Planning a Presentation
  • Basic Principles
    Structure of Research Presentation
    Using Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism
    Using Visual Support 

    Basic Principles


    Chances are that you’ve already had UC120, and are now planning a presentation on a specific topic. However, you still have to consider how to approach that presentation. Here are some things to consider.
    Keep the Occasion in Mind – for a formal speech, certain approaches to certain topics may not be appropriate.
    Understand Your Purpose – be sure that your choices are appropriate to the overall goal of your speech. If it is to inform, for instance, be careful not to take a biased approach to the topic (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 18-19).


    It is vital to know your Audience – the information you include in your presentation should be determined by your audience’s current knowledge about your topic, as well as the information they need to get out of your presentation. Here are some paths towards understanding your audience:
    Audience Makeup – Knowledge of education level, economic status, gender, and other demographic characteristics can help you adapt your presentation.
    Audience Dispositions Towards the Topic – How does your audience currently feel about your topic? Do they agree or disagree?
    Audience Benefit – How will the audience benefit from your presentation? This is the most important question, as fulfilling the needs of your audience (and the assignment, of course) is the first priority for a presentation (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 20-22).

    Performing Research

    You may need to do a little or a lot of research, depending on the type of presentation and how much work you’ve done already. Here are some tips to help you do that research more effectively.
    Hit the “stacks” – once you’ve found the correct section of the library shelves, you can find a wealth of material by browsing the titles.
    Consult with the library staff – research librarians are there to help you. Use them.
    Check out the databases – the OhioLink article database is wide-ranging and easily accessible.
    Check out the web – there may be many useful websites; however, be sure that they are credible websites. Check out this article on website credibility from UCLA.
    Borrow from other libraries – Many schools offer book exchanges through Interlibrary Loan. OhioLink offers this service as well.
    Other – You can always consult experts, conduct surveys, interview people for first-hand accounts, and look for information in the electronic media (Crawford, Croft, & Tomlinson, 2007, p. 31-34).

    Structure of Research Presentations


    There’s a lot of work to be done in the introduction to your speech. Your individual assignment may modify the requirements, but ideally your introduction should do the work of gaining the audience’s attention, convincing them to keep listening, establishing your authority to speak, introducing your topic, and previewing the structure of your speech. Additional details are available in the Developing a Presentation section of this guide.


    The body of your speech is made up of your main points and the subpoints that support them. Each main point should be a specific assertion, and the subpoints are the evidence that support that assertion.


    In the conclusion to a speech, your goal is to provide the audience with the “takeaway” message and to wrap up the speech artfully and clearly. This is accomplished by reviewing your main points, referring back to the introduction to provide closure, and finishing clearly. Additional details are available in the Developing a Presentation section of this guide.


    Transitions are the elements that connect all of these elements together into a whole. They should appear at important junctions, such as the move from introduction to body, from main point to main point, and from body to conclusion. Ideally, they connect the previous information to the upcoming information.

    Speech Outlines

    Informative Speech Structure (PDF)
    Persuasive Speech Structure – Claim to Proof (PDF)
    Persuasive Speech Structure – Problem / Solution (PDF)
    Persuasive Speech Structure – Best Solution (PDF)
    Persuasive Speech Structure – Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (PDF)

    Using Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism

    Verbal Citations

    When you use an idea that isn’t your own, you have to give credit where credit is due. You do this through the use of verbal citations in your speech. This is challenging to do in a manner that seems natural in the flow of your speech, and requires practice. It is essential, however, as a way of avoiding plagiarism.

    Generally speaking, it is good to provide your audience with a Name, the title of a work, and the year of that work. For instance, “According to Susan Douglas in Inventing American Broadcasting from 1989….”

    In some cases, you might want to provide context for the author, if their credibility isn’t obvious from the title of the work. For instance, “According to Broadcasting Professor Susan Douglas in Inventing American Broadcasting from 1989….”

    It’s generally okay to offer more information, if you think it helps establish the validity of the information, but Author / Title / Year is a standard minimum.

    You should also use a standard citation style for any citations you include in print materials, such as outlines, or in visual aids, such as PowerPoint. Links to the major citation styles are provided below.

    Citation Styles


    Avoiding Plagiarism

    According to Crawford, Croft, and Thompson, “plagiarism in public speaking involves suggesting that someone else's work is your own or using someone else's words without giving credit to its originator” (2007, p. 71). Plagiarism is a very serious infraction at Capital University, and should be avoided at all costs.

    The simplest way to do this is to make absolutely sure that you are giving credit whenever an idea did not originate with you, using the citation information provided above.

    Capital University Plagiarism Policy

    Student Handbook – What Every Student Should Know

    Plagiarism Resources

    Plagiarism Overview
    Is It Plagiarism? 
    Safe Practices 

    Using Visual Support

    Most presentations can be improved with the effective use of presentation aids. There are many varieties of presentation aids, including everything from photographs to music, from living creatures to video. These should only be used when they help to explain or reinforce the message that you are trying to send.

    The primary form of presentation aid that you will encounter is PowerPoint. There are a wide variety of opinions as to what qualities an effective PowerPoint presentation possesses. Here are some very simple guidelines to help you avoid the worst problems:
    Rule of sixes – when it comes to text content, no more than six lines per slide, no more than six words per line. This can be bent for things like quotations, when the quote is the only thing on the slide.
    Images – use appropriate images, ideally on each slide. Avoid using the clip art that comes with any Microsoft product, as those images have been overused and are more a distraction than a benefit.
    Audio and Video – use these inside PowerPoint with caution. It is often better to link to an outside resource rather than embed if you know you will have internet connectivity on the presentation computer.
    Animation – avoid using animation unless it serves your presentation goals, as some computers cannot properly display animation.
    Simplify Complex Information – don’t give your audience a list of numbers if you can create a graph that shows that material more simply. Effective PowerPoint helps to make complex information simpler.


    Links to PowerPoint Resources

    Michael Hyatt - 5 Rules for More Effective Presentations
    Powerpoint Design Tips (PDF)