Course:KIN570/TOPICS/Effective Communication/Effective Presentations

From UBC Wiki
Research Methods in Kinesiology
KIN 570
Section: 001
Instructor: Nicola Hodges
Matthew Crombeen and Rose Martel
Email: <add your email here, if you want to>
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Here are some tips and tricks on how to give effective presentations. Information will be presented on four different aspects of giving a presentation: building the proper visual aids, how to organize your information, managing anxiety, interacting with the audience.

This page is a summary of information for presentation skills. For a closer look, read The Craft of Scientific Presentations: Critical steps to succed and critical errors to avoid written by Michael Alley. Here is the link to the book on the UBC library webpage.

Organizing Information

Your presentation should have a logical order to maxmize the impact. The information should be packaged together to help the audience stay engaged and interested. These quick tips can help you organize your information for your benefit as the presenter.

Main point Your presentation should have a main point, and all information should be relevant to that point. This will decrease the chance of going on a tangent and presenting information that is irrelevant. [1]
Rule of three When you are presenting a point, try to have three pieces of information to support your point. This can help to improve comprehension and attention. [1]
Repetition When there is a point you want to emphasize, repeat it. As a presenter you are able to reveiw material for the auidence and highlight the important information through acts such as repetition. [1]
Be concise If you can make your point in two sentences, don't take four. [1]
A strong conclusion Let the audience know the ending is coming in order to perk their attention for the last few minutes. We are often remembered for how we end a presentation, summarizing the material or having an action statement or both. This can help to highlight your entire presentation and leave the audience with a lasting message.

Importantly, leave your conclusion slide available during the question period in order for the audience to absorb the key points of your presentation.

Personal organization Organization can be shown non-verbally as well, with how you present your information. Your attire, your movements, your voice can all have an effect of how organized you appear for your presentation. [1]

Presentations that utilize these tips often have very lasting effects. This speech by Steve Jobs uses some of these tips. [2]

Here are some good links that can be used to organize the information during a presentation:

Building Visual Aids

In general, people remember an average of 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read. When combining these two senses together, like with a presentation, memory can be optimized to possibly 50%! This is why visual aids can be your best friend.
When giving a presentation, take into account the audience you are speaking to. When a visual aid is appropriate, it can be a great asset to the presenter and help create a more memorable presentation. Visual aids can be modified to present information in an entertaining and engaging way. On the down side, they can be intimidating to the less "savy computer-tech" and when poorly designed, can raise more questions then answers. Below are some easy suggestions on how to make the best computer slide presentation possible.

  • Start with an outline
    • An outline of information will allow the audience to visualize the information you will be talking about in your presentation. You can also use your outline to review material and remind the audience of the next topic. [1]

  • Use point form
    • Point form highlights key words and phrases that the presenter can elaborate on while speaking. Point form also brings attention to important topics if the presentation is reviewed at a later time. [4]

  • Avoid unnecessary words and phrases
    • This will keep your slide neat and tidy. As the presenter you can always elaborate on a point. [4]
    • Blocks of text shouldn't be more then two lines.
    • Maximum of 7 items per slide suggested. If more information to convey and if time allows, consider doing a second slide on the same long topic. If not, try to split the information into primary and secondary details. This will allow you to illustrate and talk about your primary information but only use speech for the secondary details.

  • Font colours and background
    • Use a font colour that is easily distinguishable from the backgroud, this will allow for easy reading of information on the slide. Pick a slide background that is not 'busy' with colours and pictures, distracting the audience while you present. [4]
    • Use Sans serif fonts (Arial,Univers,Comic MS) over Serif (Times New Roman, Garamond) to facilitate reading.
    • Use boldface characters instead of normal to also facilitate reading.
    • Italic,Underscore and ALL CAPITALS are not recommended on slides.

  • What information should be included on slides?
    • An outline or mapping of your presentation.
    • Images that are too complicated to explain with words.
    • Results you would like to emphasise.
    • Tables you would like you use to show relationships between words and numbers.
    • A conclusion slide (max 2) and references.

Click this link for extra help and guidance when trying to building a PowerPoint presentation. [5]

This example presentation may also be helpful with the proper design of a PowerPoint presentation. Media:Presentations-Tips.pdf[4]

Interacting with the Audience

Interacting with the audience can be a very difficult task. As the speaker you have a large influence on how the presentation will proceed. By interacting with the audience you can relieve some pressure to speak the entire length of a presentation. You should always STICK TO YOUR PERSONALITY when trying to interact with the audience. If you are outgoing and boisterous, give a presentation as such. If you are calm and collected, always in control, present that way.[6] Create a presentation that highlights your strengths as a presenter and tries to minimize weaknesses you can have.

The easiest way of interacting with the audience is to pay attention to yourself. The audience will take their cues from you, which helps you to influence the type of presentation you are going to give. Here are some ways of paying attention to yourself:

Your Attire You can influence the formality of the presentation by what you wear. Take into account the venue and audience you are presenting to and dress accordingly. [6]
Your Voice Your voice is very distinct to you as a presenter. You are able to control the volume and the inflection in your voice throughout your presentation. You can use variation in tone to emphasize important information. Your voice can help you show passion and excitment throughout your entire presentation. How you control your voice can help you to create a memorable presentation. [6]
Your Movements Your body language can help to engage the audience during a presentation. You want to portray that you are confident, but also relaxed while in front of your audience. When you move during your presentation, do so with a purpose. This will minimize distractions and keep the audience engaged with you as you speak.[6]

During your presentation, you want to connect with the audience. If you can read what the audience is thinking from their body language, it can help you to guide your presentation to meet their needs. Here are some tips to help with interacting with the audience:

Look at the audience When you look at the audience you keep them engaged in what you are presenting about. The audience will speak to you with their eyes, so try not to present to the blackboard/projector screen. Eye contact is very important for interacting with the audience. When presenting to a small group, try and have some eye contact with all individuals in the room. When presenting to a large group, break the room into sections and have eye contact with each section by the end of the presentation. [6]
Reacting to Body Language Reading body language of the audience can help you present to the needs of the audience. When the audience if staring at you, they are concentrating. Nodding of their head shows they agree with what you are saying. Staring into space can show boredom. This knowledge can help you to change the pace of your presentation or stop you from going on tangents to try and keep the audience engaged. Be careful not to get fixed on the body language of one individual. Their body language may not be indicative of the group as a whole. When presenting make sure you are aware of the entire groups body language. [7]
Listen to Questions This is very important during question period at the end of the presentation. You are not done presenting when you finish you slide show, you are done presenting when the question period is finished. Listen to the questions when asked, and if you don't understand the question, ask for clarification. You don't want to answer a question that was not asked. [7]

For some great examples, watch some presenters for the TED talks. Watch the presentations critically. Try to pull out ways of presenting that works well for you and things you would do differently. Use these links for examples:

Use these links for more help on ways to interact with your audience:

Managing Anxiety

Feeling nervous can be a big stop sign to giving an effective presentation. These tips can be used to take that nervous energy and turn it into a GREAT presentation.

When you watch this presentation, the information seems very relevant but the speaker is speaking way to fast to keep up with the information. This is an example of what not to do while presenting. Use the tips below to avoid presenting like this.

  • Anticipate questions and prepare for them in advance. This can take some of the nerves out of answering questions. [4]
  • 'Warm up' your voice before you start your presentation. This can help you to speak clearly and vary your pitch. [10]
  • Know the beginning of your presentation off by heart. This can help you get on a role and begin to loosen up once you dive into the important information. [6]
  • Pace yourself. You tend to speak faster when you are nervous. [4]
  • Breathe. Breathing can help to relax you before you speak, or even during your presentation. [10]
  • Keep your hands still. Avoid fidgeting with pens, keys, coins, or anything that can be distracting to the audience. [4]
  • Think positively. When you think negative thoughts, you perform poorly. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones and everything will feel easier. [10]
  • Use furniture as support. It can help to have a stable surface while presenting your information.[4]
  • Trigger your memory with notes. You can use anything that will help to remind you where you are in your presentation.[4]

The best way to manage anxiety is to...


  • Practice the material until you are comfortable presenting by yourself. [6]
  • Practice in front of peers/colleague/supervisor for helpful hints, improving your presentation, and gaining comfort presenting before other people. [6]
  • Practice words, phrases and technical language that could cause problems while delivering your presentation. [6]

Every person is going to have their own ways of managing anxiety. Find something that works well for you and stick to it. These links offer more reading on ways to manage anxiety and nerves before giving a presentation:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Boyd, S. 2009. Get rapt attention from your audience: Nine strategies of organizing your presentation. Accessed Jan 13, 2012.
  2. Gallo, C. 2008. How to present like Steve Jobs. Accessed Jan 13, 2012.
  3. Monash University. 2007. Accessed Jan 12, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Academic Skills, Web team. University of Melbourne. Accessed Jan 13, 2012.
  5. The Learning Centre. 2010. University of New South Wales. Accessed Jan 13, 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Alley, M. 2003. The craft of scientific presentations: Critical steps to succeed and critical errors to avoid. Springer-Verlag:New York. Electronic book.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wood, P. 2005. How to read and respond to your audience's body language. Accessed on Jan 16, 2012.
  8. Gallo, C. 2008. How to present like Steve Jobs. Accessed Jan 16, 2012.
  9. The Voice and Swalling Institute. Presentation skills - Hints for success. Accessed on Jan 16, 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Beagrie, S. 2007. How to speak confidently in public. Accessed jan 13, 2012.
  11. Brophy, B. 2008. Seeing them with their clothes on: Oral communication myths exploded. Accountacy Ireland. 40(1):56-57