Writing and Brainstorming For Any Presentation
Hello, my name is Olivia Eller! I am a Writing Center consultant, class of 2023, majoring in English Literature and Psychology with minors in Business Administration, Communications, and Neuroscience. I am also an Elon Honors Fellow and member of Live Oak Communications.
You are not alone if you have ever dreaded having to give a presentation, speak to a professor, or attend a job interview. You may be in the 75% of people with a fear of public speaking. However, writing clear and convincing presentations is a sure-fire way to distinguish yourself in the classroom or workplace as a leader and effective communicator. For students coming into the Writing Center, creating presentations is one of the most important and challenging skills to perfect. The art of writing for presentations can help students and professionals boost their confidence and improve their image. Much of the fear around speechmaking stems from a lack of confidence in writing skills and proficiency. When you know the rules and are adequately prepared, it is much easier to express yourself and impress the person on the other side of the PowerPoint slides.
Based on my experience consulting with presentations at Elon and in my previous Writing Center, I have selected my three fundamental tips on how to improve your presentation writing skills. My top tips are developed from Business Insider’s 15 Insights Into Giving A Great Presentations.
1. Know Your Audience
To plan for any speech or presentation, start by identifying the audience and what they want. Analyzing a piece of literature and explaining a complex data set may require radically different approaches to get your point across. It is essential to consider your relationship with the audience, their technical knowledge or prior experience with the subject matter, and what they hope to learn from your presentation. When you can pinpoint your audience’s perspective, you can plan for it as well.
2. Organize Your Narrative
Once you have established who the audience is and what they want, it is time to briefly and simply organize all thoughts or ideas. A professor may require a simple bulleted list of ideas or information, whereas a multimodal presentation would need multiple visual components. Here, it is vital to ask questions about the organization and flow. If you are working on a presentation for a chemistry class, how should your data be presented? What does the audience need to know before you reveal your conclusions? When you know what you want to say, it is easier to stay on track and anticipate audience reactions. It is vital to plan ahead of time, include all relevant information, and foresee as many questions as possible from the audience. The more you have prepared, the more confident you will be, improving confidence and reducing speaking anxiety.
3. Find a Magical Good Hook
An excellent public speaking encounter relies on the attention it gets. If your professor or peers are not listening or engaged, all of that preparation goes to waste. Being confident is a start, but establishing an engaging hook is even more valuable. The presentation should start with an acknowledgment of the audience’s problem or want. Does your professor need someone to work on an important project? Is your presentation expanding on ideas discussed by your peers in class? By identifying what they need, the audience will be much more likely to listen. At the same time, audience engagement is highest when the attendants do most of the talking and lowest when the presenter speaks the most. So make sure to spend time on questions and interactive participation.
If you can understand your audience’s needs, prepare accordingly, and keep the attention on your points, your presentations should improve markedly. Here at the Writing Center, we can help to narrow your audience, organize ideas, and create compelling hooks. Come see us in The Writing Center in Belk Library the next time you have to write for a presentation!