Giving an oral presentation

In most courses, you will be expected to present content orally at some point. Before an oral presentation, there are many things to think about and prepare.

You need to think about the purpose of your presentation, have a clear outline of the content, and practice many times aloud to yourself before your presentation.


Start by thinking through the purpose of your presentation and who the audience is.

  • What is your main message?

  • Who are you speaking to?

  • What do they know about the topic you are going to present?

  • What do you want them to know, think, or do after listening to your presentation?

Also, think about where, when, and for how long you should talk. Consider how this will affect your layout and content.

Reflect on your previous experiences with oral presentations and what you can learn from those experiences. What has gone well and what has gone less well? What can you improve this time?

If you have listened to an oral presentation that you thought was particularly good, take inspiration from it. Think about what you felt worked well and try to emulate that.


Arrange the content so that the presentation has an introduction, body, and conclusion. In the introduction, you introduce yourself, introduce the topic, and give an overview of the content you will present. You can structure the body of your presentation with the support of headings and main points. The conclusion should contain a summary and highlight the most important points of your presentation for the audience.

If, for example, you going to present a solution to a problem, you can organise your content by

  • accounting for the current situation
  • highlighting the problem
  • presenting possible approaches
  • presenting your proposal for a solution or improvement.

If you want to present a project or a study, then you can create your outline based on the headings introduction, method, result, analysis, discussion, and conclusion. The headings are intended to provide structure for your presentation. In your presentation, you can replace them with phrases that highlight the content of each section for your audience.

Creating a presentation script

Create a script that follows an outline with an introduction, body, and conclusion.


In the introduction, you can use common introductory phrases such as:

"Hi, my name is … and I'll talk about … / my presentation is about …"
"I'm here because … / I've been told to …"
"First, I will … then … additionally … in conclusion"

You can also start by saying something unexpected make the audience interested and engage them in your topic. This start can be a statement, a question, or a concrete example linked to what you will talk about.


In the body, you can make the content clear to the audience by using words and phrases that show connections, for example:

"On the one hand … on the other hand"
"Firstly … secondly … thirdly"
"… which leads to …"
"It has thus emerged that …"
"Another important thing is …"
"If we go further and look at …"
"As an example of …"


In the conclusion, you can use words like, “in conclusion”, “finally”, “before I end, I want ...” to signal to the audience that the presentation will soon be over. Feel free to refer back to the introduction, for example, by answering a question you asked in the beginning. This will help tie the content of your presentation together for the audience, creating a cohesive and coherent experience. You can leave your audience with a question to think about, or call for action, or even suggest further research.

Practising and revising

Practise your presentation several times and revise your script when necessary. This increases the chances that your presentation will be easier for you to present and, at the same time, easier for the audience to follow.

  • Practise the presentation aloud to yourself. This will allow you to notice how your script works when you speak.
  • Note any phrases that are complicated or unclear.
  • Revise your script. Remove redundant information, simplify, and clarify so that the most important is highlighted.
  • Practise aloud again, preferably in front of someone who can listen and give feedback.
  • Practise with slides or other technologies and visual materials that you will use so you know how they works.
  • Take the time to adapt the content if necessary.
  • Practise several times so that you can speak as freely as possible. Use supporting words, keywords, or mind maps to help you remember what you will say.


Do what you can to avoid stress when it's time for the presentation. Here are some tips:

  • Arrive early.
  • Make sure you have everything you need for the presentation.
  • Check the technology, so you know it works.
  • Drink water if needed, and breathe calmly.
  • Look at your audience and make eye contact with them as you speak.

After your presentation

A few days later, sit down and think about what worked well and what possible improvements you would like to make next time you present.

References and reading tips

Blomström, V. & Persson, C. (2021). Muntlig interaktion i akademiska sammanhang (Andra upplagan ed.). Studentlitteratur. 

Eksvärd, E. (2012). Modern retorik (1. uppl. ed.). Natur och kultur.

Strömquist, S. (2021). Konsten att tala och skriva (Sjunde upplagan ed.). Gleerups. 

Studieverkstaden Umeå universitet (2012). Muntlig presentation. Tips om att förbereda och framföra. Råd om nervositet och rampfeber.