Long presentations and group presentations

Long presentations

In a long presentation keeping the audience involved can be a challenge. Here are some strategies to try:

  • Divide the presentation into stages (i.e. Introduction, Information Stage 1, Activity 1, Information Stage 2, Activity 2, etc.)
  • Consider providing tasks for the audience; this provides a change of pace and reduces the pressure on you
    • Possibilities include questionnaires, problem solving, role-plays, discussion points
    • Add variety by including individual, pair or small group tasks
    • Give answers or feedback at the end of each activity.

Keeping track of time is another challenge. You may be penalised for going over time, or be unable to finish. It is important to:

  • time each section of the presentation allowing for transitions, questions and activities, if used
  • rehearse the presentation thoroughly and practise keeping to time.

Group presentations

Group presentations require extra thought, preparation and practice to create a cohesive and professional impression.

  • Rehearse group presentations with all members present.
  • Time the full presentation including handovers.
  • The first presenter should introduce all group members and outline the structure of the talk.
  • Each presenter should play an equal part in the presentation.
  • Script and practise the handovers between presenters.
  • Format all presentation slides and handouts in the same style.

If group members have prepared their sections independently, the group should do the fine-tuning together, making sure that:

  • there is no overlapping or repeated content
  • the various sections are of similar depth and breadth
  • visuals are used in a consistent way
  • there is an overall cohesion to the presentation.

Handing over to another speaker in a group presentation

"I will now invite [NAME] to…”

"I will now hand over to [NAME] who will…"

"The next section relates to..., and this will be presented by [NAME]."

Answering audience questions

Question time can be the most daunting part of a presentation. The following strategies can help:

  • Listen carefully then repeat or paraphrase the question so you are sure you understand it and so everyone in the audience hears it.
  • If it is a long question, try breaking it up into sections, and answer them one by one.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the audience member to repeat or rephrase the question if you don’t understand it.
  • Allow yourself time to think so that your answer is coherent and to the point.
  • If you don’t know the answer, say so.
    • Ask if anyone in the audience can answer it.
    • Offer to find out the answer and let the questioner know.
    • Ask the questioner if they can offer any guidance.
  • Never let someone think they have asked a ‘dumb’ question. Acknowledge that the question is worth asking by using a phrase such as: ‘That’s an interesting point’.