If writing presentations ain’t your jam, don’t be discouraged, I have a guide to help! Presentations can often seem like daunting and large projects. Not only do you have to write the presentation, but you also have to, well, present it. Getting started on writing presentations can be difficult, especially if you have no clue where to start. Leaving the writing stage to the last minute can be detrimental to the mark you receive as you delay (and shorten) the time you have to practice the delivery. There’s usually a good chunk of the marks that are tied into the actual presenting part of the assessment. By getting started and knocking out the writing part, you’ll have more time to build your confidence, practice your speaking and absolutely nail your presentation.
Download my free presentation plan printable and follow this guide to learn how to break down and approach writing presentations, and get the head start that you need!
Step 1: Topic
There are two ways this can go: Either you need to choose a topic on which to present, or one has already been chosen for you. If you can pick your own topic or focus for the presentation, then choose something that interests you. If you are interested, it’s a lot easier to research and write about. Once you have a topic, write it down.
Step 2: Instructions and What to Include
You’ve been given some form or instructions, right? Usually teachers or lecturers will give a clear set of instructions with your project. Instead of simply saying “do a presentation” you may get a list or criteria explaining what you need to include in your project. For example, one of the presentations I’m working on is based on an essay, so we were told to include:
- What the essay is about
- Why we chose to write an essay on the topic
- Difficulties we had and how we overcame them
And similar points. If you have a set of points like this, then write these down. You want to make sure that you cover everything required.
If you don’t have a set criteria of what to include, then you should aim to make a list of points to discuss. Now, these will differ based on the topic that you have, but useful headings can involve an explanation of what you are talking about, it’s relation to what you are studying (eg. Telescopes and how they are used in astronomy) or some advantages/disadvantages.
Step 3: Time
Writing presentations can get a little tricky when you don’t have a world limit but a time limit. Luckily, there’s an easy solution. See the list of points to discuss that we made above? We are going to split up the allotted time between each of these points. It’s important to make sure we give a realistic amount of time to each part of the presentation. So, for a 5 minute presentation, you might split up the time like this:
- Introduction – 30 seconds
- Point 1 – 1 minute
- Point 2 – 1 minute
- Point 3 – 1 minute
- Point 4 – 1 minute
- Conclusion – 30 seconds
There’s no obligation to stick exactly on 1 minute. In fact, you might find that you can speak less about one point and more about another. When you start researching and writing you might find that you want to talk about something a little different or add in more points to discuss. By adding a rough time, you have a guide to go by so you aren’t just writing blindly and hoping that you’ll make the time limit.
Step 4: Research
Now the fun part! Sort of. It depends on if you like researching things as much as I do. Haha! Most presentations will require some form of research. If your presentation is based on an essay or a report that you’ve already done, then your research step will be very small. This step takes care of the content part of writing presentations.
Basically, this stage is all about knowing inside and out what you are presenting. If it’s a presentation on a research project you’ve done (which is what I’m currently working on) then you’ll be quite familiar with it and probably find it quite easy to talk about. If it’s on something you don’t know about, then you’ll want to research it. This can be a little bit intimidating but you’ve already split up your project into parts in Step 2 so you have a starting point! Take the point you have and ask it as a question. If “talk about what it is” is your first point, make sure that you can answer the question “What is it?”. Do this for all your points to guide your research in a logical way. Remember to take note of any resources that you use for your bibliography!
Step 5: Bullet Point Expansion
Once your research is done, you can start putting what you’ve learnt into the presentation. It’s time to expand those points from Step 2. You can do this stage alongside your research or after it. List sub points underneath each main point from step 2, that have more specific information on that category. If you have a longer section then you might have more talking points, so add more or less sub points as appropriate. The idea here is to write out in more detail everything that you want to talk about. As an example:
- Good for the environment
- Boosts the economy
- Raises awareness and interest in Astronomy
Check out how I expanded my bullet points on the free printable presentation planner:
Step 6: Write it out!
When writing presentations, there are various ways you can construct them. Many students like to write their presentation out as a full script, and use palm cards to present. Others feel more comfortable using bullet points as prompts during their presentation. It depends on what you feel more confident doing.
To keep your presentation as bullet points continue to expand your subpoints until you have included all the information that you want to mention. If you feel more at ease having everything written down, then expand your subpoints into sentences and then paragraphs. When you feel that you have enough decide to add or exclude things. Another great reason why writing presentations early can improve the quality – you have time to revise your work, and make changes if your original plan doesn’t quite work out.
Step 7: Extra Materials
It’s not always required, but many presentations include extra materials. This might be an accompanying PowerPoint, poster or even writing and drawing on a whiteboard. PowerPoints and posters are great to use as prompts, especially if you don’t want to use palm cards but still want to have some structure guide for the information you are presenting. Make sure that you prepare these in or just after the writing stage so that you can use them to practice your presentation in full.
And there you have it! A seven step guide to writing presentations so you can get started, give yourself time to practise and feel confident when you present. You can download the free presentation plan printable to use with this guide below!
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