Presentations

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Presentations

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Presentations

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Presentations

Achieve@Uni

Presentation skills

There are a few presentation skills you can focus on when you are planning and delivering your speech.

Watch your language

  • Keep it simple.
  • Emphasise the key points. Repeat them using different phrasing.
  • Check the pronunciation of difficult, unusual, or foreign words beforehand. This is especially important for international students.
  • There will probably be international students in the audience so avoid slang, idioms and acronyms.

Use your voice

  • Speak loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear you (remember the people at the back).
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rush! Often when we are nervous we speak too quickly.
  • Key words are important - say them slowly and loudly.
  • Vary your voice quality. Look at some videos of good public speakers to hear how they use their voices to engage their audiences. See the video with Barack Obama's speech for inspiration. 
  • Use pauses - don't be afraid of short periods of silence. They give you a chance to gather your thoughts, and your audience a chance to think. Pauses also give people time to take notes, or time to think about what you are saying.

Warm up

Sometimes doing some warm-up activities before we speak can help us prepare. You might want to watch these short videos (4-8 minutes each), to help you to prepare for your presentation.

Often when we are nervous we slouch, fidget, look at the floor, etc. These behaviours can have a negative effect on our audience. Remember - Your body communicates too!

  • Stand straight and try to look relaxed (even when you are not). Do not slouch, shuffle or fidget.
  • Hold your head up, look around and make eye-contact with the audience. If you feel nervous, make eye contact with some people you know around the room rather than looking out at the whole crowd.
  • Pay attention to your group members while they are speaking.
  • Avoid turning your back on the audience. We often do this inadvertently when we read from our presentation slides.
  • Think about what you will wear to the presentation. It may not be appropriate to ‘suit up’ but neat, casual is often a good idea. 

See the link and watch the video for some tips on how to use your body to communicate more effectively.

  • Use of gestures
  • Nerves are quite normal when we have to speak in public. There are steps we can take to minimise those nerves.

    • Stand straight and try to look relaxed (even when you are not). Do not slouch, shuffle or fidget.
    • Hold your head up, look around and make eye-contact with the audience. If you feel nervous, make eye contact with some people you know around the room rather than looking out at the whole crowd.
    • Pay attention to your group members while they are speaking.
    • Avoid turning your back on the audience. We often do this inadvertently when we read from our presentation slides.
    • Think about what you will wear to the presentation. It may not be appropriate to ‘suit up’ but neat, casual is often a good idea.

    Key point: Most audiences want us to succeed - they feel sympathetic because they know what you are going through and they will have to go through it too!

    Here are some things to consider:

    • Smile!
    • Treat your audience like friends who want you to do well.
    • Take some deep breaths to calm yourself.  Sometimes when we are nervous we take short, shallow breaths.
    • Be well-prepared. Practise, practise, practise to feel in control of your information. If you are not confident with your material it is harder to manage nerves.

    Additional help

    Counselling Services offer a number of workshops to help manage anxiety. Check this site for La Trobe Counseling sessions.

    If you feel particularly anxious you may want to consult individually with the university counsellor. Contact Counselling on your campus.

    Spending the time to rehearse allows you to make changes before you are assessed and helps you to feel less anxious. Use the checklist here to guide you. 

  • Downloadable Checklist
  • Activity 1. Importance of rehearsing

    Why practising is important

    If you think practising is not important, have a look at this short video:

    What are 2 things the speaker does that might distract the audience?

    • Fiddles with hair
    • Reads a lot of speech, so looks down and not at audience

    Activity 2. Do you think these students rehearsed?

    View a few examples of students speaking in a 3-minute thesis competition. Consider how well the students are prepared and whether they rehearsed their presentation.