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Creating Effective Presentations

Guide discussing tools and techniques for building effective presentations.

Preparing Your Presentation

A well-prepared presentation will likely still require you to go through each of the steps of the Writing Process. This may include:

A presentation should have the same "polish" of an essay. It should...

  • be free of grammatical and typographical errors
  • build logical connections between ideas
  • support the purpose (thesis) of the presentation
  • cite any source material used

Grammarly checks your work for web plagiarism and grammatical issues. Use the copy/paste feature for any text-based components of your presentation.

Connect to Grammarly and view our tutorial.

Preparing to Deliver Your Presentation

Once your presentation is prepared, you'll want to consider the venue in which the presentation must be delivered. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the technology capabilities for the room in which the presentation will be delivered?
  • Will I need a working Internet connection?
  • How can I back up my work so that it's available with or without Internet?
  • Can I take/distribute handouts?
  • How large is the room? Will I need a microphone to be heard?
  • How should I dress? Is the presentation casual, or should I be in business style attire?
  • How early can I arrive to set things up?
  • How might the level of lighting in the physical space impact my audience's ability to see what I'm trying to show them?

Knowing the physical layout and requirements, regardless of whether you are presenting in-person or online, can make a big difference in your stress level on presentation day!

Effective Digital Presentations

Look for the following characteristics when evaluating your presentation materials. Effective presentations...

  • have been thoroughly reviewed for spelling and grammar mistakes
  • use key phrases and essential information, allowing the presenter to elaborate on the basic content presented on a slide
  • limit punctuation
  • limit use of all capital letters
  • use contrasting colors for text and background (light text on a dark background is recommended)
  • limit text effects like fly-ins and flashy animation

Before your presentation...

  • practice moving back and forth between slides so the transitions flow smoothly when you're in front of our audience
  • rehearse the presentation in front of someone who has never seen it before, and ask for feedback
  • develop a Plan B in case something goes wrong and you cannot run your presentation as originally intended (wrong software, no Internet, etc.)

Public Speaking

Some of the most effective public speakers are...

  • Confident - Making eye contact with your audience and engaging them throughout the presentation is a good thing!
  • Passionate - If you care about your topic, so will they. Often that passion is evident just in the style of your speech.
  • Knowledgeable - When you are on stage, you are the authority on the topic. 
  • Natural - Speak to the audience. Memorizing your speech may be important, but a better technique is to memorize your notes. Memorized speeches can sound canned and overly rehearsed. Do not read from notes or slides.
  • Organized - Present your ideas logically, and make those connections for your audience. 
  • Time-sensitive - Stay on topic. Rehearsing ahead of time can also ensure that your speech stays within the limits of any time restrictions in place.
  • Clear - Speak clearly to the audience. Avoid chewing gum during your presentation. If you need a drink nearby, choose water. 

Feeling nervous? Check out the following: