Getting Your Point Across Essay

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Getting your point across.
An academic guide to giving presentations Talks, or what are more formally called oral presentations, are an integral part of academic and professional life. Some people become anxious about having to give a talk, but there is nothing mysterious about being an effective speaker.
A good talk involves careful planning and preparation. This resource helps you to understand what tutors are looking for and how you might plan and deliver a talk at any stage in your academic and professional life, individually or as part of a team.

Contents
1 Why give a talk? 1.1
How do you currently feel about giving a talk? 1.2 Drawing on your own experiences

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2 Planning a talk 2.1 Where to start 2.2 Twelve preparation tasks 2.3 Using visual and auditory aids 2.4 Giving presentations as part of a team

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3 Delivering the talk 3.1 Beginnings and endings 3.2 Inviting and responding to questions
4 Reflecting on and learning from your experience 4.1 Self-evaluation sheet

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University of Southampton | Getting your point across. An academic guide to giving presentations

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1. Why give a talk?
Being able to give a good and clear presentation to a public audience is a skill that you and your future employer will value greatly in a wide range of situations. Presentation skills, alongside writing and research skills, teamwork, and time management, are key transferable skills, which will have relevance to your future career in whatever field that may be. Prospective employers expect reference to these key skills in references, and short presentations are increasingly used as part of an interview process. So, when you are asked to give a talk, think about how to develop the skills involved in doing this – not just about the topic you will be talking about.

1.1 How do you currently feel about giving a talk?
In this section you are asked to reflect upon your attitude towards communicating orally in formal academic settings. Which of the following statements are true for you?

YES/NO
A

I prefer to write rather than to talk about my subject, because I have had more practice at writing and can do it in my own time.

B

Being able to express myself clearly in speech will help me think clearly, and vice versa.

C

If I know I have to talk about something, I will definitely do some preparation, because I don’t want to stand in front of others with nothing to say.

D

If I am interested in and knowledgeable about something, I find it easier to talk about it.

E

Explaining things to other people helps me understand them better myself.

People have different strengths when it comes to writing and speaking. You may be very happy just getting on with written assignments, or you may be glad to prepare a talk because you find that you are much better at explaining things aloud than you are at writing them down. Whatever your particular preferences, research shows that speaking to others about concepts and information helps you learn – it helps you grow in familiarity with the language of your subject discipline, which in turn helps you increase your knowledge, understanding and skills in that area in the future.

1.2 Drawing on your own experiences
Thinking about what it has been like for you to be in the audience for a talk should help you consider what works well and not so well. Consider the numerous talks, lessons and lectures you have listened to during your life and:
List some characteristics of the talks you enjoyed:

University of Southampton | Getting your point across. An academic guide to giving presentations

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List some characteristics of the talks that bored you:

When you give a presentation what do you think are your strong and weak points?

Try to keep these characteristics in mind when planning your own talk.

2. Planning a talk
Giving an effective talk is…