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Catherine McAuley College: Presenting

Welcome to your digital library


Presenting: How am I to present my information? It is original work because I have THOUGHT about the task. Is my work and layout logical and in order?

Am I ready to go?

Good and Bad Oral Presentations

Essay writing help

Presenting Information

Use our libguide on presenting information to get advice on poster presentation, layout etc


It is time to think about presenting your information. You have followed steps 1-4 and have the right information. It is now time to structure that information.

  • Revisit the project guidelines and be clear on how you will present this material
  • What do you want to say? What is your message? Your piece needs a few main messages/points/arguments/opinions, otherwise it will be a jumble of words without direction
  • Who is your audience? What do they expect? Once again revisit the guidelines.
  • How are you going to say it? What format are you using? Essay, chart, poster, powerpoint, play, oral presentation, film. Make sure you know what makes one of these good. Ask you teacher for examples, guidelines.

The S rule: Sock it to them Straight and Simple. Stick to the point. Make Sure you answer your queStions from Step 1. Say your Strong messages. Send them clearly and Simply. Then Stop and Summarise. Give it Structure...

Designing and presenting an effective Power Point

Make it clear

  • Visuals should be concise, simple and relevant.
  • Arrange your visuals in a logical sequence in line with your presentation structure.
  • Each visual should convey a specific idea, point, or topic area. Use one message per slide.
  • Limit the amount of text on each slide. Don’t reproduce your entire presentation script, just main points and key words. Edit out words you don't need until each statement is as concise as possible.
  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Limit the number of slides to 5 or 6 per 10 minutes


Make it big

  • Visuals should be readable from the back of the room.
  • Use a large font (at least 24 points).
  • Avoid overly elaborate typefaces. Choose a simple font, like Helvetica, Arial or Times.
  • Don’t use all capitals. Blocks of text are hard to read.
  • Make sure captions on pictures or graphs can be clearly seen from the back of the room.

Keep it simple

Don’t overdesign

  • Your slides should be simple and clear. Eliminate unnecessary information and clutter.
  • Make use of white space and don’t cram too much on each slide. For each addition, ask yourself ‘is this necessary; what does it add to the message?’
  • Avoid busy backgrounds that make text hard to read.

Don't go overboard with technology

  • Aim to communicate, not to win an Oscar for special effects.
  • Use animations sparingly. Effects like flying or flashing text can distract your audience. What value do they really add to your talk or your topic?
  • Only include elements like sound and video if they are the best way to convey particular information.
  • The sound effects that accompany PowerPoint animations are best avoided altogether.

Be consistent

  • Choose a general 'look' for your presentation and stick to it. Maintain a unity of key design elements from slide to slide.
  • Don't get carried away with fonts, colours, styles etc. Use the same themes (colours, backgrounds, fonts etc) throughout your slideshow.
  • Visual consistency can link your slides and help your presentation to flow.

Be visual

  • The impact of visuals is greatly increased by colour IF it is used well.
  • Ensure there is a clear contrast between text and background colour.
  • Use a highlight colour to emphasis key words.
  • Don’t use too many colours on one slide.
  • Use colours that harmonise rather than clash. Bright shades can look harsh when projected.
  • If you’re not sure how to put colours together, make use of the colour schemes available in PowerPoint.

Move beyond bullet points

  • Take advantage of the medium and look for ways to convert data to visual information. Would a picture, graph or chart convey information more effectively than text?

Use graphics well

  • Choose graphic material to support your presentation. Don’t include graphics purely for decoration.
  • Use 1-2 images per slide.
  • Pictures should be clear and in focus.
  • Tables or graphs should be simple and readable from the back of the room.
  • Remember that what may look clear and focussed on your computer screen will probably be paler and less focussed when projected onto a large screen.

Rehearse Your Presentation

Practice: Rehearsing with your slideshow

Rehearsal is essential to giving an effective presentation. Rehearsing increases your confidence, ensures you are familiar with your material and allows you to polish your presentation skills. It is important to not only practice delivering your talk, but to practice using your visual aids.

  • Rehearse your presentation to yourself at first (speak in front of a mirror or to the cat), then to a friend or colleague.
  • Time your rehearsal. Make sure you can complete your talk within the allotted time.
  • Rehearse with your slideshow. Practicing running it at the same time as your talk will ensure that it looks and operates as you expect.
  • Make sure that the structure of your talk matches the sequence of your visual aids.
  • Consider the timing of your slideshow. Does it fit with your words? Is there too much on-screen movement? Too many mouse clicks too close together?

Common Mistakes Made Using PowerPoint

Expecting PowerPoint to do the presenting for you

Visual aids are intended to support you, not replace you. Whatever you use to support your presentation, the focus should remain on you and your ideas.

Don’t try to hide performance anxiety or lack of preparation behind an elaborate slideshow. The best way to beat ‘stage fright’ is by rehearsing and developing your presentation skills and delivery.

Spending more time on the slides than on your talk

Focus on writing your presentation, then plan your visuals to support it. If the content of your presentation is poor, no amount of elaborate visuals will help.

Ignoring the audience

Don’t become so preoccupied with your slideshow that you pay more attention to clicking the mouse at the right time than to delivering your talk. Speak to your audience, not to your screen or your notes.

Turning all the lights off

Dimming the light can increase the clarity of your slides, but don’t turn off every light and leave your audience in darkness. They may want to make notes.

Hiding in the corner

Don’t stand too far to the side of the room or hide behind a lectern or computer. This creates a barrier between you and the audience. If the layout of the room you are presenting in has the computer in the corner, make sure you vary your position when possible.

Reading directly from slides

You wouldn’t read a script of your presentation word-for-word, so avoid reading your slides. Not only is it boring for your audience, but they will stop listening to you and read ahead. Don’t simply read your slides aloud; supplement or explain text and graphics.

Inadequate preparation and rehearsal

Make sure you rehearse with your slideshow. Rehearsal will help you ensure the timing of your presentation is correct and that you manage the technology efficiently.


At this stage of collecting notes and looking through resources you should be keeping a list of what resources you are using. There are a number of ways to do this.  Check out the libguide page on how to construct your bibliography or annotated bibliography

You can use the Resources section of word to compile your bibliography or the following free bibliography generators


Cite me