Fundamentals of Presentation

Fundamentals of Presentation

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0237-3.ch010

Abstract

In this chapter, the author considers general topics relating to presentations. The idea is to provide the reader with knowledge that can be put into practical use. It is impossible to cover all the important aspects of presentations in this book, but it is hoped that the reader will find useful items in this chapter. The next chapter covers delivering the presentation and the basic use of PowerPoint. Before launching into the material contained here, here is a roadmap. First discussed are key points relating to topic selection. This section is followed by one on the setting of the presentation. Next discussed are tips for preparing for a presentation, including comments about multimedia. Given the variety of equipment that one might find at a given setting, included are notes about equipment. Many speakers provide handouts to audience members, so a discussion about these items is included too. Of course, if a presentation is not properly advertised, the audience maybe smaller than anticipated. Therefore there is a section on talk advertising. The chapter wraps up with conclusions and references.
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Selecting A Presentation Topic

Introduction

So far, this book has been mostly about writing, but we now shift our focus to speaking. Unlike working with manuscripts, oral presentations allow for direct and real-time interaction with the audience. When presentations are properly prepared and delivered, they are engaging and informative. An effective presentation can help land a job or seal a deal with a potential client while a poorly-executed presentation can damage a reputation or lose a sale. A good writer is not necessarily a good presenter, and vice versa. These two skills are fairly independent, and both need to be practiced and developed.

The general steps for giving a successful presentation are as follows:

  • 1.

    Analyze the audience in advance

  • 2.

    Research and gather information

  • 3.

    Organize the content

  • 4.

    Develop the slides

  • 5.

    Practice delivery

  • 6.

    Prepare for any unexpected circumstances

There is much more to presentations than just following these steps. Every day many people are exposed to presentations covering all sorts of topics. Television-news teams present stories on crime and car crashes; college math teachers prove the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus; corporate-sales teams demonstrate new products and services offered by their companies. A person can learn from all such presentations—make note of techniques that work well and others that do not. The topic of a presentation is the discussion’s central theme or focal point, and as a presenter, an individual must be knowledgeable about that topic. Sometimes a person may not be able to choose the topic for a presentation. For example, a boss may ask an employee to research a software application and present the findings to a committee. Even if an individual does choose the topic, every presentation requires research. The reader should consider the following items when choosing and researching a topic:

  • Area of personal expertise

  • The audience

  • The desired outcome

  • Time constraints

  • Available resources

In what follows we make comments on each of these general considerations.

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