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Key Study Skills

Giving oral presentations

Students are often called upon to give oral presentations as part of their studies.  This page provides some key resources on oral presentation skills designed to give you the knowledge and confidence to tackle your next presentation.


Preparing Presentations

Preparing an oral presentation involves making decisions about what to say, and how best to organise the information so the audience can follow and understand what is being said.

Some key ideas to consider in preparing your presentation:


Be clear about what the purpose is and keep that purpose at the back of your mind in all your [re[araion work.  Briefly outline this at the start of your presentation.



Think about who your audience is and why they expect/want to hear/need to hear.  Thinking about what they already know about a subject can help you decide on the information you will include in your presentation.  It can also help you think about the language you use, and the best way to order and introduce ideas.



The usual structure of a presentation is that it has an introduction, a body and a conclusion. This is not the only possible structure.  For a process over time, for example, you might focus on different stages (a beginning, middle and end).  Alternatively, patterns might be problems, solutions; or questions and how you arrived at answers.  Whatever structure fits best for your presentation, it is important to make a good beginning and to finish well.

Content and Timing

In planning content, it is really important to think about what will fit in the time you have got and how deeply you will be expected to analyse the subject.  You need to show your understanding of the topic and that usually require some individual research beyond what is presented in class.

The material you include needs to relate to your purpose for giving the presentation, follows the assignment instructions and assessment criteria.


Assessment Requirements

As you are preparing your presentation make sure you refer to the assignment instructions and the assessment criteria/marking guide (if there is one).  This will help you work out what you need to focus on.  Usually both the presentation and delivery aspects are part of the requirements.  Sometimes oral presentations are not assessed but they can still form part of the overall impression you make on your lecturers.

View presentations

After reading Preparing Presentations (on the left), watch this video and identify what makes it an effective presentation.

One way to develop your knowledge about oral presentations is to watch some experienced speakers talking. 

A good place to find a variety of presentations is via TED.  There are a range of presenters and presentation styles - choose some presentations you are interested in and as you watch them think about what is good about their presentation skills (and maybe what you think doesn't work)...

Oral presentation handouts