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Lesson Navigation IconOnline Guidelines for Academic Research and Writing

Unit Navigation IconThe academic research process

Unit Navigation IconOrganization and project management

Unit Navigation IconLiterature research and application

Unit Navigation IconWriting an academic paper

Unit Navigation IconHow do I create a good poster?

Unit Navigation IconPresentation skills

LO Navigation IconIntroduction: «Presentation skills»

LO Navigation IconPreparing for a presentation

LO Navigation IconGeneral information on presentations

LO Navigation IconDiscussion

Unit Navigation IconLearning techniques and exam preparation

Unit Navigation IconBibliography

Unit Navigation IconMetadata

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Preparing for a presentation

Looking for a presentation topic is similar to searching for a topic to write about in academia (cf. «Topic selection, posing problems and questions»). However, you should always be aware that writing a paper is not the same as writing a speech since there is indeed a difference between presenting a topic to listeners and dealing with it for readers. It is also important to consider the audience before asking too much or too little of your listeners. It can be helpful, for example, to distribute an abstract, a summary, or a synopsis of your presentation beforehand. However, sometimes this can also be a distraction.

Writing a manuscript

A manuscript is a presentation's framework and serves as aide memoire when giving your speech. Depending on conditions and personal preference, you can either use an entire text or a script containing only the most important keywords (e.g. headings). Attention should be paid to the following questions:

What should the audience learn?

What should listeners remember? It is common practice to prepare a suitable concept based on 2 or 3 (learning) targets. Especially when presenting a comprehensive work, it is necessary to limit yourself to just a few aspects. Most of the time it makes more sense to focus in detail on just a few issues than to bring up as many topics as possible.

To which issues do you have to/want to limit yourself?

  • Focus on main statements
  • Ordered by importance of the matter
  • Deliberate shortening

How to structure a presentation for a better understanding?

  • Distributing handouts, showing slides, using the blackboard, and pointing out the issue you are talking about at that very moment or
  • Highlighting headings or chapters when using electronic devices (by using tabs at the bottom or the top of a slide, for example)
  • Clearly and logically structuring the presentation, allowing the audience to easily follow one's train of thoughts
  • Indicating fixed points (slides, sketches, etc.)
  • Providing examples that relate the topic to the audience


Natural brilliant speakers or rhetoricians are rare; however, presentation techniques are easy to learn!

actCreating a checklist for your presentation
It's always wise to create a checklist before a presentation.

Create a checklist for your own presentation. Should there be any additional items?

Here is an example (Click here for more information)

Do you plan to speak off the cuff, to paraphrase, or to just read?

In general, a speech delivered naturally while using only a few notes as guidance will be more convincing than a speech just read out loud. However, a lively speech given by means of a manuscript is better than to ad-lib while being ill-prepared. In order to deliver a good speech you need a proper framework of keywords (a manuscript of catchwords or headings) to hold on to. Such a manuscript can consist of file cards, a mind map (cf. «Structuring»), or transparencies that will also serve as a reference for the audience. When preparing for a presentation, we recommend paying special attention to smooth transitions and shifts in subject to improve security.

For paraphrasing (rephrasing or restating terms and sentences), you write down in detail what the presentation is about. Then these sentences will not be read out but rephrased while delivering your speech.

When preparing a manuscript, we recommend writing short sentences to avoid convoluted ones.

It is also advisable to test a speech before the actual talk. Only then will you notice any clumsy transitions, wrong phrases, or if there are enough keywords on your manuscript.

How to keep track of time?

  • You should give a presentation for test purposes (alone or with others) while counting the time.
  • Most of the time, a speaker will need less time when practicing. You should therefore allow for ten percent more time or less subject matter accordingly.


Only when practicing aloud can you estimate the expenditure of time.

Getting a general idea of lecture rooms

It is easier to give a presentation in familiar surroundings. We therefore recommend checking the lecture rooms beforehand to deliver your presentation in an optimal way. Attention should be paid to the following questions:

Are there all the means needed, are they ready to use, and do you know how to use them?

  • Procuring projector, computer, overhead projector, slide projector, chalk, pointer, water-resistant markers, etc.
  • Making a reservation for the equipment before testing it in time
  • When making a Power Point presentation we recommend checking the projector, cable length, and compatibility before setting the resolution. Don't forget any necessary adaptors. Always check if there are matching adapters at hand (e.g. when using Apple)!

How to use the room efficiently?

  • Checking your position when speaking, showing slides, using a second projector, etc.
  • Make sure that the audience has a good view of the speaker, the blackboard, or the screen


Feeling comfortable in a room means feeling confident when presenting your project.

Prepare material before the presentation

You should prepare all necessary material in time to get the feeling of having things under control as well as being ready to begin.

Is the material well ordered?

It is advisable to number your pages and transparencies. One tends to drop things when getting nervous; and it can take quite some time to get organized again.

All the means provided have to be checked beforehand; a dried-out pen or a laser pointer without battery, for example, are quite useless.


A good start is essential for a presentation; it is therefore important to be well-prepared.

Are you able to start right away?

You should be prepared and able to begin with your presentation right away. Rearranging things (such as attaching one computer to another, for example) should be organized and checked beforehand (at least theoretically). It happens all the time that a laptop cannot be connected to a projector. It is therefore advisable to have a USB stick with your presentation at hand (PDF format).

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