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Jessie Ball duPont Library

Oral Presentations

A topic guide to help you create and deliver a successful oral presentation

Getting Prepared

In some classes, writing the research paper is only part of what is required. Your professor may also require you to give an oral presentation about your study. Here are some things to think about before you are scheduled to give your presentation.

1.  What should I say?

If your professor hasn't explicitly stated what your presentation should focus on, think about what you want to achieve and what you consider to be the most important things that members of the audience should know about your study. Think about the following: Do I want to inform my audience, inspire them to think about my research, or convince them of a particular point of view?

2.  Oral communication is different from written communication

Your audience only has one chance to hear your talk; they can't "re-read" your words if they get confused. Focus on being clear, particularly if the audience can't ask questions during the talk. There are two well-known ways to communicate your points effectively. The first is the K.I.S.S. method (keep it simple stupid). Focus your presentation on getting one to three key points across. Second, repeat key insights: tell them what you're going to tell them (Forecast), tell them, and then tell them what you just told them (Summarize).

3.  Think about your audience

Yes, you want to demonstrate to your professor that you have conducted a good study. But professors often ask students to give an oral presentation to practice the art of communicating and to learn to speak clearly and audibly about yourself and your research. Questions to think about include: What background knowledge do they have about my topic? Does the audience have any particular interests? How am I going to involve them in my presentation?