Effective Presentation Skills Tutorial

As part of their academic studies and future career, students may be required to develop and deliver oral presentations. Students may also have opportunities to present a class project, thesis, or dissertation, to give a presentation at a student organization meeting, or to present their proposed project to a client. How they prepare, develop, and deliver presentations to communicate effectively can help them achieve their goal and make a good impression on their audience. According to Lucanus (2017), “Communication skills are vital for a student’s academic success and future career prospects.” Others have also noted that communication is a prominent attribute and core competency for graduates (Stevens, Mills, Kuchel, 2019; Jones, Yates, Kelder 2011; American Association for the Advancement of Science 2009).

Developing and delivering a presentation doesn’t need to be a lot of work compared to writing a report. However, presentations can make a more immediate impression. Northern Illinois University has a new online resource that provides guidance, support, and recommendations to promote quality oral presentation skills. The Effective Presentation Skills Tutorial is now available for graduate and undergraduate students. The tutorial offers six major topics related to developing and delivering effective presentations, including 1) preparing for the presentation, 2) organizing the presentation, 3) designing effective presentation materials, 4) rehearsing the presentation, 5) delivering the presentation, and 6) handling questions and answers.

Each topic section includes video clips demonstrating various aspects of oral communication. For instance, when a speaker is preparing their presentation, they need to identify what the purpose of a presentation is. Accordingly, there are video clips of speakers demonstrating four distinct purposes or types of presentations including informative, persuasive, entertaining, and honoring. Screen shot of video tutorial on delivering an informative presentation

In an example where the discussion focuses on the value of a speaker knowing their audience, the tutorial provides contrasting video clips demonstrating speakers who are presenting at a level that is either appropriate or inappropriate for their audience.

This tutorial was design to incorporate a number of features that enhance the learning experience. Users are not required to log in, and no information is collected, stored, or shared. Users can scroll through a topic of a tutorial to study or review the content, advance to the next or a previous topic area, or simply use the convenient Tutorial Sections menu to navigate to a desired topic. Users can also view the embedded video clips, which are closed captioned, to demonstrate and reinforce specific concepts. There is also a Presentation Skills quiz that users can take to test the knowledge they gained from the tutorial. The tutorial also provides additional resources, including a presentation preparation checklist and a list of common reasons for ineffective presentations.  The Effective Presentation Skills Tutorial can be viewed either on a desktop or laptop computer or on mobile devices.

The material was compiled, formatted, and recorded as a tutorial by staff from the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, faculty and students of the School of Theater and Dance, and the former Integrated Media Technologies. In addition, the project was partially funded by the Committee for the Improvement of Undergraduate Education at Northern Illinois University.


American Association for the Advancement of Science 2009. “Cultivating Biological Literacy.” In Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology: A Call to Action, edited by C.A. Brewer and D Smith, 10–19. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Jones, S., B. Yates, and J. Kelder. 2011. Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Project: Science. Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement. Sydney: Australian Learning and Teaching Council.http://www.acds-tlcc.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2015/02/altc_standards_SCIENCE_240811_v3_final.pdf

Lucanus, A. (2017, November 21). Oral Communication Skills are Important for Students. Retrieved from https://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/oral-communication-skills-are-important-for-students/

Stevens, S., R. Mills, L. Kuchel.(2019, Feb. 20) Teaching communication in general science degrees: highly valued but missing the mark. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. Retrieved from  https://srhe.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02602938.2019.1578861?needAccess=true#.XHg1IKJKhaQ

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