Guidelines for Oral Presentations
Part I: These
guidelines are intended to help you prepare effective, listener-centered
Part II. These guidelines
tell you how to make each person feel that you have come for the express
purpose of saying
Define your objectives. As when writing, describe the purpose and
audience of your talk. Also learn what's expected of you, especially concerning
the length of your talk. Finally, consider the scene of your presentation
including the audience size, room size, seating arrangement, and availability
of visual equipment.
Select the form of oral delivery best suited to your purpose and audience.
The scripted talk requires much preparation and may sound stiff and unnatural,
but it provides precision and protection against forgetting. The outlined
talk is natural sounding and quick to prepare, but can be imprecise. The
impromptu talk is best reserved for presentations on subjects you have
given talks about several times before.
Integrate visual aids into your presentation. By using visual aids,
you can help your audience follow the organization of your talk. Visual
aids can also help you attract and hold your audience's attention, emphasize
your key points, and explain your material.
Select the visual medium best suited to your purpose, audience, and
situation. When thinking about which medium to use, consider such things
as the size of your audience and room, the time you have to prepare, the
desirability of preparing in advance, the flexibility you want the visuals
to have, the availability of necessary equipment, and cost.
In your presentation, talk with your listeners. When preparing your
talk, imagine your listener's moment-by-moment reactions to what you are
saying -- and respond to those reactions. Also, build rapport by using
"you" or "your" in the first sentence, using a conversational style, sticking
to points that are clearly relevant to your audience, discussing the implications
of your main points, and being very clear.
Strongly emphasize your main points. Your main points are what your
audience most wants to hear; by emphasizing those points you ensure that
your listeners get what they want. Also, your main points are what you
most want your audience to take away from your talk; emphasizing those
points increases the chances that your listeners will notice and remember
Make the structure of your talk evident. Forecast your organization.
At places where you shift topics, announce the shift, pause, change visuals,
or move from one spot to another. By taking these measures to help your
listeners organize your points in their own minds, you increase the likelihood
that they will understand and remember your presentation.
Prepare for interruptions and questions. At work, question periods
and even interruptions are normal parts of oral presentations. Prepare
for them by predicting what questions your listeners are likely to ask
and by planning your answers.
Rehearse. You can gain the full benefit from your rehearsal by practicing
in front of other people, using your visuals, and timing your talk so you
can be sure that you will not talk past your time limit. When rehearsing,
pay special attention to working out your delivery of key points.
to him or her and make your presentation effective in other ways as well.
Arrange your stage so you and your visual aids are the focus of attention.
Make sure that your visual aids are clearly visible t all members of our
audience, but take care that the visuals do not dwarf or hide you. Become
familiar with the location in which you will speak, and arrange for necessary
equipment ahead of time.
Look at your audience. By doing so, you let your listeners know
that you are interested in them, and you subtly encourage them to pay attention
to you. Also, you are more likely to become aware of your audience's reactions
to your talk and you can adjust your remarks accordingly, thereby increasing
the effectiveness of your presentation.
Speak in a natural manner, using your voice to clarify your message.
Use your voice in the ways you do when conversing with a friend. Alter
the pace, rhythm, and volume of your talk to make your points clearly and
Exhibit enthusiasm and interest in your subject matter. Feelings
are contagious. Use your facial expressions and a natural speaking style
to convey your enthusiasm for your subject.
Display each of your visual aids only when it supports your words.
You distract your audience when you talk about one part of your subject
but show a visual aid about another part. Don't show your visual aids to
soon. Don't leave them up too long.
Make purposeful movements, but otherwise stand still. To make your
message and feelings clear, use the sort of body motions that you use in
ordinary conversation. Avoid nervous movements such as pacing, rocking
Respond courteously to interruptions, questions, and comments. Strive
to maintain your good relationship with your listeners. Remember that the
points your listeners raise are important to them, even if you don't see
why. After an interruption, remind your listeners where you are in the
overall structure of your talk.
Learn to accept and work with your nervousness. Don't compound your
nervousness by worrying about it. Instead, learn to recognize and control
the undesirable mannerisms that nervousness sometimes causes.
Are you shy? Tips for building the
confidence of shy persons.
P.V. Technical Writing. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987.