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In some classes and especially for your Bachelor’s Thesis, research writing is only part of what is required in terms of the presentation of the work. Your teacher or tutor may also ask you to give an oral presentation about your study. Here are some things to think about before you have to make a presentation.

What should I say?

If your teacher or tutor hasn’t explicitly stated what the content of your presentation should focus on, think about what you want to achieve and what you think is the most important thing audience members should know about your study. Think about this: Do I want to inform my audience, inspire them to think about my research, or convince them of a concrete point of view? These questions will help you frame how to approach the topic of your presentation.

Oral communication is different from written communication

The audience only has one chance to hear your talk; he can’t “reread” your words if he gets confused. Focus on being clear, especially if the audience can’t ask questions during the talk. There are two well-known ways to communicate your points effectively. The first is the K.I.S.S. [Keep It Simple Stupid] method. Focus your presentation on conveying two or three key points. The second method is to repeat the key points: tell them what you are going to tell [previsión] them, tell [explicación] them, and then tell them what you just told [resumen] them.

Think about your audience

Yes, you want to prove to your teacher that you have done a good study. But teachers often ask students to give an oral presentation to practice the art of communication and learn to speak clearly and audibly about yourself and your research. Among the questions to ask yourself are the following: What previous knowledge do you have on my subject? Does the public have any particular interest? How will I involve them in my presentation?

Create effective notes

If you don’t have notes to refer to as you speak, you run the risk of forgetting something important. Also, if you don’t have notes, it increases the chance that you’ll lose the thread of your ideas and start reading the slides in the presentation. Think of the best way to create notes that you can easily refer to while talking. This is important. There is nothing that distracts the audience more than a speaker who gropes with his notes while trying to speak. It gives the impression of being disorganized and unprepared.

A good strategy is to have a page of notes for each slide, so the act of consulting a new page helps you remember to move on to the next one. This also creates a natural pause that allows your audience to contemplate what you just presented.

Strategies for Creating Effective Notes

Strategies for creating effective notes for yourself include:

Choose a large, readable [al menos 18 puntos en Ariel] typeface; avoid using quirky text fonts or italic text.

Use bold, underlined, or different-colored text to highlight the elements of your speech that you want to highlight. But don’t overdo it. Highlight only the most important elements of your presentation.

Leave enough room in your notes to jot down additional thoughts or observations before and during the presentation. This is also useful when writing down your thoughts in response to a question or to remember a multi-part [recuerda tener un bolígrafo contigo cuando hagas tu presentación] question.

Place a track in the text of your notes to indicate when to move to the next slide, click a link, or perform some other action, such as linking to a video. If you see fit, include an indication in your notes if there is a time in the presentation when you want the audience to refer to a brochure.

Write down difficult words phonetically and practice their pronunciation in advance. This is especially important for accurately pronouncing people’s names, technical or scientific terminology, words in a foreign language, or any unfamiliar word.

Organize content

Start by thinking about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to engage your audience in the presentation.

Then brainstorm the topic and write a draft. Do not get carried away, remember that you have a limited time for your presentation.

Organize your material and make a draft of what you [ver más abajo] mean.

Summarize your draft in key points to write on your presentation slides and/or note cards and/or brochures.

Prepare your visual aids.

Rehearse your presentation and practice how to complete it within the time your teacher has given you. Ask a friend to listen to you and take the time.

General Outline

introduction [puede escribirse al final]

Grab the attention of your listeners. Start with a question, a funny story, a provocative statement, or anything that appeals to your audience and makes them think.

State your purpose. For example, “I’m going to talk about…”; ” This morning I want to explain….”

Present an outline of your talk. For example: “I will focus on the following points: First of all… Later… This will lead us to… And finally…”

The body

Present your main points one by one in a logical order.

Pause at the end of each point. Give people time to take notes or to think about what you’re saying.

Make it clear when you move on to another point. For example: “The next point is that…”; ” Of course, we must not forget that…”; “However, it is important to realize that….”

Use clear examples to illustrate your key points and/or conclusions.

If you see fit, consider using visual aids to make your presentation more interesting [for example, a map, a graphic, an image, a link to a video, etc.].

The conclusion

Leave your audience with a clear summary of everything you’ve dealt with.

Summarize the main points again. For example, use phrases such as: “So, in conclusion…”; ” To recap the main themes…”, “In short, it is important to realize….”

Reiterate the purpose of your talk and say that you have achieved your goal: “My intention was…, and now it should be clear that….”

Don’t let the talk get diluted. Make it clear that you have reached the end of the presentation.

He thanks the audience and invites them to ask questions: “Thank you. Are there any questions?”

When asking your audience if anyone has any questions, give people time to contemplate what you’ve said and ask a question. It may seem like an awkward pause to wait ten seconds or so for someone to raise their hand, but it’s frustrating to come up with a question but it’s cut off because the presenter rushed to finish the talk.

If your last slide includes contact information or other important information, leave it long enough for audience members to have time to jot down the information. There’s nothing more frustrating for an audience member than wanting to write something down, but having the presenter close the slides immediately after finishing.

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When making your presentation, keep in mind the following points that will help you stay focused and ensure that everything goes according to plan.

Pay attention to language.

Be simple. The goal is to communicate, not to boast of vocabulary. Using complex words or phrases increases the chances of tripping over a word and losing the thread of the conversation.

Highlight the key points. Make sure people realize what the key points of your study are. Repeat them using different wording to help the audience remember them.

Pre-check the pronunciation of difficult, unusual or foreign words. Do it simply, but if you have to use unfamiliar words, write them phonetically in your notes and practice their pronunciation. This is especially important when pronouncing proper names. Indicate the definition of words that are not usual or that are used in a particular context [for example, “By using the term affective response, I mean…”].

Use your voice to communicate clearly

Speak loud enough for everyone present to hear you. Projecting your voice may be uncomfortable at first, but if people can’t hear you, they won’t try to hear you. However, moderate your voice if you are speaking in front of a microphone.

Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rush. Talking quickly makes it hard for people to understand you and denotes nervousness.

Avoid using “fillers”. Linguists call expressions like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” and “how” “fillers.” They occur most often during transitions from one idea to another and, if overexpressed, distract the audience. The better you know your presentation, the better you can control these verbal tics.

Vary the quality of your voice. If you always use the same volume and tone [for example, all high, or all low, or monotonous tone] during your presentation, your audience will stop listening to you. Use a higher tone and voice volume when starting a new point or when you emphasize the transition to a new point.

Speakers with accents have to slow [también lo hacen la mayoría de los demás] down. Non-native speakers tend to speak English faster than we slow-mouthed natives, usually because most non-English languages flow faster than English. Slowing down helps the audience understand what you’re saying.

Slow down at key points. These are also moments in the presentation where the use of body language can be considered, such as hand gestures or leaving the podium to point to a slide, to help emphasize key points.

Use pauses. Don’t be afraid of brief periods of silence. They give you the opportunity to sort out your thoughts and your audience to think about what you just said.

Also use your body language to communicate

Stay upright and comfortable. Do not slouch or drag your feet. If you seem bored or disinterested in what you’re talking about, the audience will imitate you as well. Put on something comfortable. It’s not the time to wear a itchy wool sweater or new heels for the first time.

Raise your head. Look around and make eye contact with people in the [o al menos finge hacerlo] audience. Don’t just look at the teacher or your grades all the time. If you look at your audience, you’ll make them participants in the conversation. If you don’t include the audience, they won’t listen to you.

When you talk to your friends, you naturally use your hands, facial expression, and body to add something to your communication. Do it in your presentation as well. It will make things much more interesting for the public.

Don’t turn your back on the audience and don’t move. Neither moving nor standing still is bad. Practice either to feel comfortable. Even when pointing to a slide, don’t turn your back on it; stand on your side and turn your head towards the audience as you speak.

Keep your hands out of your pocket. This is a natural habit when speaking. One hand in the pocket gives the impression of being relaxed, but the two hands in the pockets seem too casual and should be avoided.

Engage with your audience

Be aware of how the audience reacts to your presentation. Are they interested or bored? If they seem confused, stop and ask them [for example, “Is there anything you’ve dealt with so far that’s not clear?”] Stop and restate a point if necessary.

After highlighting the key points, check if the audience is still with you. “Does it make sense?”; “Is it clear?” Don’t do this often during the presentation but, if the audience seems disconnected, interrupting your talk to ask a quick question can refocus their attention even if no one answers.

Don’t apologize for anything. If you think something will be hard to read or understand, don’t use it. If you apologize for feeling uncomfortable and nervous, you’ll only get attention to the fact that you’re feeling uncomfortable and nervous and your audience will start looking for this, rather than focusing on what you’re saying.

Be open to questions

If someone asks a question in the middle of your talk, answer them. If it momentarily interrupts your thought thread, nothing happens because your audience will understand. The questions demonstrate that the audience is listening with interest and therefore should not be regarded as an attack on you, but as a collaborative quest for deeper understanding.

However, don’t engage in a prolonged conversation with an audience member or the rest of the audience will start to feel left out. If an audience member persists, kindly tell them that the topic can be covered after you’ve finished the rest of your presentation and let them know that their topic can be covered later in your presentation [it may not be, but at least saying it allows you to move on].

Be prepared to start the discussion after your presentation. Teachers often want a brief discussion to occur after the presentation. Just in case no one has anything to say or no one asks questions, be prepared to ask your audience some provocative questions or bring up key issues for debate.

The first words are the most important

Your introduction should start with something that attracts your audience’s attention, such as an interesting statistic, a short narration or story, or a bold statement and then clearly tell the audience in a well-crafted sentence what you plan to achieve in your presentation. The introductory phrase should be constructed in a way that invites the audience to pay attention to your message and gives you a clear idea of the direction you are going to take.

Speak to your audience, don’t read them

A presentation is not the same as an essay. If you read your presentation as if it were an essay, your audience is likely to understand very little of what you say and quickly lose concentration. Use notes, reference cards, or transparencies as prompts that emphasize key points, and speak to your audience. Include everyone by looking at them and maintaining regular eye [pero no les mire fijamente ni les fulmine con la mirada] contact. Limit reading the text to specific quotes or points you want to highlight.

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You may also be interested in: The Title of the Research

Bibliographic References

Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking. 12th edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015.

Amirian, Seyed Mohammad Reza and Elaheh Tavakoli. “Academic Oral Presentation Self-Efficacy: A Cross-Sectional Interdisciplinary Comparative Study.” Higher Education Research and Development 35 (December 2016): 1095-1110;

Peoples, Deborah Carter. Guidelines for Oral Presentations. Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries.

You might also be interested in: Group Work

The Oral Presentation

The Oral Presentation. Photo: Unsplash. Credits: Priscilla Du Preez @priscilladupreez

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