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A Guide to Making a Classroom Presentation

Some classes require that you give a presentation as a part of classroom participation or sometimes for extra credit. This can be intimidating and even frightening to some students, especially those who are not experienced in public speaking. We have collected the best information we could find on the subject, distilled it, added tactics garnered from our own experience and present it to you. Preparation leads to heightened confidence which leads to success.

Preparation: Things to do before the presentation day.

  • Choose the Topic: Develop your presentation's topic to a few main ideas. Strike a balance between the amount of time allotted for the presentation and the amount of material that you want to cover so that you neither present a bland overview or overwhelm your audience with trivial details. If the topic is assigned by the instructor, don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification so that your end result meets the instructors expectations.
  • Become an expert: Relax. If your subject is "The Cat in the Hat", you don't have to know everything about the life and times of Dr. Seuss. You will be expected to be fully versed on the book in question and this expertise will help to relieve nervousness.
  • Practice: Rehearse the presentation by recording it, or reciting it to a few friends.

The basic elements of classroom presentations are:

  • The Thesis statement: State where you are going and what you will prove.
  • The Argument: Convince them with facts and logic. Give a complete and detailed presentation of the subject matter including all of the main points and essential details, the pros and cons of the problem using illustrations and examples. Show your complete understanding of the subject.
  • The Review and Summary: Summarize what you've told them.
  • Questions and discussion: Someone will invariably throw you a curve and ask a question that you can't answer. Have an answer ready for such an event like "That's a bit outside the scope of my topic so I don't have a definitive answer." or "None of the sources I used for this presentation addressed that topic so I can't say for sure.".

Techniques of delivery:

  • Put your audience at ease with a relevant anecdote or joke, or get their attention with a dramatic gesture or event.
  • Use personal pronouns in your delivery.
  • Make eye contact with the audience.
  • Present your report with a conversational voice though vary it for emphasis.
  • Use transitions to signal the audience you're moving to a new idea.
  • Direct questions to your audience to get them more involved.

Using visual aids or media:

  • Call early and make sure hardware is compatible with your software and software versions of your documents are compatible with versions of their software
  • Have several versions of computerized files on your hard drive, disk, web site, and overhead and/or paper just in case.
  • Come early and make sure everything works and that any media (audio, visual, computer) can be seen, heard, understood by all.
  • Keep all visual materials simple in large text for visibility.
  • Have supportive materials for each idea.
  • Do not distribute handouts, even outlines, before your speech or the audience will focus on the reading material instead of listening to you.

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