Oral presentation sessions feature in-depth presentations on undergraduate research and community engagement projects. The oral presentation session runs for 90 minutes in locations throughout the Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Each individual session features a thematically organized panel of 3-4 presenters who deliver 15-20 minute oral presentations on their research or community engagement projects and answer audience questions.
Developing an oral presentation is different than writing a research paper or reflection essay, because you are writing for an audience. Oral presentations are a great opportunity to take a fresh look at your research or community engagement projects and tailor your presentation to your audience. As you develop your presentation, keep in mind that one double-spaced page takes about 2-2 ½ minutes to read out loud. Below are a few best practices for developing an oral presentation and engaging your audience.
- Contextualize your research or project within larger problems, policies, or shared issues to help you connect with your audience.
- Think strategically about what information your audience needs to know - focus on key details, a single case study, or 2-4 examples to explain and develop your central argument or claim.
- Use verbal cues (pauses, emphasis, and words like “quote” and “end quote”) to audibly cite sources and distinguish voices and direct quotations in your presentation.
- Focus on clarity and help your listeners understand by avoiding jargon and complex sentences. Signal transitions, key points, and the organization of your presentation. (For example, “First, I’ll argue . . .” or “Next, I want to discuss . . .”)
- Practice and prepare your presentation. Read your paper aloud to check for clarity. Make notes in the margins to remind you to make eye contact with your audience or change slides. Practice until you are comfortable with your presentation and any visual or digital aides.
For more help writing and developing your oral presentation, check out the resources listed below.
While the focus of the presentation should be on the oral presentation, many presenters choose to use a visual aid to supplement their presentations and draw the audience’s attention to key ideas or claims. A visual aid can include handouts, PowerPoints, visual displays, digital media, etc. A successful visual aid will reinforce key points and ideas without distracting from the primary presentation.
Learning portfolios make an excellent visual, digital aid for oral presentations. Learning portfolios are flexible, living records of your research or community engagement project, allowing you to incorporate and reflect on a multitude of media artifacts. Additionally, you can make your learning portfolio accessible to the audience and symposium participants unable to attend your session, building on your presentation and sharing your research progress or ongoing project.
Navigating the Q & A
Oral presentations include an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and engage presenters in conversation about their projects, discussing connections (and disconnections) between projects and exploring new ways of thinking about key ideas and issues. Prepare to answer and ask questions of the audience by anticipating connections, considering next steps, and engaging your audience's interests and expertise. Below are some tips and strategies for navigating the Q & A.
- Use examples, anecdotes, or tangential ideas that you didn’t have time or space to address in your main presentation to develop and discuss your project in the Q & A.
- Listen to other presenters, take notes, and jot down potential questions and connections between your projects.
- Address your answers to the whole audience to invite conversation.
- Take a beat and pause before answering a question.
- Listen carefully and paraphrase questions to make sure you understand.
- Ask audience members what they think.
Remember, the Q &A is intended to start a conversation between you and your audience. Questions should invite discussion and help you and your audience explore your project, potential connections between projects, and their impact.
Each year, the Center for Experiential Learning collaborates with the Center for Experiential Learning and the Libraries to host a series of workshops designed to help you prepare for the Writing Center. Next year's workshop series will be announced in the fall.
Make an appointment online or in-person to work with a tutor to develop and hone your presentation.
Our staff are available to talk through your project and help you develop your presentation. Stop by Sullivan 295 or schedule an appointment via email at email@example.com.