Oral Communication

Delivering your Presentation

Here we will focus on three main areas of consideration when you deliver your presentation; body language and movement, your vocal delivery and interacting with the audience.

Body Language and Movement

Relaxed but animated and authoritative body language (such as open hand gestures, an upright stance, pointing to visual aids and moving around rather than remaining stationary) shows your familiarity and confidence, both with the content and with presenting to an audience.

However, body language is an extension of our personality and often subconscious and is therefore difficult to change. Rather trying to change your mannerisms, try, instead, to use body language which conveys confidence and which you feel comfortable with, and avoid that which creates barriers (to your voice, with the audience etc.).

Note down (a.) body language that you think shows confidence and (b.) body language that you find distracting. Then compare them with the suggestions below:

Confident body language:

  • Standing up straight and face the audience head-on.
  • Using your hands to emphasise and reinforce your points.
  • Varying your gestures and positioning.
  • Nodding your head and smiling to emphasise what you are saying.
  • Aiming to make eye contact with all members of the audience.

Body language that creates barriers:

  • Putting your hand or your notes over your mouth.
  • Standing stationary or hiding behind equipment/furniture.
  • Constantly rubbing your nose, ear, chin etc.
  • Playing with jewellery, your hair, and /or coins and keys in your pockets.
  • Crossing your arms or legs.
  • Speaking to your notes or to the screen or flip chart, with your head turned away from the audience.

Using your Voice:

Here are three important aspects of your voice to be aware of and to develop:

Volume - It is essential that everyone can hear what you are saying. Before you begin ask a friend to stand at the back, whilst you speak to, and do a sound check. You might also ask the audience if they can hear you once you begin and adjust accordingly. You may need to arrange to use a microphone.

Pace - Aim to speak at an even pace that is comfortable to listen to. Count how many words a news reader says in 30 seconds and practise doing approximately the same. It should feel slower than when you are having a normal conversation. If you feel yourself speeding up, pause, take a deep breathe and continue at a slower pace. We often speak too quickly because try to include too much in our allocated time!

Tone - Engaging speakers modulate their tone effectively, emphasising key words. Their vocal delivery is energised and conveys enthusiasm for their topic. It is not monotonous, which can happen if we try to read word for word from a script!

Watch the video clips and consider the discussion points (on the left of the screen) for ideas on using your voice. Also Levin and Topping (2006) offer exercises for training your voice and generating energy.

Interacting with the Audience

As discussed in the Considering your Audience section there are a number of ways to engage and interact with your audience. Another quick and effective technique is to ask them a question at the beginning of your presentation and get a show of hands. This has three main benefits. First, it allows you to gauge the audience's opinion and/or understanding of the topic. Second, it encourages the audience to actively engage with your topic rather than remaining passive, and allows them to consider their position before you start. And third, it shows the audience that you are interested in their opinion.

Watch and Learn

The video clips on the right hand side of the screen illustrate several of the points made above and the discussion points aim to support you in evaluating these examples and your own practice.

Follow the reading list and useful websites links for further suggestions.



Brunel University (West London)

Movement and Positioning

Pace of Speech

Use of Emphasis, Pauses and Variation in Tone

Energising your Presentation

Tone and Energy