Presentation Skills

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Presenting is a skill that will improve with practice. Read our Presentation Skills resource for information on effectively preparing, practicing, and performing in an academic presentation.

If you are ready to practice with others, print out the Presentation Skills Checklist to see where you can grow!

Looking for something short and sweet? Read our quick tips to improve your presentation skills.

If you would prefer anything in .Docx format, please email us and we can send it along.


Quick TipsRhetoric and the art of persuasionThe mechanics of presentations: A step-by-step guideLeading the Q&A session; Presentation Skills Checklist



Prepare the content

  • The OPENING: include a “hook” to get the audience attention, possibly a brief description of who you are, an overview
  • The BODY: make an outline of key points, interpretations, examples or evidence. Don’t plan to think on the spot! Use visual aids sparingly.
  • The CLOSING: recap main points and original purpose, leave them something to think about, thank audience
  • The QUESTION PERIOD: Anticipate questions and prepare a response.

Prepare yourself

  • Eat, drink modestly and sleep before a presentation.
  • Arrive early to check space and equipment.
  • Believe in your abilities: practice a positive attitude.
  • Anticipate glitches and be ready for them.


  • Rehearse aloud 3+ times: alone, using a mirror, with a friend. Is presentation within time frames?
  • Be aware of your body language: stand tall; eye contact with someone or back of room; smile; use purposeful movement; good volume, pace, pitch, pauses.
  • Become familiar with the technology.
  • Use relaxation techniques while rehearsing (see module; link below).


  • “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, tell ‘em what you told ‘em.”
  • Follow your outline.
  • Expect some “nerves”. Breathe at the end of each sentence to relax your throat.
  • During Q&A: Open with “What are your questions?” Listen carefully and repeat question to class before answering. Think before answering. It’s OK to be honest with your limits of knowledge.
  • Handle difficult persons calmly and politely: move on, or redirect question to audience.
The best speakers...

The mechanics of presentations

<present, practice, prepare image>

Step 1: Preparation
Step 2: Practice
Step 3: Present
Preparing for the Q&A and responding to questions
How to evaluate your performance
Presentation skills checklist
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First photo courtesy of and second photo courtesy of Audio Mix House under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivations 2.0 license.