Presentations – a checklist

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In this post I’m giving you a page from the University of Canberra which has some very helpful advice on getting ready for your presentation. It’s straightforward, clear and simple, and makes very good sense. When my students are getting ready to give presentations I don’t say ‘good luck’ to them because I don’t think it is a question of luck. It’s a question of preparation. Read the advice from Canberra University here. But don’t just read it once and forget about it! Read it and think about it. Act on it, read it again the following day or a few days later. If you are a university student then use your teachers and your tutors for help. Most importantly, check your pronunciation of the key vocabulary in your presentation with a native speaker. In my experience students don’t make enough use of the support facilities that the universities offer. You are paying good money for your course so make sure that the university supports you – librarians should help you find materials in the library and tutors should be available to help you prepare your presentation. If you were staying at an expensive hotel wouldn’t you want to use all the facilities – like the swimming pool, the sauna and the private beach? I know I would. But many overseas students have paid for services at university that they never use!

Introducing your presentation

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Introducing your presentation effectively is essential! You only get one chance to make a good start. You can lose your audience very quickly if you are not careful. It is useful to look at a good example. When you watch the introduction I am going to show you I want you to think about how the speaker introduces the topic for the first time and how she justifies her choice of topic. Follow the link and watch the presentation with the link called Introducing your presentation: Presenter 2. Make sure you watch the correct one – there’s a lot of video clips on this page. We want the seventh in the list. It’s here.

Here’s the transcript for the student’s introduction. You can read and listen at the same time:

In the past 20 years or so computer games have come to play an increasingly important role in the lives of young people around the world. Recent research has found that around 80% of adolescents and young adults in Hong Kong play various kinds of computer and video games on a regularly basis. The popularity of these games has inexorably raised concerns about their effects on the physical and mental health of young people and this is the theme of my presentation this morning. Now , I’m going to start by looking at some of the main positive effects of these games and then I’ll move on to examine some of the negative effects identified by researchers.

It’s good isn’t it? I hope you can see this structure:

1. The first sentence tells us this is a current, interesting, social issue.
2. The second sentence tells us about research and the current state of affairs regarding this issue.
3. The third sentence justifies the presentation – why we should be concerned.
4. The fourth sentence explains the outline of the presentation so we know what to expect.

Now I am not saying that this introduction is perfect, but it works well and when you give your introduction you could use the same kind of structure for your opening remarks.

One last comment I would like to make: the speaker we’ve watched today doesn’t use notes and recites from memory. She can do this because she is only giving the introduction! Don’t try to memorise your presentation word for word. It is not a memory test! Use notes to help you remember, but these notes should be NOTES, and not the script. If you use a script then you’ll end up reading it all!

See also: How to start your presentation.