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This set of guidelines serves as an introductory guide and general reference for use when
preparing for a talk or presentation. The principles should be applied whenever you are
faced with making a public presentation. These guidelines cover the practical aspects of
preparing, delivering and ending a presentation including ways to handle speech anxiety.


 Presentations are a way of communicating ideas and information to a group.

 A good presentation has:
1. Content - contains information that people need.
2. Structure - has a logical beginning, middle and ending, and is well sequenced
and paced that the audience can understand it.
3. Packaging - is well prepared. A report can be reread and portions skipped over,
but the audience is at the mercy of the presenter.
4. Human Element - A good presentation is remembered much more than a good
report because of the person attached to it.
 To achieve these, one needs to focus on the following three stages:

Stage 1: Preparing the presentation

 First, plan your presentation.
- Define the objectives of the presentation and its desired outcomes.
- Determine which topics/areas to cover. Consider also who the audience is and
what they know about the subject.
- Decide on the best format to discuss each area; use a variety of tools for a more
effective presentation.
 Second, outline the presentation.
- In the Introduction, explain clearly the purpose of the presentation and its


- Provide also an overview of the presentation.

- Alternatively, start with an icebreaker e.g. a story/interesting fact/ quotation/joke
or activity.
- In the Body, jot down the main points on a set of index cards. Provide evidence to
support each point. But do not write it out word for word.
- Organise the points according to
1. Time line
2. Simple to complex - can also be done in reverse order.
3. Level of importance - delivered in order of increasing importance or vice
4. Problem/Solution - present a problem, then the solution(s) and benefits.
- Include also relevant visual information to enhance understanding (e.g. charts,
graphs, handouts, video recording). What you use depends on the type of talk and
on the facilities available.
- During your rehearsal, practise using the visual aids and ensure that any
equipment is functioning properly.
- Make sure also that you know how to operate the equipment and when you want
particular displays to appear.
- In designing visual aids, make sure they are
1. Simple
- Include only the minimum, necessary information - concise & to the point.
- Simplify visually using design and colour.
2. Clear
- Focus on one idea per visual, if possible.
- Bold or use colours to focus on key information.
- Complement verbal message.
- Free of spelling and grammar mistakes.

3. Visible
- Visuals should be legible to the most distant viewer - readable from a
distance of 2 metres (without projection).

- Texts should be typed, not hand-written.

- Use a reasonable font size (18pt or larger) and a typeface that will
enlarge well (e.g. Times New Roman).
- Try to limit words to a maximum of 10 per slide.
- Limit also number of words per line - 6 to 7 words maximum.
- Try to avoid adding notes to OHP transparencies using a pen during the
- Consider room lighting:
i. Too much light near the screen makes it difficult to read.
ii. A completely-darkened room can send the audience to sleep.
iii. Avoid switching lights on and off.
- In the Conclusion, provide a summary, ask for questions and lastly, thank
participants for attending.

 Finally, practice the presentation in front of co-workers, family, or friends - they can
provide valuable feedback. This also gives you a chance to practice controlling your
nerves. Alternatively, make a video or audio tape of your presentation and review it
critically with a colleague. You should also know your presentation well so that
during the actual presentation, you only need to briefly glance at your notes to check
that you are on track.

Stage 2: Delivering the Presentation

 Begin with greeting the audience and briefly introducing yourself and your topic
if there is no chairperson to do so.
 Then, present your content by following the plan of the presentation - don't
 While doing so, pay attention to the following aspects:


 Fluency
- Rehearse your presentation a few times to avoid awkward pauses and to
familiarise yourself with the language.
- Pronounce your words clearly. During rehearsals, ask your audience if you
are making yourself clear.
- Never read from a script. Prepare cue cards with key words and phrases
only. Number the cards in case you drop them.

 Pace
- Time yourself during rehearsals to ensure that you finish within the
allotted time.
- Devise a rough plan so that you know how much time you have left at
each stage.
- Do not rush or talk too slowly. Be natural, but not conversational.
- Pause at key points for emphasis.
- Avoid jokes – it is always disastrous unless you are a natural expert.
- Bring a glass of water - your mouth may become dry, and you can use this
as an excuse to pause and punctuate your talk.

 Volume
- Speak clearly. Do not shout, mutter or whisper - the audience will lose
interest and begin to behave in ways that might distract you. Pitch your
voice towards the back audience. If a microphone is available, use it.
- To create more interest, change your pitch of voice (raising or lowering it)
or speed of delivery, occasionally.
- Demonstrate your interest in what you are saying through your voice -
otherwise, your audience will lose interest.


- Stand in a position where you do not block the screen.
- Preferably, point to the screen than on the OHP transparency to avoid
muttering or blocking audience's view.
- Use your hands or appropriate gestures to emphasise points.
- Do not move about too much. Pacing up and down can unnerve the
audience, although some animation is desirable.
- Look at the audience and maintain eye contact as much as possible. Do not
fix on an individual - it can be intimidating.
- Keep an eye on the audience's body language - know when to stop and
also to cut out certain parts of the presentation.

- Dress appropriately for the occasion. First impressions can influence the
audience's attitudes towards you. Here are some guidelines:
 Clothes
- For men, a suit or a long-sleeve shirt and tie is preferable. For ladies,
wear a skirt or a national dress.
- Avoid tight and revealing clothes. They should fit well, be in good
repair, and be neatly ironed.
- Choose business-like or conservative styles. Be stylish, but not
necessarily what's currently in fashion.
- Wear colours (like white or light blue) that do not distract others and that
are not distracting for you.

 Accessories
- Keep all electrical accessories (hand phone, organiser, pager etc) out of
sight and turned off. Turn off watch alarms.
- Shoes should be practical and comfortable (avoid stilettos and sandals
with socks).
- Less is best for jewellery, bags, scarves, hair accessories etc.

- Ties, generally, should be professional and conservative. Avoid garish,

humorous and stained ties.
 Grooming
- Clean, neat and simple with attention to detail such as loose hair,
chipped nail polish, clean fingernails.
- Make sure after-shave and perfumes are not overpowering, some people
are quite sensitive to these products.
 Hair
- Clean
- Not distracting
- Perhaps off the face or neatly styled for a corporate look

Stage 3: Ending the Presentation

 At the end of your presentation, conduct a short "question and answer" (Q & A)
session. But handling questions can be nerve-racking because you may not be
able to answer them. Here are some tips to help you handle the session:
- Prepare questions and answers
Prior to the event, write down as many possible questions as you can think of
and practise answering them. If you do get the questions or similar ones, you
will then be better prepared to respond.
- Ask for a repeat
If you cannot hear or do not understand the question, ask the questioner to
repeat it.
- Respect the questioner
Always respect the questioner even though you do not like the question or the
manner in which it is posed; do not feel offended if he asks you a question that
has already been answered in your presentation or a previous question. They
may not have heard or understood the information previously presented.
- Keep calm
Try to keep calm even if your audience is hostile or upset.
- Be honest

If you do not know the answer, admit it. You can either offer to contact the
person later with an answer or offer it to your audience to see if anyone else
can. This technique can open up discussion and generate further interest.

 After the Q & A session, summarise your position or emphasise on the most
important point of your presentation. This will be your last chance to impress or
inform your audience - use it to your advantage.

 Finally, after the presentation, take time to review your performance to identify
what you did well and what could be improved. If possible, get feedback from

Handling speech anxiety

Feeling nervous before giving a speech is natural and healthy. It shows that you care
about doing well. But, too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here's how you can
control your nervousness and make effective, memorable presentations:

 Know your material

Much of the fear comes from wondering if you will make a mistake, or if the
audience will know more than you. Thus, you need to practise your speech. If you are
well prepared and know your material inside out, you will have more confidence and
less anxiety.
 Know the room
Familiarise yourself with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early, walk
around the speaking area and practise using the microphone, visual aids and other
equipment. The more familiar you are with the room, the more comfortable you will
 Know the audience
Smile and greet some of the audience as they arrive. It is easier to speak to a group of
friends than to a group of strangers.
 Relax


Focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring. Before
you speak, or while you are being introduced, you should take slow, deep breaths.
Taking a sip of water may also help calm your nerves.

 Concentrate on the message - not the medium.

Focus your energy and attention on your message and your audience and away from
your nervousness.

 Stand in a self-assured, confident posture

Remain warm and open and maintain eye contact with your audience.
 Make the audience laugh, if you can.
This is the best way to start with a crowd before going into your speech. Everyone
will then be a little more relaxed because they have laughed together. However, you
need to try out your joke with others first to avoid any adverse effect.

 Gain experience

Experience builds confidence - your anxieties will decrease with more presentations
you give.


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Jacobs, K. (2002). Overcoming Stage Fright. [Online].


Nelson, P. (1999, November 22). How to make your "Butterflies Fly in Formation".

Toastmasters International. (2001). 10 Tips For Successful Public Speaking. [Online].