6 How to Give An Oral Presentation

This is a post-graduate level course covering the topics of effective personal presentation for researchers from any discipline across campus. This module introduces key elements of communicating – in person – the topics and results of your scholarly work. Presentations must be careful to convey the research in a clear and unambiguous manner so that it cannot be misinterpreted by the audience while ‘getting the message across’.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand your given audience and determine what level of abstraction or level of technicality is appropriate
  • Determine the purpose or message of your presentation – what are the main ideas/concepts the audience should learn
  • Structure a presentation
  • Identify the context for creating the presentation – standard presentation, keynote presentation, plenary presentation, or determining the choice of voice

Video Lecture:

Video Transcript


Recommended Exercise:

Before advancing to the next module, try the following exercise.

Choose a relatively small topic in your field of interest/research. Prepare a few slides to present the topic. The slides should not be too busy or complex, but should display your information in textual or graphical form. Once completed, try to imagine you are seeing your slides for the first time, and time how long it takes you to (silently) read your slides and comprehend what the text, diagrams, and tables mean. If it takes longer than a minute to do so, the slide contains too much information. Try trimming the slides down to accommodate this time limit.

Continue moving through the presentation as you would for an audience, speaking about your topic based on the slides. Try two levels of abstraction – a simpler, less detailed version, and then one more suitable for an audience with direct knowledge of your field. In the low level of abstraction (suitable to non-expert audience), you should not talk more than two minutes per slide and should stick closely to the information presented on the slides. In the higher level of abstraction (suitable to an expert audience), you should be able to elaborate more on the information, talking for approximately 2-4 minutes per slide. Practice for peers, friends or family members if possible!

Note: You can find many presentations on the Internet for inspiration. Use the criteria from this module to determine if the presentation is worthy of emulating!




Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Technical Communications Copyright © by McMaster University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book