Skip to Main Content



An engaging presentation has a clear purpose; shows good understanding of the topic and its importance; is correctly pitched at the audience; and provides the audience with a key message to take forward.    

Being a good presenter takes much practice. Practising and improving your presentations will also increase your oral communication skills and confidence.

Presentations are assessed on your content (what you present), your delivery (how you present it) and your visual aids (how they aid your presentation). Always check your assignment guidelines and marking rubric for specific information relating to your subject or discipline.

Understanding requirements

Review your topic, assessment criteria and marking rubric well in advance of the presentation.

  • What is the reason for your presentation? Is it to present findings from research? Summarise a topic? Inform a client? Lead a discussion? Or to inspire?
  • What is your topic? 
  • Who will be your audience?
  • Will it be online or in-person? Is it an individual or team presentation?
  • How much time do you and/or your team have for presenting?
  • What visual aids can you use?


A presentation must be carefully planned. Focus on what you must include in your presentation to make it engaging and inspiring.

  • What is the purpose of your work? What is the research question you set out to answer?
  • What are your key findings? What research is yet to be done?
  • What part of your topic and/or findings is most important?
  • What is relevant or applicable to your audience?
  • Do you want the audience actively involved? How will you achieve that?
  • Overall, what do you want to achieve? To inform, inspire, convince, summarise?
  • For online presentations, check access to required systems, programs, or platforms.


Organise and structure your material and communicate it effectively to your audience.

Introduction (5% to 10% of time)

  • Introduce yourself. Say your name clearly for the audience and assessors.
  • Grab the attention of your audience by using a related story, a statistic or asking a question.
  • Describe your topic area and purpose, objective, or the question you set out to answer.
  • Be clear about your purpose. ‘The purpose is to…’. ‘I will focus on...’
  • Explain the need or reasons for your work. ‘This is important because…’
  • Describe the themes of your talk. ‘First, I will…, then, I will…, and finally…’


  • Present your work logically. Develop a coherent story.
  • Don’t cover too much on one slide.
  • Do transitions well; indicate when you move to another theme. ‘My next point is ...’
  • Use examples/diagrams to explain key points. Real-life examples will engage your audience.
  • Present only your main points. Don’t try to fit in all your work or theory, as time is limited.   

Conclusion (5% to 10% of time)

  • Summarise your key points. ‘In conclusion...’, ‘To recap the main points…’
  • Discuss your achievements in relation to your objectives (from Introduction).
  • Explain reasons if objectives haven’t been achieved and how or what could be improved.
  • Discuss the implications of your work and restate your key (take home) message.
  • Thank your audience and invite questions.


For online presentations – check all technology and programs before your presentation. Do practice runs to familiarise yourself with presenting online.

Language and voice

  • Use plain language. Keep it simple. Avoid slang and acronyms.
  • Emphasise the key points. Repeat them using different phrasing.
  • Check your pronunciation of difficult and unusual words. Pronounce keywords correctly.
  • Project your voice. Speak loudly so that everyone will hear you. 
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rush. Pace yourself. 125 - 150 words per minute is good.
  • Vary your voice quality. Use tonal variations. Don’t be monotonal. 
  • Use pauses and don't be afraid of short periods of silence. They give you and your audience a chance to think. Pauses also give the audience members time to take notes.
  • For online presentations, check your audio system and sound level.

Non-verbal cues

  • Stand or sit up straight (if online), hold your head up and try to look relaxed.
  • Make eye contact with audience members or look directly at the camera.
  • Avoid turning away from the audience or camera when looking at presentation slides.
  • Pay attention to your group members when they are speaking.

Engaging your audience 

  • Always pay attention to your audience. Check that the audience is engaged. ‘Does this make sense?’. ‘Is this clear?’.
  • Treat your presentation as a conversation between you and your audience. Always speak to the audience, avoid reading from notes.
  • Speak confidently. Confident presenters can better engage an audience.
  • Run polls, questionnaires or pose questions to your audience.
  • Include short activities. ‘Discuss… with the person next to you… and report back…’.
  • Be prepared to pause the presentation to respond to questions or clarify points.
  • Use exemplars or prototypes to demonstrate or illustrate key points.
  • Prepare questions for your Q&A in case there are no questions from the audience.
  • For online presentations, use chat, whiteboards, annotations, polls, breakout rooms and other functionalities of programs such as Zoom. 

Visual aids

PowerPoint slides

  • Keep the text brief. ‘Less in more’. Use the 6 X 6 rule: 6 lines with 6 words each per slide.
  • Include a title slide with your topic, name (or names, if team) contact details and course.
  • Keep your slide design simple and formatting consistent.
  • Use headings, sub-headings, and bullet points.
  • Select figures, tables, and images carefully. Too many may overwhelm your audience.
  • Label and number figures etc. and use in-text referencing as appropriate.
  • Discuss or refer to all figures etc. in your delivery.  
  • Slow down for images and figures etc. The audience may need time to absorb such information.
  • Check your slides for readability. Proofread for grammar and referencing. 
  • Include a slide with a list of references.

Don’t spend all your time producing visual aids. They are necessary. But your content and delivery are equally or sometimes more important. Check your marking rubric or assessment guidelines for how you will be assessed and spend your time accordingly.

Team presentations

You share the workload in a team presentation. It is a team effort. Each must contribute equally to developing the team presentation. You may be assessed as a team or individually. You may also be expected to present and/or answer questions. Always check your assignment guidelines and marking rubric for subject or discipline-specific requirements.

  • Check if all members are required to speak. Put more confident speakers first and/or last.
  • Introduce all your team members at the start of presentation. 
  • Do transitions well. Clearly signal your hand over to next speaker. ‘The next speaker is …’.  
  • Briefly summarise what previous speaker covered to show connection/segue to your part.
  • Always pay attention to the (active) speaker and be ready to add to the presentation.

Reducing anxiety

  • Be very well prepared. Practise until you feel confident about all your material. If you are not confident, it is harder to reduce anxiety.
  • Practice in front of your friends and family. Ask for constructive feedback to improve.
  • Treat your audience like they’re your friends. Your audience is interested in what you have to say and wants you to do well - that is why they are there.
  • During in-person presentations, make eye contact with people you know in the room.
  • Being anxious is normal. Take deep breaths to calm yourself. Tell yourself, all will be well!

Pathfinder link

Still have questions? Do you want to talk to an expert? Peer Learning Advisors or Academic Skills and Language Advisors are available.