Chapter 9 Oral presentation skills. Learning objectives. On completion of this chapter students will know how to: identify the most appropriate presentation style use strategies to engage and interact with an audience prepare effective slides
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Learning objectives On completion of this chapter students will know how to: • identify the most appropriate presentation style • use strategies to engage and interact with an audience • prepare effective slides • use knowledge about non-verbal factors to improve a presentation • appreciate the value of preparation • understand the importance of voice in presenting effectively.
Public speaking • Public speaking skills are increasingly important given a greater focus on information-related skills. • In many universities public and professional speaking skills is considered to be an important graduate quality. • The good news is that effective public speaking can be learned!
Overcoming fear • Anxiety can be offset by: • visualising a successful presentation • practising thoroughly • ‘acting’ positive and confident, as an audience will ‘mirror’ your approach.
Activities 1 and 2 • Complete Activities 1 and 2 on p. 194–195 of your textbook.
Preparing for a presentation • Even short, informal speeches require preparation. • Never agree to do a presentation and then just turn up, hoping that the ideas will come to you as you speak! • Videoing a practice speech provides an opportunity to gain slightly more objectivity by seeing yourself as others do.
Windschuttle & Elliott • Windschuttle & Elliott (1999, p. 356) suggest that preparation will be rewarded in several ways: • Audiences appreciate well prepared speakers. • Prepared speakers are more persuasive. • Well prepared speakers are more likely to satisfy audience expectations. • Prepared presenters gain confidence for next time.
Activities 3–5 • Complete Activities 3, 4 and 5 on pp. 195–198 of your textbook.
Group presentations • Practice is even more important for group presentations. Coordinating with a group of other speakers requires commitment and teamwork. • Decide which speakers will be responsible for which parts of the presentation and convey this information to the audience. • Work out the sequence of speakers.
Group presentations (cont.) • There should be a consistent style running through all the slides as this helps the audience to follow your presentation. • Be very familiar with each other’s presentations. In a business situation, if one person is absent the other speakers will have to take responsibility for that part of the presentation.
Group presentations (cont.) • Coordinate your overheads or visuals. • Use the same font and background on slides. • If using an overhead projector, consider asking one group member to be responsible for changing overheads or clicking PowerPoint slides. • Decide whether questions will be taken individually or by a spokesperson for the whole team.
Group presentations (cont.) • Plan for transitions from one speaker to another. This can be achieved smoothly by using statements such as: ‘Building on Lisa’s comments …’ or ‘Angie has explained some of the challenges the project presents. Now I would like to point out some possible ways of responding to them’
Group presentations (cont.) • While one member is presenting ensure the audience see other team members exhibiting interest in the presentation rather than scratching, chatting, stretching and preparing their own part. • A group presentation should be coherent and seamless as though it had all been prepared by one individual.
Activity 6 • Complete Activity 6 on pp. 198–199 of your textbook.
Different kinds of speeches and presentations • Windschuttle & Elliott (1999, p. 357) list four different types of speech: • speeches that are read (it is difficult to maintain eye contact with an audience if attention is fixed on the page) • speeches that are rehearsed and memorised • the extemporaneous speech that is prepared thoroughly but the speaker performs ‘spontaneously’, using only prompts/notes. • the impromptu speech, which is a speech delivered without preparation.
Activity 7 • Complete Activity 7 on pp. 199–200 of your textbook.
Different kinds of speeches and presentations (cont.) • Summers & Smith (2006, p. 79) make a distinction between two types of speeches: those that inform and instruct, and those that persuade and convince.
Informing and instructing • The following advice is useful in all presentations but particularly where the purpose is to inform and instruct. • Use simple, clear vocabulary. • Avoid jargon and long, complicated explanations. • A clear structure is especially important for this type of speech. • Always support statements with research by providing the audience with a reference (e.g. use phrases such as: ‘Wong’s 1999 study showed clearly that …’). • Remember to give people time to read and think about any statistics or other more complex graphics that you show them.
Persuading and convincing • The role of a persuading presentation is to influence the beliefs and attitudes of an audience, perhaps with the intention of selling a product. • There are four techniques that a presenter can use to persuade an audience and gain their attention, especially early on in the presentation.
Persuading and convincing (cont.) • Rhetorical questions • Questions asked by the presenter that don’t actually require a response from the audience (e.g. ‘Doesn’t everyone hate advertising?’). • Quotations or surprising statistics • ‘Business, you know, may bring money but friendship hardly ever does.’ (Jane Austen/Mr Knightly, Persuasion). • Statistical information can also be very useful for drawing attention to the importance of a topic.
Persuading and convincing (cont.) • Anecdotes • ‘After a long day at work, I had to sort through a pile of mail … and all of it turned out to be advertising!’ • An anecdote is really about simply telling a story. • The most effective anecdotes are those that make it clear what the real point of a story is. • Speakers often draw on humour in relating anecdotes, but take care! • Not all people find the same things funny. Avoid offensive language and racist, sexist or religious jokes. • Tolerance and respect should be the guiding principle concerning what is communicated and how.
Persuading and convincing (cont.) • Personal testimony • A persuasive speech draws on the emotions of the audience, perhaps by reminding them of their allegiances (e.g. ‘All of us love shopping …’). • It is still important to provide a logical and balanced argument based on research—even if it appeals to people’s feelings.
Activity 8 • Complete Activity 8 on pp. 200–201 of your textbook.
Researching venue and audience • Arrive early to find out some information beforehand. • Find out what technology is available. • Always have a back-up plan in case one kind of technology fails (e.g. PowerPoint in OHT form, a USB, CD-ROM).
Finding out about the audience • How many people are expected? • What is the seating arrangement? Is the seating flexible if you wish people to break into discussion groups? • Where is the speaker expected to stand?
Finding out about the audience (cont.) • Who will be in your audience? • Occupation, age, gender, cultural background or special interests will all affect the reception you receive. • Find out how the audience feels about the topic. • Are they attending your presentation because they feel enthusiastic or depressed? Will their attendance be required or voluntary?
Activity 9 • Complete Activity 9 on p. 202 of your textbook.
Structure and presentation • An oral presentation usually has an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Introduction • A short outline/summary of the whole presentation • Gains the attention of your audience quickly. According to Ober (2007, p. 283), a speaker has 90 seconds to capture the interest of the audience!
Structure and presentation (cont.) Body • Make your main points in the body. • Don’t try to give too much information but offer to provide additional information after the presentation. • Each point is like a paragraph in an essay and will require a topic sentence. • Use transitional devices that include connecting words such as ‘in addition’, ‘furthermore’ or phrases that refer forward and back in the text to show the connection between ideas.
Structure and presentation (cont.) Conclusion • Should take up 10 per cent of your speaking time. • Summarise and re-emphasise the main points. • ‘Signpost’ the fact that the presentation isalmost over. • Use suitable endings such as ‘in conclusion’, ‘to sum up’, ‘finally’, ‘as I have demonstrated’. • Never finish a presentation by saying ‘that’s allI have to say’ or ‘that’s it’. The only acceptable way to conclude your presentation is to say‘thank you’.
Physical factors influencing a presentation • Body language conveys a powerful message that is even more important than words. • To express confidence stand straight and pull your shoulders back a little. • Some movement is natural but avoid pacing or swaying from side to side. • Do not fold your arms: it can look defensive. • Do not keep hands in pockets: it can seem furtive or too informal.
Physical factors influencing a presentation(cont.) • Avoid habitual movements such as scratching and ‘praying gestures’. • Ask a friend to observe or video you practising to reveal any movements you need to avoid. • Many speakers say ‘ugh’ quite frequently. Locker (2006, p. 481) suggests these sounds can be reduced with practice. • Smiling usually helps to develop a positive relationship between a presenter and the audience.
Physical factors influencing a presentation (cont.) • Practise making eye contact with each member of the audience for a moment, but avoid focusing on one person for longer than a second or two. According to a study cited by Locker (2006, p. 479), eye contact with the audience creates an impression of being better informed, friendlier, more honest and more experienced. • Never stare at the back of the room or out the window!
Physical factors influencing a presentation(cont.) • Confirm that everyone in the audience can hear you. • Vary your volume, pitch (‘music’ of the voice) and pace to add interest. • A higher pitch indicates excitement and a lower one is used for emphasis. • Pace refers to how quickly you speak (Taylor 2005, p. 387). • Try saying the same things using different pitches to see if any are more effective than others.
Physical factors influencing a presentation(cont.) • Decisions about what to wear for a presentation depend on your audience and the situation (e.g. formal presentations require formal clothing). • Taylor (2005, p. 385) suggests dressing more formally than an audience because it helps you feel more confident and professional. • Wearing long sleeves also projects authority and professionalism.
Interacting with your audience • Interactive presentations can be fun and interesting. • Some ways of interacting with an audience include: • using questions and answers • asking for volunteers • asking people to respond by raising hands • asking members of an audience to discuss their own experience in relation to the topic.
Activity 10 • Complete Activity 10 on p. 205 of your textbook.
Answering questions • If you need more time to answer a difficult question a useful tactic is to ask the speaker to repeat it (Locker 2006, p. 482). • It is also acceptable to ask individuals to rephrase a question if you do not understand it. • However irritating, always answer questions even if they have already been covered in the presentation. • Avoid embarrassing anyone when responding to a question.
Answering questions (cont.) • Locker (2006, p. 482) also cautions presenters against responding to individuals with comments such as ‘That’s a very good question’, since it suggests other questions were less useful. • Anticipate some questions beforehand in order to develop confidence and appear informed. • If an individual is rude, keep your cool and maintain a professional approach. Ultimately, someone else’s rudeness will reflect badly on them rather than you.
Summary • Practising helps you to keep within your time limit and contributes to a smooth, coherent presentation. It will also reduce your anxiety. • Structure your presentation into an introduction, body and conclusion. • Use a variety of quality visuals to enhance audience interest.
Summary (cont.) • In group presentations the following needs to be discussed beforehand: • order of the presentation • transitions from one member of the group to another • becoming familiar with each other’s work and how questions will be responded to. • There are different kinds of speeches. Those that are read, those that are rehearsed and memorised, the extemporaneous speech and the impromptu speech. The purpose of a speech also varies.
Summary (cont.) • Research the venue and the audience thoroughly. • Find ways to interact with the audience. • Stylistic devices can be used to influence an audience. These include asking rhetorical questions, using quotes, sharing anecdotes and providing personal testimonies. • Pay attention to physical aspects of your presentation, such as posture, gestures, personal mannerisms, facial expressions, eye contact, clothing and voice.