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Tips for delivering your oral presentation
Tips for delivering your oral presentation
√ You have done your research.
√ You know what you need to talk about.
But...you are feeling a little bit anxious about getting up and speaking in front of your whole class and a teacher. Guess what – you are not alone!
Here are 10 tips for delivering an awesome oral presentation.
1. Make eye contact
You know you shouldn’t read every word from a script with your head down, but it can feel scary standing at the front of the class with everyone looking back at you.
Tip: To help you feel more confident, ask your two favourite classmates to sit on separate sides of the room. Make eye contact with your friend on the right, then the one on the left, moving slowly between them as you speak. It will look like you are talking to everyone.
2. Use cue cards
Reading everything from a piece of paper means you can’t make eye contact. Reading from your slides means turning your back on your audience. What’s the solution?
Tip: A much better idea is to put your main ideas down on a set of cue cards you can hold in your hand. Holding cue cards also gives you something to do with your hands. Don't write everything on the cards, just write enough information to help you remember what to say and maybe how to pronounce any difficult words. Don’t forget to number your cards.
3. Use your hands
It’s a good idea to practise your gestures so that you don’t look like a statue.
Tip: Counting off the different points you are making with your fingers helps your audience follow what you are saying. Holding cue cards also helps you keep your arms open rather than folded or down by your sides. You can also ask your teacher if you can use a pointer to move through your slides and indicate details.
4. Speak clearly
It is important to look your best and dress well for a presentation, but the audience wants to hear you speak so using your voice effectively is essential.
Tip: You need to speak loudly enough to fill the classroom with your voice. Speak a bit more slowly than your natural pace and open your mouth fully to let the consonant and vowel sounds out – these actions will help with your pronunciation of any difficult words.
5. Vary your voice
Intonation is helpful because it gives our voice a ‘sing-song’ quality and makes us more pleasant to listen to. Just imagine how an ECG machine works: a flat line indicates a flat and lifeless monotone voice.
Tip: A voice that rises and falls is an indication that you are full of energy and passion for what you are talking about!
6. Use stress (without getting stressed)
It is important so check which syllable is stressed in any long words.
Tip: Practise saying all multi-syllable words and make sure the correct syllable is slightly louder or longer than the rest of the word. The same applies to the words you think are the most important in each sentence. These key words should be spoken with extra emphasis.
7. Remember it’s a speech, not an essay
Compared to an essay, a speech is more personal and less formal, so your language choices should be different.
Tip: Simpler structures are okay and so is personal language. After all, you wouldn’t start an essay by telling the reader what your name is. You’ll also use more signposting language when you are speaking to indicate the different parts of your presentation.
8. Engage your audience
It will give your confidence a boost and help your audience to pay attention if you can make a connection with them.
Tip: Introduce yourself in a friendly manner, thank everyone for being there and let them know what you are going to talk about. Don’t forget to let them know that they can ask questions at the end of your presentation and thank everyone for listening when you finish.
9. Empower your partner
If you are presenting with a partner, remember that you should both introduce yourselves at the start.
Tip: Consider being active and attentive by controlling your partner’s slides so that they can concentrate on speaking. Partner A can gesture towards Partner B and use signalling language for a smooth transition: “Okay, I’m now going to hand you over to my partner who is going to tell you about….”
10. Remember to smile and breathe
You don’t need to force a smile the whole time, especially if you’re taking about something serious such as global warming, but a smile at the start and the end will work wonders.
If you’re nervous about presenting, it can be tempting to race to the end as fast as you can.
Tip: A slower pace and pauses allow you to breathe properly and speak more clearly. Don’t forget that the faster you talk, the more English language sentences you have to say in the time you are given!
Check out the RMIT Learning Lab to get more advice about presenting.