Tell the audience what you have to say, just as in conversation. Having written notes in front of you while speaking will help you maintain focus, but use an outline of topic sentences rather than a complete manuscript. The speaker’s traditional strategy is still valid: tell the audience what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you have said.

The audience wants to know (a) what you studied and why, (b) how you conducted the research, (c) what you discovered, and (d) the implications of your discoveries. A verbal presentation should create awareness of the topic and stimulate interest; audience members can retrieve the details from a written paper (you might want to have copies available or indicate the on-line address at which copies can be downloaded).

Finally, rehearse your presentation until you can speak comfortably and look at notes only occasionally. If your presentation includes slides, posters, or other visuals, be sure they are readable and comprehensible from a distance. The best rehearsal is under conditions similar to the actual presentation. You are prepared for an oral presentation when you can succinctly tell your audience, eye-to-eye, what you want them to know.

For helpful suggestions on preparing for your presentations, contact Sabrina Fennell.