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Section 7. Presentation skills

As a project leader there will come a time when you have to explain your work as a community art counsellor to people who are not involved in your project and possibly have very little understanding of what you are doing, and its potential impact in the community. In order to persuade people to either give financial backing, offer a space, or any other material assistance – or even to obtain permission to set up a group in a public community venue – you will have to present your project. It's therefore important to understand some basic presentation skills.

For presentation ideas and tools for presenting electronically please read and watch:

According to a 1973 survey by the Sunday Times of London, 41% of people list public speaking as their biggest fear. This section will give you some valuable public speaking skills, including information on developing an engaging program and delivering your presentation with power.

The key to effective public speaking is preparation. The better you prepare, the more confident you will feel.

7.1 Preparation

Identify your audience

What do you know about your audience? What do they care about? What’s important to them? Do they have any misconceptions about your topic? These are the kinds of questions you should ask as part of your preparation.

Perform a needs analysis

No matter how entertaining a speaker you are, people will not give you their full attention unless you are talking about something that is meaningful to them.  They want to know how this topic will affect their lives.

Create an audience profile

Consider their educational levels, familiarity with the topic, interest in the topic, possible misconceptions, and attitude. This will determine the type of vocabulary you use, how much you will need to explain, ideas you may need to correct and the tone of your presentation.

Identifying key questions and concerns

It may help before delivering a presentation to make a list of the five most searching questions you expect people to have. Your presentation should then concern itself with answering those questions as well as delivering your own standpoint.


7.2 Putting the presentation together

Creating a basic outline

The main advantage of creating an outline is that it helps you to organise your thoughts. Often this approach is seen as being similar to creating a body. You start with the skeleton – the basic outline, and progress by adding meat to the bones, and layering the rest on top of that.

Outlining the situation

Almost every project addresses a problem or an opportunity or both. An effective way to introduce your presentation is by outlining the situation that your project addresses. This approach forces you to get to the point right away.

It is wise to keep an introduction brief and informative, and set the scene for the rest of the presentation. Introduce yourself in your capacity with regards to the project and then give a brief overview of what the presentation seeks to address.

Most of what follows will be an account of what you did or plan to do to complete the task.

One way to come up with a simple, clear task description is to imagine you are writing it for a teenager. How would you describe what you did to someone who knows very little about your work? This can obviously be tweaked depending on the audience, but it is worthwhile remembering that the audience to which you speak will all have their specialities in certain fields. Something that is perfectly evident to you may not be perfectly evident to many in your audience.

Listing the actions you took or are planning to take

If a presentation contains a list of actions, it’s a good idea to present the list on a slide or a flip chart. People have a hard time keeping more than three or four items straight in their head unless they see them displayed.

Organising the programme

The key to creating a well-organised speech or presentation is to keep your audience in mind.

Start with something that will capture their attention and give them a clear idea of your topic.

Organise the body of your presentation in a way that will be easy for your audience to understand. Plan to review your main points briefly and then wrap things up on a positive note, perhaps giving your audience a “call to action.”

It’s important to realise that most people will be able to remember only a few key points from a presentation. Don’t overwhelm the audience with facts that they will forget as soon as they walk out the door. Focus on a few key points.

Fleshing it out

Often, people make the mistake of believing that the more they say, the better their speech is. Others, keep what they say to a minimum. As with so many things, the truth lies somewhere in between and the key to making a presentation as powerful and as well-received as it can be is to say enough, and make what you say mean enough.

Writing your presentation

Effective speakers try to make a connection with their audience. Reading a speech word for word creates a barrier between the speaker and the audience and eliminates spontaneity. Your audience should feel like you’re having a conversation with them, not lecturing them.


 As you edit, write for the ear, not for the eyes. Make sure sentences are twenty words or less and only convey one thought. Use simple, familiar words. Make sure that you have provided the definitions of any terms important to the learning experience.


7.3 Delivering your presentation

Overcoming nervousness

It’s OK to be nervous. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. If you’re not nervous, you may have a hard time projecting the energy and enthusiasm that you will need to win your listeners’ attention. Nervousness can be a tool to communicate enthusiasm. Channel your nervousness by forcing yourself to speak clearly and to make eye contact with your listeners. It cannot be stressed too often that the element of balance is important in delivering a speech.

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