oral presentation - content and structure

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It is likely that you already have a topic and you know what you want to say about it. This is the content of your presentation. You may already have the content of your presentation in written form: for example in a written report. Whether your content is already written down or you are beginning from scratch, you may need to cut it down for your presentation. Why?

Three points to think about when preparing the content of a presentation:


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Most presentations will consist of an introduction, the body of the talk and a conclusion. The introduction prepares the audience for what you will say in the body of the talk and the conclusion reminds them of your key points. Good presentations raise questions in the listeners' mind. Good speakers encourage questions both during and after the presentation and are prepared to answer them.


A good introduction does four things:

It is often a good idea to begin a talk with a question, a short story, an interesting fact about your topic or an unusual visual aid. Many speakers follow this with an overhead transparency that shows the title, aim and outline of the talk.


The body of a presentation must be presented in a logical order that is easy for the audience to follow and natural to your topic. Divide your content into sections and make sure that the audience knows where they are at any time during your talk. It is often a good idea to pause between main sections of your talk. You can ask for questions, sum up the point or explain what the next point will be. If you have an OHT with an outline of your talk on it, you can put this on the projector briefly and point to the next section.

Examples, details and visual aids add interest to a presentation and help you get your message through. Here are some questions you can ask yourself about the examples you include:



A good conclusion does two things:

Your conclusion should end the presentation on a positive note and make the audience feel that have used their time well listening to you.


Many speakers worry about questions from the audience. However, questions show that the audience is interested in what you have to say ad can make the talk more lively and interactive. You should be more worried if there are no questions at all! One way of handling questions is to point to questions you would like to discuss as you are talking. You can control questions better if you leave pauses during your talk and ask for questions. It is important not to let question and answer sessions during the talk go on too long, however. Answer briefly or say you will deal with the question at the end. Make sure you are ready to go on with your talk when questions have finished.

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