Oral presentations


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A fear of public speaking and lack of preparation often hinder students from giving an effective oral presentation. This workshop covers the process of preparing a presentation, including invention (or thinking of what to say), organization, incorporation of visual aids, practice, and delivery. We will spend time going over tips for creating effective slides, and we suggest ways to control voice and movement while presenting. The students will be able to critique sample slides during the workshop, and they will receive handouts for further reference.

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  • Howdy. My name is __________, and I work at the University Writing Center. We are available to all TAMU students to help with any writing project. You can find out more about us by asking me, or by visiting our Web site at writingcenter.tamu.edu.

    [If you have time, talk about the hours and locations of the UWC]
  • How many of you look forward to giving a speech? Anyone here enjoy it?Jerry Seinfeld said “According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”Today I am here to share what I have learned through experience and through working at the writing center about how to survive the process of giving a speech. (Add personal experience or humor if you want—this is the attention getter!)I will cover the basics of the oral presentation: invention (or thinking about what to say), organization, incorporation of visual aids, delivery, and the importance of practice. If there is one thing I want you to remember today, it’s that speeches must be prepared and practiced.
  • Once you know the purpose and audience, thinking up what to say is easier. Let’s say I am delivering a college commencement address. What is my central message? I want to inspire the graduates and celebrate their achievements, so my message should convey that. Maybe, for example, my message will be to always remember they have a responsibility to better the world. That is my central idea or thesis, and I am trying to persuade them to accept it, so I will need to develop that idea with reasons or evidence. I may tell a story, provide facts, use logic (for example, if you do this, the consequence will be that), or even use quotes or ideas from people they would respect.As I develop the main idea, I should make sure I appeal to the audience’s sense of logic—what would make sense to them? Facts and statistics are often appealing, for example. If appropriate, I can appeal to their emotions—you might use humor, for example, or tell a moving story. Watch out, though, that the appeal to emotions matches the occasion and audience.If possible, establish your credentials —why should they listen to you? Maybe you have personal experience or you have read up on the topic. If you were asked to speak, you probably have some expertise.
  • The key to a good public presentation is to think of it as a story. For example, if you’re presenting about research you’ve done, then the public presentation is the story you want to tell about this cool thing you figured out. The three main parts of a presentation are the… IntroductionBody (your main points that support the argument)Conclusion. The purpose of the introduction: get the audience’s attention, share your thesis, and preview the organizational structure for the rest of the presentation. Although you want to get the audience’s attention on your speech, it needs to be relevant. Something exciting or shocking can certainly focus the audience on you, but if it doesn’t have anything to do with your speech, then your audience will not be focused on your presentation. No gimmicks.The body is where you build your argument. Remember to cite the material you use in the speech clearly. Phrases like “according to…” or “in a study by…” are simple ways to convey a citation.The conclusion: review your main points and offer a lasting final statement–something the audience can take with them. Between each of these elements are transitions:They connect all of the different parts of the presentation together and help the audience understand how the different parts fit together as an argument. They help the audience follow the structure.The preview, transitions, and review all help to ensure the audience can follow your argument.
  • Just a few basics of slide design:Font size and style – Choose a font that is readable and simple. Color – Text should be in bold, easy-to-read colors, like reds or black. Greens and blues can be hard to see sometimes, so choose wisely. Yellows and oranges should be avoided as well as any colors that look neon. Essentially, you want the font color to provide a good contrast with the background. Layout – Avoid too much white space. At the same time do not have so much information on a slide that it looks like a wall of text. The key to a good layout is finding a good balance between text and white space. Content –The slides are not the presentation; they supplement it. Slides are a great way to convey key concepts and information that may be difficult to understand. For example, most people need to see statistical information in order to process it.Themes – Make sure the theme of the slide matches the content of the presentation. For example, a presentation about cancer should not have beach themed slides. Simple background themes highlight the material instead of interfering with the presentation.Effects – Do not go overboard. Too many effects make it difficult for you as you present the material. Audiences can get caught up in the fade in/fade out of the material and miss the important information. Effects should enhance the argument you are making, not interfere with it.Include citations on your slides. If you cite material (visual or information) on your slides. You don’t have to cite that material verbally in your presentation. The video clip is about 4.5 minutes, so plan ahead if you have enough time for it.
  • Here are some key elements of design to keep in mind when you start working on a PowerPoint. White space may be the most important aspect of your presentation. It allows for readers to “breathe” between elements of your slide, which makes it easier to read. Too much white spacemakes a presentation look boring and empty and lessens the impact. Too little white space can make a presentation seem busy or off-balanced.You can impact white space by considering elements like proximity—how closely you group items together—or alignment—how well you line up texts or graphics. Grouping related items together and lining up columns and images will make your presentation easier to read and comprehend.Contrast--Presents opposite elements (e.g. black text on white background)Emphasis--Arranges texts and pictures to draw attention; uses boldface, italics, and underlining to emphasize text Harmony--Achieves consistency in a single slide and throughout the presentation, for example through a common color, font, or imagery family
  • Symmetrical layouts have a clearly balanced visual structure and tend to look static.
  • Asymmetrical layouts suggest movement across the page. They can be more visually interesting, but they may also become distracting if elements are not balanced. (Notice how in this slide, it’s hard for the eye to pick just one cat or piece of text to look at.)
  • So what are some key aspects of an effective slide presentation?Ideally, your slides should be memorable, professional, clear, and easy to read.
  • Despite the advantages of slides, there are also many common pitfalls. Slides should not distract the audience. Oftentimes, slides are filled with too much sound, animation, or imagery for the audience to concentrate on the speaker. Remember that you are the presentation!Slides should not tempt you to read from them. A good presenter knows the material and does not rely on the slides to convey it. You should be able to give your entire presentation without the slides. (This is an especially good practice in case something goes wrong and your slides don’t work.)Slides should not limit your ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. If you rely too heavily on your pre-made PowerPoint presentation, you may not be prepared to skip forward or back in your lecture, or you may get too flustered when something comes up (a computer issue, an audience question, an interruption in your speech, etc). 4. Lastly, slides should not take too much time. As much as possible, focus on perfecting your presentation.
  • Font styles: Serif fonts are considered easier to read for body text; sans serif fonts are often used for headings. When in doubt, Times New Roman tends to be the standard. Standard fonts are helpful because they transfer well from one computer or printer to another. Animation can be a good way to get and hold attention, but be careful not to be distracting with animation sounds or flashing/zooming/etc. Animations are a quick way to make your presentation look unprofessional.
  • Slides are like billboards—people typically look at them only for a second and then look away. Use only the bare minimum amount of text necessary so your reader actually reads and remembers the slide. You should use proper punctuation with complete sentences on slides, and remember to keep items in your lists parallel (see examples). Parallel structure is crucial, and many people don’t get it. Every bulleted item should be parallel: all sentences (like this slide), all verbs, all participles (-ing words).For example:The following are advantages of slides:Attract and maintain audience interestEmphasize your main pointsMake handouts easily availableSlides can be advantageous byAttracting and maintaining audience interestEmphasizing your main pointsMaking handouts easily availableOrdered lists (numbers) are best for a process in which steps are ordered or foranything in which you want to emphasize order or hierarchy as important.
  • Here are two more ways to emphasize text. Color Variation: choose different colors for headings or subheadings (note how in this presentation, titles, headings, and key words are maroon while body text is black) Highlighting: boldface, underline, italics, font size. Avoid using all three forms of highlighting at once or it will look unprofessional.
  • Now we’re going to show you how you can use visual aids to enhance your oral presentation.
  • Besides text, visuals are a key component of an effective presentation. Remember that visuals should be relevant and helpful. You’ll never want to add a visual just for the sake of adding a visual. Instead use them strategically to manage white space, to add variation and interest, or to explain a concept you are discussing. This is where purpose and audience awareness are especially important. For example, a scientific presentation to experts may require more graphical data representation, whereas a general speech about a famous figure could perhaps rely more on public photos.
  • This slide shows two types of visual aids that could be used on a presentation about greeting card sales. What differences do students see in how the data is presented?Consider the difference in the focus of the data here. The table emphasizes the actual numbers while the chart gives a breakdown visually of total sales, which emphasizes the consistency but not the actual numbers.As you construct your visual aids, think about what you are asking the audience to do and understand. This will help you figure out what information you need to supplement with a visual aid. Make sure your visual aids are audience centered. Notice charts and graphs emphasize data. The pie chart emphasizes the size of the Christmas card sales and the distribution of total card sales. A picture might be more emotional. Keep in mind that slides are themselves a visual aid.
  • This slide shows two types of visual aids that could be used on a presentation about greeting card sales. The photos show a commercial and a homemade Valentine. The photo of the homemade card is clip art, so there is no source given.This type of visual aid gives an emotional appeal and something related to the text to help your audience form a picture of what you’re talking about. Again, make sure the pictures are related and have a purpose on your slide.When you are coming up with your visual aids think about engaging all five senses of your audience. For example, you might bring something for the audience to smell or touch. In the case of a presentation on cards, you might bring some sample cards or some chocolate (if you are talking about Valentine’s day). Perhaps you want to discuss whether homemade cards are competing with sales of commercially produced cards, so you could bring in samples of each type. If you want to go further and bring in sound, you could play an e-card from a website. (Example: 123 Greetings.com or hallmark. Com—set it up ahead of time so it works if you want to show them for this presentation. Or try a Youtube video like Happy Valentine's Day Card! XOXOX from PitBullSharky and his Cat. Preview them first—some can be a bit too informal.)
  • Notice how the bat on the left looks less professional than the bat on the right, since the corners are obviously showing. By moving this picture or adding a border around it, we can easily make the photo look better.
  • Watermarks are most often used with logos, but PowerPoint also allows any photo to be made into a watermark. If you choose to use a watermark, be sure to make it faded enough that the text still stands out.
  • Note on this slide how distracting and silly the first half looks. The second half shows how animations can be professional and even helpful (for example, if you are presenting a list, animation can help you present one item at a time). The key is to find a good balance and stick with animations that are professional and simple—like “appear” or “fade.”
  • Video adds a new dimension that takes attention away from the speaker. Make sure when you use it you want your audience focus on the image.[Click the kitten video to play it.]
  • Now that we’ve gone over the basics of slide design, we’re going to let you critique a few slides.
  • Font color is too bright – a different color would stand out more clearly.Too much information and it isn’t organized well.Too much wacky animation—it takers forever to get through.Title and body text are different fonts.No punctuation is used with the complete sentences. Use of bullet points might make the text easier for the audience to read.
  • Has one piece of data – highlights it clearly; notice the legend bolds the most important information and the title also points to it. However, title is small and difficult to read. Pie chart might be easier to read if it were 2D and the pieces weren’t separated.
  • Too much text.If audience members are reading your slide, they are not listening to you.Remember: your slides supplement your presentation. But they aren’t your whole presentation!
  • Now we’re going to talk about practicing and delivering the presentation. We’ll discuss the way you present your speech through your voice and through your physical expressions, stance, and gestures.
  • You can use your voice for emphasis. Breath: Need enough breath support for volume, timing and pacing, and emphasis. Have a bottle of water to help with dry mouth. Volume: You need to reach the whole audience so fill the room with your voice. You also need to leave room for emphasis and volume changes. Be careful that you don’t drop off at the end of sentences. This usually happens when you don’t have enough breath support.Pitch: find a comfortable pitch for you so that you can project to the audience and still use rises and falls. Use inflection for energy and to communication interest.Voice inflection: you might go up or down in tone to emphasize some concept, a question, or important statement.  Can you think of someone who talks in a monotone? Why is that hard to listen to?Timing: speak at a steady rate. Too fast limits the audience’s ability to follow you and your ability to enunciate. Too slow sounds boring and condescending. Rate needs to be what you are comfortable with and match the audience’s needs. Do they need to take notes, for example? If so, slow down a bit. Is the content dense or difficult? Maybe they need time to process. Will you let them ask questions as you speak? Then build in time for that.Pauses: Pauses can be a very effective tool. Remember they seem much longer for the speaker than they do for the audience. Pauses are preferable to filler words.
  • You should also be aware of how you communicate with your body during a presentation. Keep in mind that the PowerPoint is not the presentation—you are (Garr Reynolds, Presentationzen). The audience should be paying attention to you, so we’re going to show you a few ways to effectively communicate using gestures, stance, and eye contact during your presentation.
  • Gestures: should be natural. Don’t script them and watch nervous gestures.Stance: feet shoulder width apart with both feet flat on the floor. Avoid swaying, bouncing or slouching.Podium: don’t hold your notes, put them down on the podium. Don’t grip or lean on the podium. Be careful of tapping or noise on the podium; it could be amplified.
  • Use eye contact to connect with audience. Make sure you establish eye contact early, and choose different points in the room to shift your gaze toward throughout the presentation. Clothing: needs to match the circumstances of the presentation but also need to be comfortable. The way you dress can build credibility. The audience may be more likely to trust your judgment about an argument if you are dressed appropriately.
  • These images show two examples of how you can use movement effectively in a presentation. Based on your introduction, body, and conclusion, you can consider moving to different points in the room (see graphics). If you have to opportunity, you should practice in the room in which you will be presenting. This way, you can get a feel for the space you will have to move, the technology available, and how much you need to project your voice.
  • Instead of full sentences (a script), use an outline. Write a detailed full sentence outline first. Then prepare speaking notes that are shorter than the outline. If you use note cards make sure to include page numbers on the cards so if they get mixed up you can put them in order again. If you use typed notes make sure the font size is big enough for you to see them during the presentation.Make sure to time your presentation as you practice.Practice in front of people if possible. If not videotape your practice and then watch the video or practice in front of a mirror. The writing center has consultants who can watch you give a presentation and then offer feedback. Some experts say that practicing in front of a mirror does not work well, especially if you are already self-conscious.Don’t over-practice. In other words, don’t memorize the presentation. Not memorizing means you can respond better to changes in the speech. Also, if you forget things, remembering the presentation on a point-by-point basis allows you to more quickly respond if you forget things. When things are memorized, it is easy to get off track and not be able to get back into it.It’s most helpful to just be very familiar with your material.
  • If you’d like more help, go to our website or call use to make an appointment. We can help you with the invention or construction of your presentation. And you can also make an appointment to practice with a consultant.
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  • Oral presentations

    1. 1. At a loss for words? 214 Evans Library | 205 West Campus Library writingcenter.tamu.edu | 979-458-1455 1
    2. 2. Oral Presentations 2
    3. 3. Constructing the Presentation 3
    4. 4. Invention • Determine audience, purpose, occasion, genre • Select a central idea (thesis) • Develop the central idea • Decide if/how you should… – Appeal to logic – Appeal to emotions – Establish your credentials 4
    5. 5. Organization Introduction • Grabs attention • States a thesis • Gives a preview Body • Presents main points • Provides supporting material Conclusion • Restates thesis • Reviews main points • Makes a final statement 5
    6. 6. Elements of Slide Design Font Content Color Themes Layout Effects Watch Video Clip 6
    7. 7. Other Elements of Design 7 Contrast Emphasis Proximity Alignment Harmony White Space
    8. 8. Symmetrical The domestic cat, or Felis silvestris: • is a carnivore • has retractable claws • has excellent night vision 8
    9. 9. Asymmetrical The domestic cat, or Felis silvestris: • is a carnivore • has retractable claws • has excellent night vision 9
    10. 10. Effective Slides Slides should be: • Memorable • Professional • Clear • Easy to read 10
    11. 11. Slides should not… Divert attention from the speaker Tempt the speaker to read the slides instead of addressing the audience Limit the speaker’s ability to adapt to the situation Take too much time to prepare 11
    12. 12. Choosing a Font Use font styles that are easy to read. Use at least 24 font size, larger for headings or titles. Be careful with font animations. 12
    13. 13. Creating Effective Text Keep text to a minimum, and use white space wisely. Use punctuation when you use complete sentences. Keep list items parallel. • Parallel: I like swimming, running, and biking. • Non-parallel: I like swimming, to go run, and bike. 13
    14. 14. Emphasizing Text Filtering Enclose with borders Queuing Order based on level of importance Jane wanted to work on a survey and table as well as vocabulary words. Her table was clear. Heading 1 Heading 2 Heading 3 Heading 4 14
    15. 15. Color variation Choose different colors for headings or subheadings Highlighting Use boldface, underline, italics (just not all at once!) BEING OBSERVED NUMBER ONE She was turning in vocabulary words AND coordinating sentences. Jane wanted to work on a survey. 15
    16. 16. Visual Aids 16
    17. 17. Selecting Visuals Visuals should be relevant and appropriate to your audience. Types of visuals to consider: • Images • Graphs, charts, tables • Watermarks 17
    18. 18. Presenting Data Holiday # of cards sent Christmas 1.5 billion Valentine’s 141 million Mother’s 139 million Father’s 94 million Easter 60 million Halloween 23 million Thanksgiving 17 million St. Patrick’s 7 million Greeting Card Sales Source: corporate.hallmark.com/Holiday Christmas Valentine’s Mother’s Father’s Easter Halloween Thanksgiving St. Patrick’s Day 18
    19. 19. Photography and Graphics Stick with professional images or images you produce. Source: velu.itacumens.com/?tag=valentines-day-greeting 19
    20. 20. 20 Place photos to fit naturally into your layout and slide.
    21. 21. Background images should:  be subtle and unobtrusive  provide good contrast with text 21
    22. 22. Animation: Friend or Foe? Too many words on the page. Too many words on the page. 22 Too many words on a page are: • Hard to read • Confusing • Tiring • Terrible Too many, well, you get the idea…the point I’m trying to make is that your audience cannot listen to you and, at the same time, read your slide that has too many words…
    23. 23. Use of Audio or Video The domestic cat, or Felis silvestris: • is a carnivore • has retractable claws • has excellent night vision 23
    24. 24. You critique the following slides. 24
    25. 25. Teen Drivers 1 out of 3 teen deaths result of motor vehicle crash Leading cause of death for US teens is injury from motor vehicle crash Costs $14 billion for crash related injuries and deaths In 2009 eight teens a day died from motor vehicle crashes High school students rarely use seatbelts 25
    26. 26. Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among U.S. Teens, 2009-2010. Motor Vehicle Injuries - 35% Homicide - 17% All other causes - 15% Heart disease - 3% Cancer - 5% Suicide - 11% Other unintentional injuries - 14% 26
    27. 27. Pacific Island Garden Crops Taro, yams, banana, sugarcane, breadfruit, coconut, sago palm, and rice Breadfruit Graphic: http://www.96seven44.com/images/ulu _breadfruit.jpg Taro root field Graphic:news.bioversityinternational.org/nucleus/plugin s/print/print.php?itemid=1157 Sago Palm Graphic: http://www.knpr.org/dbloom/detailNEW.cfm?Feat ureID=2450 27
    28. 28. Charles Moore, The Improvement of the Park System of the District of Columbia, 1902 “When the city of Washington was planned under the direct and minute supervision of Washington and Jefferson, the relations that should subsist between the Capitol and the President’s House were closely studied. Indeed the whole city was planned with a view to the reciprocal relations that should exist among public buildings…in a word, all that goes to make a city a magnificent and consistent work of art were regarded as essentials in the plans made by L’Enfant under the direction of the first President and his Secretary of State.” 28
    29. 29. The Inca Empire • AD 1476-1532: Andean regions of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and northern Andes of Chile and Argentina • Population estimate: 6 million to 32 million people • Andean mountain chain: 5500 miles long from Venezuela to southern Chile Graphic: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Atrium/7785/Do2c91.html
    30. 30. Giving the Presentation 30
    31. 31. Communicating with Your Voice Breath Volume Pitch Inflection Timing Pauses 31
    32. 32. Communicating with Your Body “PowerPoint is not the presentation. You are the presentation.” -Garr Reynolds, Presentationzen 32
    33. 33. Communicating with Your Body Gestures • Free hands to gesture • Not nervous, just natural Stance • Stable and commanding • Use podium (if available) 33
    34. 34. Communicating with Your Body Eye Contact • Establish early • Shift focus to draw in audience Dress • Match circumstances • Build credibility 34
    35. 35. Movement and Stance Large Room Small Room 35
    36. 36. Practicing Your Presentation Limit speaking notes. Time the presentation. Videotape the presentation. Practice in front of people. Do not memorize the speech. 36
    37. 37. For More Help… Visit our website or call us to schedule an appointment. We can help you invent, construct, design, or practice for your oral presentation. 37
    38. 38. We’ll help you find the write words. U N I V E R S I T Y J X I G Z P O E N H B W D E T L Q I L R D R C K K K P P T R T I V R M X S T X J P T B C Z P B Y O U C I S K E W V J D A E N S I N N Q O G P E G I C J C T O B Y P X E G K G V E F G B S R M C E V Q R M Check us out on… 214 Evans Library | 205 West Campus Library writingcenter.tamu.edu | 979-458-1455 38