For many people oral presentations are not their strongest suit-especially if the presentation is followed up by difficult questions that cannot be avoided. After conducting research on a particular subject, many students are often required to demonstrate their knowledge of a topic by presenting findings in the form of an oral exam. The exam may be done in front of a professor or examining committee, for instance, and can last for 20-40 minutes or more depending on the questions posed and the requirements of the school. Though oral exams are considerably shorter than written exams, they are often considered to be more stressful and exhausting on students. This may be due in part to a fear of public speaking, uncertainty on the subject in question, or simply the pressure of answering questions 'on the spot'.
So along with proper planning and preparation, a noteworthy presentation also involves making the best of visual aids such as Powerpoint and working to improve one's speaking ability and communication efforts.
Using Powerpoint in your presentation
The Powerpoint program does an excellent job of enhancing oral presentations by providing listeners with a visually pleasing guide to assist in comprehension. Likewise, Powerpoint is very useful in displaying graphics, charts, diagrams and other items that would otherwise be difficult to show on paper. And due to its convenience and professional appearance Powerpoint is used not only by students but by many people throughout business world as well.
To effectively deliver your research information with the help of Powerpoint
, a few things should be taken into consideration. Firstly, think carefully about what information you want to include in each side, the best presentation method to use, and lastly, exactly how the slides will magnify your presentation.
Preparing your slides
When preparing your slides in Powerpoint make sure that all of your content has been previously written and divided into subcategories or bullet points beforehand. Its not a good idea to start writing your speech in Powerpoint
, but rather plan everything ahead of time and simply plug in or copy and paste the information into the program when making each slide.
How you present your research findings plays a major role in how well your overall presentation is received by the audience. When deciding what to include in your slides, a good rule of thumb is to use your slides only to enhance your speech and not to be your speech. Some other specific tips are;
*Limit each slide to one concept or idea in order to make data easier to grasp
*Combine words and graphics to improve comprehension (this can simply mean having an effective heading and 1-2 descriptive sentences along with a picture of a building or empty chair for example)
*Include comprehensive topic headings instead of short or unclear ones- this will allow you to accomplish more in a small space (for example, instead of simply stating 'Educational psychology' add a few more details to that topic by phrasing it as 'Understanding educational psychology as a discipline')
*Consider different ways to present supportive evidences for each argument or claim you present. In your research paper all of your support is text-but to better engage your audience during the presentation you may want to think of other ways to communicate evidence such as graphs or charts.
This point refers to the way your slides visually appear to your audience. To make each slide easy to read and understand a few things can be taken into consideration.
*Use contrasting colors to improve visibility such as black on white or white on blue.
*Avoid mixing colors, sizes and fonts. Try to stick to one font, two or three sizes and a few basic font colors.
*Avoid cluttering your slide space with an abundance of text. Use simple and short statements that are direct and straight to the point. Incorporate bullet points for organization and apprehension.
Avoid reading directly off the screen
When presenting your information properly prepare for it by creating a paper outline to follow or notecards to use. This will hopefully eliminate the need to read from the slides or from your computer. As an effective speaker you want to be visible and available to your audience-and relying on your slides for information is a major hindrance to achieving that goal.
Use slides sparingly
Since your slides should only be an aid, there really shouldn't be a slide for every point that needs to be expressed. Slides should only highlight key statements, concepts and ideas. Therefore include a blank or black screen in between slides to give your audience a break from looking at the projector and allow them to focus on you.
Prepare back up support
In the event that something goes wrong with your computer, the projector, or anything else, you don't want to forfeit your presentation because of the problem. A good idea is to partially memorize your speech for stall moments as well devising a back up plan to follow. Other presentation aids such as handouts and physical samples or documents, artifacts, are charts are also good to include.
A major part of your oral presentation is obviously your ability to adequately convey your message. There are many things that go into effective public speaking and a lot of them have to do with practice and experience. You can't expect to excel in public speaking overnight, but what you can do is try and prepare as much as possible to deliver at the very least, a presentation that will earn you a passing grade.
Know your topic well
Since you already know your audience (as they are likely a committee, classmates, professor, or group of professors) the other area to master is the information you're delivering. Its likely that lack of confidence and uncertainty will surface if you are lackadaisical when it comes to studying your notes and research findings. Its a good idea to develop counter arguments and responses to those arguments as well to properly address posed questions.
Get your point across
The same way your research paper
needs to contain a thesis statement and main objective, so does your speech. To grab your audience's attention and encourage them to listen to what you have to say, first begin by letting them know what you want to achieve in the time you've been allotted, the purpose of your research and findings, and why they should care.
Practice is the key to a successful presentation
. Practice whenever you can at least several days before your presentation. Constantly reviewing material as well as receiving feedback from friends and family will hopefully improve your delivery and allow you to acknowledge things that you probably would not have observed on your own.
Its clear that an oral exam is not an easy task-but with practice and preparation it will be something that you can overcome. In addition to the tips mentioned above, some other ideas to improve performance is to prepare plenty of examples of concepts and ideas connected to your research. Also if your exam is a group one, take careful mental notes of the execution of other exams by noting how the examiners propose questions and any mistakes or faulty actions by the speaker. Lastly, if you feel overwhelmed during the presentation don't be ashamed to ask for a short break to collect your thoughts, and if you get stuck on a question that you don't know the answer to, rather than waste time and fluster yourself, simply admit that you don't know and move on to the next question.