How to Improve Your Oral Presentation Skills

Do you have an upcoming oral presentation and want to make the best of it? This article will provide you with some practical tips and suggestions to make an excellent presentation, and of course, ensure a high grade!

Oral presentations can generate a variety of feelings in different people: from excitement to fear. But making effective and impactful presentations is possible and, with certain tips and a lot of practice, a presentation can become an interesting learning experience for the audience and for the speaker as well. This article will give you some tips and advice on how to prepare yourself for that moment.


Think about Your Audience and Your Objective

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Working on an effective oral presentation starts with its planning. A good presentation is not only about explaining a given topic with strong confidence about it. It starts with having clarity on to whom you are going to present, and why you will present. Here are two tips:

  • Define your target audience: A good presentation will clearly address a well-identified target audience, so its message will be user-friendly in its vocabulary, content, and tone. Either if it is a presentation for your class or in a job meeting, keep in mind who your audience will be, which key messages are important and relevant for them, and check that you use vocabulary and tones adequate to them.
  • Define your objective: Jointly with your audience, you will also need to define a clear objective to achieve with your presentation: is it to persuade your audience? Is it to describe a case study? Is it to explain certain concepts of a class? You can define your objective by using specific verbs aligned to what you pursue in your presentation.


Prepare Content and Structure

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Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Having this clarity in mind, it is time to prepare your content and structure your presentation. Here are other two tips:

  • Preparing your content: This involves the quality of the content you will present. Make sure that you have read and studied well what you are going to share with your audience, and map potential questions that may arise. This will make you feel confident about the topic and project it to your listeners.
  • Structuring your presentation: And once you have clear ‘what’ and ‘why’ you will present, as well as to ‘whom’, it is your turn to define your ‘how’. Organize the contents in a way that is engaging for your audience. First, plan a greeting and also a hook — a moment that grabs your audience’s attention to the topic: either an interesting fact, a video, a song, a story, a highlight, or statistics that can introduce the topic in an engaging manner. Then, prepare your materials with visual aids and key messages — you can also make a presentation without any visual aid, but using it can be helpful depending on your circumstances. And manage an interesting and logical fluency of your topic. Also, plan an inspirational wrap-up to close your topic, and also leave enough room for questions and interactions with the audience.


Work on Your Image

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Your image matters! Therefore, dress in a way that makes you feel confident and comfortable enough to share this topic with your audience. Keep in mind the nature of your presentation and the context where you will perform it. Without going to extremes, take care of your personal image, in a way that makes you feel confident about this topic.

Maybe some people manage nerves more easily than others. If you struggle much with nerves, then find a way that allows you to feel calm and enjoy your presentation because even though you will present to others, it is YOU who needs to enjoy the topic and the experience in order to master it. Give yourself some time to practice on your own, in front of a mirror or by voice recording, and become familiar with your presentation and your structure. Remember: what matters the most is that you actually enjoy the experience and feel comfortable explaining this topic to your audience.


During the Presentation

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Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

And now, the time to present has come! Take a deep breath and visualize yourself as a person who will enjoy the scenario. The audience is very interested in learning about your topic. Enjoy the presentation all the time, and show, in a natural way, your excitement about this topic. If at some point you forget something, it is okay! Just keep sharing with your audience what you have prepared.

It is also important to manage your physical presence, by looking at your audience and calmly using your body language. And if at some point you get really nervous, take deep breaths in your transitions.

Don’t worry, you will do great! It is overall a matter of practice, and every time it will become much better for you. Keep practicing and your presentations will be insightful for your audience, and you will feel more confident about them over time.


Photo: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock


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