Giving a good oral presentation involves time and skill. You need to learn how to research well, organize your ideas, engage your audience and feel confident talking in public. Don’t expect to give your first presentation perfectly. Learning how to give oral presentations effectively takes practice and patience. Don’t get discouraged if you feel nervous and awkward time and again. Remember that many great orators, including Abraham Lincoln, only became talented speakers through years of dedicated practice.
Choose an interesting topic. Think about your audience, and pick a topic that appeals to you and to them. Having a topic you like enables you to speak passionately about it. Your audience will be attracted by their interest in the subject and by your enthusiasm for it. Your topic should be appropriate for the length of the presentation. A shorter presentation allows you to give a brief overview of a subject, while a longer presentation requires a more-detailed topic that you explore in depth.
Gather information. Jot down anything you already know about your topic. Tell other people what topic you’ve chosen, and ask them what they would want to hear about the subject. Take this into account as you do more research.
Write down your main ideas in outline format. Having an outline, rather than using a script, enables you to remember your main points as you give your presentation, interact well with your audience and maintain eye contact.
Develop your introduction and conclusion. Your introduction must present your topic and attract your audience, giving them a reason to listen to you. Stories, anecdotes, questions, interesting facts, quotations and statistics are effective introduction techniques. Your conclusion should wrap up and summarize your speech and leave your audience with something about which to think upon which to act. Do not develop new ideas in the conclusion.
Practice your speech aloud several times until you can confidently and comfortably transmit your message, without losing your train of thought or getting nervous. Continue practicing your speech, focusing on using proper intonation, volume, eye contact, stance and gestures. Watch yourself give the presentation in front of a mirror to see your own gestures, expressions and overall impression. Ask a friend or family member to hear you practice your speech and provide feedback.
Sleep well the night before the presentation. Eat well prior to the presentation, and dress professionally. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally boosts your self-confidence and reduces nervousness. Clench your fists tightly and then relax them right before giving your presentation. This loosens your muscles, helping you avoid tenseness and nervousness.
Speak calmly and with an even, moderate pace. If you are using presentation slides, try not to stand in front of them or block the audience's view of them. Look your audience in the eye as you speak.
Answer questions after the presentation to the best of your ability. If you do not know the answer to a question, do not make up an answer. Instead, admit that you do not know the answer and offer to look up the information for the person who asked.
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