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The Skill of Giving a Presentation

The Art of Public Speaking

Successful people, either in business or in profession, process the ability to communicate well. It is not simply being able to talk, but rather, being able to transmit the exact message desired in a way that will be received and understood. Being able to communicate this message through the vehicle known as “presentation” has become a widely sought after skill.

Most of us think of communication as just speaking or writing. However, that is only one part of the actual process. In fact, over half of an oral message is actually communicated visually.


Transmission of an Oral Message

Hence, we can say that it is not so much what you say as how you say it.

As students, we are taught more about how to express ourselves by the written word than through presentations. Consequently, most of us only learn about presentations giving when the situation is forced upon us. In fact, the degree to which professionals fear speaking in public is almost legendary. There are some basic skills that with practice can make presentation enjoyable for the audience and also for the presenter.

The process of delivering an effective talk is comprised of two parts: preparation and presentation. Both are equally important.

STEP ONE: Planning

Careful planning of a presentation will make you more confident and help you to overcome your nervousness. Even more importantly, an audience better receives a message that is contained in a talk that has been carefully planned. There are five elements to consider when preparing any talk.


1. Objective

Do you want to inform your audience, persuade them, train them, or entertain them? What messages do you want your audience to take away with them?

2. Audience

Who is your audience? How many people will be attending? What do they need to know? What do they already know? What do they expect? Will they be receptive to your message?

3. Contents

Brainstorm your ideas, then decide what is most relevant and appropriate. Make sure that you take enough time to do any research that you need. Be selective – do not try to present too much in your message.

4. Structure

Any presentation should consist of an introduction, a body and a conclusion. There should be examples, figures, stories, etc. The use of humor that is in good taste and relevant is also welcome. Again, remember not to try to put in too many figures or too many details. Too much humor is also out of the question. Everything must be balanced since you are planning to deliver a presentation and not give a show of any kind. Your audience should not lose the main idea of your talk.

The structure of your message should be simple, words and sentences short. It is also good to use concrete words because they are easier to understand. Passive verbs and abstract concepts as well as jargon are better to be avoided.

In the course of presentation one is recommended to give the audience clear signals as to the direction your presentation is taking.

As to visual aids, you should use them only as a support or illustration of what you are delivering. Some visual aids to put across certain points that cannot be explained in words. They are also good to add emphasis to a talk, but they must be simple to understand.

5. Rehearsal

Take time to practice your presentation. This will give you a chance to identify any weak points or gaps. You will also be able to make sure that you can pronounce any figures and proper names correctly and confidently. It will also allow you to finetune the timing.


STEP TWO: Presenting

If you wish to make an effective presentation, take care of five elements.

1. Nervousness

Prepare your talk well. You will be less nervous and more confident than if you have not. Yet, you want to be a bit nervous so that you will remain “on your toes.” Do not fall into the trap of speaking too quickly because you are nervous. In fact, speak slower during the first few moments of a talk.

2. Rapport

Rapport is the relationship between you and your audience or the connection, if you wish. Be friendly and make eye contact with everyone in your audience. If by any chance you are unable to make eye contact, do not look over the tops of everyone’s head. The audience knows you are not looking at them and they do not like to be fooled. Also, it is critical that you are able to observe their reactions to your message and make any adjustment in your talk. The first yawn is a sign for you to wind up and pass over to your conclusion.

3. Body language

Remember that 57% of the message is communicated by what the audience can see. Consequently how you convey your ideas is critically important. Avoid any distracting mannerisms like pacing, rocking back and forth on your feet, etc. Use open-handed natural gestures as open handedness conveys sincerity.

4. Vocal quality

The sound of your voice carries 36% of the message. It means you should consider the volume, tone, tember and tempo of your presentation. You must be loud enough to be heard by everyone. The tone of your voice must be consistent with the message. An interesting public speaker or presenter will vary the volume, tone and tempo of the talk to make himself heard.

5. Question Time

Do not be afraid of questions from the audience. It is civilized practice to ask them. If you have delivered your presentation well, the audience should want more information. There are some techniques to keep in mind. Pay attention to the speaker when he/she is asking the question. That sounds simple, but many presenters look away when someone is asking a question. It is better to listen carefully, perhaps nodding in approval sometimes paraphrasing the question for clarification. Answer the questions shortly and simply. If you do not know the answer it is better to say so.

Developing effective presentation skills is one of the best things you can do for yourself and certainly one of the most rewarding. If you take the time to prepare well and to present your talk effectively, you will no longer fear speaking in public, but will welcome the opportunity. This will go a long away to further your career.

At school of course many learners do not think about their future careers, but if you work in your class at “Streetwise” course-book you certainly have to use “for and against” techniques of the book, just as you are expected to debate on a subject or prove your judgements. Sometimes teachers ask their learners to make reports which is nothing but public presentations and if you take into account some of the advice given above, you will most certainly succeed.

And now, please, choose the right answer among the four given below.

I. What are you transmitting in your presentation?

1. a skill
2. a message
3 a story
4. your experience

II. What is effective presentation?

1. a skill
2. a message
3. body language
4. an audience

III. How is over half of an oral message communicated?

1. vocally
2. verbally
3. orally
4. visually

IV. What does any effective presentation consist of?

1. audience and time
2. preparation and audience
3. preparation and presentation
4. planning and task

V. Does preparation planning imply

1. nervousness, rapport, body language and questions?
2. objectives, audience, rehearsal, vocal quality?
3. rapport, rehearsal, questions and body language?
4. objectives, audience, content, structure and rehearsal?

VI. What must be the structure of a good presentation?

1. long and difficult
2. simple and understandable
3. with a lot of gestures
4. with a good rapport

VII. Why is it important to rehearse your presentation?

1. to make sure that you can pronounce figures and proper names correctly
2. to use visual aids
3. to intone your message rightly

VIII. Does rapport mean

1. your audience?
2. your presentation skills?
3. the connection between you and your audience?
4. question time?

IX. What does good vocal quality mean?

1. the pace of the talk
2. the message of the talk
3. the rehearsal of the talk
4. the volume, tone, tember and tempo of your talk

X. Does the presenter always know all the answers to possible questions?

1. yes
2. sometimes
3. not always
4. never

Now say whether the statements below are true or false, express your doubt or uncertainty. Use some of the expressions from the list below:

You are not quite right, of course, exactly, it is very much so, far from it, it goes without saying, I don’t think so, I disagree, it seems so, quite likely, maybe, it’s hard to say.

1. More than half of any oral message is usually communicated.
2. There are not any basic skills that can make presentation enjoyable for the audience.
3. If you plan your presentation carefully, you may overcome your natural nervousness.
4. If you structure your message simply, and use simple and short words and sentences you can not rehearse your presentation.
5. The sound of your voice carries 57% of the message.
6. Rapport or good connection with the audience always brings a lot of questions from the listeners.
7. If you prepare your talk well and present it effectively, you will no longer fear speaking in public.

By Natalia Predtechenskaya