Chapter 11 Presentation Skills


Learning Objectives

In this chapter on “Presentation Skills,” the following topics will be covered:


Interpersonal Skills – Students will:

  • Practice techniques that affect physical presence (eye contact, face audience, body language).
  • Practice speaking skills including projection, speed, tone, clarity, and enthusiasm.
  • Use humour and practical examples to engage audience.
  • Use a variety of visuals in presentations (e.g. handouts, props, posters, Power Point presentations).
  • Facilitate questions and discussion.

Planning the Presentation – Students will:

  • Describe key communication format factors to consider when developing a presentation.
  • Describe the main functional elements of an effective introduction.
  • Describe the functional organization in the body of an effective presentation.
  • Describe the main functional elements of an effective conclusion.
  • Develop a presentation outline using the concepts discussed in the chapter.

Presentation Aids – Students will:

  • Explain how visual aids can improve the quality and impact of a presentation.
  • Distinguish unique benefits of different types of visual aids.
  • Develop visual aids that are consistent with standard presentation quality criteria.

Delivering the Presentation – Students will:

  • Explain the preparation process used to deliver a presentation.
  • Describe ways to cope with mistakes and surprises during a live presentation.
  • Describe important audience factors to consider in delivering an effective presentation.
  • Critique and provide constructive feedback on a professional presentation.

You may be taking a course that requires you to make a presentation. You may have already had exposure to public speaking and giving presentations, or perhaps you shudder at the thought. This module introduces you to the art and science of putting together an impressive presentation. You will utilize key strategies needed to prepare and deliver presentations. Doing so requires a range of skills. Foremost is the ability to communicate well. Whether for business, school, or in everyday life, the ability to communicate effectively and with confidence is a core skill. But not everyone is a gifted communicator.

The art of communication involves the effective transmission of facts, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and values. Speech is a key skill in communicating. Conversational speech may come easily to some, but communicating verbally in a professional context may not. Public speaking can be thought of as a rhetorical skill. To be effective, you need to understand not only what to say but also how to say it. You will learn about rhetoric as a function of communication, its key elements, and how it can be applied to professional presentations.

Casual conversation is usually spontaneous and informal. What is communicated may be unplanned and without consequence. Presentations, on the other hand, need to be planned and well-structured. They often occur in formal and sometimes stressful environments. Unlike in casual conversation, personal traits used in formal presentations may not come to you naturally. As a presenter, you need to know how to use elements of verbal and non-verbal communication effectively. For example, eye contact, body language, speaking style, active listening, and being concise are all important elements of a quality presentation. You will learn ways to hone these traits in order to effectively apply them as you develop your personal communication style.

In this module you will learn about proven techniques for planning a presentation for different purposes such as informing, persuading, or entertaining your audience. Each of these requires attention to detail and a clear strategy. Delivery includes what you say in words and what you say using props or presentation aids. You need to ensure these work in harmony to convey your message clearly. You will also learn about design considerations for creating visual aids to enhance your presentation.

Anxiety is a common barrier many presenters experience, and can result from being nervous or uncomfortable facing groups of people. It can also be caused by things like the presentation venue, familiarity with equipment that will be used, or other environmental factors. You will examine techniques to cope with and offset the impact of presentation anxiety.

As you work through the sections in this module, you will learn that giving good presentations does not just happen; rather, it is the result of a deliberate and well-planned process that combines both art and science.

Interpersonal skills are perhaps the most important for a successful presentation. They are key to getting your message across and to the way your audience reacts to you and interacts with you during your presentation. You will discover how verbal and non-verbal skills can be harmonized to deliver a presentation that an audience will not soon forget, both in its content and in presentation.

Student presentations provide valuable experience.

The next phase of the process is about planning. Here you will learn about factors to consider when preparing for an effective presentation and how to develop an execution strategy based on these factors. We will cover planning activities such as knowing your audience, researching supporting evidence for your topic, and organizing the flow of your presentation.

The final phase focuses on delivering a presentation. This is the culmination of your hard work in preparation and planning. It is where you showcase your communication skills and planning strategy. This is also the time when your audience is eager to get what they came for. In other words, this is the time when you sell yourself based on the quality of information you will convey and on how well it resonates with the audience.

Regardless of its substance or how well planned it may be, a poorly delivered presentation can be a significant disappointment to you and the audience. Very few presentations can be done well by winging it. You will learn several delivery techniques that improve the likelihood of a successful presentation including how to skillfully use body movements without causing distraction, how and when to vary voice characteristics to add emphasis, and the subtleties of eye contact to draw your audience into the presentation. You will also discover the pros and cons of using props and how to integrate them effectively to support your presentation.

Since your presentation is as much about you as is the topic, you will learn tips and techniques for rehearsing, interacting with your audience, conducting effective Q&As, and improving your persona.

Text Attributions

This chapter has been adapted from the following chapter:


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Student Success Copyright © 2020 by Mary Shier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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