Is delivery important in an academic presentation?
This is the first of three chapters about Delivery Strategies. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Discuss the concept of academic presentations
– Explore the four most important aspects of a presentation
– Provide fourteen strategies for the successful delivery of an academic presentation
Before you begin reading...
video and audio texts
knowledge checks and quizzes
skills practices, tasks and assignments
Whether you’re being assessed by your tutor, are having a job interview or are simply pitching an idea to friends, whatever your reason is for delivering a presentation there are a number of factors that can greatly improve the success of your speech and the engagement of your audience. This short three-chapters reader on delivery strategies focuses specifically on the elements of delivery, such as voice, pace, confidence and body language, that can make or break a formal presentation. While our focus at Academic Marker might be on connecting our advice to academic contexts, in truth anyone new to giving presentations should benefit from learning about the concepts of delivery (Chapter 1), the strategies that lead to success (Chapter 2) and the pitfalls that might often lead to failure (Chapter 3).
What is an academic presentation?
Although there might be many motivations for creating a presentation such as having a job interview or conducting a business meeting, there are four key types of presentation that students might be required to complete when involved with an academic institution such as a university:
While not every student will encounter all of these academic presentation types, it’s highly likely that during a three- or four-year bachelor’s degree, almost all students will be required to complete at least an informal seminar-based presentation and a formal assessed presentation. With this in mind, it’s clear that effective presentation skills and strategies are highly important for students that are dedicated to receiving the most positive feedback and the highest of grades.
What are the most important aspects of a presentation?
Students may not at first realise that there are many aspects that must be considered for a presentation to be successful. In truth, few people are naturally skilled at presenting (especially not the first time), and so practice and energy must be spent in evaluating personal weaknesses and in improving upon those weaknesses wherever necessary. While each of the following categories has its own more detailed short reader, we’ve summarised these aspects for your reference below.
- Body Language = gestures, facial expressions, stance, posture, and the interactions between the presenter, the audience and the presentation
- Delivery Strategies = pace, volume, pronunciation, confidence, fluency, use of notes and controlled use of humour
- Presentation Language = the structures that are used to introduce a topic or visual aid, transition between topics, or provide examples and sources
- Using Visual Aids = the videos, handouts, Prezis, PowerPoints, diagrams, whiteboards or posters that a presenter may use in their presentation
Because an academic presentation, particularly an assessed one, will likely be judged on all four of these aspects, it’s easy to see how delivery strategies are quite an important feature in this context. In truth, delivery is probably the most critical of all four of the above categories. Even if your body language is excellent, your PowerPoint slides are perfect and the language you select is appropriate and well-formed, if the audience cannot hear what you’re saying because you speak too quietly or cannot follow your words and content because you deliver your presentation too quickly, your performance will not receive a positive response.
Which strategies should I remember and avoid?
Although the following fourteen tips and pitfalls are explored in much more detail in Chapters 2 and 3 respectively, we’ve introduced them briefly below so that students can have a better understanding of the overall features involved in delivering a successful academic presentation.
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