Presentations are something that have been introduced into university curricular over the last few years, and I think that has partly been because of the increase in the use of power point. So it is very rare that you actually get a presentation that isn’t accompanied by a power point slide show of some sort. So, what I think you need to work out from the beginning is ‘what is the relationship between you and the power point presentation?’ Are you just reading what is on there? Or is the power point presentation just there to support what you are saying. I think really that you should be going for the latter. What is on the power point should enhance what you are saying, but should not be the same as what you are saying. And I think that leads to the second point, which is that most slides that we see have far too much information on them, and that if you are just using the power point to support what you are saying, rather than to be what you are saying, you will then immediately reduce the amount of stuff that is up there. So think about your slides, think about what they are doing, think about how much is on them, think about maybe making them interesting and lively, although, not too lively, and think about the use of English on them. There is nothing worse than seeing a lovely slide marred by spelling ‘biscuit’ wrong, or something, because it jumps out, because it is up there. So do check, make sure that you put the spell check is on, make sure that the grammar, and the spelling and that you have full stops and commas in the right places, and all the rest of it.
So that is the kind of technicalities of it, in terms of presenting it yourself, I think that you need to think about the structure. It’s like an assignment really, in a way it is more difficult. In an assignment, the reader can always go back and check what it was that you had written before, as though they are following the discussion properly. With a presentation, the listener can’t go back, they are reliant on what you are saying to them, so it is up to you to make the structure very clear so that the reader is able to follow what’s going on. I spoke a little bit about signposting with writing, and with presentations, you need to signpost as well, so in the first slide, explain to the listener what they are going to hear about, what are the aims of the presentation, or how the presentation is organised. And then, as you go through the presentation, signal to the listener ‘now we are going to talk about this part’ or ‘we are moving on to the next part now, which is ...’ . So, that kind of explicit signposting I think is really helpful, and also, I think that it helps the person who is writing the presentation to work out exactly where it is they are going with the presentation.