Making an effective presentation

How to structure your presentation and deliver it with confidence.

Presentations are effective if:

  • The presenter is confident, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and well prepared.
  • The presentation is memorable, interesting and achieves its objectives

Designing the presentation

You need to consider the objectives and setting the scene:

  • What are your objectives - ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Are you persuading, informing or teaching?
  • How do you get the students (the audience) to 'buy in' to your message - what's in it for them?
  • The students - what is their level of knowledge and do their objectives meet yours? 
  • How much time do you need for the presentation - what will the school allow?

Structure and content of the presentation


  • Greet the students and introduce yourself.
  • State the title and objectives. This will usually include the benefit to the audience.
  • State the length of time, the format, headings and how you will deal with questions.
  • Refer to any handouts that you will be distributing.
  • The introduction needs to command interest and attention.

Main body

  • Information needs to be delivered in a logical or chronological order, so as not to confuse
    the students.
  • Do not include too much information, only that which is relevant
  • The content of the delivery should be prepared maybe as a script. Reduce this to
    key headings and phrases noting on prompt cards, using bullets and pointers for
    use of a visual aid.
  • Figures are helpful to illustrate a point but too many can be boring. Graphics add
    interest and dimension.
  • Human touches that students can relate to and case studies are always interesting.
  • Support the presentation with effective visual aids.
  • To include the students ask questions to involve them and check understanding. Use
    open questions — what, why, how, when, who, which and where.

Concluding the presentation

  • Summarise the presentation bringing it back to your objectives
  • The ending needs to review and consolidate the information.
  • Allow time for questions and answers, if they have not been covered during the
  • Manage the question and answer session to ensure that it does not run over time.
  • Are there sufficient recaps?
  • Does the presentation achieve its purpose?

Preparing yourself

  • What is important in projecting yourself - consider physical skills, body language.
    and voice?
  • What do you need to do if you are nervous?

Self preparation and handling nerves

  • Everyone suffers from them!
  • Always prepare thoroughly.
  • Rehearse your presentation  - preferably out loud at the correct pace as this ensures
    that you have got the timing right.
  • Wear clothing that is appropriate and comfortable.
  • Arrive early to ensure that the room is ready and that you can organise your materials.
  • Relax. Take some deep breaths and get your heartbeat to slow down.
  • Think about talking slowly and positively. Nerves make us speed up.
  • Once started, nerves usually go.
  • If you lose your way, just stop and gather yourself — - do not apologise. Most of the audience will not realise and a pause gives them time to reflect.

Room layout

  • Organise the seating to suit your presentation and your audience.
  • Do not block emergency exits and ensure that health and safety information is given.
  • Ensure that any visual aids or props can be seen clearly by the entire audience.
  • Consider where you are standing in relationship to your audience and your visual aids.
  • Give yourself a prop like a table to help combat nerves.
  • Ensure that the heating is suitable for the audience.

What is important when projecting yourself?

  • Radiate confidence and enthusiasm.
  • Relax the facial muscles and remember to smile from time to time.
  • Ensure that body language is open and positive and stand comfortably.
  • Engage confident eye contact all round the audience.
  • Speak at a comfortable pace.
  • Vary your pace and tone as in a normal conversation.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Take care with humour.
  • Your style is important. Think about the language. Is it appropriate for the audience?

Have a run through

Ask yourself:

  • Is the sequence right?
  • Isthe balance right?
  • Are the visuals supportive and adequate?
  • Does it hang together?
  • Are the links between sections clear?


  • Use evaluation form to get an idea of what the students think of your presentation
  • Continue with the positive aspects and develop the points that the students feel could be improved.

Visual information

Visual aids

  • Keep visual images professional.
  • Keep points to a maximum of 6 or 7 per slide and do not clutter the slides.
  • Never use a font smaller than 18 and avoid using all upper case.
  • Use a s pell check and ensure that you read through your visual aids.
  • Use visuals as well as text eg graphs, charts, diagrams etc


  • Do not give out handouts during a presentation as they distract the audience,
    unless it is actively required. Remember YOU are giving the message.
  • A handout is for the audience to take away your message. It is best limited to
    the most important points of the presentation.
  • Or a handout is to give the audience some extra information.
  • If the handout is a summary, tell the audience it will save them making
    unnecessary notes.