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Brooks Library Research Guides: Oral Presentations

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About Oral Presentations
Some frequent advice for speakers at conferences includes:
  • Preparation is essential.
  • Oragnize. Include an introduction or overview and a distinct closing or transition to Q & A.
  • Know your audience. Try to tailor your level, style, and content to their interests.
  • Avoid acronyms and jargon, especially when your audience may not be familiar with them. Define your terms.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Time your practices so you fit the time available, but remember that many people speak faster in the actual presentation than in practice.
  • Where appropriate use humor and stories to increase interest.
Journal Articles
Billings, Diane M. and Karen Kowalski. 2009. Strategies for Making Oral Presentations about Clinical Issues: Part II. At Professional Conferences. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing 40(5):198-199.
  • Although directed to health care professionals, much of the guidance in this succint 2-page article applies to conference presentation in many fields. Pacing of both the talk and the slides and design of the slides are examples. Largely focused on the mechanics, rather than content or concepts. This article is available to the CWU community through the library's WilsonWeb database.

Brauetigam, David W. 2008. Speak Up: A Guide to Imporving Your Public Speaking Skills. Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology 42(3):199-201.
  • Preparation, knowing your audience, practice, handouts, and giving the talk are briefly discussed. The "Rule of Six" for Power Point (No more than 6 lines of text per slide, no more than six words per line, always have a backup of electronic presentations, and "never let them see you sweat" are among the pearls of wisdom here.

Streeter, Jennifer and Francis Miller. 2011. Any Questions? A Concise Guide to the Q & A Session after a Presentation. EMBO Reports 12(3):202-205.
  • The authors argue for the key role of the Q & A session in a successful presentation. They suggest ways to manage the Q & A, and discuss the importance of understanding the type of question as well as the content of it. Problems that may arise during the session are mentioned with ideas for how to avoid or remedy them. Very helpful in ensuring that you end your talk on a positive note.
All Items by Source

Handbooks & Guides

Effective writing in psychology [electronic resource] : papers, posters, and presentations / Bernard C. Beins, Agatha M. Beins Restricted Resource Some full text available
This eBook is directed toward writing in psychology, but the chapter on creating poster presentations (chapter 16) and the one on oral presentations (chapter 17) have suggestions relavant to most fields.
Oral Presentation Advice Some full text available
Mark D. Hill of the University of Wisconsin - Madison brings you this brief set of considerations for preparing your presentation, accompanied by a general outline of how a talk should be structured. Also includes Hill's annotated edition of David Patterson's foolproof 10 commandments for "How to Give a Bad Talk."
Scitable Oral Presentation tips Some full text available
The publishers of the journal Nature bring you four short but informative pages, all located in the presentations section of "Explore This Topic":

Also available: Poster Presentations!
The effective presentation : talk your way to success / Asha Kaul
Print Location: HF5718.22 .K38 2005
This slim volume is laid out for quick access and clear information. It covers planning and structuring the presentation, creating visual aids, and delivering the presentation.

The information-literate historian : a guide to research for history students / Jenny L. Presnell
Print Location: D16.2 .P715 2007
See pages 211-217 for some quick tips on oral presentations and PowerPoint.

Presnell recommends The Gettysburg PowerPoint (Abe Lincoln's very own PowerPoint slides and notes, right?). Follow the link from there to the article "PowerPoint: shot with its own bullets" which cites Absolute Powerpoint (Parker I. New Yorker Magazine, May 28, 2001:76). Parker's engaging article has many good points, including out how Power Point "lifts the floor" on presentation quality, but also "lowers the ceiling."

Tips for Creating an Oral Presentation Some full text available
The University of New Hampshire offers this tip sheet for planning, organizing, and presenting your talk, enhanced with quotes from their students about nervousness and all the benefits of having done the presentation.

Web Sites

Toastmasters' Free Resources Some full text available
The public speaking articles, the tips & techniques subsection of that section are packed with information to improve your presentation. Podcasts and video are also available. Use the menu in the upper left of each page to navigate.
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