Individual and Group Presentations
The formal presentation of information is divided into two broad categories: Presentation Skills and Personal Presentation.
These two aspects are interwoven and can be described as the preparation, presentation and practice of verbal and non-verbal communication.
These can all be considered presentations.
They do not, however, all require the same approach. You would not, for example, use PowerPoint to thank a colleague who was leaving. It would be unusual (though it has been done) to use it in a speech at a wedding. However, a conference audience would be somewhat surprised NOT to see slides projected onto a screen.
It follows, therefore, that there is no single set of rules that apply to all presentations. There are, however, some things that every presentation opportunity has in common. These include:
- You will present better if you have prepared effectively. This does NOT necessarily mean that you have written out your speech verbatim and rehearsed it until you know it off by heart—although that might work for some people. It does, however, mean that you have to be confident that you are saying the right thing, in the right way, to the right people.
- You need to be clear about your audience and your message. Every presentation will be better if you have clearly considered the message that you want or need to convey, and how best to convey it to your audience. These two pieces of information drive your style, structure, content, and use of visual aids.
- You must never overrun your allocated time. In other words, don’t outstay your welcome. Almost every speech or presentation is better if it is shorter. Nobody minds going for coffee early or finishing before they expected to do so. Everybody minds being held up.
- Generally speaking, your audience starts on your side. As a rule, your audience is there (more or less) voluntarily. They have chosen to listen to you, and they want to enjoy your presentation. The occasion is yours to lose.
Preparing for the group presentation
As with any presentation, there is a significant amount of work during the preparation stage. The group must be well organised because there are multiple individuals, and therefore multiple personalities involved.
To assist with organisation, the group should first decide on a presentation moderator – this is essentially the “leader”. The presentation moderator can have the final say when decision-making is needed and, during the Q&A portion of the presentation, can decide which speakers will answer certain questions.
Understanding the audience
To make your presentation engaging you need to think about the audience so you can tailor it towards their needs. How much will the audience already know about this topic? What will they want to get from this presentation?
For example, if you are presenting the topic of building a bridge to a group of civil engineers, you can confidently use technical language. However, if you are presenting to secondary school students, you would need to use simpler language and not explain the methods in as much detail.
The presentation’s purpose
As a group, ensure you agree on the purpose of the presentation so that you all understand the message that needs to be conveyed e.g. “We want to find out which treatment works best for social anxiety.” Deciding on your message means that the group can start building key points around this – just keep in mind that each subtopic must contribute to the presentation’s aim.
Divide the presentation
The presentation needs to be divided into main areas so there is a clear beginning, middle and end. This is where can you decide on the order of the subtopics. Presentations usually follow this structure:
- It is useful to agree on the first minute of the presentation as a team. This is because the audience should be interested from the start and convinced to listen.
- The presentation’s aims are also discussed and an overview of the presentation’s structure is provided. For example, “We set out to explore the effectiveness of different treatments for social anxiety. We will first cover the symptoms and prevalence of social anxiety, before explaining the different treatments. This will then lead into a discussion about the pros and cons of each treatment route. Finally, we will explain which treatment route we decided was the most effective for this disorder.”
- One or two middle sections:
- These sections consist of providing the information that addresses your presentation’s aim.
- There can be more of these sections depending on your topic.
- After summarising all of the key points, there must be a clear conclusion. It is beneficial to appoint the conclusion to the best speaker as this is where all the information is pooled together.