What are the key elements of EAP presentations?
This is the second of three chapters about Presentations. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Introduce the five elements of academic presentations
– Discuss each element in turn to help guide the reader
– Link to other useful resources to encourage extended learning
In the second chapter of this short reader on presentations, we focus more specifically on the key elements of an academic presentation for students using English for Academic Purposes (EAP). While there are many elements and skills that can be improved and honed by presenters, we’ve grouped these elements into five categories, which are content, display, organisation, language and delivery. Any student completing an assessed presentation at university may find this information useful, particularly those trying to improve confidence, delivery and final grades.
Element 1: Content
Before the day of the presentation, it’s very important that a presenter spends considerable time in researching, selecting and editing their content so that their presentation is as convincing, up-to-date and engaging as possible. This is particularly true for assessed academic presentations in which your assessor will be paying careful attention to the quality of your sources, the strength of your arguments, and how you’ve interpreted and summarised the relevant concepts. After spending considerable effort on narrowing down your sources, don’t forget to then include clear citations and references so that your assessor can stay informed.
Element 2: Display
How both you and your presentation are displayed to the audience is another critical aspect of a successful academic performance. Start by wearing smart and appropriate clothing, and make sure to also spend a good number of hours in creating some kind of visual aid to support your spoken word such as a PowerPoint or Prezi. A well displayed presentation will create a good impression, leading both the audience and assessor to believe that they’re about to watch something of high quality.
Element 3: Organisation
Of course, it doesn’t matter how smart and neatly presented both you and your presentation slides are, if your performance lacks any clear structure then it may seem confusing or illogical to your audience. Remember to divide your presentation into obvious sections such as an introduction, a body, a conclusion and questions and answers, and then use clear headings on your PowerPoint slides to indicate this throughout the presentation. You may also wish to include and describe a contents page that can be introduced towards the beginning of your performance.
Element 4: Language
In addition to having organisational cues written directly on your PowerPoint slides, presenters may also wish to be considerate of the type of language structures they use as these can be equally helpful in guiding the audience. As our short readers on presentation language and listening and lecture cues indicate, such language structures can inform the audience of when transitions are being made by the presenter, when evidence and sources are being introduced, and when examples are being provided. By using these formulaic structures, students will be helping the audience to predict their content, reducing some of the strain of comprehension.
Element 5: Delivery
The final element of a presentation that academics should focus on is delivery, which is perhaps also the most challenging of all the elements. While the previous aspects can all be mastered from the comfort of your own home, the actual delivery of the presentation is very public and requires practice, confidence and experience. This includes aspects of body language, such as gesture, posture and facial expressions, as well as aspects of vocal delivery, such as volume, pitch and memorisation. Ultimately, while poor content and visual aids may be somewhat masked by a strong delivery, the same can not be said in reverse.
In our third and final chapter, we next provide ten tips for presentation success. Complete the Chapter 2 activities first and then move on to Chapter 3.
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