Giving Presentations: Views from the Observatory
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Giving Presentations: Views from the Observatory

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The power of appropriate and effective presentations and how you do them well!

The power of appropriate and effective presentations and how you do them well!

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  • i) Objectives Why are you giving this talk? Who will you be talking to? How much do they know about the subject already? What effect do you want your presentation to have?   ii) Limitations How long have you got? Do you have to follow a certain format? Where will you be giving your presentation? Can you change the room around to suit your preferences?   iii) Main points Decide on your main points: no more than three points in a 10-minute talk Is there a logical connection between these points? What evidence can you produce to support your points and make your case clear?   iv) Beginning Briefly introduce yourself Check that they can all see and hear you Let them know if you are going to take questions as you proceed or invite discussion at the end? You may want to give an outline of the structure of the talk, so the audience know where it is going. You'll need to gain the audience's attention, so think carefully how you will introduce your topic - for example, you could start with an anecdote, a question or some contradictory statements. v) Middle Prepare your talk so you lead the audience through your main points in a logical and interesting fashion. It helps if you plan for variety in the ways you present your case. Where they are appropriate, you could plan to use:   examples, anecdotes and case histories charts and graphs handouts (will you issue them at the start? in the middle? at the end?) slides video clips artefacts which people can pass round.   vi) End Summarise what you have said: ‘In this talk we have discussed... 'Make your conclusions: ‘It is clear that...' Plan to leave the audience a parting shot to stimulate their thoughts.   vii) And then... When you have written your presentation, look it over carefully, from the viewpoint of your intended audience.   Does it meet the objectives? Is the structure as logical as can be? Is the content right for the audience? Is it too long? Then revise the presentation.   viii) Visuals Prepare your visuals (PowerPoint slides, Overhead Projector foils, etc). Make sure they are clear, and that any text is big enough (24 points or larger).
  • i) Practise Practise giving your talk on your own:   get used to the sound of your own voice, ideally in a room of the size you will be using. check how long your talk is. when you're happy with it, try the presentation out on a friend. Visuals ii) Visuals Are your visuals effective? Practise using your visuals:   talking to the audience, not to the screen combining giving your talk with changing the slides. iii) Script Unless you are good at reading stories aloud, it is best not to read from a script - it can sound very 'wooden' and the fact that you are reading it distances you from your audience. A far better solution is to write key words, phrases and facts on index cards. Make sure that the writing is large enough to read at a glance and take care to keep the cards in sequence.   iv) Space Arrive in good time. Spend a few minutes getting familiar with the room and any audio-visual equipment you'll be using. Allow yourself time to get comfortable in the space — this is your space where you will give your talk.   v) Breathing When people are nervous, they tend to take quick, shallow breaths, which makes their voice sound weak. This makes them feel even more nervous. Here's how to overcome this, and feel more relaxed:   Breathe in slowly and deeply, concentrating on filling your tummy with air with each breath. Breathe out slowly, getting rid of as much air as you can Repeat five times.
  • i) Presence As you get up to give your presentation, make a conscious effort to stand tall, take a deep breath and look as if you're going to enjoy being there.   ii) Eye contact Make eye contact with people in your audience in a friendly way. People respond much better when they think you are talking to them. In a small room, try to make eye contact with each person in the audience; in a larger hall, make eye contact with different groups in the audience.   iii) Voice Speak slowly and clearly Speak loudly enough so everyone can hear Remember to breathe slowly and deeply   iv) Move You are allowed to move as you give your presentation, but avoid pacing up and down or fiddling with your hands, spectacles or pen. Keep your hands out of your pockets and away from your face.


  • 1. Giving Presentations Notes from the Observatory! Dr. Geoffrey A. Walker V. 5.2
  • 2. Once upon a time, information was sacred... 'The devout monk enjoys four particular benefits from writing: the time that is precious is profitably spent; his understanding is enlightened as he writes; his heart within is kindled to devotion; and after this life he is rewarded with a unique prize ' Trithemius, J. (1492) De Laude Scriptorum
  • 3. ‘an organism within the complex ecosystem of post-modern society. It has an active social life and is subject to behavioural problems. But, just as you would nurture a child, it needs love, care and attention to create an understanding of the environment in which it operates.' Walker, G. (2007) Future Witness now, information is..
  • 4. YouTube Video How NOT to use Powerpoint
  • 5. Hans uses Gapminder rosling_shows_the_best_stats _you_ve_ever_seen.html rosling_reveals_new_insights_ on_poverty.html
  • 6. The Beauty of Data Visualisation watch?v=pLqjQ55tz-U David McCandless
  • 7. Preparation + Practice = Performance Many people are nervous about talking in front of an audience, usually because they are afraid of making a mess of it. Ironically, it is uncontrolled nerves that are most likely to lead to a poor performance - so building confidence through preparation and practice is really important. Giving presentations is one of the skills that employers expect graduates to have, so you should make the most of any experience you can get. Presentation Nerves?
  • 8. Where do you give presentations? • In tutorials • As part of the assessment of projects • In activities or events • Other?
  • 9. Preparing your Presentation There are 8 components to a presentation: 1.Setting objectives 2.Knowing limitations 3.Establishing key points 4.Identify beginning 5.Identify middle 6.Identify end 7.And then...questions, comments, next? 8.Other visual aids and handouts
  • 10. Practising your Presentation Once you have prepared, you need to do 5 things before you actually give your presentation: 1.Practice 2.Visuals 3.Script 4.Space 5.Breathe
  • 11. Giving your Presentation There are 4 things to remember during your presentation: 1.Presence 2.Eye contact 3.Voice 4.Move
  • 12. General Presentation Points • Check the spelling and grammar. • Do not read the presentation. Practice the presentation so you can speak from bullet points. The text should be a cue for the presenter rather than a message for the viewer. • Give a brief overview at the start. Then present the information. Finally review important points. • It is often more effective to have bulleted points appear one at a time so the audience listens to the presenter rather than reading the screen. • If the content is complex, print out the slides so the audience can take notes. • Do not turn your back on the audience. Try to position the monitor so you can speak from it.
  • 13. Fonts • Select sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. Avoid serif fonts such as Times New Roman. • Use no font size smaller than 24 point. • Use a larger font (35-45 points) or different colour for the slide title. • Use a single sans-serif font for most of the presentation. Use different colours, sizes and styles (bold, underline) for impact. • Avoid italicised fonts as they are difficult to read quickly. • Use no more than 6-8 words per line • For bullet points, use the 6 x 6 Rule. One thought per line with no more than 6 words per line and no more than 6 lines per slide • Use dark text on light background or light text on dark background. • Do not use caps except for titles.
  • 14. Graphics & Design • Keep the background consistent and subtle. • Use only enough text when using charts or graphs to explain clearly. • Keep the design clean and uncluttered. Leave white space. • Use quality clipart and use it sparingly. The graphic should relate to and enhance the topic of the slide. • Try to use the same style of graphics throughout the presentation. • Limit the number of graphics on each slide. • Check all graphics on a projection screen before the actual presentation. • Avoid flashy graphics and noisy animation effects unless they relate directly to the slide. • Limit the number of transitions used. It is often better to use only one so the audience knows what to expect.
  • 15. Colour • Limit the number of colours on a single screen. • Bright colours make small objects and thin lines stand out. However, some vibrant colours are difficult to read when projected. • Use no more than four colours on one chart. • Check all colours on a projection screen before the actual presentation. They may project differently than what appears on the monitor.
  • 16. Using Body Language Body language is an important part of communication which can constitute 50% or more of what we are communicating. If you wish to communicate well, then it makes sense to understand how you can (and cannot) use your body to say what you mean.
  • 17. Eye contact Make eye contact with the group Act on what you see Glance around the room often
  • 18. Non Verbal Communication Keep an open posture Don’t turn your back on the audience unless necessary Keep control of the group Control those distracting mannerisms
  • 19. Using Your Voice Don’t gabble Don’t rush Vary your tone Control the group using prompts Don’t read from slides