Here are some simple rules:
Presentation for school
- Think about your audience.
Who are they? What sort of topic might they want to listen to? How do you connect your topic to their lives? What’s in it for them?
- What’s your point?
What’s the one thing you want them to take away from the presentation?
- Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, and then tell ’em what you’ve told them.
You generally need to repeat your message seven times to make it stick. (I like to think of the funeral speech in Julius Caesar, with its repetition of “for Brutus is an honourable man” – though in that case, the meaning changes over the course of the speech)
- Open, make no more than three points to support your argument, close.
You may feel you’re oversimplifying, but you’re not
- Examples and Proper Nouns – illustrate every point with an example as concrete and real as you can make it.
Use real names – real people, places, institutions – and bring it to life.
- Speak slowly and make sure you pause before and after things you want to emphasise
- Rehearse repeatedly until you can talk confidently with only occasional glances at your notes, and you know where your emphasis and pauses are
- Enjoy yourself, and smile.
The best example of my school presentation
The best example I have of this was an improvised speech I gave when trying to sell tickets for a prize draw to raise money for a homeless charity.
I focused on the word “expectation”:
- initially on the statistical expectation of what they could get for what each ticket cost,
- then on their expectation of going home to a bed and possessions and getting up to job and income,
- then how homelessness takes those away and reduces the expectations of young homeless people to the point where they have no expectation that it will ever improve
- and how the charity we were raising money for changes those expectations.
It was a simple way of using one repeated concept to link the draw to the audience to the point. No slides, no gimmicks, no notes.