How To Present An Essay Orally

You should be given a style guide that sets out how the school /department expects you to present your work. If you are using e-submission you should check the guidance for accepted file types and sizes.

But if you are still in doubt use:

  • 12 point Times New Roman font 
  • double spacing 
  • margins of 25 mm at top and bottom, 40 mm on left.

On your first page include:

  1. essay title and
  2. student ID number

Number each page and make sure your bibliography is presented in the correct departmental style. Make sure your essay is free of mistakes: see Copy-editing and Proofreading pages.

For each module you take you need to find out which referencing system you are expected to use. If you are unclear about which referencing system you should use, ask your tutor. For more information about how to reference see Referencing pages.

oral presentation - content and structure


It is likely that you already have a topic and you know what you want to say about it. This is the content of your presentation. You may already have the content of your presentation in written form: for example in a written report. Whether your content is already written down or you are beginning from scratch, you may need to cut it down for your presentation. Why?

  • You will need to fit your content within the time limit. Think carefully about how much information you can reasonably present in the time allowed and select the most important point.
  • You will need to hold the interest and attention of your audience. Many people lose interest towards the end of presentations that contain too much information. Think carefully about the key points that you want to get across and build your presentation around them.
  • Some kinds of information, such as technical explanations and tables of figures, are difficult for listeners to absorb during a presentation. Think about summarising this kind of information or referring the listeners to a document they can read after the presentation.
  • You will need to leave time for examples and illustrations of your points. Think carefully about how you will support and explain your key points.
  • You will need to leave time for an introduction, conclusion and questions or comments. During this time you are likely to be repeating points made in the main body of your talk.

Three points to think about when preparing the content of a presentation:

  • What are your key points? Most good presentations have no more than 5 key points.
  • How will you support your key points with examples and illustrations?
  • How will you make it easy for your audience to follow your key points?



Most presentations will consist of an introduction, the body of the talk and a conclusion. The introduction prepares the audience for what you will say in the body of the talk and the conclusion reminds them of your key points. Good presentations raise questions in the listeners' mind. Good speakers encourage questions both during and after the presentation and are prepared to answer them.


A good introduction does four things:

  • Attracts and focuses the attention of the audience
  • Puts the speaker and audience at ease
  • Explains the purpose of the talk and what the speaker would like to achieve
  • Gives an overview of the key points of the talk

It is often a good idea to begin a talk with a question, a short story, an interesting fact about your topic or an unusual visual aid. Many speakers follow this with an overhead transparency that shows the title, aim and outline of the talk.


The body of a presentation must be presented in a logical order that is easy for the audience to follow and natural to your topic. Divide your content into sections and make sure that the audience knows where they are at any time during your talk. It is often a good idea to pause between main sections of your talk. You can ask for questions, sum up the point or explain what the next point will be. If you have an OHT with an outline of your talk on it, you can put this on the projector briefly and point to the next section.

Examples, details and visual aids add interest to a presentation and help you get your message through. Here are some questions you can ask yourself about the examples you include:

  • Are they relevant to the experience of the audience?
  • Are they concrete?
  • Will the audience find them interesting?
  • Are they varied?
  • Are they memorable?



A good conclusion does two things:

  • Reminds the audience of your key points
  • Reinforces your message

Your conclusion should end the presentation on a positive note and make the audience feel that have used their time well listening to you.


Many speakers worry about questions from the audience. However, questions show that the audience is interested in what you have to say ad can make the talk more lively and interactive. You should be more worried if there are no questions at all! One way of handling questions is to point to questions you would like to discuss as you are talking. You can control questions better if you leave pauses during your talk and ask for questions. It is important not to let question and answer sessions during the talk go on too long, however. Answer briefly or say you will deal with the question at the end. Make sure you are ready to go on with your talk when questions have finished.

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The EPC web has been created by the ITIP team at the English Centre, The University of Hong Kong. Please email comments or questions to the ITIP team.

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