Oral Presentation: Tips and Tricks

by Raffles Gavel Club
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The one last hurdle before the Year 5 academic year concludes: Oral Presentation. Up in just under a week, but that’s more than enough time to perfect your presentation! Whether or not you feel confident about getting your hands on Some Forty Percent, practice and employing the right strategies will definitely help in putting up a good performance. Here are some tips and tricks that we have put together. Be sure to share your own tips and comments in the comments section below!

Fluency & Articulation

Stick with an accent you are comfortable in, rather than one that seems to sound good. This allows you to speak naturally while the latter usually results in awkward and stilted speech. Instead of trying to cram as much content as possible into your allotted 5 minutes of airtime, keep to a steady pace which leaves room for the proper articulation of your words. As advised by PW lecturers, make sure your script is four minutes, and remember, you tend to speak faster when reading off a script! The ideal 4 minutes happens at the speed you’ll be speaking at with or without cue cards, depending on your choice.

Posture & Gestures

It is crucial to be familiar with your script- it’s hard to focus on what your body is doing when you’re struggling with what you’re supposed to say.

Be aware of some common bad habits, such as swaying your body or crossing your feet, darting eyes or looking into a distant corner of the classroom, or the “Adam & Eve” Pose (clasping your hands in front of you) or the “Military” Pose (hands behind your back).

One way to overcome these tics is anchoring yourself – keep your feet shoulder width apart and planted on the ground, otherwise, take meaningful steps as you speak. If you’re comfortable with the idea of pacing meaningfully, consider taking a step forward when you’ve got a important point to make! Besides that, you could also consider glancing to the left, right then centre. Dividing your attention equally among all the audience members makes everyone feel included in your presentation- a great help with audience awareness. Another option is making sweeping, confident gestures toward the screen. Practice doing so beforehand such that you know when and where to point and gesture.

Natural gestures do not come easily to everybody, so be sure that your gestures are deliberate. They can be used to emphasize, show direction, or reinforce statistics. You can enumerate important points by using your fingers to count, a handy trick which prevents you from losing your audience as you rattle off a list of bullet points. To add gestures, think about your action verbs and then how you might demonstrate them. For example, if you say “lift,” then lift your hands to visually enhance your point. Also note that you need to keep in mind the size of the classroom as well as whether the projection screen will be on your left and right given that you might not always get to rehearse in the actual venue. In general, the bigger the room and the more obstructed the views, the bigger and higher the gestures need to be. It is more effective to extend your arms when gesturing. Lastly, remember to smile! :-)

Rehearsing Tips

Over-reliance on cue cards might make you appear unprepared and uninvolved with the audience, so it is vital to have your scripts memorised. Memorising a 5 minute speech may seem daunting but it  does not take as long as you might expect. Start off by familiarising yourself with phrases or parts of paragraphs. Then, move on to full sentences. It’s alright if you don’t follow your script word for word, but remember to always make use of your keywords. (ie. expanding the positive, diminishing the negatives)

To ensure the smooth flow of the presentation, be sure to collaborate with your groupmates who are clicking your slides or speaking after you, so that they can follow your flow. This can be done by having a printed copy of everyone’s speeches in order, and labelling it with a symbol at every slide change. Also remember to thank the previous speaker and introduce your next speaker. It is useful to mark the beginning of your script with the previous speaker’s last paragraph so you know when your turn is up.

Lastly, practice, practice, practice! Keep reading your parts out loud, everywhere! (in the bathroom, car, lift etc) Verbal practice gives your brain the chance to get used to phrasing and order of content.

Q&A

This is perhaps the most frightening part of Oral Presentation. But even if you are someone who can’t handle anything spontaneous, this can easily be prepared for. It is useful to come up with a document of possible Q&A questions and to discuss or type out the answers for each one as a group. It definitely will help to reread your Written Report and make sure that you have a full understanding of every aspect of your project, as opposed to the parts that you’re presenting.

During the Q&A segment itself, feel free to take up to 10 seconds to think before you begin. If you are stuck even before you’ve begun and need to buy time, don’t thank the teacher for their question or compliment them for raising ‘a good point’. Instead, start by defining terms in the question where possible. Preambles are acceptable as long as you keep them short, this ensures that you don’t go off topic even before you have begun to answer the question. Don’t be afraid to ask for the question to be repeated if you didn’t catch it in its entirety the first time round, it’s okay to do so and asking for clarification can even help to buy you some time!

Remember to structure your answer and repeat the keywords that the examiner used, in order to signal that you are responding to their question with a well-thought-out and relevant answer. It is better to take a longer time to think and come up with a clearer structure than start right away and have your answer going all over the place. Keep in mind that pauses are fine and natural! People prefer to listen to speakers who think before they speak. Finally, end off by saying thank you confidently.

Group cohesiveness

Your groupmates are the people with whom you’ve travelled this long PW journey with so stick by one another for the final lap! If a team member feels nervous, go over their scripts with them and give them feedback on their style, posture, etc. On the actual day, be sure to put on a dazzling smile and nod when your teammate is speaking even though you’ll be seated behind them. Don’t read your script or gaze into a visionary distance, that would pose as a distraction. Three or four nodding heads in the background not only screams teamspirit, but also gives the impression that everything being presented makes perfect sense.

Last but not least, believe in your project! Only then will people be interested in doing the same. We at Raffles Gavel Club wish you the best of luck!! :-)

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