Table of contents page
1. Presentation: an explanation 3
1.1 The preparation 3
1.2 The construction 5
1.3 The presentation 8
1.3.1 Body language 8
1.3.2 The voice 9
1.3.3 The situation 10
1.4 Handling questions 10
1.5 Handling stress 11
2. Checklist 13
In the series of readers concerning general professional skills this document deals
with Presentation. From among the various basic forms of communication we will
treat group oriented presentation.
Presentation can be compared with music making. Everything starts with an idea:
the inspiration. This must be worked out into a 'composition'. This in turn is
brought to sound, the music. Finally the musicians must learn to control their stage
fright with the help of stress-handling.
The steps to be passed through to reach the skill of presentation are:
- stress handling
- handling questions and frictions
When the person has learned to handle these skills, the public is ensured of a
good presentation and irritations will be reduced to an absolute minimum. This is
for the future job handling an important job skill.
Drs. M.G. Altena
Drs W.G. Bekkering
Ir. J.J. van Veldhuizen
Translation: K.M.L. Slot-Lim
Revised version: Brian Thompson 2009
General: The person can prepare, construe and implement a presentation.
Objectives concerning knowledge
* knows the attention points regarding preparation of a presentation
* knows the elements composing a presentation
* knows the attention points of importance when implementing a presentation
* knows the techniques required to handle stress, frictions and questions from the
Objectives concerning skills
* can prepare himself on a presentation with the help of the "6 W's".
* can construe a presentation with the help of the model: 'Head - Body - Tail'.
* can give structure to the presentation.
* uses several non-verbal means (for example body language) to make his presenta-
tion expressive and attractive.
* handles questions and objections from the public in a respectful and effective way.
* is capable to handle stress effectively, by for instance making good use of the tips
dealt with in this reader.
* can support the presentation by significantly making use of aids such as board,
overhead projector and illustrations.
1. PRESENTATION , an explanation2
Presentation is a more or less one-sided form of communication, used with certain aim to
communicate with a public. There is talk of a narrator, a story, an objective, listeners and an
environment where the presentation takes place. All these elements influence each other
and the effect of the presentation.
Many people are confronted eventually with presentations. That can be in connection with a
position in an organization. But also in informal situations it may regularly occur that one has
to present some subject. The objective of a presentation may be: inform others, convince
others, motivate, or sometimes, touch other persons emotionally with an official speech or a
commemoration speech. Each objective has its own style and approach.
The effect of a presentation depends on the quality of the presentation as far as form,
contents and approach are concerned. Next to this the effect is determined by the measure
of acceptation the speaker realizes among his public.
A complicating factor is that presentation is largely one-way traffic. This means that speaker
takes care of the whole process of communication. He is responsible for good contents of
the story, the relation with the public and he must convince. Even the reactions of the
listeners must be foreseen by the speaker.
All this requires a lot of preparation and fluency.
In this reader attention points are provided, which may serve to support the preparation and
performance of presentations.
The following subjects will be dealt with:
- the preparation
- the set up / construction
- the presentation
- handle questions
- handle stress
These are also the most important proficiencies for starting speakers. Each subject
mentioned will be accompanied by attention points, which when properly used, will enhance
the efficiency and attractiveness of the presentation.
1.1 The preparation21
There are two central activities in the phase of preparation:
a. the analysis of the situation
b. collection and selection of materials
a. The situation-analysis
The wise advice "Look before you leap" applies certainly for presentation. Without proper
preparation one may encounter unexpected surprises or the presentation may be met with
little acceptation. A careful situation-analysis is necessary in the preparatory phase. Such an
analysis aims at the possibility that one can base the presentation on facts. An analyses of
the situation also may contribute to proper imaging of the public, the expected sphere and
A situation-analysis can be made by looking at the presentation which must be prepared,
from various angles of incidence and ask several clear questions. These angles of incidence
are based on the six w short one word questions : why, what, where, when, by whom, which
way. These 6 W's are detailed hereafter:
* WHAT / THE SUBJECT
- What will be the subject/ theme ?
- Title ?
- How specific is the question / how much latitude?
* WHY / THE OBJECTIVE
- Do I want to inform / convince / call up emotionality ?
- What does the employer want ?
* WHO / THE PUBLIC
- What is the age / composition of the group / experience / expertness / status /
culture of the listeners ?
- Why do they come / motives / interest / expectations ?
- What do they know already of the subject ?
* WHO / THE SPEAKER
- Did I enter myself sufficiently into my subject?
- What is my image among the public ?
- If there is freedom of choice: who is the right person as far as expertness /
enthusiasm / interest / motivation are concerned ?
* WHERE, WHEN / THE SITUATION
- What is the size of the room, atmosphere, facilities such as micro-phone,
overhead projector ?
- What is the best timing for a presentation?
- Does the presentation form part of a larger entirety ? If so, is there mutual
tuning in ?
The answers to above questions bring us automatically to the next question and indicate the
direction where to look for an answer.
* HOW / METHOD
- which style / sphere / approach do I choose on the basis of above questions ?
This analysis must result in a choice: about what, with which aim and with which method, I
am going to speak for which public. This description can be written on paper in a pointedly
formulated crux or target sentence with comments. This is the 'contract' and at the same
time the starting-point for a real preparation. A good speaker can indicate in a few words
what the essence of his message is.
b. Collection and selection of materials
On the basis of the situation analysis and the written down starting-points we can now pass
into collection of material for presentation. Decisive is here if it is possible to produce an
One starts with a "brainstorm" around the subject. All sorts of points, associations, ideas
and possible illustrations related to the theme are noted. Spontaneous brain waves must be
considered. Only is a later phase, a review of all written down ideas will indicate which ones
will be used.
In addition literature can be used in this "brain-storm phase". From books, journals, reports
and possibly from a cuttings archive, information about the theme of the presentation is
gathered. It is important to make notes of it. The later selection of information is made easier
because of the notes.
Selection takes place on the basis of such questions: What is really relevant, current,
interesting and convincing for the public. The own knowledge plays an important role in
selection: in which field does speaker have expertness ? A key ratio for new and known
material is 70 % known, 30 % new. This ratio influences selection of collected information.
Attention points during preparation phase:
* The situation analysis: who, what, where, when, why
* Choice for what, why and how / method
* Material collection and selection
1.2 The construction22
After the preparation phase presentation can be built up. This may be compared with
composing a piece of music or composing a dinner: what will be the first course, what the
main course, and what will be selected as dessert ?
The basis ideas from the preparatory phase must be expanded into a coherent entity. An
expedient to provide a presentation with good form, is the so-called Head / Body / Tail -
model. Characteristic of this model is, that it dissects a presentation in three parts.
The Head is the first step in the presentation, beginning with the greeting ritual: 'the
approach lane'. The speaker introduces himself and the subject of the presentation and
eventually the objective. Also required indications are given concerning procedures, for
instance about the way the public may ask questions.
A brief summary is given concerning "what is going to be said". This step must motivate the
public. The public must be won over for the presentation, speaker looks for contact with the
public. The listeners get a first impression of the speaker, and as a well known saying says:
the first blow is half the battle. The "head" is very important and determines further setting,
but this first blow should not be too heavy. One does not serve pea-soup as first course !
Preferably one starts with attracting attention. Possibilities are:
- a quotation
- a tale / anecdote
- frank observation
- a (awkward) question / challenge
- a joke / stimulate remark
- a snappy opening sentence
These suggestions should not lead to forced behavior. The starter must fit the speaker and
his subject ! A wrong starter overshoots the mark, that is making contact with the listeners.
* Make contact and create togetherness.
* Choose a suitable opener drawing attention.
* Introduce the subject.
* Motivate the public.
* Summarize the desired course of events.
In this part of the presentation the objective must be realized. The speaker informs, tried to
convince, argues or tries to touch his listeners emotionally. The collected materials regarding
the subject are now presented.
It is of course of importance that the information is presented in a logical well structured way.
This part of the presentation can be structured by for instance:
* Ordering the subject in (sub)theme's.
* Select the phases of the problem-solving reader as model.
* Use a question-answer model.
* Treat a theme using pros and cons.
Of course no structure is compulsory. It is however a foothold for speaker and public when a
selected line is consequently followed. Roughly speaking it means that in almost all selected
structures on an average four or five main points are dealt with, next to a image forming
introduction and a concrete situation description or thesis. Each main point can then be
split up in two or three parts.
This line forms the base structure of the body of the presentation. With the help of between
times summaries and transition of connecting sentences can speaker present the line of
the story. That is a support for the listeners, who - as is shown in practice - can not
unceasing listen in full concentration and therefore must get the chance to pick up the line of
A few examples of connecting and summarizing sentences: "so far my sketch of the
problem; I do want now to pass on to ..." / "My third argument is ...." "To say it with other
The main lines and sub-points can be verbally illustrated with examples, a joke or an
anecdote. How this is done depends of course on the nature of the presentation but also on
the type of public. What makes them enthusiast, fettered or convinced? What we are talking
about now is to enlarge the attraction factor of the presentation: the dressing.
Also illustrations are important. They support the alternation in a story and pull back the
attention. One may consider the use of transparencies, showing objects and the use of
image and sound tapes like dia-positives, video, film and sound tape. Also here the selection
is determined by earlier made situation analysis. An important attention point: the speaker
must know how to handle the machines !
* Choose a logical structure
* Make a main line of 4 - 5 points
* Formulate summaries and change-overs
* Select verbal and visual illustrations
* Put the presentation points on 1 A4 (including Head and Tail)
In the tail end, the presentation is rounded off. The story is summarized and the objective is
once more repeated. A last appeal, a conclusion or a moral is formulated. It is of importance
to know that from a presentation Head and Tail are best remembered.
Depending on the type of presentation opportunity is given for questions or reactions.
When questioning timing is over, the last comer of the presentation in the form of a
appealing final sentence, a question or a conclusion. Also it is possible to repeat the starting
entry. In any event the final sentence is of great importance and therefore requires special
* Give a clear summary or conclusion.
* Give opportunity for questioning.
* Summarize the discussion and the conclusion.
* Finalize in a positive atmosphere.
* Take care of a final phrase.
1.3 The presentation23
After all the preparation it is time to pay attention to the performance of the presentation. A
well structured story has been prepared and now the question is: how to bring it ? On this
point all sorts of things can be written, but the execution remains a personal matter. Like with
music every performance will sound differently.
Speaker must be conscious about a number of questions. From research it has been proved
that in communication only a small part is determined by the actual contents (+/- 7%). More
important are the non-verbal signals (55%) and the use of the voice (38%). Therefore
concerning the non-verbal aspect of the presentation there are many indications which may
be of importance to everyone. The most important will follow here.
1.3.1 Body language231
Who presents a subject radiates something by his posture: interest, dominance, fear etc.
The following indications concerning body attitude may influence the presentation positively
and can be important in stress handling:
- See to it that the posture is upright but relaxed.
- Put body and feet in the direction of the listeners.
- put feet about ten centimeters from each other.
- Keep the pelvis toppled over a little and the knees somewhat bent.
- Keep arms relaxed to the side of the body, hands joined at belly-button height.
From this base attitude one may freely move during the presentation. It is always good to
move, it keeps the attention! However, one always returns to the base attitude.
The hands / gestures
Hands speak volumes. They attract or distract attention from the story. The latter occurs
when a lot of hand rubbing is done, tampers with some object, or plays with some object in
the hands. This must be avoided. It is also better not to keep the arms folded, or to keep the
hands on the back or in the pockets. One fixes one-self and is less capable to underline the
presentation with gestures.
The eye contact
Eye contact is very important. Therefore, during a presentation, look regularly at the people
in the auditorium, divide if need be the auditorium in "look areas". To ensure eye contact,
speaker must be free from his paper: no reading out is allowed. The presentation must not
be completely written on paper, but only in key words ! That may require practice, but is
worth the effort. By keeping eye contact, one notices the reactions of the people and may
react to them.
The facial expression
The facial expression of the speaker must fit in with his words. Mimic, that is to say the
movement of the eyes, eyebrows and mouth, support a presentation. Mimic often says more
than words. The smile of the speaker encourages a positive and relaxation.
The radiation of a speaker is also determined by the way she dresses. The style and care of
clothing and the care of the outward appearance leave behind an impression at the public.
Speaker must be aware of this. The "radiation" must fit in with the story. Also colors create a
positive atmosphere and meaning.
1.3.2 The voice232
Research has shown that the voice has an overwhelming influence on the transfer and
conviction of the story: more than 1/3 of the impression of a presentation left behind is
determined by the voice. Everyone who has to take care of a presentation must know his
strong and weak points in using his voice. Attention points are intonation, volume, tempo
The term intonation refers to the melodious side of the voice, its sound and color. Intonation
is one of the most powerful means to create variation and emotion in a story. If one does not
consciously follow how far one knows to play with intonation, it may lead to a flat, dull and
The volume is for several reasons of importance. In any case a speaker must be audible for
everyone without raising his voice. Therefore a sound installation is in fact no superfluous
luxury. It is of importance, before the presentation takes place to practice with the use of a
The speaker can play with his voice volume, by speaking louder and softer building up
suspense and impression.
With the aid of tempo speaker may create calm and relaxation. In any case speaker should
not say more than 150 words per minute. This is slower than the tempo of a dialogue.
With articulation we mean that words and syllables are pronounced complete and with the
proper stress. Clearness and audibility are most important. Beforehand exercise of the
pronunciation of difficult words is useful.
Finally: speakers must be well aware, that breathing, bearing and relaxation contribute to
proper use of the voice.
1.3.3 The situation
A proper presentation also requires organizational preparation. A speaker must also check
whether the required means are available and in working order. It must be known how the
arrangement in the room is, how the light works, if there is sound equipment and how it is
operated. it may also be wise to agree where the speaker will sit before and after the
* How is the presentation enlivened ?
* How is the use of the voice ?
* Does the total presentation a properly prepared and well cared impression ?
1.4 Handling questions and resistance0240
Questions are a sign that people have been set to think. Obviously some points are not clear
yet, people have not been convinced or there are still problems regarding a proposed
solution. That is why question time is of essential importance the reach the fine aim of the
presentation. It provides the speaker with a chance to elucidate matters, it offers an image of
what lives among the listeners and a possibility to remove the last resistances.
The chance to ask questions or pose own suggestions is highly valued among listeners
provide that speaker takes these questions seriously.
Tips in handling resistances:
Listen carefully to the question. Very often speaker repeats the question in order to check
whether he understood the question properly and to make the question clear for the public.
Repetition of the question also provides extra time for reflection.
Stay always friendly when objections are voiced. Take the questioner serious and deal
with him or her in a correct manner. Never ridicule some one. Always show appreciation for
those who make remarks or ask questions.
Never go into discussion. A speaker can notice a difference in opinion and once more
clarify his own point of view. But that must be all, at least during the question time.
When answering a question speaker must direct himself to the entire audience; if not
everyone drops out except the questioner.
If a speaker does not know an answer on a question, he does wise to admit it. It is
senseless concoct an answer. A constructive solution is to refer the questioner to another
source of information.
Answering questions provides a good opportunity to express once again, in other terms
your own objectives or to underline them.
A speaker may, to encourage the public, him self pose a question related to the theme.
It is of importance that speaker remains the leader. Questions and remarks which show
resistance must not lead to discussions between listeners. If a real problem evolves, it is
better to offer discussion after the formal meeting is over. Watch the time and indicate how
much time is left over and how many questions from a given moment still can be asked.
1.5 Handling stress25
At the end we deal with stress, one of the largest stumbling-blocks. Some people are very
afraid of a group. Afraid to be seen or to fail. Stress related to presentations is normal. But
stress should not lead to domination of the presentation by such symptoms like perspiration,
a red color and a quivering voice. A speaker must learn, to control stress. There are
methods for such control before or during the presentation.
1. Proper preparation is half the job. Speakers who did everything what could be
done, feel sure.
2. "Positive fretting". This is a form of mental training: fantasize about the success of
the presentation instead of being worried about its possible failure. It is significant to
create a positive idea about how you stand relaxed in front of the group, how you get
the audience laughing and how to improvise if something may go wrong.
Comparable to this: muster courage by speaking loud to yourself as though you are
your own coach.
3. Relaxation exercises. For instance respiration exercises (belly respiration),
relaxation of cramped parts of the body such as neck, arms and legs. This can be
done while seated, by first straining followed by release. But a small walk also helps.
Alcohol, coffee, smoking and medicines are very bad. They lower awareness levels and
often strengthen tension. Sleep during the night before the great presentation is the best
1. To care for a good body attitude. This means: upright, let go strain and now and
then move. This can be practiced at home.
2. Make contact with the public. Especially during the head of the presentation there
is ample possibility. Make eye contact. When speaker has the feeling that he has
caught the attention of the public this will work miracles. A question during opening
also can create the feeling of relationship.
3. Create a frank atmosphere. Dare to be open about feelings. If something goes
wrong, which the public can notice, speaker can make a little joke about it and show
that he can have a weak moment without losing power.
SUMMARY : WHAT IS PRESENTATION ?
* TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR STORY
* TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR PUBLIC
* TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF
CHECKLIST PRESENTATION Good Sufficient Insuff.
R 1. The situation-analysis. . . .
E 2. Material selection. . . .
P 3. Clear goal of the presentation. . . .
A 4. Organization / preparation. . . .
5. Head/Body/Tail structure. . . .
C 6. Attractive ‘starter’. . . .
O 7. ‘Motivator’. . . .
N 8. A ‘we’ style. . . .
S 9. Logical structure of the body.
T 10. Transitions and connecting sentences. . . .
R 11. Vivid style . . .
U 12. Relevant stories and visual illustrations. . . .
C 13. Summary and conclusion. . . .
T 14. A catchy final phrase. . . .
. . .
P 15. Posture: upright & vivid . . .
R 16. Use of hands. . . .
E 17. Eye contact. . . .
S 18. Facial expression (friendly, smile, expressive) . . .
E 19. Properly dressed. . . .
N 20. Voice (volume / comprehensive) . . .
T 21. Uses rhythm, articulation and sound. . . .
A 22. Creates impact. . . .
T 23. Use of audio and visual aids . . . .
R 24. Contact with the public / creates a 'we' atmosphere. . . .
E 25. Respect and empathy of the speaker for the public. . . .
L 26. Gives a chance to ask questions. . . .
A 27. Listens carefully and assesses understanding. . . .
T 28. Answers positive, friendly and with respect. . . .
I 29. Relaxed . . .
O 30. Reformulates his own position. . . .
N 31. Summary and catchy final phrase. . . .
Was it a good presentation? . . .