Prof. Benson

Guidelines for Oral Presentations

Presentations are brief discussions of a focused topic delivered to impart knowledge and stimulate discussion.  They are similar to short papers with an introduction, body, and conclusion.  The ability to give brief presentations is a learned skill called on frequently in the workplace. 


Preparation is the key to giving effective presentations.  Know your topic well.  You will be the expert on the topic in the classroom. Good preparation and the realization that you are the expert will boost your self-confidence.  After your research, you will find that you know much more about your topic than you will have time to present.  That is a good thing.  It will allow you to compose a good introduction, the main points, and finish with a strong conclusion.

Know your topic:

Learn as much about the topic as you can to boost your self-confidence.
Understand your audience’s background so you will know how much detail to go into and what kinds of terms you may have to define.
Prepare an outline of your topic.  Bullet or number the main points.
Leave time for a few minutes of discussion at the end of the presentation. You should prepare a few discussion questions to share with the class.

Visual Aids:

Visual aids (maps, photos, film clips, graphs, diagrams, and charts) can enhance a presentation. 
Keep visual aids simple and uncluttered. 
Use color and contrast for emphasis, but use them in moderation. .
Make sure your slides can be read from the back of the room.
For an 8-10 minute talk use no more than 10 slides or overheads
If using PowerPoint, strongly resist the temptation to use sound effects and dramatic slide transitions.
If using Prezi, limit the graphic effects so the presentation remains professional.


Handouts provide structure.  They can provide supplemental material, references, a glossary of terms, and serve as a record of the presentation. The...