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BA3000: Arts Edge Guide: Presentation Basics

How to give a great presentation (7:04min)

5 steps to a killer opener (7:33min)

eBooks @JCU Library

How I beat stage fright

Structure for oral presentations

An oral presentation often follows a conventional format, which consists of an introduction, body and conclusion. It may include question time at the end.

a.     Introduction

The introduction of your presentation needs to engage the audience in the topic and allow them to understand exactly where your presentation is going to take them. You may choose to begin with a quotation, surprising statistic, a fascinating piece of information, a video clip or a provocative question. It needs to be something that makes the audience want to listen and know more. After the opening stimulus, outline succinctly what the presentation entails, and if it’s a group presentation, introduce the group members as well.

b.     Body

The body of the presentation covers all the main points you want to get across. These points need to have been briefly referred to in the introduction. It is important that your body is logical, so it may be beneficial to develop a mind map to organise your ideas and their sequence. Explain each point clearly, and make sure connections between points are clear. So, do spend some time to organise the information to ensure clarity and coherence.

When developing the body, research information from readings, textbooks, lecture notes, the Internet, library books and journals before developing your mind map. Drawing from a range of sources and showing different perspectives and arguments often adds depth and richness to the presentation content. Keep a research journal of the information you have found (note the source and some key words) so that you can refer to the resources easily when you plan your presentation, or for future reference.

Including quotations from some of these sources will provide a powerful presentation and can help to substantiate a point. Also, use relevant images, short stories, authentic scenarios, poems, video clips to keep your audience engaged. To support your presentation, make sure the colours, font size, text and image layout are clear for a large audience.

c.     Conclusion

The conclusion needs to have a strong finish to your presentation. A strong conclusion will provide a summary of key points and particularly a persuasive statement about the importance of the information. It could also offer projections to make the audience think.

d.     Questions

Often questions follow immediately after the conclusion. Give your audience some time to clear up any queries they might have or provide some additional comments and thoughts. This is not a time for you to ask them questions. Acknowledge all questions asked, if time permits, answer as best you can. It is a good idea to refer to comments you made in your presentation that may need clarifying. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so, or tell the audience where they may be able to find the answer. Do not attempt to make an answer up, as you could be misleading the person<

Scripting your presentation

Presentations need to have a clear introduction outlining what you are going to talk about and a great conclusion to remind them about what you just talked about. Both of these should be memorised, setting the scene (introduction) and closing the door (conclusion). Everything else can be summated into a script.

Writing a script for your presentation aids in clarifying your outline, reinforces your ideas and memory, and guides you through the doing. It can also be a psychological back-up (emotional support) if you falter. 

Scripts need to be:

  • your main points only - although you may include great quotations/statistics/facts
  •  numbered in order
  • clear and concise
  • easy to read - consider font, size and colour 
  • use easy to pronounce words
  •  presented NOT read from

A script is NOT your PowerPoint Presentation. This should only focus on key words, images or quotations and should not duplicate your script.

A script is meant only as a guide NOT as a crutch for you to solely rely upon. Rather all presentations should be rehearsed and rehearsed. 

So ...Plan, Prepare, Practice and Present!

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