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How to create a presentation

The actual presenting

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The purpose of any presentation is to communicate information to an audience. It's very tempting to try to cram in everything you know about your topic, but if you overwhelm your audience with facts they'll end up taking nothing in. When deciding what to say to your audience, it can be useful to think in terms of the 'rule of three' which states that audiences can take in a maximum of three main points.

If you have not done so already, it will be useful for you to complete the 'Considering Content' page of this topic before you start this activity.

Activity: Composing what you will say during your presentation - 30 minutes

1. Think carefully about the three main points you want to communicate to your audience and write each point on a separate piece of paper.

2. Under each point, write two or three things that you want to say about each of these main points.

3. In your notes, and out loud, begin to build up your presentation around these points. It will be helpful to refer to the outline of content you wrote during the 'writing content' activity.

4. As you are doing this, you may need to tweak your visual aids into a final version. This process is important as it helps you to know that your presentation will definitely convey the messages you want your audience to understand.

Memory prompts

This is a tricky area! Some people feel more comforted by having notes to hand but there's always the temptation to read from them. A better idea is to use your visual aids as prompts. If you use this method of memory prompts, you will only have to remember approximately one minute of talking, then when you get to the next slide, you will have the memory prompt to help you remember the next minute of speech.

Activity: Remembering what to say during your presentation - 20 minutes

1. Work through each visual aid or slide in turn, and decide where exactly it fits into your presentation.

2. Practice what you will say when this visual aid is shown.

3. When you are confident with your first visual aid, you can move on to the next one, building up to the entire presentation.

Remember: you must not read directly from your slides!

Good presenters interact with their audience. To do this they talk to their audience rather than read to them. The following activity will help you to understand the difference between talking and reading.

Activity: Talking not reading! - 5 minutes

1. Choose a passage of text that's roughly 100 words long. (this can be anything at all)

2. Read this passage aloud and then think about the following:

  • could you have made eye-contact with an audience?
  • do you notice the difference between formal written and more informal spoken English?
  • is it possible to project your voice well while looking down at a page?
  • can you see that reading isn't the same as speaking?

Recommended Further Reading

Well done, you should now know what you will talk about during your presentation. In the next section, 'Good communication skills', we will look at how to make your presentation smooth and understandable by focusing on both verbal and non-verbal communication.

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