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How to create a presentation

Good communication skills

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Your voice is your most important presentation aid; this is why it is worth working on improving your verbal communication. A good presenter speaks clearly and slowly, and communicates their enthusiasm and interest through their delivery style. Some students concentrate on creating great slides and don't give much thought to actual delivery of their talk, but this is the bit the audience care about. It's not just what you say, it's how you say it!

Activity: Develop your verbal communication skills - 20 minutes

1. Acquire/beg/borrow an audio recording device. Most mobile phones and computers now have voice recording facilities.

2. Record yourself delivering the first slide in your presentation.

3. Play the recording back while looking at your slide.

4. Ask yourself:

  • Did I talk too quickly?
  • Did I mumble or were my words clear?
  • Did I say what I wanted to say?

5. You can repeat this activity as many times as you need to.

Our body language is an important communication tool. So much of what we communicate is delivered non-verbally. An audience will readily warm to a speaker who smiles, uses lots of eye contact and appears enthusiastic. Hiding behind a lectern and looking fed-up is guaranteed to leave your audience feeling uninvolved and bored. If you don't seem excited and interested in what you have to say, why should they be?

Appearance can be considered a form of non-verbal communication. To avoid feeling self-conscious, you should dress comfortably and appropriately. Try to avoid being too casually dressed, even for a university presentation; you'll have more authority if you look the part.

Activity: Non-verbal communication - 20 minutes

1. Stand in front of a mirror and deliver the first slide/visual aid of your presentation orally.

2. Watch yourself as you speak. Do you:

  • look confident?
  • feel confident?
  • fidget?
  • stand up straight?
  • look at your audience?
  • smile?

3. If you feel self-conscious, practise until you feel and look both comfortable and confident.

Recommended Further Reading

Great, almost everything is in place for your presentation, all you need to do now is...practice!

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