Brevity matters  10/12/2019 07:04:13 

Sameer, the class topper, rose to make a presentation on his project report as his teacher and fellow students looked forward to it with anticipation, sure that his presentation would be one of the best. Imagine their disappointment when Sameer began to read from his report. His teacher intervened, Do not read from your report. We want to hear you tell us about it, not listen to you read.

Sameer stopped and looked distressed. He confessed that he did not know how to make a presentation out of a 40-page report.

The teacher turned around and asked the students, How many of you dont know how to make a technical presentation? All of them answered that they didnt. Well, then, lets stop todays session while I guide you on how to prepare a presentation.

Create interest

1. Students, the first 90 seconds of ones presentation are crucial, as they help form a judgement about us as presenters. To grab audience attention, say something compelling about your subject, mention a historical fact, or ask a question in eight to 10 words. Now, tell the audience what you are going to talk on  name the topic, give them the reason for choosing it, and why it ought to interest them. This is the first step.

2. Next comes the two-stage preparation.

i. The first stage is brainstorming. On an A4 size sheet, write the topic. In one minute, make a master list of the different points from the report you wish to share. Club them according to similarity.

ii. The second stage is choosing four points from the cluster of ideas by selecting the most important points. Leave the minor points for the discussion. The report contains all the details and it is assumed that your examiners will have read the report before coming for the presentation. So, focus on four major points and elaborate each sequentially with one/two interesting/significant facts. You can divide your talk under different subtitles according to the most logical order of presentation, so that your listeners understand them.

3. As you near the end of your speech, you should summarise your points briefly. Restate in a few words, the most important aspect that you want to highlight. The conclusion must emerge only from the points explained. No new point can be added. Before you conclude, highlight how the knowledge or skill being presented will be of advantage to the listeners. The benefit of a presentation, if presented from the audiences perspective, will persuade them to like it.

4. Last, stick to the time allotted for the presentation, generally 15-20 minutes. To get all your points, time yourself and rehearse with a clock. Cut your explanation until you get to the allotted time. Present with moderate speed and use suitable body language for emphasis.

Students, if you take care of all these steps while designing a presentation you can be sure that the examiners and the audience will appreciate it.

The writer was a former professor of English at IIT Bombay.

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