Creating Effective Presentations

Lacy Hodges, Ph.D.

As part of GT 1000, you will be asked by your instructor to give an in-class presentation. Being a strong presenter and public speaker is a skill you will utilize throughout your academic and professional careers.

Presentations are a good way to build a number of important skills including:

  • Organizing information in a clear, logical way
  • Developing confidence and experience in presenting oneself
  • Understanding the use of logical and emotional appeals to persuade
  • Developing an effective thesis

If you’re working on a group presentation, you’ll have a chance to develop not only the skills listed above, but also additional skills, including:

  • Understanding group dynamics
  • Collaborating with peers to achieve a common goal
  • Learning how to best utilize strengths of various group members
  • Giving and receiving constructive feedback

When working on your presentation, it’s useful to break the assignment down into a few key steps:

  1. Analyze
    • Read through the assignment carefully to be sure you understand what the goals and parameters of the presentation are
    • Understand your audience
      • Define any terms that may be unfamiliar
      • Consider how to best grab their attention and keep them interested
  1. Research
    • Approach a presentation as you would any other college assignment, which means you will likely need to do some research on your topic
    • Consider which sources you will use; make sure that you are using reliable sources
  2. Plan
    • A presentation needs a beginning, a middle, and an end
    • Plan how to best present your information to your audience in a logical manner
    • If you are trying to persuade your audience, consider how to best structure your points to achieve your goals
  3. Practice
    • Even if you are an experienced presenter, it is always important to practice your presentation before
    • Go through the entire presentation as if you were presenting it in class, speaking out loud, referring to your visual aids, and talking to an (imaginary) audience
    • The CommLab also has resources to help Georgia Tech students who are working on individual or group presentations
  4. Present
    • When you present, take your time and speak to your audience, speaking clearly and making eye contact
    • Never read your PowerPoint slides! If you have practiced, you will know what is on your slides without looking at them
    • In order to engage with your audience, you must make eye contact—something that is impossible to do if you are turned towards the screen, reading your slides

If your assignment involves a group presentation, you’ll need to do all of the above as well as to incorporate some additional steps that will help take advantage of the dynamics of your group and the strengths of individual group members.

All materials in this section are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0.