I am working on some short videos or animations to show language learners how to do basic presentations. At the moment, I am focusing on common problems my students have had in the past and I used these tips as a kind of jigsaw reading today. What do you think? Anything to add, or take out? Feedback welcome!

Using Notes
A presentation is not the same as reading an essay aloud. However, you shouldn’t have to memorize every word. Try to use a cue card to help you hit the key points.

Try to use a variety of sources, online and printed if possible, and don’t use anything if you don’t know who wrote it. Cite your sources in your presentation (on your slides and in handouts) and if necessary explain why your sources are valid.

According to…
Dr. Peter Smith from the University of Northville claims that…

Remember that there are probably other people waiting to present after you, so don’t go too long. You should rehearse to check the timing before the presentation, and make sure that you leave time for questions. Some people speak faster when they are nervous, so try to relax.
You need an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Use appropriate signposting language to help the audience see where you are going.

Let’s start by thinking about….
Now I’d like to talk about…
To sum up….
Thank you for listening. Now we have time for a few questions…

Don’t mumble, and don’t speak in a monotone. Your voice modulation is important for two reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t matter how exciting your words are…if your voice is flat, everyone will fall asleep. Secondly, we need to emphasize certain words to make the meaning clear. Think about the differences in meaning between these three sentences.

I wanted you to buy me a dozen red roses.
I wanted you to buy me a dozen red roses.
I wanted you to buy me a dozen red roses.

They should be big enough to see, and used well. Don’t turn your back to the audience to point at them. If you are using presentation software, make sure that the visuals fit the content. For example, ‘fun’ animations are not appropriate if you are making a presentation about child poverty.

One mistake presenters often make is to forget their audience. You must make sure that the audience understands what you are talking about. If you use complex language or technical jargon, make sure you ‘gloss’ it. That means, you should explain it in simpler terms. You can use pictures or examples to make things clearer. Think about this – if you had to check a word in a dictionary to put it into your presentation, your audience will need a dictionary to understand your presentation!

Posture and Body Language
Sit or stand with a straight back! No one wants to see someone slouch their way through a presentation. Good posture makes you look more confident and more professional, and your audience will be more inclined to listen to you.