Presentation Skills

Essential Life Skills

Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill to get your message or opinion across and, today, presentation skills are required in almost every field.

Whether you are a student, administrator or executive, if you wish to start up your own business, apply for a grant or stand for an elected position, you may very well be asked to make a presentation. This can be a very daunting prospect, our guide is designed to help.

If, in this position, the first thing you do is open up PowerPoint, then you should probably first spend some time developing your presentation skills.  Delivering an inspirational or captivating presentation requires a lot of preparation and work, and you may not even need PowerPoint at all!

Many people feel terrified when asked to make their first public talk, but these initial fears can be reduced by good preparation which will also lay the groundwork for making an effective presentation.

Quick Tips for Effective Presentations


  1. Talk naturally to your audience – although it may be appropriate to read short passages avoid reading from a script for the majority of your presentation.
  2. Stand, rather than sit, and move around a little – but avoid pacing backwards and forwards like a trapped animal.
  3. Vary the tone, pitch and volume of your voice to add emphasis and maintain the audience’s interest.  Aim to speak loudly and clearly while facing your audience.  Avoid talking in a monotone voice or turning your back to the audience.  See Effective Speaking for more information.
  4. Make eye contact with your audience.  Do not stare at your feet, or the podium and avoid looking directly at any one person for more than a few seconds, gain eye contact with the individual members of the audience.
  5. Use visual aids where appropriate, graphs and charts, diagrams, pictures and video - but don’t overdo it.  Visual aids should help to illustrate and strengthen your points not be a distraction from what you are saying.
  6. Rehearse your talk and check your timings.  Always aim to finish you talk in time remembering to allow time for questions if appropriate.
  7. Prepare and structure your presentation carefully.  Introduce the subject – tell the audience what your talk is about.  Explain the points you wish to convey.  End with a summary of your points.
  8. Stay focused throughout your presentation – avoid irrelevance and unnecessary detail.
  9. Learn to channel any nervous energy, relax but stay alert.
  10. Answer any questions as honestly and concisely as you can.  If you don’t know the answer then say so and offer to provide further information at a later date.

Read through our guide to Presentation Skills for more information


This section of SkillsYouNeed is designed to give you a step-by-step guide to making a professional and effective presentation. We hope you find our pages helpful in developing your presentation skills.

Our guide includes the following areas:

What is a Presentation?

A presentation is a means of communication which can be adapted to various speaking situations, such as talking to a group, addressing a meeting or briefing a team. To be effective, step-by-step preparation and the method and means of presenting the information should be carefully considered.
What is a Presentation?

Preparing Your Presentation

Preparation is the most important part of making a successful presentation.  This is the crucial foundation and there should be no short-cuts.
Preparing Your Presentation

Organising the Presentation Material

Irrespective of whether the occasion is formal or informal, always aim to give a clear, well-structured delivery.  You should know exactly what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it.  Clarity of ideas and good organisation should result in a lively, logical and compelling message.
Organising the Presentation Material


Writing Your Presentation

This page offers advice on how to write an effective presentation.  Before you write your presentation, you should already have started to prepare by developing your ideas and selecting the main points to include.
 Writing Your Presentation

Deciding the Presentation Method

Few people are able to give a presentation without notes. You will need to know your own abilities and decide how best to make the presentation. You might manage your talk by using full text, notes on cue cards, keywords on cue cards, or mind maps.
Deciding the Presentation Method

Working with Visual Aids

Most visual aids will need advance preparation and should be operated with efficiency.  Only use visual aids if they are necessary to maintain interest and assist comprehension: do not use them just to demonstrate your technological prowess. If visual aids are used well they will enhance a presentation by adding impact and strengthening audience involvement, yet if they are managed badly they can ruin a presentation.
Working with Visual Aids

Managing the Presentation Event

The practicalities of how you manage your presentation even can make a significant difference to its success, and to your nerves!
Managing the Presentation Event

Coping with Presentation Nerves

It is entirely natural to feel nervous before making a presentation. Fortunately, there are some tried and tested strategies and techniques to manage your nerves so that you can concentrate on delivering an effective and engaging presentation.
Coping with Presentation Nerves

Dealing with Questions

At the start of your presentation, you should make it clear whether and when you would prefer to deal with questions. Some speakers prefer questions to be raised as they arise during the presentation whilst others prefer to deal with questions at the end. Decide in advance how and when you wish to handle questions.
Dealing with Questions

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