Oral Presentations Tips
Organize the talk logically; make sure your talk has an introduction, body, and conclusion; use transitions so your listeners can follow your logic. To move from written to spoken language, figure that a paragraph of written work will take about a minute to deliver orally.
Don’t let the presentation be the first time you’ve said these words. If you are not reading a paper, use note cards with a few key words on each to help you remember where you’re headed. Practice on your friends, give the talk in front of a mirror, or record and review your practice sessions. Keep your presentation to the time allotted.
Know your audience.
Pitch the talk so that you are speaking at their level of knowledge or experience.
Make eye contact.
Try to look at each member of the audience or each part of the room at least once. Speak directly to individuals. Move your gaze frequently enough so you don’t seem to be staring at one person.
Use appropriate body language.
Stand straight; look forward.
Open with a bang, not a whimper!
Skip the typical “Thank you for that kind introduction” comment. Memorize a sentence or two that will immediately grab the interest of your audience.
Don’t mumble, apologize, or make excuses. Focus on the substance of your talk and convey those ideas.
Use visual aids where and when appropriate.
Whether using handouts, Power Point, Prezi.com, transparencies projected through an overhead projector, or some other visual medium, make sure that the visuals enhance your presentation; that is, your job is to deliver the substance, and the job of the visual aids is to enhance, not repeat or substitute, for what you say. Also, since the more you rely on technology, the greater the risk of something going wrong with it, you should be prepared for technological failures.
Involve your audience.
Whether you ask them to discuss a question with their neighbor, to write a response to an idea on an index card, or to stand up and stretch, keep in mind the audience’s need to move and to do, not just to listen.
Use your voice.
Use all the features of your voice to interest your audience. Vary your speed, your volume, your tone. Use pauses to allow the audience to digest what you are saying. Breathe. Speak more slowly than usual. Pause slightly between words and sentences and enunciate clearly.
Use anecdotes, stories and examples
Stories are memorable to audiences and can be a very effective means to illustrate your points. Use humor, when appropriate, to keep the audience’s attention.
Act like a confident, prepared speech-giver!
When you give a speech, you are giving a performance. Audiences would rather listen to a confident, well-prepared speaker than to a nervous, insecure one. (On the other hand, a little shot of adrenaline never hurts!)
Listen carefully to questions.
Take a moment or two to formulate your answer. Respect your questioners; thank them and respond politely. Feel free to say, “I don’t know.”