How to get started with presentations

Knowing your audience

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The audience is the most important part of any presentation. Presentations are all about communication: you have something you want to say, and you want people to listen. Without an audience, there is no presentation!

To deliver a great presentation, you'll need to think very carefully about your audience, what it is they'll want to hear and how they'll want to hear it.

Before you plan your presentation, you'll need to think about the following things:

The answers to these questions will guide both the style and format of your presentation; for example, no 'mother-in-law' jokes at a job interview.

If you're presenting at university, your audience will be probably be made up of your colleagues and tutors. This is a 'captive audience' that has probably been forced to listen to your presentation because seminars/tutorials are compulsory (your colleagues), or they're paid to do it (your tutors). This is not an excuse to think you don't have to be engaging: it's your job to make your message memorable and entertaining!

We've come up with some 'top tips' that should help you keep your audience engaged:

Finally, remember the audience is your friend: most people dread presenting, and they'll be sympathetic if you're a bit nervous. They want you to succeed, and will forgive much more than you think.

Activity: knowing your audience - 5 minutes

1. Put yourself in your audience's shoes. What kind of presentation would you like to watch?

2. Make a list of your 'ingredients' for a dream presentation. Try to come up with at least 5 things that you think would make for a really entertaining and memorable presentation.

3. It might help to think about a presentation you've enjoyed. What made this presentation stand out from the crowd?

4. Keep a copy of these notes to use for inspiration when you start to create your presentation.

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