Developing and Delivering a Presentation with Confidence

Library for Educators
7 min readFeb 12, 2024

R24–1158 MEST20352

Supporting materials:

  • Slides/materials: Slides
  • Group size: 20
  • Length: 30 minutes
  • Room: Various
  • Discipline: Middle Eastern Studies
  • Level: UG (2nd year)

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Reframe their thinking about presentations as an opportunity to showcase their work, with an open and receptive approach to audience questions
  • Plan and practise a presentation to check that their key message comes across
  • Consider how they use body language, facial expressions and their voice to engage an audience

Suggested online resources:

Session plan

Slides 1–2: Introduction and session outline

Introduce the workshop and its outline. Note that students are not asked to have a go at presenting in this workshop; it is more a quick overview of practical tips to consider before and during a presentation. Signpost to other MLE workshops that enable them to do this if they wish (Presentation Skills: Structuring and Delivering an Effective Presentation and Presentation Skills: Delivering with Confidence).

Slide 3: Warm-up activity

Ask the students to turn to a neighbour and ask them the questions on the slide. Ask them to note down their neighbour’s answers, as we will come back to these at the end of the session. Give students 2 minutes to talk and share thoughts. There is no need to take students’ feedback or share their answers with the room at this stage, but if students feel comfortable to do so (and there is time!), you may want to.

Slides 4–5: Normalising nerves

Show slide 4 — these are some reactions to being asked to present in front of an audience that students may find familiar or have mentioned in their conversations. Emphasise that it is really normal to feel nervous about speaking in front of a crowd — slide 5 demonstrates this! 10% of people are said to have glossophobia — a diagnosable phobia of public speaking. Famous figures who had this condition include Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln. The message of this is: if these people can overcome their fear to speak regularly in front of enormous crowds, there may well be tricks that we can learn to overcome our nerves around this.

Slides 6–7: Increasing motivation and encouraging confidence

Show slide 6: Break down what a presentation is, in essence. It asks us to explain and demonstrate what we’ve done to an audience. Ultimately, this gives us an opportunity to use our voice to give our views and showcase what we know. Reframing it like this may help us to overcome nervousness and view it as a kind of excitement or anticipation instead.

Show slide 7: Ask the group to call out why they should present their work to encourage them to think about the benefits of presentations. After a few responses, show the animated text on the slide. Presentations are different from written assignments, in that we can talk to a large number of people at once, in real time, and invite a conversation around our work. Being able to do this calmly and confidently is hugely beneficial for scenarios like job interviews (where we present ourselves, as well as our ideas!) and pitching to win projects or funding in the world of work, within and outside academia.

Slides 8–12: The stages of planning a presentation

Slide 8: Preparing a presentation can be broken down into 3 stages, all of which are important to get your message across clearly and to enable you to deliver your presentation with confidence. For example, it can be tempting to skip the practice stage, but this is crucial to check that you meet the brief and can feel confident about your delivery. We will now briefly look at each step in turn.

Slide 9: Research and plan

Before launching into writing your presentation, consider the brief. What are you trying to say in your talk? What questions are you trying to answer? How long have you got? Does your audience have an in-depth knowledge of the topic, or will you need to define some terms that may be new to them? Considering these questions at the start will help guide your focus as you research the topic and home in on your key points

Slide 10: Structure your framework

Once you have your key points in mind, consider your overarching message to the audience. You can then plan how to structure these points in a way that clearly walks the audience through them. Show how they link together, and remember to emphasise your message when talking your audience through them.

It can also be very useful to manage your audience’s expectations of what you will and won’t cover in your presentation. For example, outlining that ‘in this presentation, I will focus on X, Y and Z’ sets up what the audience can expect and helps them to follow your ideas. You can also acknowledge other debates around your topic and demonstrate that you are aware of them, but that they are outside the focus of your current talk. Doing this can also help boost your confidence, as you are being clear and assertive about your aims and how you will achieve them.

Slide 11: Presentation pyramid

This is a useful illustration that you cannot (and will not be expected to) include everything about the topic, or indeed everything you know about it, in your presentation. For this course unit, your presentation is 15 minutes, followed by Q&A, so you will only have time to focus on a few points in order to keep your message clear and concise. Your presentation is like a shop window — a brief overview of key ideas. Your audience can ask questions/read more of your work (or others’ that you refer to) if they want to know more.

Slide 12: Practise to check clarity

Once you have researched, planned, and structured your presentation, it is very important to do at least one practise run-through! Present your presentation as you plan to deliver it, and time yourself — this will give you the opportunity to see if you have too much content for the time you have. It can help to record yourself presenting, so you can check if you are speaking too fast, umming and ahhing, etc.

Practising with your slides will enable you to see if your slides have too much text on them — remember that if you put a large amount of text on a slide and then read from it or talk over it, your audience will find it hard to both listen and read at once. It also gives you a chance to check the tech — do any links in your presentation work? Do any animations work as planned?

It can be really helpful to present to a friend (either from your degree programme or not) — they can often spot things you’d miss, as you wrote the presentation.

Slide 13: Engaging your audience

A key part of delivering an effective, engaging presentation is: you! Consider how you use your face and body language in a way that helps the audience to feel relaxed and want to listen to you. Again, recording yourself can really help with this — are you gesturing in a way that might be distracting? Are you looking down at your notes instead of up at the audience? These things all take practice to refine, and this is by no means to say that you cannot be yourself when you present — it is more relaxing for both you and the audience when you are authentic. You may simply want to consider a few of these elements to create your ‘presenting persona’.

Think about how you use and project your voice — checking out the room beforehand and testing the acoustics can put your mind at ease and ensure you reach your audience. It is perfectly fine to pause! Some people like to take a drink of water to encourage themselves to take a breath and compose their thoughts, especially if nervous.

Finally, consider the language that you will use to explain your points clearly and concisely. Signalling words may sound unnatural but can be very helpful if your audience is listening and taking notes. If you are working with your own interpretation of concepts or terms that the audience may not know, giving examples of how you understand these concepts working can really help your audience to follow your thought process.

Slide 14: Handling audience questions: Some tips

Many people are more nervous about the Q&A than presenting, as they feel more out of your control than your presentation. However, reframing audience questions as part of a curious conversation about your work from people who are interested and want to know more can help boost your confidence. Aim to be open to questions and to be honest if you don’t know the answer: having phrases like ‘that’s a really interesting question, thank you — I hadn’t considered that, but I think it could be really relevant to X — here’s what I’d do to investigate this further’ can buy you time to think and give a positive impression to your audience. Once more, practising presenting to friends can help here, to see what questions they might have following your presentation!

Slide 15: Recap

Remind the group what this session has focused on.

Slide 16: Return to warm-up activity

Ask participants to look back at their notes from their conversation with their neighbour. What advice would they give them now to help with their nerves/what they would like to learn about presentations? Allow 2 mins for pairs to discuss their advice. After brief conversation, take some ideas from the room for positive tips to end on.

Slides 17–18: Further resources and support

Show slide 17 with links to TED Talks on presentations, Padlet, etc. and explain that the slides will be on Blackboard. Slide 18 lists further support available through the Library year-round.



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