• Firstly, consider your audience: Who are they? What do they expect?
  • Secondly, think about your intentions: What do you want to say?
  • Lastly, decide upon your methods: How will you communicate your message?
  • Use the checklist below as a guide to effective presentations.

1. Structuring

Presentation structure: say what you'll tell them, tell them, say what you've told them
Figure 1: Overall structure


  • Start with a greeting and introduce yourself.
  • Next, give an overview of what you will discuss.


  • Think about dividing the topic into sections.
  • Common structures include steps within a creative process, chronological order, problems followed by solutions or thematic.
  • You may be asked to follow a set structure such as Pecha-Kucha; this features 20 slides each showing for 20 seconds.


  • Summarise the main points covered.
  • You can also invite questions.
  • Prepare by thinking about what your audience may ask.

2. Designing

  • The visual appearance of your presentation is important.
  • We learn 90% of information visually and only 7-11% through hearing (Bradbury, 1995, p. 64).
  • Look at the table below to avoid common design mistakes.
  • Complete this interactive tutorial about visual design from Manchester University.
Font Use sans serif fonts such as Arial, Calibri and Veranda.
Aim for around 24 point font.
Pick a colour that contrasts with the background.
Text Use clear headings.
Bullet point information.
Avoid having too much text on each slide.
Aim for around 25 words per slide (Van Emden and Becker, 2016, p. 40).
GraphicsUse graphics that are relevant to your content.
Avoid mixing styles or using too many.
Choose a colour palette to use throughout.
AnimationUse animation sparingly to avoid distraction.
Ineffective slide design example with mixed graphics/colours, textured background and different to read fonts.
Figure 2: Example of ineffective slide design.

3. Delivering

  • You should always rehearse. Consider asking your peers to watch or recording yourself.
  • What worked well? What areas do you need to improve?
  • Create prompts such as a script, PowerPoint notes or A5 index cards.
  • Avoid speaking too quietly or quickly. Remember to pause between points.
  • Keep your body language open rather than closed. Closed body language can include folded arms, crossed legs and hands in pockets.
  • Instead, aim to engage your audience with eye contact.
Example of a bad presentation
Example of a good presentation

The following sources were consulted:

  • Bradbury, A. (1995) Successful presentation skills. London: Kogan Page Limited.
  • Levin, P. and Topping, G. (2006) Perfect presentations. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Van Emden, J. and Becker, L. (2016) Presentation skills for students. 3rd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Image to represent link to eBooks about giving presentations.


Read more about presentations here: