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Presentation Skills: Creating & Preparing




The resources below will explain how you can create an effective presentation. It will also cover some ways that you can prepare yourself and your material. A lot of the work for giving a presentation comes before you deliver it. Developing informative content, creating clear visual aids, and making sure you are prepared will all make a presentation go more smoothly, even if you are nervous.



Checkmark in a box Give yourself enough time to prepare.

Hand with a watch  Before you begin, use an Assignment Tracker form or Assignment Calculator website to determine how much prep time you need. Guideline: for every 5% plan to spend 2 hours on it.

Checkmark in a box Know your tech.

Know your tech Make sure that you are comfortable using any technology that is part of your presentation.

Checkmark in a box Prepare for things that could go wrong.

Broken computer Have a backup copy of your presentation in case technology fails.

Strategies for Creating and Preparing for a Presentation

How to Create an Effective Presentation

Watch this video or read the instructions below to learn how to develop the content of your presentation, and how to create effective visual aids.

Develop your content.

  1. Brainstorm ideas.
  2. See where you need to fill in information and research your topic.
  3. Gather all your info and then organize it. Prepare an outline of how you want to present the information.
  4. Transfer the information to cue cards or a single sheet of paper.  You can use these to support you during your presentation.

Remember: You can’t read your presentation off of a script, so don’t write an essay. Instead, use bullet points to remind you of the next key point.

Be sure to know the expected length of time for the presentation and plan accordingly. Make sure you have enough to say.

Create your visual aids.

  • Visual aids can take many forms, which means you can be creative!  Other than Powerpoint you can use: Prezi, posters, charts, hands-on samples or demonstrations. Keep in mind that you should be comfortable using whatever you use to create your visual aid.  
  • If you are using slides, make them simple and uncluttered. Too much text or pictures per slide makes it hard for audience to digest all the information. This means you shouldn’t copy your entire speech onto your slides.
  • Have 1-2 slides for every 1-2 minutes you are speaking.
  • Slides should be large enough to be seen from the back of a room. Use a font size of at least 32.
  • Use colour and contrast (but in moderation!). Avoid yellow and orange because they are hard to see from a distance.

How to Structure Your Presentation

Structuring your content is an important part of an effective presentation. It is important to know what to include in your presentation and when to include it.

Complete the activity to learn how to structure your presentation. You can also use the tip sheet below as a quick reference when you are creating future presentations.

How to Structure a Presentation

How to Prepare for Your Presentation

Watch the video or read the tips to learn some ways to prepare for a presentation so that it will go smoothly.

You can also use the tip sheet below as a reference when you are preparing for future presentations

Tips to Prepare for a Presentation

  • Make sure that you know you know your topic well. It’s much easier to explain something to other people if you have a good understanding of it yourself.
  • Practice your presentation out loud! This will help you get a more accurate feel for how much time your presentation will take.
  • Review the assignment rubric to determine what is expected so that you know how to budget your time.
  • Try timing yourself. You will speak faster during the actual presentation, so expect your presentation to be a bit shorter than your practice run.
  • If you are using PowerPoint slides, use the “Rehearsal Timing” feature to know exactly how long you have spent on each slide
    • If you are too long on one slide, consider dividing the information between two cards.
    • If you don’t spend any time on another slide, consider removing it.
  • Practice in front of a mirror. This makes you aware of how often you are looking down at your notes or your visuals aids.
  • Practice in front of a friend or family member and ask for critiques.
  • If you are using cue cards, make sure you have them numbered in case you drop them.  You can also attach them together with a metal ring, so that they stay together even if they fall.
  • Make sure that you are comfortable using whatever you have chosen to use for your visual aids.
  • Don’t use a network connection to access any part of your presentation. Have the material downloaded ahead of time and use it offline.
  • Have a backup or a hard copy with you in case of a problem.