What are professional and academic presentations?
This is the first of three chapters about Presentations. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Distinguish professional and academic presentations
– Explore the different types of assessed presentation
– Introduce the basic presentation skills that may be useful for EAP students and tutors
Most people will have to present in front of an audience at some point during their life, and doing so can be a nervous and challenging experience. When having to simultaneously consider what you say, how you say it and who you’re saying it to, it’s no wonder that people appear anxious on stage or forget their words from time to time. Focusing particularly on academic contexts, this short, three-chapter reader aims to introduce the basics of presentations (Chapter 1), the key elements of a presentation (Chapter 2) and the top ten tips for success (Chapter 3). Anyone that wishes to learn more deeply about this topic should also visit our library of readers on presentation skills, such as body language and using visual aids.
What is a presentation?
Most commonly, a presentation is when somebody stands in front of an audience and attempts to verbally and visually inform that audience about a particular topic. Such a presentation could be conducted in order to sell something to that audience, to convince them of something, or to educate them in some way. While most presentations are done by a single person, with a little extra practice, pair and group presentations may also be successfully delivered.
What is a professional presentation?
In the business world, there are a number of reasons that employees may be asked by their employers to create professional presentations. Such presentations are therefore quite varied and may be required to complete job interviews, to deliver sales pitches to potential clients or to present project proposals to senior management. In such presentations, the presenter will usually take their role quite seriously, and may be rewarded with financial incentives or with the opportunity to impress their bosses.
How do academic presentations differ?
Like professional presentations, academic performances are also quite varied. Students might be asked to create a successful presentation in order to be accepted onto a course for example, and tutors might have to do the same to be hired for a job, to receive a promotion or to represent their academic institution at professional conferences. Most common, however, is that presentations are assigned to students as assessed pieces of work in which the student must research, prepare, memorise and deliver on a topic, receiving a grade on aspects such as body language, presentation language and the use of visual aids.
While most academic presentations are a formally assessed aspect of a course, sometimes this type of assignment may also be used somewhat informally by the tutor as a way of flipping the classroom. In a flipped classroom, students are encouraged to present on an aspect of that day’s seminar, taking the role of the teacher so as to guarantee better engagement with the class materials. In such informal presentations, it is uncommon for the tutor to assess the students at all but to merely encourage them to participate and practise presentation skills.
Which skills create successful presentations?
As will be explained in more detail in Chapter 2, there are a number of key skills that presenters should master if they wish to present confidently and clearly. Whether it’s paying attention to the development of research skills, the careful use of body language and gesture or the inclusion of visual aids, the key elements of a presentation normally fall into five categories: content, display, organisation, language and delivery.
Before learning more about how to improve on these five key presentation elements in Chapter 2, students should first consider checking their progress and understanding by completing our Chapter 1 activities.
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