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Creating Presentations

Effective Presentations 

  • Know your message. To plan, reduce your focus to one key sentence. This practice creates direction.  

  • Plan without tech. Organize your message using a pen and paper or Word document BEFORE creating a PowerPoint or other digital presentation tool.  

  • Keep attention on you. Do you need PowerPoint? If you do use a visual aid, keep text minimal. 

Consider narrative structure. Use narrative structure to make memorable presentations. 

  • What is / what could be. Contrast our ordinary world with an idealized, improved vision. Use multiple, specific examples and identify steps to achieve positive change. 

  • The Hero’s Journey. Show how we learn and grow by facing trials and challenges. 

  • False start. Create a false impression of what the story will be, then change the narrative. Use this approach for stories of problem-solving, innovation, and flexibility. 

  • Petal structure. Highlight relationships among ideas. Cluster related stories around a central concept. In a group presentation, assign each member a story. 

  • In medias res. Put audience members into main action, then explain how you got there. 

  • Nested loops. Your first story is also your last story; your second story is your second-to-last story, etc. Maintain audience interest as you loop back to your central idea. 

Building Confidence 

  • Practice! Confirm pronunciations; eliminate odd transitions, wordy slides, and fuzzy graphics. 

  • Acknowledge emotions. It’s okay if you’re nervous. The audience wants you to succeed! 

  • Build confidence through knowledge. The more you know, the easier it will be to share. 

  • Anticipate questions, but if you don’t know an answer, don’t panic: acknowledge and move on. 

  • Understand body language. Stand straight, walk around, use gestures, and smile! 

  • Fake it until you make it. Acting confident often helps us feel more confident! 

Managing Group Work 

  • Take time to understand. Discuss opinions, personal commitments, strengths, and weaknesses. 

  • Assign responsibility. Agree on consequences for missed deadlines or low-quality work. 

  • Recognize contributions. Be accepting of other viewpoints. Value each team member’s work. 

 

Improve your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email skills@mcmaster.ca

References 

Sparkol. 8 classic storytelling techniques for engaging presentations. (2018, March 30). https://www.sparkol.com/en/blog/8-classic-storytelling-techniques-for-engaging-presentations 

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