Teaching Skills: presenting content

Tools for Teaching Navigation

Tools for Teaching: Introduction

Facilitation Skills: The art of group facilitation

Teaching and Presentation Skills: Keep these techniques in mind

Tips for Programs: Practical examples and resources

Create Effective Presentations

How to Present Your Content to Make the Most Sense

How you organize and structure your presentation greatly affects what your audience will gain. It is important to look at the following four key elements:

1. Choosing an Overall Organizational Pattern

Presenters save planning time by plugging their information and creative thoughts into an established format. Research also clearly shows that listeners remember better and more if they have a sense of the shape of the talk. The best presenters make their organization very clear. In fact, you cannot make it too obvious.

Based on your topic, audience, and goals and objectives, choose an appropriate pattern. Ask yourself what pattern will best help you get your message across.

Time-tested, Logical Organizational Patterns

Audience Retention and the Organization of Your Presentation

2. Building a Strong Opening

The opening is the most important part of your presentation. It serves four key functions:

  • Gain attention – Your introduction must get the audience’s attention. If no one is paying attention, it doesn’t matter what you say. What you want is positive attention and to hold their attention.
  • Create rapport and establish your credibility – First impressions are everything and you want to make a good one.
  • Sell your audience on the need to listen – The audience has that natural curiosity and interest at the beginning. Convince them that it will be worthwhile to listen to you attentively.
  • Describe what you are going to say – The introduction needs to give the audience some idea of what you will present. In addition, to help them know how to process the information, you should let them know what organizational pattern you have used.

Tips for Creating a Great Introduction

Things to Avoid When Presenting

3. Building a Rich Body

Your strong opening sets the stage for the main body of your presentation and previews your organizational pattern. As this pattern unfolds, you need to explain the key ideas that you are going to make in as much detail as necessary for your audience to understand your message. Knowing that this is where the retention curve dips, you want to try to counter this effect by using a variety of techniques. Keep in mind that these different strategies meet the needs of all the different types of learners in your audience.

Techniques for Making Your Presentation More Interesting

Strategies for Increasing Learning

Checking for Understanding

4. Building a Powerful Closing

Your closing, like your opening, should be as powerful and as magical as you can make it because people remember their first impressions and last impressions most vividly—and this is your last chance to make a good impression.

Advantages to a Powerful Closing

Alerting Your Audience

Tips for Closings

Finally, introductions and conclusions put the head and tail on the body of your presentation. Without them, or with them not fully developed, you don’t have a complete presentation and it will be evident to the audience. Neither takes much time, but they make all the difference!

Adapted with permission from Soil and Water Conservation District Outreach: A Handbook for Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation . Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 2003.