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Giving a talk or presentation

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Giving a talk or presentationFirst, prepare the material to be presented:- Structure the presentation around essential points – signpost these at thebeginning and again at the end;- Select a few concrete examples which are easy for the audience to visualise oridentify with;- If in doubt, keep your script simple and improvise as you speak.Prepare enough so that you can talk fluently and casually about your topic:Knowing what you are talking about is the best and easiest way to feel confident infront of an audience. You will probably only formally present a small amount ofyour research and preparation, but the hidden material that allowed you to come tothis clarity is essential. Think in terms of an iceberg – your presentation should giveyour audience 1/8 of the material you know, while the other 7/8 underpin and givestability and authority to what you say.A good presentation is constructed and edited with the audience in mind:Do not try and tell your audience everything you know about a topic. Instead,structure your presentation around five key ideas you would like your audience totake away with them. You can always expand in discussion.Consider the existing knowledge and demands of your audience – define key terms ifthey do not know them, give background material if necessary.A good presentation is constructed with the specific task in mind:Consider:- How long should your presentation be?- What facilities do you have? - What tone is appropriate for your audience?Write the prompts for your presentation:Speakers present more fluently if they are not reading every word of a presentation.Structure your script around points and prompts, rather than writing it out word-for-word. (If you are worried about not having enough material you might writeyour script word-for-word and then cut it down to points and prompts.) Rather thanreading at your audience, you should try to speak to your colleagues.1Introduction, body and conclusionIntroduction:- introduce yourself- state what you will be talking about (i.e your main argument or thesis)- state how you will be talking about it (e.g. by comparing test results orreviewing the supporting literature)- state what you intend to be the outcome of your presentation (an informedgroup, a lively discussion)- state what you expect your audience to do (listen, take notes, read a handout,ask questions before/during/after).Body:Five or so points that illustrate your argument or thesisConclusion:- a review of your thesis, argument or subject area “In this presentation I wantedto explore the relationship between X and Y.”- a summary of your main points “We have discussed the following points…”- a summary of the process you have been through “By looking at X we havefound that Y …”- a conclusion clearly drawn from your main points (this must be upheld by the- detail of your presentation) “It is clear that X and Y act together to produce thesituation that”- a parting statement to stimulate your audience’s thoughts. In Arts andHumanities seminars this is generally a list of three or so questions for thegroup to explore.Make a handout or Powerpoint presentation:Handouts should give information your audience might want to return to in theirown time. Aim for a handout that can stand in for you when you have left the room.In seminar papers this generally means you should include: Your key points Your key sources, cited fully according to MHRA format Key quotes for your audience to interrogate Three questions to propel seminar discussionIn more general terms, you should include supporting information that will:- add clarity to your argument (explaining complex terms, reminding youraudience of any supporting theories)- add authority to your argument (making connections with other people'swork, quoting experts, offering evidence from your own research)- add colour to your argument (showing a video clip or a slide, using a practicalexample or a vibrant analogy)2Before the talk or presentation:Prepare yourself:- Draw confidence from how well you know your material;- Make a conscious effort to relax, especially 2-3 hours before the talk;- Arrive early so that you do not need to worry unnecessarily about the journey(or the technology);- Be in the room before everybody else. Instead of suddenly being confrontedwith a sea of faces, it’s your space. Smile at your audience as they arrive.Adapted from Stella Cottrell, The Study Skills Handbook (London:Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. 107 During the talk or presentation :- Don’t apologise for anything you feel could be better – act relaxed andconfident in your material and your knowledge of that material;- Have water to drink (water allows you to pause and pace yourself as well askeeping your vocal chords healthy);- Check your timekeeping;- Look up and make eye contact with at least two people in your audience;- At the beginning summarise what you are going to say, and in what order;- Pause and take a breath after each point;- If you are not sure how to end, summarise, smile and simply say ‘thank you’.Adapted from Cottrell, The Study Skills Handbook, p. 107 Giving feedback on presentations:Content: Evidence of appropriate research;Appropriateness of material for specified audience;Relevance of material for specified task.Organisation:Quality and coherence of argument;Effectiveness of ‘signposting’;Effectiveness of introduction and conclusion;Ability to structure content effectively.Delivery:Appropriateness of language for audience;Delivery: body language, audibility, eye contact;Planning (pace and keeping to time);Clarity/intelligibility;Use of notes and other aids;General effectiveness of contact with


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