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Giving a talk or presentation

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Introduction

Few things cause as much grief to students as being told that they have to give a talk or presentation.  Yet forms of oral assessment are becoming increasingly common in higher education, for good reasons.

Oral communication skills are among the skills most valued by future employers (University of Southampton, 2009). Yet according to the UK body Association for Graduate Recruiters (quoted by the University of Kent Careers Advisory Service n.d.), 64 per cent of employers claimed that these are just the skills graduates lack.

The ability to present ideas in a clear and engaging way is thus a crucial life skill. Talk is also very valuable in academic life because giving a verbal explanation of something is a good way of learning, as is discussion.

There are various types of talk or presentation you may give as a student:

  • An academic exercise in an undergraduate or taught post-graduate course, perhaps in a seminar to get discussion going.
  • In your final year to a prospective employer, to convince them that you are the right person for the job.
  • As a research student, presenting your research, perhaps at a conference.

In this article, we offer some tips about giving effective presentations.