Features of an Oral Presentation
When giving an oral presentation, four features decide the quality of the presentation. You need to consider and perfect the preparation, delivery, audience and visuals before you can give a solid presentation. The speaker is capable of controlling each of these four features to ensure the message is received satisfactorily.
A strong oral presentation begins with sound research, regardless of topic. Gather the necessary information, then select only the essential information to communicate the desired message. Do not let a mountain of research overwhelm the idea being shared. Know when to cut and trim distracting facts.
After preparing the information, practice delivering the presentation. A speaker should sound well versed and knowledgeable, not mechanical. Information should sound fresh and conversational in order to engage the audience. There are varying degrees of formality for oral presentations, but a presentation should not sound rehearsed. Allow natural language to flow and a speaker's personality to liven up the topic. Practice in front of a mirror or with a video camera to watch for tone of voice, intonation and pacing.
The audience is the least predictable feature of an oral presentation. A speaker must know the type of audience while preparing and practicing a presentation. The audience will determine the tone, language and types of visuals. If the audience is young and informal, then a presentation might include a more casual tone and language and possibly more flashy visuals. On the other hand, if the audience is academic or professional, the tone and language might be formal and sophisticated, and the visual wow-factor might stem more from substance and information than flash. A talented speaker can read an audience during delivery and modify the presentation accordingly.
Visual aids are an essential part of an oral presentation. Visuals engage the audience and add another dynamic to the speaker-audience relationship. Visual aids should be tailored to the audience type and appropriate for the setting. Consider using computers, objects, experiments, handouts, projections, other people, pictures and demonstrations. Visual aids should be relevant and cohesive with the topic discussed.
The speaker is also a visual for the audience. Dress accordingly and practice the oral presentation in the assigned space. Use the space provided and practice movements before the presentation to avoid awkwardness.
Always come early to setup any visuals to ensure that the presentation goes smoothly.
Brittany McBride has been writing professionally since 2007. She worked as an editor for Brigham Young University's magazine, "Humanities at BYU," as well as for the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center and Utah Valley University Turning Point. McBride is attending Hollins University and is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in children's literature.