Module Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  1. Recognize content needs of the audience. [CLO 2]
  2. Organize content in a manner that is appropriate to the context and purpose. [CLO 2, 3]
  3. Develop fluency in delivery. [CLO 4, 5]
  4. Develop a sense of timing. [CLO 4]
  5. Develop a familiarity and comfort with content that leads to the ability to improvise, rephrase, or restructure an explanation to meet audience response and needs. [CLO 2, 5]
  6. Develop strategies for comprehending, clarifying, and responding to audience questions. [CLO 2, 3]

Resources (Bank)

Description of how to be used: Distribute Structure Handout in Workshop A as students are working on Step 2, Storyboarding

Download: Structure Handout for Students (PDF, 199 KB)

Description of how to be used: Distribute to students for Activity 5 in Workshop B

Download: Listener Checklist (PDF, 146 KB)

Description of how to be used: Distribute to students at end of Workshop B

Downloads: Handling Questions Student Handout (PDF, 147 KB)

Description of how to be used: The sample presentation assignments may be used only if the facilitator has not been able to get a current assignment from local instructors. Content, purpose and expectations for presentations are highly variable so it is important to emphasize understanding the presentation purpose and audience rather than a general template.

Downloads: Sample Presentation Assignments (PDF, 441 KB)

Face to Face Workshop Plan

Description of Workshop

Workshop A—Developing Presentation Content
Workshop B—Developing Presentation Skills

Workshops A and B may be used together or separately depending on the time available for students. They are meant to be complementary as it is possible but not probable to give a brilliant performance without content just as it is possible but not probable to have brilliant content without performance skills.

These workshops are meant to help students develop the skill of preparing for presentations not to fully prepare a specific presentation.

Time for Completion

1 hour for each section. Total: 2 hours


Markers or Pens
Index cards
Video cameras if possible (or use students’ phones)

Workshop Preparation Instructions

Identify student presentation assignments. Are they formal or informal, team or individual, marked or unmarked, cumulative activity, public facing or class only.


Workshop A: Developing Presentation Content

Facilitator Notes:

Although students may worry more about the act of standing in front of a group of people and speaking, it is equally important to have something of value to say to that group of people. Developing confidence in the content that they will present also develops confidence in their ability to present. Remind students that if they are not using more than half of their conscious effort to remember the content, then they will have more attention to focus on how they are presenting that content. Start the workshop with three questions. Answering the why and the who questions helps students to answer questions about the level of technical language they can use, confident that their listeners will understand. The answer will also help students make decisions about the level of detail they need to include about context or background information. Answering the third question will help students articulate what response or action they expect from their audience. These questions should be written and displayed where everyone can see them.

  1. Why are you presenting what you are presenting?
  2. Who are you presenting to?
  3. What do you hope to achieve with your presentation?

Step 1: (~3-5 minutes)

Everyone writes on an index card why they are presenting, to whom and what they hope to achieve.

Facilitator Notes:

Once students have individually written down the answers to those questions, ask a few students to share their audience and purpose. Follow that up by asking about the implications for language and content. Try to get students to articulate if the audience is familiar with the project or the lab, if so, then they will not need to include detailed background information. They will most likely only need a brief sentence or two to make sure their listeners know which project or lab they are going to speak about. Also, ask students to make the connection between their assumptions about the depth of the listeners’ understanding—can they use the acronyms or technical terms and be confident that most of the listeners will be familiar with them? If they cannot, what does that imply about language choices they will need to make.

Step 2: Storyboarding (~20-25 minutes)

Following the initial discussion with a few students’ examples, distribute the Structure Handout (PDF, 199 KB).

Explain the idea of storyboarding as a way of prototyping a presentation.

Instruct students to use their notes from Activity One. Students can use the Post-Its to record key words or phrases from their particular topic and organize them on their large chart paper. Each time they organize their ideas, encourage students to clearly state what the links are between the Post-Its.

Facilitator Notes:

Storyboarding and explaining links helps students articulate their reasons for organizing and linking ideas, allows them to rehearse possible transitions between ideas, pick out where the links are missing and to build an understanding that there are multiple ways to organize ideas. They should be able to see a coherent flow in the organization of their Post-Its.

Step 3: (~20-25 minutes)

Filling in the outline—what will you need to complete your thoughts/ideas? Make “Notes to self” about what you want to look for and/or create to complete your presentation outline.

Facilitator Notes:

This part of the process allows students to make notes about what specific information, details, visuals, they might need to use to make their point. They can start to use more Post-Its as “Notes to self” to remind them to find the information, create the visual, etc. At the end of this step, students should be able to give a “quick and dirty” version of their presentation to a partner who can help them evaluate if there is a logical flow of information that supports the purpose.


Workshop B: Developing Presentation Skills

Facilitator Notes:

It is important for students to understand the difference between written and oral styles. Oral presentations are dependent on listeners’ short-term memories. As a result, oral presentations use shorter sentence structures, repetition and “sign posting” to help listeners remember and connect the information or points they are hearing. Because of this fundamental difference in style, it is best NOT to write out a presentation in complete sentences. Rather, students are usually better served if they develop their presentations from “talking it through”. IF students want to write something out first to organize their thoughts that is not necessarily a problem. Writing it out can often help clarify thoughts. However, if students then use that as their “script” it often becomes a problem. Confidence in the content students have prepared will contribute to their ability to deliver that content. Standing in front of an audience demands that students pay attention to much more than the words they are reciting. Students must attend to where they are standing, how they are standing and moving, where they are looking, how fast they are speaking, how loudly or softly they are speaking, how their listeners are responding, how much time they have used—that’s a lot to think about which is why they need to feel confident in their content. Then they can concentrate on delivery.

Activity 1: (~15 minutes)

Seated, ask students to “talk through” the outline they have prepared in Workshop A with a partner. Partners should check one another’s outlines for what was included or missed. Partners need only provide the total time from start to finish. Instruct students not to cut anyone off.

Activity 2: (~15 minutes)

Repeat Activity 1 but this time use a cut-off using the students’ presentation time limits.

Activity 3: (~20 minutes)

Instruct students to work individually and use the information learned from the two previous activities to revise their presentation plan. Encourage students to use the Post-its to avoid

Facilitator Notes:

Encourage students to make notes that use their key words/phrases but not full sentences. Talk about “owning their difficult words” which means they need to recognize the words or phrases that are difficult and plan to slow down and take the time to say them with confidence.

Activity 4: (~10 minutes)

Stand and Deliver – This activity will get students on their feet and using their voices without having to think about content. Introduce the terms: Speed, intonation, volume and articulation

Facilitator Notes:

Speed refers to the how quickly or slowly students speak (how many words per minute). Related to speed is breathing. Many students will speed through their presentations and finish breathless because they have not taken a breath. The audience will not be listening but only waiting for the presenter to take a breath. Intonation refers to the rise and fall of pitch and volume in speaking. Volume refers to how loudly or softly someone speaks. Articulation refers to how clearly sounds are produced. Control of speed, intonation and volume all require support from the diaphragm to avoid straining the vocal cords. If there are any students who have sung in choirs or have had voice training, they will know what this means.

Have students stand, place one hand on their upper chests and breathe ONLY moving the upper chest. Ask them to repeat a phrase slowly, quickly, loudly, softly, with exaggerated rises and falls in pitch. Students do NOT need to do this in unison.

Sample phrase: T’was brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the grabe. (From The Jabberwock by Lewis Carroll)

Next have students place their hands on their belly and breathe from the belly and repeat the same sequence of speaking.

Ask students to compare the two experiences.

Facilitator Notes:

Students should notice a difference in their ability to control speed, volume, and intonation between the two breathing methods. Belly breaths or breathing from the diaphragm and supporting the breath should give students both more breath and more ability to control their voices.

Finally have students practice some tongue-twisters after “warming up” their facial muscles with exaggerated yawns and stretches. Emphasize the need to slow their speech down in order to take the time to clearly enunciate each sound.

Facilitator Notes:

Speed often compromises clear articulation. This is a good time to remind students to “own” the words they may find challenging to clearly pronounce. Everyone has them—not just multilingual speakers!

Activity 5: (~20 minutes)

Ask students to work with a partner and deliver their presentation, standing and imagining they have slides or any other aid (a model or prototype). Partners pay attention to pace, volume, intonation and posture, using the provided Listener Checklist (PDF, 146 KB) to guide feedback.

Facilitator Notes:

Students will likely not be ready to think about answering questions at this point in the preparation of their presentations. Distribute the Handling Questions Student Handout for information only at the end of the workshop.

Supplemental Materials

There are two supplemental materials for this Module. Use the documents labelled as follows to get these exercises and information.

  1. Unscripted Presentation Exercise (PDF, 174 KB) – The purpose of this exercise is to build skills in delivering a successful speech or an oral presentation.
  2. Checklist for Preparing and Delivering Presentations – The purpose of this handout is to provide students with some suggestions for developing their own personal checklists when they are preparing a presentation.
  3. TED Talk links can be used as models of good presentations. Please note that a good presentation requires many hours of practice. Ted Talk presenters get 40 to 60 hours of one-to-one coaching before they are recorded.

    Video: Danit Peleg – Forget shopping. Soon you’ll download your new clothes