How to Give a Good Presentation

As an accompaniment to my other article on writing a good report, here I offer some brief advice on how to design and give a good presentation. Presentations are used alongside written reports to assess understanding. In an academic setting, the ability to present and communicate may be a key learning goal, and performing a presentation is a way to give experience with this. But it might not be obvious what you need to give a good presentation, so I wanted to make a few short notes to help better explain that.

  1. Practice – This sounds obvious, but it really makes a difference.
  2. If there’s a Q&A at the end, practice giving answers, too. Get someone else to ask their own questions if possible.
  3. Prepare a script – You don’t need to plan word for word, but have a general idea of the main topics to cover (so you don’t forget anything important).
  4. Plan it like a report – Have a beginning, middle sections and conclusion.
  5. Learn basic video editing – If the presentation is recorded, this allows you to use your best takes so you don’t have to give the whole presentation at once.
  6. If you’re doing a report + a presentation, avoid saying “Look at the report”. Even if you can’t go into the full details, try to briefly summarise the point you’re making in the talk.
  7. Use appropriate visuals – Extravagant and dense slides don’t enhance a talk. Focused images, tables, diagrams help more.
  8. If doing a live demonstration, rehearse it. Have a recording of a time it worked. In all likelihood it will not go as planned. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a live demo go 100% right.


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