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Academic Writing Guide: Presentations

Death by Powerpoint


1.  Think of, or research, an attention grabber: a story, fact or statistic, or other interesting piece of information that will help draw in the audience right away and frame the talk in a minute or less.

2.  Focus only on the 3 most important points. Introduce them at the beginning, and repeat them at the very end.

3.  Have 2-3 specifics/particular points that fall within each of the three categories, and, if possible, also have a brief story or example to illustrate each main point.

4.  Write out transitions between major points and examples (and practice them) so your speech will flow better. Example: “So far we’ve discussed [x], but on the other end of the spectrum is this other important aspect, [y].”

5.  Be gender neutral. Even though it may not technically be grammatically correct, today it is acceptable in formal presentations in most contexts to use “they” and “them” instead of she/he, him/her.

6.  Try, if you can, to incorporate a bit of tasteful humor. It shouldn’t be forced; it needs to fit in with the rest of the speech and feel natural to be funny. Don’t be afraid to improvise during your talk, if you can do so comfortably.

7.  Have someone else read your speech, or alternately, practice your presentation in front of them – so they can critique the content and delivery.