1. What should I say?
If your professor hasn't explicitly stated what the content of your presentation should focus on, think about what you want to achieve and what you consider to be the most important things that members of the audience should know about your study. Think about the following: Do I want to inform my audience, inspire them to think about my research, or convince them of a particular point of view? These questions will help frame how to approach your presentation topic.
2. Oral communication is different from written communication
Your audience has just one chance to hear your talk; they can't "re-read" your words if they get confused. Focus on being clear, particularly if the audience can't ask questions during the talk. There are two well-known ways to communicate your points effectively. The first is the K.I.S.S. method [Keep It Simple Stupid]. Focus your presentation on getting two to three key points across. The second approach is to repeat key insights: tell them what you're going to tell them [forecast], tell them [explain], and then tell them what you just told them [summarize].
3. Think about your audience
Yes, you want to demonstrate to your professor that you have conducted a good study. But professors often ask students to give an oral presentation to practice the art of communicating and to learn to speak clearly and audibly about yourself and your research. Questions to think about include: What background knowledge do they have about my topic? Does the audience have any particular interests? How am I going to involve them in my presentation?
4. Create effective notes
If you don't have notes to refer to as you speak, you run the risk of forgetting something important. Also, having no notes increases the chance you'll lose your train of thought and begin relying on reading from the presentation slides. Think about the best ways to create notes that can be easily referred to as you speak. This is important! Nothing is more distracting to an audience than the speaker fumbling around with notes as they try to speak. It gives the impression of being disorganized and unprepared.
NOTE: A good strategy is to have a page of notes for each slide so that the act of referring to a new page helps remind you to move to the next slide. This also creates a natural pause that allows your audience to contemplate what you just presented.
Strategies for creating effective notes for yourself include the following:
Your First Words are Your Most Important!
Your introduction should begin with something that grabs the attention of your audience, such as, an interesting statistic, a brief narrative or story, or a bold assertion, and then clearly tell the audience in a well-crafted sentence what you plan to accomplish in your presentation. Your introductory statement should be constructed so as to invite the audience to pay close attention to your message and to give the audience a clear sense of the direction in which you are about to take them.
Talk to Your Audience, Don't Read to Them!
A presentation is not the same as an essay. If you read your presentation as if it were an essay, your audience will probably understand very little about what you say and will lose concentration quickly. Use notes, cue cards, or overheads as prompts that emphasis key points, and speak to your audience. Include everyone by looking at them and maintaining regular eye-contact [but don't stare or glare at people]. Limit reading text to quotes or to specific points you want to emphasize.
Begin by thinking about what you want to achieve and how are you going to involve your audience in the presentation.
I. Introduction [may be written last]
II. The Body
III. The Conclusion
NOTE: When asking your audience if anyone has any questions, give people time to contemplate what you have said and to formulate a question. It may seem like an awkward pause to wait ten seconds or so for someone to raise their hand, but it's frustrating to have a question come to mind but be cutoff because the presenter rushed to end the talk.
ANOTHER NOTE: If your last slide includes any contact information or other important information, leave it up long enough to ensure audience members have time to write the information down. Nothing is more frustrating to an audience member than wanting to jot something down, but the presenter closes the slides immediately after finishing.
When delivering your presentation, keep in mind the following points to help you remain focused and ensure that everything goes as planned.
Pay attention to language!
Use your voice to communicate clearly
Use your body language to communicate too!
Interact with the audience
“Giving an Oral Presentation.” Research Guides, University of Southern California (USC) Libraries, libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/oralpresentation.