Download our printable guide to Effective Presentations Part 1.
While you are at University you will probably be asked either individually or as a group, to make a presentation of some kind.
These can be either quite informal:
- to introduce yourself to other members of your class
- to give you experience of working and communicating as a group
Or more formal with either rules or guidance applied:
- assessed multimedia presentation using PowerPoint or similar tools
- assessed verbal presentation
- assessed poster presentation
- conference paper or poster
On this page you will find clear guidance and links to resources which will support the presentation of your ideas and findings.
Effective Presentations Part 1: Preparation [Video]
Effective Presentations Part 2: Structure [Video]
Download our printable guide to Effective Presentations Part 2.
Effective Presentations Part 3: Presenting [Video]
Download our printable guide to Effective Presentations Part 3.
Dealing with Nerves: Public Speaking
Spend plenty of time practising and preparing your presentations. The more time spent in rehearsing your presentation and getting familiar with its content the more comfortable you will feel on the day.
Take time to prepare any additional visual aids, handouts or prompt cards. Only use your prompt cards as prompts, not as a script to read from.
Also think about what questions you might be asked and prepare answers in advance.
Understand the core concepts of what you are delivering. When answering questions, your audience will not usually mind if you can't remember an author's name, a specific date or other fine details.
Think positively about your presentation and it can improve your prospects, so tell yourself;
- I am good at this
- I will enjoy this
- I will do well!
- Visualise yourself doing well.
- Go somewhere quiet and close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and visualise your whole presentation from start to finish.
- See yourself feeling happy in the situation, calm and in control.
- Hear that you have a loud, clear, slow paced voice and imagine that your audience are listening and interested in what you are saying.
- Understand that your audience want you to do well.
- See yourself complete your presentation successfully where you end by competently dealing with any questions.
Further resources on public speaking
The University library holds a number of books on presentation skills and many of these include sections on dealing with nerves (use OneSearch to discover available resources).
Linkedin Learning (university login required) includes short video-based courses on public speaking and presentations, including:
- Overcoming your fear of public speaking
- Public speaking: Energize and engage your audience
- Delivery tips for public speaking
Presentation Magazine includes a number of interesting sections including Public Speaking.
Presenting Top Tips
Opening your presentation
- Grabbing the audience’s attention right at the start is vital. You want them to sit up and listen and think you are worth listening to.
- Get the full attention of your audience. Wait until everyone is quiet, is seated, has stopped talking, has found pen and paper and is listening.
- Explain to the audience ‘what is in it for them’. What is the benefit of listening to you?
- Tell the audience who you are and why you are speaking to them. Build up your authority.
- Go through the structure of your presentation. Give them direction.
Grabbing their attention
Safer than a joke. Establishes a more personal contact between you and the audience. Helps to relax both you and the audience.
Can really make the audience sit and listen. You need to be confident about it however. If in doubt, try a safer option.
Relating the topic to what happened in the past, showing progress made, etc…
Can be a very neat way to open and close a presentation. Make sure it is not clichéd.
Referring to some relevant news item can be effective and the audience should be familiar with it as well. It helps give relevance to the presentation and its purpose.
Statement or statistics
Don’t use too many. One or two well chosen ones combine the shock element with brevity.
Well chosen comparisons can be very dramatic.
Direct a question to the audience to help them get involved.
Closing your presentation
The end of the presentation is very much like the opening. You want their full attention.
- Signpost the conclusion: ‘in summary…’ or ‘in conclusion…’
- The last few words said by the speaker are what tend to stay with the audience so try and make them memorable.
- Use some of the suggested ways for opening your presentation when you close it.
- Hold your position at the end of the presentation:
- Don’t lose your energy
- Do not appear to be in a rush to leave
- Do come to a definite close
- You might want to pose a question to the audience which they can consider after the presentation or by calling the audience to action.
- Think of the close of the presentation as being the ‘take home message’ – the thought that your audience will take away with them.
Poster presentations are an interesting and challenging way to work. They are a common form of assessment and are often used for presenting research to peers at academic conferences and other events.
If you want to see some examples of posters go to your preferred search engine and do an image search for "academic posters" or "academic poster examples" - look at the results with a critical eye. Here's one I prepared earlier, using Google UK, Academic poster examples on Google UK.
Create your academic poster
Academic and conference posters are usually produced in either A0 or A1 format so that they can be viewed from a distance.
For details on how to setup these sizes of posters using PowerPoint:
For those who prefer to use Publisher:
Poster presentations - useful links
- Colin Purrington has compiled a very useful page full of tips, dos & don'ts, templates and advice for designing, creating and populating academic posters: Creating Conference Posters
- This website provides a very useful guide to designing the content of your poster. https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/presentations/designing-poster/poster
- For further help in using PowerPoint and Publisher go to https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/topics/office2016/ or complete a certificated course in Linkedin Learning (university login required).
Presenting your poster
Whilst your poster will spend most of its time hanging in a space without your presence (both for assessed work and at conferences), there will usually be a requirement for you to spend some time presenting your poster, talking to an audience and answering questions.
See the Public Speaking and Top Tips sections (above) for guidance on delivering a presentation.
You may be asked to make a newscast style presentation for your course. The easiest way to do this is to build an auto-playing PowerPoint presentation that holds your content. The following documents have been created to support this process.