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Tuesday 02-Jun-2015
【The Standard:Study in the UK】On delivering a world-beating presentation

With a little self-confidence and clever preparation, Hong Kong students can reach the top with listenable and inspiring academic presentations.


I have probably witnessed over 1000 presentations in some way, shape or form over the past ten to twelve years. I’ve seen the dire, the mediocre and the exceptional. The presentations that have really stood out to me are invariably delivered in a spontaneous way, where presenters have avoided reading scripts in a monotone fashion. 


The introduction is key

It is very bland and predictable to begin a presentation with “Hello. My name is …”, or “Welcome to my presentation about …”. It is far more productive to surprise the audience and gain their interest with some dramatic, descriptive and emotive language which “sets the scene” of your talk. For instance, a history presentation could begin: “During the long, hard winter of 1944-45 …” and not “This presentation is about a key battle in World War Two”.


Monotone voice - no thank you

You will immediately be onto a winner if you rehearse your presentation and avoid reading each and every word from a script.  You may not realise it, but when you read from a piece of paper, your voice will likely be monotone, and, consequently, very boring. To avoid this situation, you really need to know your subject in order to be able to expand upon key points and keywords which can be written on small cue cards to help you organise your presentation. Even if you hesitate or become lost for words, you will receive far more credit for trying to present “spontaneously” rather than keeping your eyes fixed on a piece of paper. Moreover, nervousness more often results from a lack of preparation, insufficient background knowledge and a perception of appearing foolish, which can be the case if you read.


Pauses, smiling and body language

It is very common for a teacher to award points for body language, posture and use of pauses. It is the effective use of pauses for dramatic effect after key arguments and points which is another method to ensure the audience remains concentrated. As for body language, your actions speak volumes and can affect your grade. Do not fidget, ensure that you make eye contact with MANY audience members and smile when you can.


Media control

I continue to be shocked by the many spelling mistakes and careless preparation I see with presentation slides. Errors create a very bad impression on the teacher and audience, so it is certainly worth checking and re-checking slides for typing mistakes. Moreover, students should avoid full sentences and use only keywords with bullet points. Do not fill each slide with fact upon fact.


Overall, you can score top marks by seeking to engage with the audience via the methods outlined above.

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Education Experts

Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.


Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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