Presentation skills.. I love it.. it ensures you are clear on the subject matter, and its read well, presented well and researched well.. otherwise you stand there reading off a piece of paper looking nervous as you have no idea what you are on about!!! So definitely presentation [skills are important to develop]
Year 2, BSW Student
Students give their perspective and offer tips to first year students on how to develop and apply presentation skills.
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Education and Social Work students have a particular professional interest in being able to present and communicate ideas well to groups of people. In tutorials and seminars you will be required to contribute by speaking about your ideas and posing questions in class. Sharing and discussing ideas can help you to develop and deepen your understanding. It also gives feedback to your tutor about your understanding.
You will also be expected to carry out more formal presentations that are assessed. This may take the form of an oral presentation where students are the sole presenter or as a member of a group. You may find presentations form the basis for subsequent written assignments.
Because presentations are such a critical part of your course and profession, the following resources have been provided for you to consider.
Preparing the Presentation
Preparing for a presentation is similar to preparing for a written assignment. You will go through a similar process in planning, researching and writing your presentation.
As with a written assignment, you will need to:
- Understand the question and topic you are going to cover.
- Determine the level of knowledge of your audience.
- Undertake background reading and research.
- Organise your material and draft in order to cover what is the appropriate amount of information in the time given for the presentation.
- Organise what you are going to say in point form as it is better to speak to the audience directly rather than read to them.
- Plan how you will engage the audience: whether it is appropriate to use a short video, use graphics, ask the audience questions.
- Prepare your visual aids: powerpoint slides, video, handouts.
- Rehearse your presentation, preferably with a friend who can listen to you, time you and give constructive feedback.
Structuring the Presentation
As with written assignments, a well thought-out structure will assist in making the presentation a coherent piece of work with your aims easily-understood by the audience. A broad structure to follow could include:
- INTRODUCTION: where you introduce your audience to the topic including the main points you will be covering.
- BODY: where you develop your main points, give evidence or examples, and provide links between ideas. This is also the part where you will use visual aids to keep your audience engaged.
- CONCLUSION: where the main points are summarised and the question is answered in light of the points made.
Delivering the Presentation
The following are some of the strategies you can use to deliver a good presentation.
- PROMPT CARDS: Use prompt notes in point form so that you talk to the audience rather than read from notes. These can be sequentially numbered palm-sized cue cards.
- PLAN YOUR OPENING: Plan your opening remarks to engage your audience and to highlight your topic. Using a quotation, a controversial statement, an anecdote or a show of hands are ways of doing this.
- LANGUAGE: Use appropriate language, normally a formal but conversational tone is appropriate. Do not use slang or colloquialisms. Be careful not to use acronyms that have not been explained. Be mindful of the use of jokes into your presentation as this is not always culturally appropriate.
- NERVES: If you are nervous about giving presentations, then prepare well. Also some techniques to reduce anxiety include:
- Taking some deep breaths and regard your presentation as a ‘performance’ of being a confident public speaker.
- Remember everyone gets nervous, and classmates want you to succeed.
- Slow down your speech, speak clearly and at a moderate pace.
- Use pauses to emphasise the point you are making and to catch your thoughts and where you are up to.
- Make eye contact with the audience.
For further detailed strategies, please explore the resources below.
- UNSW – The Learning Centre – Oral Presentations
- UNSW – The Learning Centre – Speaking to an Audience
- UNSW – The Learning Centre – Using Powerpoint
- Monash University – Language and Learning Online – Speaking
- Monash University - Learning Support site - Oral presentations
- James Cook University – Study Skills Online - Oral Presentations
- University of Canberra – Academic Skills Centre – Giving an Oral Presentations