additional thoughts or observations before and during your presentation. This is also helpful when writing down your thoughts in response to a question or to remember a multi-part question [remember to have a pen with you when you give your presentation].
  • Place a cue in the text of your notes to indicate when to move to the next slide, to click on a link, or to take some other action, such as, linking to a video. If appropriate, include a cue in your notes if there is a point during your presentation when you want the audience to refer to a handout.
  • Spell out challenging words phonetically and practice saying them ahead of time. This is particularly important for accurately pronouncing people’s names, technical or scientific terminology, words in a foreign language, or any unfamiliar words.

Creating and Using Overheads. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Kelly, Christine. Mastering the Art of Presenting. Inside Higher Education Career Advice; Giving an Oral Presentation. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015; Peery, Angela B. Creating Effective Presentations: Staff Development with Impact . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011; Peoples, Deborah Carter. Guidelines for Oral Presentations. Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries; Perret, Nellie. Oral Presentations. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Speeches. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Storz, Carl et al. Oral Presentation Skills. Institut national de télécommunications, EVRY FRANCE.

Organizing the Content

In the process of organizing the content of your presentation, begin by thinking about what you want to achieve and how are you going to involve your audience in the presentation.

  • Brainstorm your topic and write a rough outline. Don’t get carried away—remember you have a limited amount of time for your presentation.
  • Organize your material and draft what you want to say [see below].
  • Summarize your draft into key points to write on your presentation slides and/or note cards and/or handout.
  • Prepare your visual aids.
  • Rehearse your presentation and practice getting the presentation completed within the time limit given by your professor. Ask a friend to listen and time you.


I.  Introduction [may be written last]

  • Capture your listeners’ attention . Begin with a question, an amusing story, a provocative statement, a personal story, or anything that will engage your audience and make them think. For example, "As a first-gen student, my hardest adjustment to college was the amount of papers I had to write...."
  • State your purpose . For example, "I’m going to talk about..."; "This morning I want to explain…."
  • Present an outline of your talk . For example, “I will concentrate on the following points: First of all…Then…This will lead to…And finally…"

II.  The Body

  • Present your main points one by one in a logical order .
  • Pause at the end of each point . Give people time to take notes, or time to think about what you are saying.
  • Make it clear when you move to another point . For example, “The next point is that...”; “Of course, we must not forget that...”; “However, it's important to realize that....”
  • Use clear examples to illustrate your points and/or key findings .
  • If appropriate, consider using visual aids to make your presentation more interesting [e.g., a map, chart, picture, link to a video, etc.].

III.  The Conclusion

  • Leave your audience with a clear summary of everything that you have covered.
  • Summarize the main points again . For example, use phrases like: "So, in conclusion..."; "To recap the main issues...," "In summary, it is important to realize...."
  • Restate the purpose of your talk, and say that you have achieved your aim : "My intention was ..., and it should now be clear that...."
  • Don't let the talk just fizzle out . Make it obvious that you have reached the end of the presentation.
  • Thank the audience, and invite questions : "Thank you. Are there any questions?"

NOTE: When asking your audience if anyone has any questions, give people time to contemplate what you have said and to formulate a question. It may seem like an awkward pause to wait ten seconds or so for someone to raise their hand, but it's frustrating to have a question come to mind but be cutoff because the presenter rushed to end the talk.

ANOTHER NOTE: If your last slide includes any contact information or other important information, leave it up long enough to ensure audience members have time to write the information down. Nothing is more frustrating to an audience member than wanting to jot something down, but the presenter closes the slides immediately after finishing.

Creating and Using Overheads. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Giving an Oral Presentation. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015; Peery, Angela B. Creating Effective Presentations: Staff Development with Impact . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011; Peoples, Deborah Carter. Guidelines for Oral Presentations. Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries; Perret, Nellie. Oral Presentations. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Speeches. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Storz, Carl et al. Oral Presentation Skills. Institut national de télécommunications, EVRY FRANCE.

Delivering Your Presentation

When delivering your presentation, keep in mind the following points to help you remain focused and ensure that everything goes as planned.

Pay Attention to Language!

  • Keep it simple . The aim is to communicate, not to show off your vocabulary. Using complex words or phrases increases the chance of stumbling over a word and losing your train of thought.
  • Emphasize the key points . Make sure people realize which are the key points of your study. Repeat them using different phrasing to help the audience remember them.
  • Check the pronunciation of difficult, unusual, or foreign words beforehand . Keep it simple, but if you have to use unfamiliar words, write them out phonetically in your notes and practice saying them. This is particularly important when pronouncing proper names. Give the definition of words that are unusual or are being used in a particular context [e.g., "By using the term affective response, I am referring to..."].

Use Your Voice to Communicate Clearly

  • Speak loud enough for everyone in the room to hear you . Projecting your voice may feel uncomfortably loud at first, but if people can't hear you, they won't try to listen. However, moderate your voice if you are talking in front of a microphone.
  • Speak slowly and clearly . Don’t rush! Speaking fast makes it harder for people to understand you and signals being nervous.
  • Avoid the use of "fillers." Linguists refer to utterances such as um, ah, you know, and like as fillers. They occur most often during transitions from one idea to another and, if expressed too much, are distracting to an audience. The better you know your presentation, the better you can control these verbal tics.
  • Vary your voice quality . If you always use the same volume and pitch [for example, all loud, or all soft, or in a monotone] during your presentation, your audience will stop listening. Use a higher pitch and volume in your voice when you begin a new point or when emphasizing the transition to a new point.
  • Speakers with accents need to slow down [so do most others]. Non-native speakers often speak English faster than we slow-mouthed native speakers, usually because most non-English languages flow more quickly than English. Slowing down helps the audience to comprehend what you are saying.
  • Slow down for key points . These are also moments in your presentation to consider using body language, such as hand gestures or leaving the podium to point to a slide, to help emphasize key points.
  • Use pauses . Don't be afraid of short periods of silence. They give you a chance to gather your thoughts, and your audience an opportunity to think about what you've just said.

Also Use Your Body Language to Communicate!

  • Stand straight and comfortably . Do not slouch or shuffle about. If you appear bored or uninterested in what your talking about, the audience will emulate this as well. Wear something comfortable. This is not the time to wear an itchy wool sweater or new high heel shoes for the first time.
  • Hold your head up . Look around and make eye contact with people in the audience [or at least pretend to]. Do not just look at your professor or your notes the whole time! Looking up at your your audience brings them into the conversation. If you don't include the audience, they won't listen to you.
  • When you are talking to your friends, you naturally use your hands, your facial expression, and your body to add to your communication . Do it in your presentation as well. It will make things far more interesting for the audience.
  • Don't turn your back on the audience and don't fidget! Neither moving around nor standing still is wrong. Practice either to make yourself comfortable. Even when pointing to a slide, don't turn your back; stand at the side and turn your head towards the audience as you speak.
  • Keep your hands out of your pocket . This is a natural habit when speaking. One hand in your pocket gives the impression of being relaxed, but both hands in pockets looks too casual and should be avoided.

Interact with the Audience

  • Be aware of how your audience is reacting to your presentation . Are they interested or bored? If they look confused, stop and ask them [e.g., "Is anything I've covered so far unclear?"]. Stop and explain a point again if needed.
  • Check after highlighting key points to ask if the audience is still with you . "Does that make sense?"; "Is that clear?" Don't do this often during the presentation but, if the audience looks disengaged, interrupting your talk to ask a quick question can re-focus their attention even if no one answers.
  • Do not apologize for anything . If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, don't use it. If you apologize for feeling awkward and nervous, you'll only succeed in drawing attention to the fact you are feeling awkward and nervous and your audience will begin looking for this, rather than focusing on what you are saying.
  • Be open to questions . If someone asks a question in the middle of your talk, answer it. If it disrupts your train of thought momentarily, that's ok because your audience will understand. Questions show that the audience is listening with interest and, therefore, should not be regarded as an attack on you, but as a collaborative search for deeper understanding. However, don't engage in an extended conversation with an audience member or the rest of the audience will begin to feel left out. If an audience member persists, kindly tell them that the issue can be addressed after you've completed the rest of your presentation and note to them that their issue may be addressed later in your presentation [it may not be, but at least saying so allows you to move on].
  • Be ready to get the discussion going after your presentation . Professors often want a brief discussion to take place after a presentation. Just in case nobody has anything to say or no one asks any questions, be prepared to ask your audience some provocative questions or bring up key issues for discussion.

Amirian, Seyed Mohammad Reza and Elaheh Tavakoli. “Academic Oral Presentation Self-Efficacy: A Cross-Sectional Interdisciplinary Comparative Study.” Higher Education Research and Development 35 (December 2016): 1095-1110; Balistreri, William F. “Giving an Effective Presentation.” Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 35 (July 2002): 1-4; Creating and Using Overheads. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Enfield, N. J. How We Talk: The Inner Workings of Conversation . New York: Basic Books, 2017; Giving an Oral Presentation. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015; Peery, Angela B. Creating Effective Presentations: Staff Development with Impact . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011; Peoples, Deborah Carter. Guidelines for Oral Presentations. Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries; Perret, Nellie. Oral Presentations. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Speeches. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Storz, Carl et al. Oral Presentation Skills. Institut national de télécommunications, EVRY FRANCE.

Speaking Tip

Your First Words are Your Most Important Words!

Your introduction should begin with something that grabs the attention of your audience, such as, an interesting statistic, a brief narrative or story, or a bold assertion, and then clearly tell the audience in a well-crafted sentence what you plan to accomplish in your presentation. Your introductory statement should be constructed so as to invite the audience to pay close attention to your message and to give the audience a clear sense of the direction in which you are about to take them.

Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015.

Another Speaking Tip

Talk to Your Audience, Don't Read to Them!

A presentation is not the same as reading a prepared speech or essay. If you read your presentation as if it were an essay, your audience will probably understand very little about what you say and will lose their concentration quickly. Use notes, cue cards, or presentation slides as prompts that highlight key points, and speak to your audience . Include everyone by looking at them and maintaining regular eye-contact [but don't stare or glare at people]. Limit reading text to quotes or to specific points you want to emphasize.

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Oral Presentations Purpose

An Oral Research Presentation is meant to showcase your research findings. A successful oral research presentation should: communicate the importance of your research; clearly state your findings and the analysis of those findings; prompt discussion between researcher and audience.  Below you will find information on how to create and give a successful oral presentation.  

Creating an Effective Presentation

Who has a harder job the speaker? Or, the audience?

Most people think speaker has the hardest job during an oral presentation, because they are having to stand up in a room full of people and give a presentation. However, if the speaker is not engaging and if the material is way outside of the audiences knowledge level, the audience can have a difficult job as well. Below you will find some tips on how to be an effective presenter and how to engage with your audience.

Organization of a Presentation  


How are you going to begin?  How are you going to get the attention of your audience? You need to take the time and think about how you are going to get started!

Here are some ways you could start:

  • Ask the audience a question
  • make a statement
  • show them something

No matter how you start your presentation it needs to relate to your research and capture the audiences attention.  

Preview what you are going to discuss .  Audiences do not like to be manipulated or tricked. Tell the audience exactly what you are going to discuss, this will help them follow along.  *Do not say you are going to cover three points and then try to cover 8 points.

At the end of your introduction, the audience should feel like they know exactly what you are going to  discuss and exactly how you are going to get there.  



Delivery and Communication

Eye Contact

Making eye contact is a great way to engage with your audience.  Eye contact should be no longer than 2-3 seconds per person.  Eye contact for much longer than that can begin to make the audience member feel uncomfortable.

Smiling lets attendees know you are happy to be there and that you are excited to talk with them about your project.

We all know that body language says a lot, so here are some things you should remember when giving your presentation.

  • Stand with both feet on the floor, not with one foot crossed over the other. 
  • Do not stand with your hands in your pockets, or with your arms crossed.
  • Stand tall with confidence and own your space (remember you are the expert).  

Abbreviated Notes

Having a written set of notes or key points that you want to address can help prevent you from reading the poster. 

Speak Clearly

Sometimes when we get nervous we begin to talk fast and blur our words.  It is important that you make sure every word is distinct and clear. A great way to practice your speech is to say tongue twisters. 

Ten tiny tots tottered toward the shore

Literally literary. Literally literary.  Literally literary.

Sally soon saw that she should sew some sheets.

Avoid Fillers

Occasionally we pick up fillers that we are not aware of, such as um, like, well, etc. One way to get rid of fillers is to have a friend listen to your speech and every time you say a "filler" have that friend tap you on the arm or say your name.  This will bring the filler to light, then you can practice avoiding that filler.

Manage Anxiety

Many people get nervous when they are about to speak to a crowd of people.  Below are ways that you can manage your anxiety levels. 

  • Practice, Practice, Practice - the more prepared you are the less nervous you will be.
  • Recognize that anxiety is just a big shot of adrenalin.
  • Take deep breaths before your presentation to calm you down. 

Components of an Oral Research Presentation


The introduction section of your oral presentation should consist of 3 main parts.  

Part 1: Existing facts

In order to give audience members the "full picture", you first need to provide them with information about past research.  What facts already exist? What is already known about your research area?

Part 2: Shortcomings

Once you have highlighted past research and existing facts. You now need to address what is left to be known, or what shortcomings exist within the current information.  This should set the groundwork for your experiment.  Keep in mind, how does your research fill these gaps or help address these questions? 

Part 3: Purpose or Hypothesis

After you have addressed past/current research and have identified shortcomings/gaps, it is now time to address your research.  During this portion of the introduction you need to tell viewers why you are conducting your research experiement/study, and what you hope to accomplish by doing so. 

In this section you should share with your audience how you went about collecting and analyzing your data

Should include:

  • Participants: Who or what was in the study?
  • Materials/ measurements: what did you measure?
  • Procedures: How did you do the study?
  • Data-analysis: What analysis were conducted? 

This section contains FACTS – with no opinion, commentary or interpretation. Graphs, charts and images can be used to display data in a clear and organized way.  

Keep in mind when making figures:

  • Make sure axis, treatments, and data sets are clearly labeled
  • Strive for simplicity, especially in figure titles. 
  • Know when to use what kind of graph
  • Be careful with colors.

Interpretation and commentary takes place here. This section should give a clear summary of your findings. 

You should:

  • Address the positive and negative aspects of you research
  • Discuss how and if your research question was answered. 
  • Highlight the novel and important findings
  • Speculate on what could be occurring in your system 

Future Research

  • State your goals
  • Include information about why you believe research should go in the direction you are proposing
  • Discuss briefly how you plan to implement the research goals, if you chose to do so.  

Why include References?

  • It allows viewers to locate the material that you used, and can help viewers expand their knowledge of your research topic.  
  • Indicates that you have conducted a thorough review of the literature and conducted your research from an informed perspective.
  • Guards you against intellectual theft.  Ideas are considered intellectual property failure to cite someone's ideas can have serious consequences. 


This section is used to thank the people, programs and funding agencies that allowed you to perform your research.


Allow for about 2-3 minutes at the end of your presentation for questions. 

It is important to be prepared. 

  • Know why you conducted the study
  • Be prepared to answer questions about why you chose a specific methodology

If you DO NOT know the answer to a question

Visual Aids

PowerPoints and other visual aids can be used to support what you are presenting about.

Power Point Slides and other visual aids can help support your presentation, however there are some things you should consider: 

  • Do not overdo it . One big mistake that presenters make is they have  a slide for every single item they want to say. One way you can avoid this is by writing your presentation in Word first, instead of making a Power Point Presentation. By doing this you can type exactly what you want to say, and once your presentation is complete, you can create Power Point slides that help support your presentation. ​

Formula for number of visual aids : Length of presentation divided by 2 plus 1

example: 12 minute presentation should have no more than 7 slides.

  • Does it add interest? 
  • Does it prove? 
  • Does it clarify?
  • Do not read the text . Most people can read, and if they have the option of reading material themselves versus listen to you read it, they are going to read it themselves and then your voice becomes an annoyance. Also, when you are reading the text you are probably not engaging with the audience. 
  • No more than 4-6 lines on a slide and no more than 4-6 words in a line.
  • People should be able to read your slide in 6 seconds.
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How to Use Oral Presentations to Help English Language Learners Succeed

Please try again

oral presentation help

Excerpted from “ The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students ,” by Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Sypnieski, with permission from the authors.

Having the confidence to speak in front of others is challenging for most people. For English Language Learners, this anxiety can be heightened because they are also speaking in a new language. We’ve found several benefits to incorporating opportunities for students to present to their peers in a positive and safe classroom environment. It helps them focus on pronunciation and clarity and also boosts their confidence. This type of practice is useful since students will surely have to make presentations in other classes, in college, and/or in their future jobs. However, what may be even more valuable is giving students the chance to take these risks in a collaborative, supportive environment.

Presentations also offer students the opportunity to become the teacher—something we welcome and they enjoy! They can further provide valuable listening practice for the rest of the class, especially when students are given a task to focus their listening.

Research confirms that in order for ELLs to acquire English they must engage in oral language practice and be given the opportunity to use language in meaningful ways for social and academic purposes (Williams & Roberts, 2011). Teaching students to design effective oral presentations has also been found to support thinking development as “the quality of presentation actually improves the quality of thought, and vice versa” (Živković, 2014, p. 474). Additionally, t he Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards specifically focus on oral presentations. These standards call for students to make effective and well-organized presentations and to use technology to enhance understanding of them.


Oral presentations can take many different forms in the ELL classroom—ranging from students briefly presenting their learning in small groups to creating a multi-slide presentation for the whole class. In this section, we give some general guidelines for oral presentations with ELLs. We then share ideas for helping students develop their presentation skills and describe specific ways we scaffold both short and long oral presentations.

We keep the following guidelines in mind when incorporating oral presentations into ELL instruction:

oral presentation help

Length —We have students develop and deliver short presentations (usually 2-4 minutes) on a regular basis so they can practice their presentation skills with smaller, less overwhelming tasks. These presentations are often to another student or a small group. Once or twice a semester, students do a longer presentation (usually 5-8 minutes), many times with a partner or in a small group.

Novelty —Mixing up how students present (in small groups, in pairs, individually) and what they use to present (a poster, a paper placed under the document camera, props, a slide presentation, etc.) can increase engagement for students and the teacher!

Whole Class Processing -- We want to avoid students “tuning out” during oral presentations. Not only can it be frustrating for the speakers, but students also miss out on valuable listening practice. During oral presentations, and in any activity, we want to maximize the probability that all students are thinking and learning all the time. Jim Peterson and Ted Appel, administrators with whom we’ve worked closely, call this “whole class processing” (Ferlazzo, 2011, August 16) and it is also known as active participation. All students can be encouraged to actively participate in oral presentations by being given a listening task-- taking notes on a graphic organizer, providing written feedback to the speaker, using a checklist to evaluate presenters, etc.

Language Support —It is critical to provide ELLs, especially at the lower levels of English proficiency, with language support for oral presentations. In other words, thinking about what vocabulary, language features and organizational structures they may need, and then providing students with scaffolding, like speaking frames and graphic organizers. Oral presentations can also provide an opportunity for students to practice their summarizing skills. When students are presenting information on a topic they have researched, we remind them to summarize using their own words and to give credit when using someone else’s words.

Technology Support —It can’t be assumed that students have experience using technology tools in presentations. We find it most helpful using simple tools that are easy for students to learn (like Powerpoint without all the “bells and whistles” or Google Slides). We also emphasize to students that digital media should be used to help the audience understand what they are saying and not just to make a presentation flashy or pretty. We also share with our students what is known as “The Picture Superiority Effect”-- a body of research showing that people are better able to learn and recall information presented as pictures as opposed to just being presented with words (Kagan, 2013).

Groups -- Giving ELLs the opportunity to work and present in small groups is helpful in several ways. Presenting as a group (as opposed to by yourself) can help students feel less anxious. It also offers language-building opportunities as students communicate to develop and practice their presentations. Creating new knowledge as a group promotes collaboration and language acquisition--an ideal equation for a successful ELL classroom!

Teacher feedback/student evaluation --The focus of oral presentations with ELL students should be on the practice and skills they are gaining, not on the grade or “score” they are earning. Teachers can give out a simple rubric before students create their presentations. Then students can keep these expectations in mind as they develop and practice their presentations. The teacher, or classmates, can then use the rubric to offer feedback to the speaker. We also often ask students to reflect on their own presentation and complete the rubric as a form of self-assessment. Figure 30.1 – “Presentation Peer Evaluation Rubric” , developed by talented student teacher Kevin Inlay (who is now a teacher in his own classroom), is a simple rubric we used to improve group presentations in our ELL World History class.

oral presentation help

Teaching Presentation Skills

We use the following two lesson ideas to explicitly teach how to develop effective presentation skills:

LESSON ONE: Speaking and Listening Do’s and Don’ts

We help our students understand and practice general presentation skills through an activity we call Speaking and Listening “Do’s and Don’ts.” We usually spread this lesson out among two class periods.

We first ask students to create a simple T-chart by folding a piece of paper in half and labeling one side “Do” and the other side “Don’t.” We then post Figure 30.2 “Speaking Do’s and Don’ts” on the document camera and display the first statement (the rest we cover with a blank sheet of paper).

We read the first statement, “Make eye contact with the audience,” and ask students if this is something they want to do when they are giving a presentation or if it is something they don’t want to do. Students write the statement where they think it belongs--under the “Do” column or “Don’t” Column. Students then share their answer with a partner and discuss why they put it in that column. After calling on a few pairs to share with the class, we move down the list repeating the same process of categorizing each statement as a “Do” or a “Don’t.” Students write it on their chart and discuss why it should be placed there.

After categorizing the statements for speaking, we give students Figure 30.3 “Listening Do’s and Don’ts .” We tell students to work in pairs to categorize the statements as something they do or something they don’t want to do when listening to a student presentation. This time, we ask students to make a quick poster with the headings “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Listening. Under each heading students must list the corresponding statements--the teacher can circulate to check for accuracy. Students are asked to talk about why each statement belongs in each category and should be prepared to share their reasoning with the class. Students must also choose one “do” statement and one “don’t” statement to illustrate on their poster. Students can present their posters in small groups or with the whole class. This serves as a great opportunity to apply the speaking and listening “do’s” they just reviewed and heightens their awareness of the “don’ts!”

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A fun twist, that also serves as a good review on a subsequent day, is to ask groups of students to pick two or three “do’s” and “don’ts” from both Speaking and Listening to act out in front of the class.

LESSON TWO Slide Presentations Concept Attainment

We periodically ask students to make slide presentations using PowerPoint or Google Slides to give them practice with developing visual aids (see the Home Culture activity later in this section). We show students how to make better slides, along with giving students the language support they may need in the form of an outline or sentence starters. An easy and effective way to do this is through Concept Attainment.

Concept Attainment involves the teacher identifying both "good" and "bad" examples of the intended learning objective. In this case, we use a PowerPoint containing three “good” slides and three “bad” ones (see them at The Best Resources For Teaching Students The Difference Between A Good and a Bad Slide ).

We start by showing students the first example of a “good” or “yes” slide (containing very little text and two images) and saying, “This is a yes.” However, we don’t explain why it is a “yes.” Then we show a “bad” or “no” example of a slide (containing multiple images randomly placed with a very “busy background”), saying, “This is a no” without explaining why. Students are then asked to think about them, and share with a partner why they think one is a "yes" and one is a "no."

At this point, we make a quick chart on a large sheet of paper (students can make individual charts on a piece of paper) and ask students to list the good and bad qualities they have observed so far. For example, under the “Good/Yes” column it might say “Has less words and the background is simple” and under the “Bad/No” column “Has too many pictures and the background is distracting.”

We then show the second “yes” example (containing one image with a short amount of text in a clear font) and the “no” example (containing way too much text and using a less clear font style). Students repeat the “think-pair-share” process and then the class again discusses what students are noticing about the “yes” and “no” examples. Then they add these observations to their chart.

Students repeat the whole process a final time with the third examples. The third “yes” example slide contains one image, minimal text and one bullet point. The third “no” example, on the other hand, contains multiple bullet points.

To reinforce this lesson at a later date, the teacher could show students more examples, or students could look for more “yes” and “no” examples online. They could continue to add more qualities of good and bad slides to their chart. See the Technology Connections section for links to good and bad PowerPoint examples, including the PowerPoint we use for this Concept Attainment lesson.

You can learn more about other presentations that support public speaking, such as home culture presentations, speed dating, talking points, top 5 and PechaKucha Book talks in our book, “ The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students .”

oral presentation help

Larry Ferlazzo has taught English Language Learners, mainstream and International Baccalaureate students at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento for 15 years. He has authored eight books on education, hosts a popular blog for educators, and  writes a weekly teacher advice column for Education Week Teacher .  He was a community organizer for 19 years prior to becoming a high school teacher.

oral presentation help

Katie Hull Sypnieski has worked with English Language Learners at the secondary level for over 20 years.  She currently teaches middle school ELA and ELD at Rosa Parks K-8 School in Sacramento, California. She is a teaching consultant with the Area 3 Writing Project at the University of California, Davis and has leads professional development for teachers of ELLs. She is co-author (with Larry Ferlazzo) of The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide and Navigating the Common Core with English Language Learners .

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What is an Oral Presentation?

Oral presentations are forms of effective verbal communication that may be accompanied by slides. It is critical that you do  not  read your slides as your presentation; slides help you make a point, but do not replace your verbal communication. Presenters should not write out their presentations on slides or itemize all their points on a slide—this detracts from the engagement with the audience. If your head is always turned to your slides or looking down at your laptop, you will not deliver a powerful presentation.

Guidelines for presentation

oral presentation help

  • Consider the sequence and relevancy of your slides.  A current slide should build a path to next slide
  • Use graphs and charts  to illustrate your prominent points. They will help the audience to clearly understand the content.
  • Make it simple . Too much fancy graphs and charts with huge data and numbers will confuse the audience. Don’t use flash, gif images and fancy colors. The audience will only remember those effects, not your message. Make it simple!
  • Use the 6-6-6 rule:  (maximum 6 words per bullet, maximum 6 bullets per slide, and maximum 6 text slides in a row). The fewest words with effective imagery will have the most powerful effect.
  • Use high-contrast, easy-to-read fonts  that are common to most computers. Do not use ALL CAPS, italics, and other enhancements that clutter and distract. A good guideline is a minimum of 30-point font.

Presenting Effectively

Please follow the guidelines below to make your presentation effective.  The tips below will help you to keep the audience interested throughout your presentation.

  • Think of your presentation as a story . Try to tell a story about the ideas you are conveying, rather than listing statistics and lists of information. Organize your thoughts and develop clear transitions between slides.
  • Consider the use visual aids—are they useful?  Do they add to your presentation or detract from it?  Visual aids such as slides can help attract and hold an audience’s attention and help to reinforce what you say as well as help you keep on track with your presentation. However, visual aids are not always useful and sometimes detract from careful listening. Carefully determine whether your presentation is enhanced by visual aids or not. Again, the visual component should only illustrate and enhance your words.

Things to do before presentation at a conference to prevent technical delays/issues

  • Ensure that you are available at least 30 minutes before the session starts on the day of the conference .
  • All presentations must run on Windows operating system – the Laptop and the Presentations MUST be submitted to the IT table 15 minutes in advance to ensure that the sessions run according to schedule without any delays.
  • Bring an extra-copy of your presentation to the conference on a USB media storage device. This copy is to be used as a backup if required.
  • Make sure the USB media storage device and your presentation file are properly labeled with your name, presentation day, and time
  • Send your final presentation via email to the organizing committee by the prescribed deadline
  • If you need special arrangements (Different operating system, videos to be displayed etc.,) you should make that known to the organizing committee by the presentation submission deadline.
  • Please note that the organizing committee will not be held responsible for any technical issues occurring due to late communication.

Technical Assistance for your presentation

Technical assistance will be provided during your presentation All presentations must run on Windows operating system – a Laptop and the Multimedia Projector will be available. The Microsoft PowerPoint is the recommended software to be used. A SMART pointer will be provided to run your presentation on the screen.

Important tips, information and guideline for Oral presentations

Guidelines for the presentation sides Technical assistance will be provided during your presentation All presentations must run on Windows operating system – a Laptop and the Multimedia Projector will be available. The Microsoft PowerPoint is the recommended software to be used. A SMART pointer will be provided to run your presentation on the screen.

  • Abstracts and papers will be published in conference proceedings
  • Submit your paper for peer review to the supporting Journals

Evaluation of the Presentations

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  • Articles / Oral Presentations

4 Fun Ways to Practice Short Oral Presentations

by MiddleWeb · Published 07/17/2018 · Updated 07/03/2022

When our book The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox was published this spring, the KQED MindShift blog published an excerpt titled “How to Use Oral Presentations to Help English Language Learners Succeed.”   MiddleWeb asked to share our tips for short presentations that appear in the book right after this excerpt.

You might find it helpful to read both posts. We think our strategies for ELL students can be adapted for any group of students working to improve speaking and listening skills. ~ Larry & Katie

By Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Sypnieski

oral presentation help

Speed Dating

Speed dating is a quick way for students to present their work to classmates while gaining speaking and listening practice. The teacher divides students into two rows facing each other (students can be standing or seated in desks).

One row is assigned as the movers . The teacher tells students the amount of time each partner will have to speak (this depends on the length of what they are sharing). When time is up, the teacher says “switch” and the mover row stands and moves one person to the right. This can be done several times so that students can present to multiple partners. (When the movers shift, one person in the stationary row will be without a partner. Have that person move to the other end of their row.)

Students can share their work in different ways (e.g., by sharing specific parts of a mini-poster or explaining something they’ve written). To boost listening skills, we often require students to ask a question after their partner presents (sometimes providing question and answer frames).

The previous paragraphs describe individual presentations. An easy way to do speed dating after students have worked in groups to prepare joint presentations is to assign half the groups to different parts or corners of the room (they become the stationary groups). Each remaining group (who will be the movers) is assigned to start with a stationary group partner. After each of the paired groups makes its joint presentation to the other, the mover group rotates and the process repeats itself.

Talking Points Presentations

This activity is a fun way for students to practice the presentation skill of speaking from their notes, not reading from them.

In this activity, the teacher first asks students to generate a quick list of topics they know a lot about (we often have students consult their heart maps or writing territories, which are discussed in Strategy 18 of our book, “Writer’s Notebook”).

Students then choose one topic to write about for several minutes—writing anything they know or that comes to mind. The teacher can model the same process on the document camera with a topic of his or her choice.

oral presentation help

Teacher model: “My worst Disneyland memory was throwing up after Star Tours.”

After writing, the teacher shows students how they can use this quickwrite to create several talking points or categories by looking for ideas that they can expand upon from their original writing. For example, if they wrote about Disneyland then the categories might include “my favorite rides,” “my best memory at Disneyland,” “my worst memory at Disneyland,” or “my favorite Disney character.”

Students then choose three of their categories and draw a quick picture representing each one. For the Disneyland example, Katie modeled drawing a picture of the submarine ride, a picture of her throwing up after going on Star Tours, and a sketch of Minnie Mouse!

The teacher then gives students a simple outline and models using it as an assist while speaking for a brief amount of time (no more than two minutes). See Figure 30.4: Talking Points Presentation Model and Outline for the teacher model and the outline we used for this activity.

oral presentation help

Click to enlarge

The teacher reinforces the difference between reading the talking points (a don’t ) and speaking from the talking points (a do ). Students are then given time to practice presenting using the outline as a guide—an opening, talking about each picture (using the talking points as cues), and a closing.

Students can give their presentations in small groups or in pairs (preferably with different students than they practiced with). Depending on their English proficiency level and the amount of practice they’ve had, students may or may not need to look at their outline. Listeners can be tasked with thinking of a relevant question to ask the speaker at the end of their presentation.

Top Five Presentations

This activity involves students working in groups to develop a top five list based on their interests and then preparing a short presentation to share with the class. We were introduced to the idea by ELT specialist Clare Lavery in her British Council post “Short Projects to Get Them Talking.”

In our version of the activity, we put students in groups of three and give them a few minutes to come up with three to four topics they all find interesting. Sometimes students need a few ideas to get them started so we list some examples on the board (animals, sports, music, fashion, etc.).

oral presentation help

Students use the outline to develop their presentation ideas – to list their choices for the top five in their topic and to explain why they believe each one belongs in the top five.

We’ve found it is also helpful and enjoyable for students to create a visual aid to further communicate their points. In the past, students have created top five posters and five to seven slide PowerPoints. Students have also incorporated songs and movie clips into their presentations. We usually give groups a speaking time limit of three minutes with the requirement that each person in the group must speak during the presentation.

Students are then given time to practice their presentations. It might be necessary for the class to review our dos and don’ts for speaking and listening . The presentations can be done in front of the whole class or small groups can be paired up and present to each other. Listeners can be asked to provide feedback on a sticky note (writing something they liked about the presentation or a question they had).

PechaKucha Book Talks

PechaKucha (“chit-chat” in Japanese) is a popular presentation format in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (20 × 20) – about six and a half minutes. The slides, which usually contain one to two images and minimal text, are programmed to advance automatically as the speaker talks along with them.

In other words, each slide is used as a background or visual cue as the speakers progress through their presentation. Many language teachers use the PechaKucha presentation format because it can be easily modified. PK presentations have several advantages for ELLs—they are short, structured, highly visual, and informal.

Students can use the PechaKucha format to develop presentations on basically any topic. Teachers can adjust the time format if they want to give students more time on each slide or have students present fewer slides (e.g., 10 slides × 30 seconds each).

oral presentation help

One variation of Pecha Kucha we’ve used in our classes was introduced to us by educator Anthony Schmidt in his helpful blog post “The Power of PechaKucha.” His modified version has students create a short PechaKucha presentation on a book they’ve read. We often have students do book talks with a partner and this is a great way to give those a different spin. Here is the outline Anthony used with his intermediate students:

Five Slide PechaKucha (2:40)

  • Slide 1—10 seconds: Introduction, title of book
  • Slide 2—60s: Plot, summary
  • Slide 3—30s: Favorite scene, character, part
  • Slide 4—60s: Evaluation and recommendation
  • Slide 5—0 s: Thank you

We provided our students with this outline. Students then created their slide presentations about their books. They selected online images based on a key idea for each slide (e.g., one student chose an image of the cover of his book for Slide 1 and an image of a gold medal for Slide 4).

Because we had beginners and intermediates, we gave students the option of using sentence frames to write their notes for each slide and posted them on the front board (e.g., “The title of my book is.” “I recommend this book because.” ).

Students then printed out a copy of their PowerPoint to use for practice and sent them to us. We had one or two students present their PechaKucha book talks each day over the course of a few weeks.

Short presentations build confidence

Short presentations help us meet our goals of teaching students to develop and deliver effective oral presentations, providing them with lots of practice, and enabling them to feel empowered, not overwhelmed, by the experience.

oral presentation help

NOW AVAILABLE: The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels, 2nd Edition in April 2022.

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Great resources to help teachers’ teaching.

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Really great ideas, thank you for sharing.

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    Formal oral presentations in front of class. Formal oral presentations in front of the class usually require individual students to make a longer presentation, supported with effective visual aids. Adequate time has been given for the presenter to prepare the topic. This type of presentation can be used to present research, information in ...

  16. How to deliver an oral presentation

    An easy way to do this is by using the 5×5 rule. This means using no more than 5 bullet points per slide, with no more than 5 words per bullet point. It is also good to break up the text-heavy slides with ones including diagrams or graphs. This can also help to convey your results in a more visual and easy-to-understand way.

  17. Giving an Oral Presentation

    In the social and behavioral sciences, an oral presentation assignment involves an individual student or group of students verbally addressing an audience on a specific research-based topic, often utilizing slides to help audience members understand and retain what they both see and hear.

  18. Presentations: Oral Presentations

    An Oral Research Presentation is meant to showcase your research findings. A successful oral research presentation should: communicate the importance of your research; clearly state your findings and the analysis of those findings; prompt discussion between researcher and audience. Below you will find information on how to create and give a ...

  19. How to Use Oral Presentations to Help English Language Learners ...

    Oral presentations can take many different forms in the ELL classroom—ranging from students briefly presenting their learning in small groups to creating a multi-slide presentation for the whole class. In this section, we give some general guidelines for oral presentations with ELLs.

  20. Oral Presentations

    Oral presentations are forms of effective verbal communication that may be accompanied by slides. It is critical that you do not read your slides as your presentation; slides help you make a point, but do not replace your verbal communication.Presenters should not write out their presentations on slides or itemize all their points on a slide—this detracts from the engagement with the audience.

  21. Enhancing learners' awareness of oral presentation (delivery) skills in

    The list of presentation items (i.e. areas to consider when delivering oral presentations) was retrieved and modified from the following: (1) presentation assessment criteria in some journal articles such as Al-Issa and Al-Qubtan (2010), Langan et al. (2005) and Živković (2014), (2) practical advice from websites and chapters from books, most ...

  22. 4 Fun Ways to Practice Short Oral Presentations

    When our book The ELL Teacher's Toolbox was published this spring, the KQED MindShift blog published an excerpt titled "How to Use Oral Presentations to Help English Language Learners Succeed." MiddleWeb asked to share our tips for short presentations that appear in the book right after this excerpt. You might find it helpful to read both posts.

  23. 5 Things to Remember for Your Next Orals Presentation

    1. Treat orals slides like a proposal volume. Analyze the requirements and present what is asked for, in the order in which it is required. Develop an "outline" of your orals presentation based on the RFP requirements, similar to what you would do with a proposal response. Break your content into modules and allocate these important factors ...

  24. Library Guides: Presentation Studio: Use Instructions and Help

    Follow the 5 steps below for recording in the Presentation Studio. You will need to go to the Library Service desk to have the supervisor open the Presentation Studio door for you. If you need assistance, we can help you set up for your recording. 1) Set up the Room • Log on the computer.