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Kalamazoo College
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Tips for Presenters

Preparation: Do not speak without notes of some kind. Organize your presentation carefully according to time constraints.

Creative Work: This is not a SIP reading; by all means read from your collection, but select pieces that illustrate points you make in  your presentation.

Content: Here are some questions you might use to develop your presentation:

  • Why did you choose this project?
  • How does it relate to the rest of your "K" education?
  • What did you learn in completing it-- about the subject or the craft, about yourself, about the disciplines of literary studies and writing, about your future goals?
  • What were your struggles and obstacles?
  • What are you proudest of in the SIP?
  • How did your faculty advisor help you?
  • Is there part of the SIP that you wish to read aloud?

Frame your presentation so that your audience has a clear idea of your project and its results. If you will be reading from the project, including creative work, develop introductions that will lead smoothly into that portion of the presentation.

Media: Visuals--slides, Powerpoint, objects, video--and audials, used selectively, can enhance a presentation; they never make the presentation.  Don't rely on these to do your work for you.

Timing: Time yourself as you practice the first time. Then revise your presentation to correspond to the time limit.

Practice your presentation several times, until you are thoroughly familiar with it and do not need to rely on your notes too heavily.

Delivery:  Oral presentation does not come naturally to most of us.  If you want this presentation to be really good, assume that your normal speaking style will NOT be adequate.

Pacing:  Practice once at your normal speaking speed, and then deliberately slow it down. Continue to practice at the slower pace, which should be your reading pace.  However slow it sounds to you, it be much  easier for the audience to follow you if you speak slowly, with attention to phrasing.

Audience: Practice in front of friends, getting feedback on anything they had trouble following.

Audibility: Most of us drop our voices at the ends of sentences. Practice follow-through--projecting your voice through the very last word in the sentence. Aim up and out--toward the back of the room, at least twenty feet away.

Breathing is crucial to oral presentation. Most of us breathe shallowly when we're nervous, which leaves us short of breath. Poor posture also inhibits breathing. When you practice, stand erect, feet apart, shoulders back. Hold or place your notes at a level where you don't have to lower your chin to read them. Take time, deliberately, to breathe deeply. Again: it may seem to you like the silence of breathing is minutes long, but it's really only seconds; an audience doesn't even recognize it.

Refine and practice your presentation sufficiently that it is not peppered with "like" or "uh" or "y'know." Nothing makes a presenter look more amateurish.

Tone: your presentation can be friendly, even funny, but it shouldn't be sarcastic, jokey, or ragged. No digressions, no in-jokes, no asides to your friends. ALSO: no apologies or denigrations of your SIP. Present with pride and professionalism.