How to Develop Written Presentation Skills

by Nadine Smith; Updated September 26, 2017
An effective presentation uses visuals as aids, not as the main focus of the presentation.

Usually when people prepare for presentations, they practice their oral communication skills. However, what people often overlook is the written components of presentations, such as Power Point slides, handouts and the notes that cue their speaking. Visual aids usually draw an audience’s attention, so they should function as effectively as possible. Learning to develop written presentation skills can help you avoid common presentation blunders, such as putting too much text on your visual aids or reading from your notes. Effective written components of presentations summarize and condense information. Your job as a speaker entails elaborating on your visual aids and notes.

Practice summarizing large and small texts of information, such as a novel, a newspaper article or an advertisement. Summarize oral texts as well, such as a news report or conversation on a TV show or an entire movie. Write down only the major points or events.

Summarize texts you have written in the past, such as an old essay, report or story. Condensing your own texts often proves more difficult because you might feel that all the information is important simply because you wrote it.

Cross out all minor information and unnecessary words in an informative text, such as a newspaper article or a textbook chapter. Leave major nouns, adjectives, numbers and significant comments. You should be able to cross out 75 percent of the words in the article, leaving only the important information.

Arrange your summaries, or the words left after crossing out an article, into point-form notes. Point-form notes begin a bullet or dash and are not complete sentences. They do not require correct grammar or punctuation and may even comprise a single word: - Introduction of capitalism – a free market economy - First theorized by Adam Smith, also called the “father of capitalism” - Historical and contemporary examples – what was effective about them, their pitfalls - Conclusion

Practice creating Power Point slides based on your point-form notes. The point-form notes prompt you as you are speaking; a Power Point should condense information from your point-form notes even further. Reading word for word from your Power Point is boring for an audience and does not demonstrate an ability to organize and interpret information.

Tips

  • Highlight points in your notes that you want to emphasize when you are speaking. Avoid including more than six words on every line and six lines on every slide.

About the Author

Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.

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