Jerz's Literacy Weblog (est. 1999)

Oral presentation tips: how to deliver a speech for school or work.

Jerz >  Writing > [ Academic |  Technical ] This document briefly describes how to  write and deliver a formal oral presentation on an academic or professional subject. It should be useful for anyone who wants to know how to speak in public.

Note: by “formal presentation,” I don’t necessarily mean a Shakespeare monologue or a scientific treatise on robot-assisted microsurgery. Giving an oral presentation on  any subject–your favorite book, current events, a family story–can be “formal” and “technical” whenever its primary purpose is to communicate complex information.

The  content is the most obvious component of any oral presentation — after all, if you are talking, you had better have something worthwhile to say.  But a presentation is only as effective as its  delivery .

Part 1: Planning the Content

1.  Determine your goals. 2.  Prepare your material. 3.  Study a model. 4.  Arrange with your strongest points first . 5. Practice, practice, practice .

Part 2: Delivering the Content

6.  Make eye contact with your audience. 7. Engage actively with the audience. 8. A slide show is not a speech. 9.  Watch the time! 10.  Take questions in the middle, not the end?

1) Determine Your Goals as a Speaker


2) Prepare your material

Plan. Practice. Keep what’s good and try again. 

Good speakers usually aim to look like they are speaking effortlessly, tossing off words as they come to mind. What you don’t see is the preparation that paved the way for the polished performance. It’s all an act! You can do it too, if you plan ahead.

Once you know what your goal is, and you know what your audience wants, you can start strategizing. There is no single strategy that will guarantee success. How you plan depends on many variables.

How many minutes long is your speech? About how many words do you speak per minute?

Will your audience be lost if you use jargon? Will they feel talked down to if you spend time defining terms they already know?

Do you expect that your audience will disagree with you? (If so, you might need to give more examples and more evidence and spend more time addressing reasonable objections in order to sound convincing, which may mean talking a little faster.)

Do you expect your audience already agrees with the position you will take? (If so, they may check out if your speech simply rehashes arguments they already accept without question. What can you say to an audience that already agrees with you? Why would you listen to a speaker who is restating things you already accept as the truth?)

Graphics, inspirational quotations, and anecdotes are all well-respected methods of maintaining audience interest. However, Pinterest clip art, fancy computer transitions between slides, and vaudeville tricks get old pretty quickly (see Don McMillan’s hilarious “ Death by Powerpoint “), and they eat up time that you could use more effectively.

3) Study a Model

The internet is of course full of examples of good speeches, but the YouTube users who vote on videos may not have much in common with the audience who will hear your oral presentation.

Do you have access to speeches that your discourse community values? Your instructor or supervisor may not have ready access to video recordings from last year’s class or last quarter’s budget meeting, but you can pay attention to the speaking techniques deployed by people with authority in your field.

For instance, I have a colleague who never says, “This is taking too long, and I’m watching the clock, so let’s get on with it already.” Instead, this person says, “I’m conscious of everyone’s time, so shall we move on to the next item?”

Bear in mind that

  • if you have been assigned to deliver a speech that defends a position on a topic (such as, whether Huckleberry Finn should be taught in middle school)…
  • but your instructor usually refrains from stating any one answer is the best (preferring instead to present several viewpoints and letting the students decide for themselves)…
  • then your instructor’s open-ended lecture (intended to spark a discussion) is not a good model of a position statement (intended to showcase your ability to latch onto a specific solution).

While this handout aims to provide general tips, you should ignore any general tip that contradicts something specific you learn about the goals, context, or genre of the specific speech you are preparing.

General Model

Successful oral presentations typically share some basic characteristics, owing to the nature of the spoken word.

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
  • Tell them what you told them.

When we read, we can go back and reread passages we skimmed over the first time, and we can skip ahead when we’re bored. In a live oral presentation, the audience can’t re-read or skip ahead. If the audience doesn’t know why they are listening to your anecdote about winning the spelling bee, or why they should care what version of the software was installed on the computer that you used to crunch your numbers, their attention will wander and it will be hard to get it back.

When we listen, we gratefully cling to orientation phrases that help us understand what the whole shape of a speech is, where we are within the overall structure, and when we are transitioning from one section to another.

Your specific occasion for delivering a speech may involve specific contextual details that don’t mesh with the general advice I’m providing here.

  • Introduction :   "I am Pinky J. Witzowitz from the U.S. Department of Bureaucracy, and I have been asked to speak for 20 minutes on 'The Government's Plan for Preventing Situation X in America's Heartland.'"
  • "Situation X is the worst thing that can happen to you and your family." [ Startling claim ; follow up by citing the source of this quote, or giving evidence that supports it.]
  • "It happened once to a family in Dubuque, and they were never heard from again." [ Anecdote ; follow up with details.]
  • "I am here today to tell you how to prevent this terrible tragedy from striking you." [ Demonstrates relevance ; move directly to your  road map ]
  • Main Content :  Put up a slide with topics to cover, a specific problem to solve, or a series of questions to answer. Promise that your talk will address the material on that slide. You might even return to that slide each time you start a new subsection, with the current place in the talk highlighted.
  • Questions/Comments from the Audience? Even though most people save the question period until the end, they lose the opportunity to modify their conclusion to address the interests of the audience.
  • Recap :  Our earnest “Situation X” speaker might give microencapsulated answers to all the questions on the main road map:  "We have learned that Situation X is a blah blah blah; that we should all care about it because yada, yada, yada..."
  • Wrap it up : After reminding the audience how all these factors fit together, the speaker might say,  "Now that you understand how the U.S. Department of Bureaucracy helps you keep Situation X out of your life, please take one of our pamphlets home to your family and put it by the telephone where you can get it in an emergency; your family will thank you."
  • Invite Questions :   If there is time, and if you haven’t already done so.

4) Arrange with Your Strongest Points First

In rare cases — such as when you are facing a hostile audience, you might want to start out by emphasizing where you agree with your audience, and then carefully working your way towards your most divisive, most daring claims.

  • If the question is actually important to your talk,  you’ll probably be able to answer right away.
  • If you can’t answer right away, or you don’t want to take the time, just promise you’ll follow up via e-mail , and then go right back to your presentation. Most  audience members will probably have been annoyed by the interruption.  They will be  delighted that you  didn’t take the questioner’s bait .

5) Practice, Practice, Practice.

Set a timer, and deliver your speech to a willing co-worker or family member, your pet fish, or the bathroom mirror.

My students are often surprised at how hard it is to fill up 3 minutes for an informal practice speech early in the term, and how hard it is to fit everything they want to say into a 10-minute formal speech later in the term.

Once you have the right amount of content, make a video recording of yourself practicing. If you plan to show a video clip, or ad-lib an explanation of a diagram, or load a website, or pass out paper handouts, or saw an assistant in half, actually do it while the camera is rolling, so that you know exactly how much time it takes.

Time it out.

  • Script out a powerful introduction and conclusion.
  • Know how long each section of your speech should take.
  • which example or anecdote you will cut if you are running long?
  • what additional example you can introduce if you need to fill time?

If you know your conclusion takes you 90 seconds to deliver, make sure to start your conclusion when you have at least 90 seconds left.

At several key points during your speech, maybe while you are playing a video or while the audience is taking in a complex image, glance at the clock and check to see — are you on track?

If you notice you’re starting Section 3 60 seconds later than you had intended, try to make up for time by rushing through your second example in section 3 and cutting the third example in section 4, so that you still have the full 90 seconds at the end to deliver that powerful conclusion.

Technological Considerations

  • Do you know how to connect your computer to the overhead projector? (If you don’t know, who does?)
  • What will you do if you can’t get your computer connected to the projector? (Back in 2003, when I applied for my current job at Seton Hill University, I was asked to give a teaching demonstration. I couldn’t get my laptop to work with the overhead projector, but I had posted the most important links on my blog, and I had brought along a printout of my speech, just in case. My preparations have paid off, because I got the job.)
  • In the room where you will be speaking, will you be using a microphone, or relying on your unamplified voice?
  • Will you be able to walk around with the microphone — perhaps to gesture at details in the slides — or is the mic attached to a stand? (Do you need to borrow a laser pointer, or get a volunteer to advance slides for you?)

6) Make Eye Contact With Your Audience.

oral presentation speech

I once sat through a four-hour training session, during which this was all I could see of the instructor.

Go ahead and write your whole speech out so you can read robotically if you blank out, but you should practice your speech so you know it well enough that you can glance up from your notes and look at your audience as you speak.

7) Engage with the audience.

Pay attention to the audience, and they will pay attention to you.

Don’t try to recite from memory . If you spend your energy worrying about what you’re supposed to say next, you won’t be able to pay attention to whether the audience can hear you, or whether the overhead projections are focused.

Preparation : Set up before the audience files into their seats. If you have scheduled a presentation for a class, don’t sit in your seat like a lump while your professor calls the roll and hands out papers. Few things are more boring than watching a presenter log into the computer, fiddle with the video data projector, hunt around for the light switches, etc.

Introduction : As the audience files into their seats, have a title card displayed on the screen — or at least write your  name and the title of your talk on the whiteboard.  In a formal setting, usually a moderator will usually introduce you, so you won’t need to repeat everything the moderator says.  Avoid canned introductions like “Principal Burch, members of the faculty, and fellow students, we are gathered here today…”

Hashtag : If it’s likely that many people in your audience use the same social media network, consider encouraging them to post their thoughts there. When you introduce yourself, give your social media handle and suggest a hashtag.

Handouts : Consider distributing handouts that present the basic facts (names, dates, timelines) and your main points.  You can keep the conclusion just slightly mysterious, if you don’t want to give everything away immediately, but the idea is to free the audience from the feeling that they have to write everything down themselves. (Note: Simply printing up all the overhead slides wastes a lot of paper.)

Grabber : Grab the attention of your audience with a startling fact or claim, an inspiring quotation, or a revealing anecdote.   This is not the time to try out your nightclub act; the “grabber” is not just comic relief, it also helps you set up the problem that you are going to address.  If the audience will be diverse and general, you can use the “grabber” as a metaphor, helping the audience see why the topic is so important to you, and how it might be important to them, too.  If your audience shares your technical specialty, and thus needs no special introduction to the topic, feel free simply to state your purpose without much to-do; but bear in mind that even technical audiences don’t want to be bored.

Road Map : Once you have established the problem or the main point of your talk, let the audience know how you are going to get to a solution.  You might put up a series of questions on a slide, then as your talk progresses, proceed to answer each one.  You might break each question down into a series of smaller questions, and answer each one of these in turn.  Each time you finish a subsection, return to the road map, to help your audience keep track of where you have been and where you are going.

Conclusion : To give your presentation closure, return to the “grabber”, and extend it, modify it, or otherwise use it to help drive home your main point.  Recap your main points, and demonstrate how they all fit together into a thought that the audience members can take with them.

8) A Slide Show Is Not a Speech

Don’t read word-for-word with your nose buried in a stack of papers . If you bother to show up to hear a person speak, how do you feel when the speaker mumbles through page after page of written text? Do you feel you should have just asked for a copy of the paper in the mail?

When you present, make every effort to include your audience; after all, they are the reason you are speaking in the first place.

If you do feel that you must write out your speech word-for-word, you should be familiar enough with it that you don’t need to look at the paper all the time. (And hold the page up when you glance at it, rather than bending down to look at it.)

9) Watch the time!

To help pace yourself, at the top of each page of your notes,  write down what time it should be ; as you turn each page, you can glance at the clock and see whether you are on track.

(The first time I gave this advice to a technical writing class, I mimed the action of “looking at the clock” — and noticed that I was running ten minutes behind, eating into time that I had promised to a student for an in-class testing session.  That was a rather humbling experience!)

See the “preparation” section above. If you have already practiced your speech and timed out the various sections, you’ll know whether you are running long. If you are, don’t talk faster — cut  something that you already marked out as optional.

Decide in advance which examples, which anecdotes, which subsections you can drop, without damaging the whole presentation.

I was at a conference in 1998 where the first speaker talked for 40 minutes — double  her allotted time.  (Why the moderator allowed this is a mystery to me.)

  • None of the other speakers on the panel felt like cutting their talks to compensate.
  • The result was that the last scheduled speaker — who had paid for an international plane ticket and a week in a hotel — did not get to speak at all.

10) Take questions in the middle, not at the end?

The benefits include:

  • If you spark a good Q & A session, your audience will remember and appreciate it.
  • If nobody has any questions,  you can just fill up the space with more of your own material .  That would be much harder to do if you have already wrapped up your talk and had nothing left to say.
  • If you really know your material, you can  adjust your conclusion to address the questions raised by the audience.  Even if someone in the audience steals a little of your thunder by bringing up points you were saving for your big finish, you will appear smart for having predicted that audience response. At the same time, someone in your audience will feel smart for having anticipated what you were going to say.

Dennis G. Jerz , 01/27/2009 07:24:28 Oct, 1999 — first written 03 Dec, 2000 — posted here 03 June 2003 — tweaked and updated 30 Oct 2011 — updated and added video links 31 May 2016 — major update; separated into “preparation” and “presentation” sections. 26 Jan 2018 — blackboard -> whiteboard

50 thoughts on “ Oral Presentation Tips: How to Deliver a Speech for School or Work ”

Thanks alot for your teachings

Thank a lot , really great tip for oral presentation, i’ll implement these tips, and will let you know.

Very helpful tips.

this is awfully helpful. I am a teacher in France and my students have to do presentations in English. I wish they could read this and understand.

Thank you for these very useful tips on Oral presentation. I am taking an Organizational Behavior class and need to do a 5 minute oral presentation on a real life situation about Conflict Management in the Workplace. I am not sure how to structure or begin the presentation.

I like it Really helpful for me

Thank you for helping me to do my presentation…..and I have learned so much from oral presentation.

thankyou thankyou thankyou this helped me so much!!! : )

thankyou thankyou thankyou this helped me so much in english!!! : )

Thanks. Really helpful

Hi, I going to do 3 minute presentation and my topic is My son. what is a best tips to talk about the this topic. I am not sure where to start. Any tips to help me with.

Is that the topic you were assigned? Are you taking a public speaking class, a child development class, a class in writing personal memoirs, or are you learning English as a second language? I don’t know how your instructor will evaluate your work, so I am not sure how to help.

You might find it useful to look at this handout on writing personal essays.

Hi, I going to do minute presentation and my topic is My son. what is a best tips to talk about the this topic. I am not sure where to start. Any tips to help me with.

This sort of helped

Denise Gillen Caralli liked this on Facebook.

Enter your comment here…Thanks a lot… I will follow your instructions..I’m hopeful those tips will work. .. Thanks once again….

Thanks so much will follow your instruction tomorrow where I will be having presentation with 180 Head masters about suplimetary feeding on their hunger striken ares

Yeah ,thanks and good luck to all of you from a powerful Jamaican girl

That’s great… It will work well for those who are aiming for like me. Thanks!

The tips are totally handy until now I am still applying it.

Appreciate it. =)

Very helpful for my presentation. Thanks!

I have learned a lot on this…thanks

Thanks a lot I have learned so much on this

I suppose to give out a presentation on Monday on someone or something in either an athlete or an actor and I don’t know how to start

i have a question i am supposed to give a speech but it has to have a power point or a drama thing the only problem is that i can’t have a power point because it won’t work into my speech and neither will a drama thing what should i do?

I suggest you talk to whoever set up the requirement for a slideshow/drama component. Maybe there is some flexibility, or maybe you’ll find a way to work that component into your speech.

Thank you heaps this really helped a lot

that is such good information and i believe im going to pass my speeches.

wow!!this are really helpfull stuff..but im just not confident enough to stand infront of all those people..wish i could do it without them looking at me

blind fold them! just joking…I’m getting ready to do mine and I’m having the same problem as you.

this is a helpfull site

this isn’t helping me with how nervous I am!! bye!!

love it really helped

thanks you are good

I have to do a presentation about “Importance of learning English”. There are 6 people in my group including myself. The presentation has to be exactly 8 minutes. We can’t use PowerPoint. Can you give us any unique, memorable and creative idea?

What are some lessons or life experiences that you find unique and memorable? I’d probably do a play, with a character who gets into trouble because he/she doesn’t know English, and then has a chance to correct those problems by demonstrating how learning English can fix the problems.

Hello mr.Dennis,I go straight to can I become the most sought after Master of Ceremony(M.C.)/tv show presenter extra-ordinaire in my country before going international?any useful tips?

Sorry, that question is not something I cover on this page.

really well writen loved how you added steps so its easy to follow clear easily can be understaned and really helps us and gives us tips that we should actually think about and use at times

Yeah! I found it quite impressive. I hope it’z gonna be helpful for me to develop my speech techniques.

Nice tips….i think it will help me. but it’s too lengthy,it takes so much of time to read.

This really helps to prepare for all sort of things, Thanks a lot

Really helpful! Thank you

Pingback: Oral Presentation Readings « readwriteredroom

i love this helpful tips of oral presentation.. hope to visit this again or i just make a hard copy of this… thank you very much for that…

it was quite helpful

thank you for the great tip, but my problem is actually that I have a presentation on ‘All About Me’ and I have to keep the audience ‘engaged’ like by making a guessing game or something. If anyone has any other ideas please help!!

This may help:

This really helped me prepare my oral presentation…thanks very much!!!!

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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

  • Carmine Gallo

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Five tips to set yourself apart.

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).

I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

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  • Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman  (St. Martin’s Press).

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Oral presentation

Giving an oral presentation as part of a speaking exam can be quite scary, but we're here to help you. Watch two students giving presentations and then read the tips carefully. Which tips do they follow? Which ones don’t they follow?


Watch the video of two students doing an oral presentation as part of a speaking exam. Then read the tips below.

Melissa: Hi, everyone! Today I would like to talk about how to become the most popular teen in school.

Firstly, I think getting good academic results is the first factor to make you become popular since, having a good academic result, your teacher will award you in front of your schoolmates. Then, your schoolmates will know who you are and maybe they would like to get to know you because they want to learn something good from you.

Secondly, I think participating in school clubs and student unions can help to make you become popular, since after participating in these school clubs or student union, people will know who you are and it can help you to make friends all around the school, no matter senior forms or junior forms.

In conclusion, I think to become the most popular teen in school we need to have good academic results and also participate in school clubs and student union. Thank you!

Kelvin: Good evening, everyone! So, today I want to talk about whether the sale of cigarettes should be made illegal.

As we all know, cigarettes are not good for our health, not only oneself but also other people around. Moreover, many people die of lung cancer every year because of smoking cigarettes.

But, should the government make it illegal? I don’t think so, because Hong Kong is a place where people can enjoy lots of freedom and if the government banned the sale of cigarettes, many people would disagree with this and stand up to fight for their freedom.

Moreover, Hong Kong is a free market. If there's such a huge government intervention, I think it’s not good for Hong Kong’s economy.

So, if the government wants people to stop smoking cigarettes, what should it do? I think the government can use other administrative ways to do so, for example education and increasing the tax on cigarettes. Also, the government can ban the smokers smoking in public areas. So, this is the end of my presentation. Thank you.

It’s not easy to give a good oral presentation but these tips will help you. Here are our top tips for oral presentations.

  • Use the planning time to prepare what you’re going to say. 
  • If you are allowed to have a note card, write short notes in point form.
  • Use more formal language.
  • Use short, simple sentences to express your ideas clearly.
  • Pause from time to time and don’t speak too quickly. This allows the listener to understand your ideas. Include a short pause after each idea.
  • Speak clearly and at the right volume.
  • Have your notes ready in case you forget anything.
  • Practise your presentation. If possible record yourself and listen to your presentation. If you can’t record yourself, ask a friend to listen to you. Does your friend understand you?
  • Make your opinions very clear. Use expressions to give your opinion .
  • Look at the people who are listening to you.
  • Write out the whole presentation and learn every word by heart. 
  • Write out the whole presentation and read it aloud.
  • Use very informal language.
  • Only look at your note card. It’s important to look up at your listeners when you are speaking.

Useful language for presentations

Explain what your presentation is about at the beginning:

I’m going to talk about ... I’d like to talk about ... The main focus of this presentation is ...

Use these expressions to order your ideas:

First of all, ... Firstly, ... Then, ... Secondly, ... Next, ... Finally, ... Lastly, ... To sum up, ... In conclusion, ...

Use these expressions to add more ideas from the same point of view:

In addition, ... What’s more, ... Also, ... Added to this, ...

To introduce the opposite point of view you can use these words and expressions:

However, ... On the other hand, ... Then again, ...

Example presentation topics

  • Violent computer games should be banned.
  • The sale of cigarettes should be made illegal.
  • Homework should be limited to just two nights a week.
  • Should school students be required to wear a school uniform?
  • How to become the most popular teen in school.
  • Dogs should be banned from cities.

Check your language: ordering - parts of a presentation

Check your understanding: grouping - useful phrases, worksheets and downloads.

Do you think these tips will help you in your next speaking exam? Remember to tell us how well you do in future speaking exams!  

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How to prepare and deliver an effective oral presentation

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  • Peer review
  • Lucia Hartigan , registrar 1 ,
  • Fionnuala Mone , fellow in maternal fetal medicine 1 ,
  • Mary Higgins , consultant obstetrician 2
  • 1 National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2 National Maternity Hospital, Dublin; Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Medicine and Medical Sciences, University College Dublin
  • luciahartigan{at}

The success of an oral presentation lies in the speaker’s ability to transmit information to the audience. Lucia Hartigan and colleagues describe what they have learnt about delivering an effective scientific oral presentation from their own experiences, and their mistakes

The objective of an oral presentation is to portray large amounts of often complex information in a clear, bite sized fashion. Although some of the success lies in the content, the rest lies in the speaker’s skills in transmitting the information to the audience. 1


It is important to be as well prepared as possible. Look at the venue in person, and find out the time allowed for your presentation and for questions, and the size of the audience and their backgrounds, which will allow the presentation to be pitched at the appropriate level.

See what the ambience and temperature are like and check that the format of your presentation is compatible with the available computer. This is particularly important when embedding videos. Before you begin, look at the video on stand-by and make sure the lights are dimmed and the speakers are functioning.

For visual aids, Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Mac Keynote programmes are usual, although Prezi is increasing in popularity. Save the presentation on a USB stick, with email or cloud storage backup to avoid last minute disasters.

When preparing the presentation, start with an opening slide containing the title of the study, your name, and the date. Begin by addressing and thanking the audience and the organisation that has invited you to speak. Typically, the format includes background, study aims, methodology, results, strengths and weaknesses of the study, and conclusions.

If the study takes a lecturing format, consider including “any questions?” on a slide before you conclude, which will allow the audience to remember the take home messages. Ideally, the audience should remember three of the main points from the presentation. 2

Have a maximum of four short points per slide. If you can display something as a diagram, video, or a graph, use this instead of text and talk around it.

Animation is available in both Microsoft PowerPoint and the Apple Mac Keynote programme, and its use in presentations has been demonstrated to assist in the retention and recall of facts. 3 Do not overuse it, though, as it could make you appear unprofessional. If you show a video or diagram don’t just sit back—use a laser pointer to explain what is happening.

Rehearse your presentation in front of at least one person. Request feedback and amend accordingly. If possible, practise in the venue itself so things will not be unfamiliar on the day. If you appear comfortable, the audience will feel comfortable. Ask colleagues and seniors what questions they would ask and prepare responses to these questions.

It is important to dress appropriately, stand up straight, and project your voice towards the back of the room. Practise using a microphone, or any other presentation aids, in advance. If you don’t have your own presenting style, think of the style of inspirational scientific speakers you have seen and imitate it.

Try to present slides at the rate of around one slide a minute. If you talk too much, you will lose your audience’s attention. The slides or videos should be an adjunct to your presentation, so do not hide behind them, and be proud of the work you are presenting. You should avoid reading the wording on the slides, but instead talk around the content on them.

Maintain eye contact with the audience and remember to smile and pause after each comment, giving your nerves time to settle. Speak slowly and concisely, highlighting key points.

Do not assume that the audience is completely familiar with the topic you are passionate about, but don’t patronise them either. Use every presentation as an opportunity to teach, even your seniors. The information you are presenting may be new to them, but it is always important to know your audience’s background. You can then ensure you do not patronise world experts.

To maintain the audience’s attention, vary the tone and inflection of your voice. If appropriate, use humour, though you should run any comments or jokes past others beforehand and make sure they are culturally appropriate. Check every now and again that the audience is following and offer them the opportunity to ask questions.

Finishing up is the most important part, as this is when you send your take home message with the audience. Slow down, even though time is important at this stage. Conclude with the three key points from the study and leave the slide up for a further few seconds. Do not ramble on. Give the audience a chance to digest the presentation. Conclude by acknowledging those who assisted you in the study, and thank the audience and organisation. If you are presenting in North America, it is usual practice to conclude with an image of the team. If you wish to show references, insert a text box on the appropriate slide with the primary author, year, and paper, although this is not always required.

Answering questions can often feel like the most daunting part, but don’t look upon this as negative. Assume that the audience has listened and is interested in your research. Listen carefully, and if you are unsure about what someone is saying, ask for the question to be rephrased. Thank the audience member for asking the question and keep responses brief and concise. If you are unsure of the answer you can say that the questioner has raised an interesting point that you will have to investigate further. Have someone in the audience who will write down the questions for you, and remember that this is effectively free peer review.

Be proud of your achievements and try to do justice to the work that you and the rest of your group have done. You deserve to be up on that stage, so show off what you have achieved.

Competing interests: We have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: None.

  • ↵ Rovira A, Auger C, Naidich TP. How to prepare an oral presentation and a conference. Radiologica 2013 ; 55 (suppl 1): 2 -7S. OpenUrl
  • ↵ Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for making good oral presentations. PLos Comput Biol 2007 ; 3 : e77 . OpenUrl PubMed
  • ↵ Naqvi SH, Mobasher F, Afzal MA, Umair M, Kohli AN, Bukhari MH. Effectiveness of teaching methods in a medical institute: perceptions of medical students to teaching aids. J Pak Med Assoc 2013 ; 63 : 859 -64. OpenUrl

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How to Do an Oral Presentation

Last Updated: April 15, 2024

This article was co-authored by Vikas Agrawal . Vikas Agrawal is a Visual Content Marketing Expert & Entrepreneur, as well as the Founder of Full Service Creative Agency Infobrandz. With over 10 years of experience, he specializes in designing visually engaging content, such as infographics, videos, and e-books. He’s an expert in Making content marketing strategies and has contributed to and been featured in many publications including Forbes,, and This article has been viewed 48,193 times.

The power of words can control the thoughts, emotions and the decisions of others. Giving an oral presentation can be a challenge, but with the right plan and delivery, you can move an entire audience in your favor.

Researching Your Presentation

Step 1 Determine your topic.

  • If speaking about the effect of junk food on an adult’s mind, include the increase of serotonin, a happiness hormone. Then inform the audience how fast the hormone drastically depletes to give out worse feelings. This gives the perspective that even the advantages of junk food are outweighed by the negative effects.

Step 4 Research, research, research.

Writing Your Script

Step 1 Write the body of your script.

  • Make sure to begin each argument with a clear description of the content such as. "The result of eating junk food has increased negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem". This gives the audience a quick outlook of what the argument is about. Always remember to state how the argument relates and supports the topic question.

Step 2 Start the introduction.

  • If necessary, this is where you could include, "My name is ___ and I will be speaking about the effect on junk food on our minds." Then you include a brief out view of each argument you will be speaking about. Do not include any information about your arguments in the introduction.

Step 3 Prepare a strong conclusion.

  • Some example concluding sentences include, "The entire process of the mind, changed by a simple bite of a cookie. Our entire body's control system, defined by our choices of food. The definite truth. You are what you eat."

Practicing and Performing

Step 1 Prepare your cue cards.

  • Taking the effort to memorize your script allows you to keep eye contact with the audience and brings confidence to your speech. Reading from an entire script can easily cause you to lose your place and stutter. Also make sure they are the same size and only put important key words or those that are hard to remember. This allows you to easily flip through and read off the cue cards.

Step 2 Use the aid of visual images or videos if allowed.

What Is The Best Way To Start a Presentation?

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

In the social and behavioral sciences, an oral presentation assignment involves an individual student or group of students verbally addressing an audience on a specific research-based topic, often utilizing slides to help audience members understand and retain what they both see and hear. The purpose is to inform, report, and explain the significance of research findings, and your critical analysis of those findings, within a specific period of time, often in the form of a reasoned and persuasive argument. Oral presentations are assigned to assess a student’s ability to organize and communicate relevant information  effectively to a particular audience. Giving an oral presentation is considered an important learning skill because the ability to speak persuasively in front of an audience is transferable to most professional workplace settings.

Oral Presentations. Learning Co-Op. University of Wollongong, Australia; Oral Presentations. Undergraduate Research Office, Michigan State University; Oral Presentations. Presentations Research Guide, East Carolina University Libraries; Tsang, Art. “Enhancing Learners’ Awareness of Oral Presentation (Delivery) Skills in the Context of Self-regulated Learning.” Active Learning in Higher Education 21 (2020): 39-50.

Preparing for Your Oral Presentation

In some classes, writing the research paper is only part of what is required in reporting the results your work. Your professor may also require you to give an oral presentation about your study. Here are some things to think about before you are scheduled to give a presentation.

1.  What should I say?

If your professor hasn't explicitly stated what the content of your presentation should focus on, think about what you want to achieve and what you consider to be the most important things that members of the audience should know about your research. Think about the following: Do I want to inform my audience, inspire them to think about my research, or convince them of a particular point of view? These questions will help frame how to approach your presentation topic.

2.  Oral communication is different from written communication

Your audience has just one chance to hear your talk; they can't "re-read" your words if they get confused. Focus on being clear, particularly if the audience can't ask questions during the talk. There are two well-known ways to communicate your points effectively, often applied in combination. The first is the K.I.S.S. method [Keep It Simple Stupid]. Focus your presentation on getting two to three key points across. The second approach is to repeat key insights: tell them what you're going to tell them [forecast], tell them [explain], and then tell them what you just told them [summarize].

3.  Think about your audience

Yes, you want to demonstrate to your professor that you have conducted a good study. But professors often ask students to give an oral presentation to practice the art of communicating and to learn to speak clearly and audibly about yourself and your research. Questions to think about include: What background knowledge do they have about my topic? Does the audience have any particular interests? How am I going to involve them in my presentation?

4.  Create effective notes

If you don't have notes to refer to as you speak, you run the risk of forgetting something important. Also, having no notes increases the chance you'll lose your train of thought and begin relying on reading from the presentation slides. Think about the best ways to create notes that can be easily referred to as you speak. This is important! Nothing is more distracting to an audience than the speaker fumbling around with notes as they try to speak. It gives the impression of being disorganized and unprepared.

NOTE:   A good strategy is to have a page of notes for each slide so that the act of referring to a new page helps remind you to move to the next slide. This also creates a natural pause that allows your audience to contemplate what you just presented.

Strategies for creating effective notes for yourself include the following:

  • Choose a large, readable font [at least 18 point in Ariel ]; avoid using fancy text fonts or cursive text.
  • Use bold text, underlining, or different-colored text to highlight elements of your speech that you want to emphasize. Don't over do it, though. Only highlight the most important elements of your presentation.
  • Leave adequate space on your notes to jot down additional thoughts or observations before and during your presentation. This is also helpful when writing down your thoughts in response to a question or to remember a multi-part question [remember to have a pen with you when you give your presentation].
  • Place a cue in the text of your notes to indicate when to move to the next slide, to click on a link, or to take some other action, such as, linking to a video. If appropriate, include a cue in your notes if there is a point during your presentation when you want the audience to refer to a handout.
  • Spell out challenging words phonetically and practice saying them ahead of time. This is particularly important for accurately pronouncing people’s names, technical or scientific terminology, words in a foreign language, or any unfamiliar words.

Creating and Using Overheads. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Kelly, Christine. Mastering the Art of Presenting. Inside Higher Education Career Advice; Giving an Oral Presentation. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015; Peery, Angela B. Creating Effective Presentations: Staff Development with Impact . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011; Peoples, Deborah Carter. Guidelines for Oral Presentations. Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries; Perret, Nellie. Oral Presentations. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Speeches. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Storz, Carl et al. Oral Presentation Skills. Institut national de télécommunications, EVRY FRANCE.

Organizing the Content

In the process of organizing the content of your presentation, begin by thinking about what you want to achieve and how are you going to involve your audience in the presentation.

  • Brainstorm your topic and write a rough outline. Don’t get carried away—remember you have a limited amount of time for your presentation.
  • Organize your material and draft what you want to say [see below].
  • Summarize your draft into key points to write on your presentation slides and/or note cards and/or handout.
  • Prepare your visual aids.
  • Rehearse your presentation and practice getting the presentation completed within the time limit given by your professor. Ask a friend to listen and time you.


I.  Introduction [may be written last]

  • Capture your listeners’ attention . Begin with a question, an amusing story, a provocative statement, a personal story, or anything that will engage your audience and make them think. For example, "As a first-gen student, my hardest adjustment to college was the amount of papers I had to write...."
  • State your purpose . For example, "I’m going to talk about..."; "This morning I want to explain…."
  • Present an outline of your talk . For example, “I will concentrate on the following points: First of all…Then…This will lead to…And finally…"

II.  The Body

  • Present your main points one by one in a logical order .
  • Pause at the end of each point . Give people time to take notes, or time to think about what you are saying.
  • Make it clear when you move to another point . For example, “The next point is that...”; “Of course, we must not forget that...”; “However, it's important to realize that....”
  • Use clear examples to illustrate your points and/or key findings .
  • If appropriate, consider using visual aids to make your presentation more interesting [e.g., a map, chart, picture, link to a video, etc.].

III.  The Conclusion

  • Leave your audience with a clear summary of everything that you have covered.
  • Summarize the main points again . For example, use phrases like: "So, in conclusion..."; "To recap the main issues...," "In summary, it is important to realize...."
  • Restate the purpose of your talk, and say that you have achieved your aim : "My intention was ..., and it should now be clear that...."
  • Don't let the talk just fizzle out . Make it obvious that you have reached the end of the presentation.
  • Thank the audience, and invite questions : "Thank you. Are there any questions?"

NOTE: When asking your audience if anyone has any questions, give people time to contemplate what you have said and to formulate a question. It may seem like an awkward pause to wait ten seconds or so for someone to raise their hand, but it's frustrating to have a question come to mind but be cutoff because the presenter rushed to end the talk.

ANOTHER NOTE: If your last slide includes any contact information or other important information, leave it up long enough to ensure audience members have time to write the information down. Nothing is more frustrating to an audience member than wanting to jot something down, but the presenter closes the slides immediately after finishing.

Creating and Using Overheads. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Giving an Oral Presentation. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015; Peery, Angela B. Creating Effective Presentations: Staff Development with Impact . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011; Peoples, Deborah Carter. Guidelines for Oral Presentations. Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries; Perret, Nellie. Oral Presentations. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Speeches. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Storz, Carl et al. Oral Presentation Skills. Institut national de télécommunications, EVRY FRANCE.

Delivering Your Presentation

When delivering your presentation, keep in mind the following points to help you remain focused and ensure that everything goes as planned.

Pay Attention to Language!

  • Keep it simple . The aim is to communicate, not to show off your vocabulary. Using complex words or phrases increases the chance of stumbling over a word and losing your train of thought.
  • Emphasize the key points . Make sure people realize which are the key points of your study. Repeat them using different phrasing to help the audience remember them.
  • Check the pronunciation of difficult, unusual, or foreign words beforehand . Keep it simple, but if you have to use unfamiliar words, write them out phonetically in your notes and practice saying them. This is particularly important when pronouncing proper names. Give the definition of words that are unusual or are being used in a particular context [e.g., "By using the term affective response, I am referring to..."].

Use Your Voice to Communicate Clearly

  • Speak loud enough for everyone in the room to hear you . Projecting your voice may feel uncomfortably loud at first, but if people can't hear you, they won't try to listen. However, moderate your voice if you are talking in front of a microphone.
  • Speak slowly and clearly . Don’t rush! Speaking fast makes it harder for people to understand you and signals being nervous.
  • Avoid the use of "fillers." Linguists refer to utterances such as um, ah, you know, and like as fillers. They occur most often during transitions from one idea to another and, if expressed too much, are distracting to an audience. The better you know your presentation, the better you can control these verbal tics.
  • Vary your voice quality . If you always use the same volume and pitch [for example, all loud, or all soft, or in a monotone] during your presentation, your audience will stop listening. Use a higher pitch and volume in your voice when you begin a new point or when emphasizing the transition to a new point.
  • Speakers with accents need to slow down [so do most others]. Non-native speakers often speak English faster than we slow-mouthed native speakers, usually because most non-English languages flow more quickly than English. Slowing down helps the audience to comprehend what you are saying.
  • Slow down for key points . These are also moments in your presentation to consider using body language, such as hand gestures or leaving the podium to point to a slide, to help emphasize key points.
  • Use pauses . Don't be afraid of short periods of silence. They give you a chance to gather your thoughts, and your audience an opportunity to think about what you've just said.

Also Use Your Body Language to Communicate!

  • Stand straight and comfortably . Do not slouch or shuffle about. If you appear bored or uninterested in what your talking about, the audience will emulate this as well. Wear something comfortable. This is not the time to wear an itchy wool sweater or new high heel shoes for the first time.
  • Hold your head up . Look around and make eye contact with people in the audience [or at least pretend to]. Do not just look at your professor or your notes the whole time! Looking up at your your audience brings them into the conversation. If you don't include the audience, they won't listen to you.
  • When you are talking to your friends, you naturally use your hands, your facial expression, and your body to add to your communication . Do it in your presentation as well. It will make things far more interesting for the audience.
  • Don't turn your back on the audience and don't fidget! Neither moving around nor standing still is wrong. Practice either to make yourself comfortable. Even when pointing to a slide, don't turn your back; stand at the side and turn your head towards the audience as you speak.
  • Keep your hands out of your pocket . This is a natural habit when speaking. One hand in your pocket gives the impression of being relaxed, but both hands in pockets looks too casual and should be avoided.

Interact with the Audience

  • Be aware of how your audience is reacting to your presentation . Are they interested or bored? If they look confused, stop and ask them [e.g., "Is anything I've covered so far unclear?"]. Stop and explain a point again if needed.
  • Check after highlighting key points to ask if the audience is still with you . "Does that make sense?"; "Is that clear?" Don't do this often during the presentation but, if the audience looks disengaged, interrupting your talk to ask a quick question can re-focus their attention even if no one answers.
  • Do not apologize for anything . If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, don't use it. If you apologize for feeling awkward and nervous, you'll only succeed in drawing attention to the fact you are feeling awkward and nervous and your audience will begin looking for this, rather than focusing on what you are saying.
  • Be open to questions . If someone asks a question in the middle of your talk, answer it. If it disrupts your train of thought momentarily, that's ok because your audience will understand. Questions show that the audience is listening with interest and, therefore, should not be regarded as an attack on you, but as a collaborative search for deeper understanding. However, don't engage in an extended conversation with an audience member or the rest of the audience will begin to feel left out. If an audience member persists, kindly tell them that the issue can be addressed after you've completed the rest of your presentation and note to them that their issue may be addressed later in your presentation [it may not be, but at least saying so allows you to move on].
  • Be ready to get the discussion going after your presentation . Professors often want a brief discussion to take place after a presentation. Just in case nobody has anything to say or no one asks any questions, be prepared to ask your audience some provocative questions or bring up key issues for discussion.

Amirian, Seyed Mohammad Reza and Elaheh Tavakoli. “Academic Oral Presentation Self-Efficacy: A Cross-Sectional Interdisciplinary Comparative Study.” Higher Education Research and Development 35 (December 2016): 1095-1110; Balistreri, William F. “Giving an Effective Presentation.” Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 35 (July 2002): 1-4; Creating and Using Overheads. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Enfield, N. J. How We Talk: The Inner Workings of Conversation . New York: Basic Books, 2017; Giving an Oral Presentation. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015; Peery, Angela B. Creating Effective Presentations: Staff Development with Impact . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011; Peoples, Deborah Carter. Guidelines for Oral Presentations. Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries; Perret, Nellie. Oral Presentations. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Speeches. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Storz, Carl et al. Oral Presentation Skills. Institut national de télécommunications, EVRY FRANCE.

Speaking Tip

Your First Words are Your Most Important Words!

Your introduction should begin with something that grabs the attention of your audience, such as, an interesting statistic, a brief narrative or story, or a bold assertion, and then clearly tell the audience in a well-crafted sentence what you plan to accomplish in your presentation. Your introductory statement should be constructed so as to invite the audience to pay close attention to your message and to give the audience a clear sense of the direction in which you are about to take them.

Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking . 12th edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2015.

Another Speaking Tip

Talk to Your Audience, Don't Read to Them!

A presentation is not the same as reading a prepared speech or essay. If you read your presentation as if it were an essay, your audience will probably understand very little about what you say and will lose their concentration quickly. Use notes, cue cards, or presentation slides as prompts that highlight key points, and speak to your audience . Include everyone by looking at them and maintaining regular eye-contact [but don't stare or glare at people]. Limit reading text to quotes or to specific points you want to emphasize.

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24 Oral Presentations

Many academic courses require students to present information to their peers and teachers in a classroom setting. This is usually in the form of a short talk, often, but not always, accompanied by visual aids such as a power point. Students often become nervous at the idea of speaking in front of a group.

This chapter is divided under five headings to establish a quick reference guide for oral presentations.

oral presentation speech

A beginner, who may have little or no experience, should read each section in full.

oral presentation speech

For the intermediate learner, who has some experience with oral presentations, review the sections you feel you need work on.

oral presentation speech

The Purpose of an Oral Presentation

Generally, oral presentation is public speaking, either individually or as a group, the aim of which is to provide information, entertain, persuade the audience, or educate. In an academic setting, oral presentations are often assessable tasks with a marking criteria. Therefore, students are being evaluated on their capacity to speak and deliver relevant information within a set timeframe. An oral presentation differs from a speech in that it usually has visual aids and may involve audience interaction; ideas are both shown and explained . A speech, on the other hand, is a formal verbal discourse addressing an audience, without visual aids and audience participation.

Types of Oral Presentations

Individual presentation.

  • Breathe and remember that everyone gets nervous when speaking in public. You are in control. You’ve got this!
  • Know your content. The number one way to have a smooth presentation is to know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Write it down and rehearse it until you feel relaxed and confident and do not have to rely heavily on notes while speaking.
  • Eliminate ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ from your oral presentation vocabulary. Speak slowly and clearly and pause when you need to. It is not a contest to see who can race through their presentation the fastest or fit the most content within the time limit. The average person speaks at a rate of 125 words per minute. Therefore, if you are required to speak for 10 minutes, you will need to write and practice 1250 words for speaking. Ensure you time yourself and get it right.
  • Ensure you meet the requirements of the marking criteria, including non-verbal communication skills. Make good eye contact with the audience; watch your posture; don’t fidget.
  • Know the language requirements. Check if you are permitted to use a more casual, conversational tone and first-person pronouns, or do you need to keep a more formal, academic tone?

Group Presentation

  • All of the above applies, however you are working as part of a group. So how should you approach group work?
  • Firstly, if you are not assigned to a group by your lecturer/tutor, choose people based on their availability and accessibility. If you cannot meet face-to-face you may schedule online meetings.
  • Get to know each other. It’s easier to work with friends than strangers.
  • Also consider everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. This will involve a discussion that will often lead to task or role allocations within the group, however, everyone should be carrying an equal level of the workload.
  • Some group members may be more focused on getting the script written, with a different section for each team member to say. Others may be more experienced with the presentation software and skilled in editing and refining power point slides so they are appropriate for the presentation. Use one visual aid (one set of power point slides) for the whole group. Take turns presenting information and ideas.
  • Be patient and tolerant with each other’s learning style and personality. Do not judge people in your group based on their personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender, age, or cultural background.
  • Rehearse as a group, more than once. Keep rehearsing until you have seamless transitions between speakers. Ensure you thank the previous speaker and introduce the one following you. If you are rehearsing online, but have to present in-person, try to schedule some face-to-face time that will allow you to physically practice using the technology and classroom space of the campus.
  • For further information on working as a group see:

Working as a group – my.UQ – University of Queensland

Writing Your Presentation

Approach the oral presentation task just as you would any other assignment. Review the available topics, do some background reading and research to ensure you can talk about the topic for the appropriate length of time and in an informed manner. Break the question down as demonstrated in Chapter 17 Breaking Down an Assignment. Where it differs from writing an essay is that the information in the written speech must align with the visual aid. Therefore, with each idea, concept or new information you write, think about how this might be visually displayed through minimal text and the occasional use of images. Proceed to write your ideas in full, but consider that not all information will end up on a power point slide. After all, it is you who are doing the presenting , not the power point. Your presentation skills are being evaluated; this may include a small percentage for the actual visual aid. This is also why it is important that EVERYONE has a turn at speaking during the presentation, as each person receives their own individual grade.

Using Visual Aids

A whole chapter could be written about the visual aids alone, therefore I will simply refer to the key points as noted by my.UQ

To keep your audience engaged and help them to remember what you have to say, you may want to use visual aids, such as slides.

When designing slides for your presentation, make sure:

  • any text is brief, grammatically correct and easy to read. Use dot points and space between lines, plus large font size (18-20 point).
  • Resist the temptation to use dark slides with a light-coloured font; it is hard on the eyes
  • if images and graphs are used to support your main points, they should be non-intrusive on the written work

Images and Graphs

  • Your audience will respond better to slides that deliver information quickly – images and graphs are a good way to do this. However, they are not always appropriate or necessary.

When choosing images, it’s important to find images that:

  • support your presentation and aren’t just decorative
  • are high quality, however, using large HD picture files can make the power point file too large overall for submission via Turnitin
  • you have permission to use (Creative Commons license, royalty-free, own images, or purchased)
  • suggested sites for free-to-use images: Openclipart – Clipping Culture ; Beautiful Free Images & Pictures | Unsplash ; Pxfuel – Royalty free stock photos free download ; When we share, everyone wins – Creative Commons

This is a general guide. The specific requirements for your course may be different. Make sure you read through any assignment requirements carefully and ask your lecturer or tutor if you’re unsure how to meet them.

Using Visual Aids Effectively

Too often, students make an impressive power point though do not understand how to use it effectively to enhance their presentation.

  • Rehearse with the power point.
  • Keep the slides synchronized with your presentation; change them at the appropriate time.
  • Refer to the information on the slides. Point out details; comment on images; note facts such as data.
  • Don’t let the power point just be something happening in the background while you speak.
  • Write notes in your script to indicate when to change slides or which slide number the information applies to.
  • Pace yourself so you are not spending a disproportionate amount of time on slides at the beginning of the presentation and racing through them at the end.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

Nonverbal Communication

It is clear by the name that nonverbal communication are the ways that we communicate without speaking. Many people are already aware of this, however here are a few tips that relate specifically to oral presentations.

Being confident and looking confident are two different things. Fake it until you make it.

  • Avoid slouching or leaning – standing up straight instantly gives you an air of confidence.
  • Move! When you’re glued to one spot as a presenter, you’re not perceived as either confident or dynamic. Use the available space effectively, though do not exaggerate your natural movements so you look ridiculous.
  • If you’re someone who “speaks with their hands”, resist the urge to constantly wave them around. They detract from your message. Occasional gestures are fine.
  • Be animated, but don’t fidget. Ask someone to watch you rehearse and identify if you have any nervous, repetitive habits you may be unaware of, for example, constantly touching or ‘finger-combing’ your hair, rubbing your face.
  • Avoid ‘voice fidgets’ also. If you needs to cough or clear your throat, do so once then take a drink of water.
  • Avoid distractions. No phone turned on. Water available but off to one side.
  • Keep your distance. Don’t hover over front-row audience members; this can be intimidating.
  • Have a cheerful demeaner. You do not need to grin like a Cheshire cat throughout the presentation, yet your facial expression should be relaxed and welcoming.
  • Maintain an engaging TONE in your voice. Sometimes it’s not what you’re saying that is putting your audience to sleep, it’s your monotonous tone. Vary your tone and pace.
  • Don’t read your presentation – PRESENT it! Internalize your script so you can speak with confidence and only occasionally refer to your notes if needed.
  • Lastly, make good eye contact with your audience members so they know you are talking with them, not at them. You’re having a conversation. Watch the link below for some great speaking tips, including eye contact.

Below is a video of some great tips about public speaking from Amy Wolff at TEDx Portland [1]

  • Wolff. A. [The Oregonion]. (2016, April 9). 5 public speaking tips from TEDxPortland speaker coach [Video]. YouTube. ↵

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Academic Writing Skills Copyright © 2021 by Patricia Williamson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Speech Writing

Presentation Speech

Barbara P

Presentation Speech - An Ultimate Writing Guide

13 min read

Presentation speech

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Presentations are a common part of our personal and professional lives. Whether you're a student, an employee, or an entrepreneur, mastering the art of presentations is a valuable skill.

A well-crafted presentation speech can inspire, inform, and engage your audience, leaving a lasting impact. 

So how can you craft an engaging presentation speech?

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of creating and delivering a compelling presentation, step by step. From writing your speech to mastering public speaking techniques, we've got you covered. 

So, let's dive in! 

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is a Presentation Speech?
  • 2. How to Write a Presentation Speech?
  • 3. How to Start a Presentation Speech?
  • 4. How to End a Presentation Speech? 
  • 5. Presentation Speech Examples 
  • 6. Tips for Making Your Presentations More Engaging
  • 7. Presentation Speech Topics

What is a Presentation Speech?

A presentation speech is a type of speech that serves to convey information, share ideas, persuade, or inspire a specific audience. A presentation speech is carefully planned and typically delivered in a formal setting, such as a classroom, a boardroom, or a conference.

In other words, a presentation speech can be defined as: 

A public speech that attempts to inform or convey a particular message effectively to a specific audience. 

Main Components of a Presentation Speech

The key elements that set a presentation speech apart are its intentionality and structure. Here's a breakdown of these crucial aspects: 

  • Purpose 

Every presentation speech has a clear purpose, which could be:

  • To persuade
  • To entertain
  • To inspire and motivate 

Understanding your purpose is the foundation upon which you build your speech.

A presentation speech typically follows a structured format that includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction lays out the context, the body conveys the main content, and the conclusion reinforces the key points. 

Effective presentation speeches are tailored to the needs and expectations of the audience. Knowing your audience helps you choose the right tone, style, and content.

  • Visual Aids

Presentation speeches often make use of visual aids like slides, props, or multimedia elements to enhance the message and keep the audience engaged.

How to Write a Presentation Speech?

Creating an effective presentation speech requires careful planning and organization. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you write a presentation speech effectively:

Determine the Audience

The first step in crafting a presentation speech is to understand your audience. Consider their background, knowledge, interests, and expectations. Are they experts in the subject, or are they new to it? This information will shape the tone and depth of your speech.

Choose a Topic

Select a topic that aligns with both your expertise and the interests of your audience. Your topic should be engaging and relevant. It could be a current issue, a problem-solving solution, or a subject of general interest. Make sure your passion for the topic shines through.

Research and Gather Information

To build a strong speech, gather credible information from a variety of sources. Use books, articles, online resources, and expert interviews. Keep track of your sources and make note of key statistics, quotes, and examples that support your message.

Make an Outline

Creating a structured outline for your presentation speech is essential for keeping your message organized and ensuring that your audience can follow your points easily. 

Here's how to construct a well-organized presentation speech outline:

Review and Revise

After you've written your speech, review it for clarity, coherence, and conciseness. Here are the steps you should take for reviewing your speech:

  • Ensure that each point supports your main message and is easy to understand. 
  • Check for grammar and spelling errors.
  • Practice your speech in front of a mirror or with a friend. Pay attention to your delivery, pacing, and timing. Make necessary revisions based on your practice sessions.

Remember that a well-written presentation speech not only conveys your knowledge but also connects with your audience on a personal level. Your goal is to inform, persuade, or inspire, and the steps outlined here will help you achieve just that.

How to Start a Presentation Speech?

Now that you’ve written your presentation and its content, the time has come to deliver your speech. So, how to open a presentation speech effectively? 

The beginning of your presentation speech is your chance to make a strong first impression and captivate your audience's attention. 

Here are key steps to help you start your presentation speech effectively:

Begin with a Hook

Grab your audience's attention with a compelling opening. This could be a surprising fact, a thought-provoking quote, a relevant anecdote, or even a rhetorical question. The goal is to pique their interest right from the start.

Here are some example phrases that you can use to catch your audience’s interest:

  • "Did you know that..."
  • "Imagine a world where..."
  • "I'd like to start with a story..."
  • "Have you ever wondered why..."
  • "Let's begin with a surprising statistic..."
  • "Picture this scenario..."
  • "Today, I want to share a secret with you..."
  • "What if I told you that..."
  • "To get your attention, I'll start with a riddle..."
  • "I have a question for you:"

Learn more about crafting better hook statements with our complete guide to writing engaging hooks with hook examples .

Introduce Yourself

After the hook, briefly introduce yourself. Share your name and a few words about your background or expertise that make you a credible source on the topic. 

These example phrases below demonstrate how you can get the audience to know you:

  • "Hello, I'm [Your Name], and I've been working in [relevant field] for [number of years]."
  • "I'm [Your Name], and I've had the privilege of [mention significant achievement or experience]."
  • "Good [morning/afternoon/evening], my name is [Name], and I'm here as a [your role] at [your organization]."
  • "For those of you who don't know me, I'm [Your Name], and I specialize in [relevant expertise]."
  • "It's a pleasure to be here with you today; I'm [Your Name], and my journey in [relevant field] has been truly inspiring."

Make sure to keep your introduction short and direct. If you take 20 minutes to introduce yourself, you might lose the audience’s interest in your speech. So, keep it clear and short. 

Mention the Topic or Purpose

After hinting at the topic through the hook and introducing yourself, you should clearly state the purpose or topic of your presentation. 

Let your audience know what they can expect to learn or gain from your presentation. This sets the stage for your audience, giving them a sense of direction.

  • "Today, I'm going to share with you the key strategies to..."
  • "The purpose of this presentation is to shed light on..."
  • "In the next [time duration], I will explore the critical aspects of..."
  • "I aim to help you understand the importance of..."
  • "By the end of this presentation, you'll have a clear grasp of..."
  • "Our goal today is to uncover the secrets of..."
  • "I want you to leave here with actionable insights into..."
  • "My objective is to show you how to achieve [specific goal]."
  • "We're going to dive deep into the world of [presentation topic], and you'll walk away with..."

How to End a Presentation Speech? 

The conclusion of your presentation speech is your final opportunity to leave a lasting impact on your audience. A strong conclusion should effectively summarize your key points, reinforce your message, and inspire action or reflection. 

Here's how to end a presentation speech on a high note:

Summarize Key Points

Begin by recapping the main takeaways of your speech. Summarize the key points in a concise and clear manner. This reinforces the core message and helps your audience remember what you've shared.

Here are some helpful phrases you can use:

  • "To recap our journey today..."
  • "In conclusion, let's revisit the key takeaways..."
  • "In summary, we've explored..."
  • "To sum it up..."
  • "As a quick reminder..."
  • "So, to put it all together..."
  • "In a nutshell..."
  • "To reiterate our main points..."
  • "Let's briefly go over what we've learned..."
  • "In brief..."

End with Impact

Craft a memorable closing statement that reinforces the significance of your topic. This statement can be a thought-provoking quote, a powerful anecdote, or a call to action It should be emotionally engaging and leave a strong impression.

If your presentation aims to inspire action or change, make a clear and persuasive call to action. Encourage your audience to take specific steps based on the information you've provided. Whether it's signing a petition, making a change in their personal lives, or joining a cause, specify what you want them to do next.

For instance, you can end with these impactful words:

  • "As we conclude, consider this..."
  • "To leave you with something to ponder..."
  • "This statistic is a sobering reminder..."
  • "Let's close with an inspiring story..."
  • "As we finish, remember..."
  • "I want you to carry this message with you..
  • "Now, I encourage you to take the next step..."
  • "Let's turn knowledge into action..."
  • "I challenge each of you to..."
  • "It's time to make a difference, starting with..."

Thank the Audience

Express gratitude to your audience for their time and attention. A simple "thank you" goes a long way in building rapport and goodwill. 

You can also take some ideas from these “thank you” phrases:

  • "I want to express my sincere gratitude to each one of you for being here today."
  • "Thank you all for your time and attention throughout this presentation."
  • "I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to share this information with you."
  • "Your presence here means a lot, and I appreciate your engagement."
  • "I'd like to take a moment to thank you for joining me in this discussion."
  • "A big thank you to our attentive audience for being a part of this conversation."
  • "I appreciate your willingness to be here and participate in this presentation."
  • "Your presence has made this presentation more meaningful."
  • "Thank you for being such a wonderful and responsive audience."
  • "Your interest in this topic is greatly appreciated."

Open the Floor for Questions (if applicable) 

If you plan to have a question-and-answer session, invite your audience to ask questions. Be prepared to provide thoughtful and informative responses. The conclusion of your presentation speech should leave your audience feeling informed, inspired, and motivated. 

Presentation Speech Examples 

Taking help from good and structured presentation speeches will allow you to write and deliver the address smoothly. Here are some examples of presentation speeches you can follow to write a well-structured presentation. 

Award Presentation Speech Example

Product Presentation Speech Example

Thesis Presentation Speech Example

Presentation Speech Script Sample

Presentation Speech Template

Tips for Making Your Presentations More Engaging

Delivering a presentation speech that captivates your audience and leaves a lasting impression requires more than just good content. It also involves effective communication and engaging delivery. 

Here are some essential tips for giving better presentations:

Master Your Body Language

Sometimes, your body language speaks more than your words – make it say 'confident and engaging.'

  • Maintain good posture; stand or sit tall with confidence.
  • Make eye contact with your audience to establish a connection.
  • Use hand gestures purposefully to emphasize key points.
  • Move around the stage or speaking area to engage with different audience members.
  • Smile and convey enthusiasm; it's contagious.

Focus on Voice and Tone

Presentations depend on your ability to speak. Use your speech strategically to enhance your presentation.

  • Speak clearly and at a moderate pace, ensuring everyone can understand you.
  • Vary your tone and pitch to avoid a monotone delivery.
  • Use pauses strategically to emphasize important points or allow your audience to digest information.
  • Adjust your volume to ensure everyone in the room can hear you without straining.
  • Practice vocal warm-up exercises to avoid vocal strain.

Prepare for Nervousness & Anxiety

Embrace the butterflies in your stomach as the energy that fuels a stellar presentation. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Prepare thoroughly; knowledge and practice reduce anxiety.
  • Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help calm nerves before and during your presentation.
  • Visualize a successful presentation and focus on your message rather than your anxiety.
  • Embrace the natural adrenaline rush as a source of energy and enthusiasm.
  • Start with a familiar or engaging point to build confidence.

Welcome Questions and Feedback

The question and answer session can be a great opportunity to engage with your audience. Make it successful with these tips:

  • Encourage questions and feedback to engage your audience and clarify any doubts.
  • Be polite and patient when responding to questions or criticism.
  • Use feedback as an opportunity for conversation and engagement.
  • Anticipate relevant and common questions and practice their answers beforehand.

Tailor to Your Audience

The best speeches are those that are loved by the audience. Tailor your speech according to their expectations.

  • Customize your speech to the interests and needs of your specific audience.
  • Use language and examples that resonate with your listeners.
  • Address any potential concerns or objections your audience might have.
  • Research your audience's background and preferences in advance.
  • Make sure your content is relevant and relatable to your audience.

Engaging Visual Aids

Visual aids should enhance, not overpower, your speech. Here is how to use them effectively:

  • Use slides or visual aids sparingly, and keep them simple and clear.
  • Avoid overcrowding slides with text; use visuals to complement your spoken words.
  • Ensure that visuals are easy to read and understand from a distance.
  • Practice with your visual aids to smoothly incorporate them into your speech.
  • Be prepared to present without visual aids in case of technical issues.

Presentation Speech Topics

Now that you know how to write and deliver an engaging presentation, you may be wondering about a topic to speak on. You need a strong and interesting topic to make your presentation speech impactful. 

Here are some compelling presentation speech ideas to help you out:

  • The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Job Market
  • Climate Change and Sustainable Practices
  • The Power of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
  • The Art of Time Management
  • The Future of Renewable Energy
  • The Psychology of Decision-Making
  • Mental Health Awareness and Reducing Stigma:
  • Innovations in Space Exploration
  • The Art of Negotiation
  • The Role of Music in Society

Looking for compelling and thought-provoking topics for your presentation speech? Check out 100+ informative speech topics to inspire your next presentation.

To Conclude,

In the world of presentations, your ability to inform and persuade relies on the way you craft and deliver your speech. Mastering the art of a presentation speech requires careful planning, engaging delivery, and an accurate understanding of your audience.

So remember to make your outline, use engaging visual aids, and practice effective body language. With practice, patience, and passion, you can become a confident and impactful presenter. 

Need further help in making your presentation speech? No worries! is a professional paper writing service that provides high-quality service for all academic assignments. Whether you have a speech or a research paper to write, come to us. We have a team of experts to help you with all your writing needs. 

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Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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Public Speaking and Presentations

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Public Speaking and Presentations: Tips for Success

This resource includes tips and suggestions for improving your public speaking skills.

Even if you’ve never spoken in front of a large group before, chances are you will encounter public speaking sometime during your life. Whether you’re giving a presentation for your classmates or addressing local politicians at a city council meeting, public speaking allows you to convey your thoughts and feelings in clear ways. Having the right tools can prepare you for successful public speaking and equip you with high-quality communication skills.

Know Your Audience

Different audiences require different modes of public speaking. How you address a room full of preschoolers will vary from how you address a group of professors at an academic conference. Not only will your vocabulary change, but you might alter your pacing and tone as well.

Knowing your audience also helps you decide the content of your speech. For example, if you’re presenting research to a group of scientists, you might not need to define all your scientific language. However, if you present that same research to a group of individuals who are unfamiliar with your scientific field, you may need to define your terms or use simpler language.

Recognizing the extent to which your audience is familiar with your topic helps you center your presentation around the most important elements and avoid wasting time on information your audience either 1) already knows or 2) does not need to know for the purpose of your speech.

Knowing your audience also means tailoring your information to them. Try to keep things straight and to the point; leave out extraneous anecdotes and irrelevant statistics.

Establish Your Ethos and Feel Confident in Your Subject

It’s important to let your audience know what authority you have over your subject matter. If it’s clear you are familiar with your subject and have expertise, your audience is more likely to trust what you say.

Feeling confident in your subject matter will help establish your ethos. Rather than simply memorizing the content on your PowerPoint slides or your note cards, consider yourself a “mini expert” on your topic. Read up on information related to your topic and anticipate questions from the audience. You might want to prepare a few additional examples to use if people ask follow-up questions. Being able to elaborate on your talking points will help you stay calm during a Q & A section of your presentation.

Stick to a Few Main Points

Organizing your information in a logical way not only helps you keep track of what you’re saying, but it helps your audience follow along as well. Try to emphasize a few main points in your presentation and return to them before you conclude. Summarizing your information at the end of your presentation allows your audience to walk away with a clear sense of the most important facts.

For example, if you gave a presentation on the pros and cons of wind energy in Indiana, you would first want to define wind energy to make sure you and your audience are on the same page. You might also want to give a brief history of wind energy to give context before you go into the pros and cons. From there, you could list a few pros and a few cons. Finally, you could speculate on the future of wind energy and whether Indiana could provide adequate land and infrastructure to sustain wind turbines. To conclude, restate a few of the main points (most likely the pros and cons) and end with the most important takeaway you want the audience to remember about wind energy in Indiana.

Don't be Afraid to Show Your Personality

Delivering information without any sort of flourish or style can be boring. Allowing your personality to show through your speaking keeps you feeling relaxed and natural. Even if you’re speaking about something very scientific or serious, look for ways to let your personality come through your speech.

For example, when Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced in March of 2019 that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he still let his trademark dignity and professionalism set the tone for his address. He began his announcement by saying “it’s in keeping with my long-time policy of being open and transparent with our Jeopardy! fan base.” Later, he joked that he would need to overcome his illness in order to fulfill his contract, whose terms required him to host the show for three more years. Though the nature of Trebek's announcement could easily have justified a grim, serious tone, the host instead opted to display the charm that has made him a household name for almost thirty-five years. In doing so, he reminded his audience precisely why he is so well-loved.

Use Humor (When Appropriate)

Using humor at appropriate moments can keep your audience engaged and entertained. While not all occasions are appropriate for humor, look for moments where you can lighten the mood and add some humor.

For example, just two months after the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, Reagan was in the middle of giving a speech when a balloon loudly popped while he was speaking. Reagan paused his speech to say “missed me,” then immediately continued speaking. This off-the-cuff humor worked because it was appropriate, spontaneous, and did not really distract from his message.

Similarly, at the end of his final White House Correspondents Dinner, Barack Obama concluded his speech by saying “Obama out” and dropping the mic. Once again, the humor did not distract from his message, but it did provide a light-hearted shift in his tone.  

Don't Let Visual Aids Distract From Your Presentation

Visual aids, such as PowerPoints or handouts, often go alongside presentations. When designing visual aids, be sure they do not distract from the content of your speech. Having too many pictures or animations can cause audience members to pay more attention to the visuals rather than what you’re saying.

However, if you present research that relies on tables or figures, having many images may help your audience better visualize the research you discuss. Be aware of the ways different types of presentations demand different types of visual aids.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

When it comes to giving a presentation, nonverbal communication is equally as important as what you’re saying. Having the appropriate posture, gestures, and movement complement the spoken element of your presentation. Below are a few simple strategies to make you appear more confident and professional.

Having confident posture can make or break a presentation. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and your arms at your sides. Slouching or crossing your arms over your chest makes you appear smaller and more insecure. However, be sure you’re not too rigid. Just because you’re standing up tall does not mean you cannot move around.

Eye contact

Making eye contact with your audience not only makes them feel connected to you but it also lets you gauge their response to you. Try to look around the room and connect with different audience members so you’re not staring at the same people the whole time. If you notice your audience starting to nod off, it might be a good time to change your tone or up your energy. 

Avoid distracting or compulsive gestures

While hand gestures can help point out information in a slide or on a poster, large or quick gestures can be distracting. When using gestures, try to make them feel like a normal part of your presentation.

It’s also easy to slip into nervous gestures while presenting. Things like twirling your hair or wringing your hands can be distracting to your audience. If you know you do something like this, try to think hard about not doing it while you’re presenting.

Travel (if possible)

If you are presenting on a stage, walking back and forth can help you stay relaxed and look natural. However, be sure you’re walking slowly and confidently and you’re using an appropriate posture (described above). Try to avoid pacing, which can make you appear nervous or compulsive.

Rehearse (if Possible)

The difference between knowing your subject and rehearsing comes down to how you ultimately present your information. The more you rehearse, the more likely you are to eliminate filler words such as like and um . If possible, try practicing with a friend and have them use count the filler words you use. You can also record yourself and play back the video. The more you rehearse, the more confident you will feel when it comes time to actually speak in front of an audience.

Finally, Relax!

Although public speaking takes time and preparation, perhaps one of the most important points is to relax while you’re speaking. Delivering your information in a stiff way prevents you from appearing natural and letting your personality come through. The more relaxed you feel, the more confident your information will come across.

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How to deliver an oral presentation

Georgina wellstead.

a Lister Hospital, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

Katharine Whitehurst

b Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Buket Gundogan

c University College London

d Guy's St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Delivering an oral presentation in conferences and meetings can seem daunting. However, if delivered effectively, it can be an invaluable opportunity to showcase your work in front of peers as well as receive feedback on your project. In this “How to” article, we demonstrate how one can plan and successfully deliver an engaging oral presentation.

Giving an oral presentation at a scientific conference is an almost inevitable task at some point during your medical career. The prospect of presenting your original work to colleagues and peers, however, may be intimidating, and it can be difficult to know how to approach it. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that although daunting, an oral presentation is one of the best ways to get your work out there, and so should be looked upon as an exciting and invaluable opportunity.

Slide content

Although things may vary slightly depending on the type of research you are presenting, the typical structure is as follows:

  • Opening slide (title of study, authors, institutions, and date)
  • Methodology
  • Discussion (including strengths and weaknesses of the study)


Picking out only the most important findings to include in your presentation is key and will keep it concise and easy to follow. This in turn will keep your viewers engaged, and more likely to understand and remember your presentation.

Psychological analysis of PowerPoint presentations, finds that 8 psychological principles are often violated 1 . One of these was the limited capacity of working memory, which can hold 4 units of information at any 1 time in most circumstances. Hence, too many points or concepts on a slide could be detrimental to the presenter’s desire to give information.

You can also help keep your audience engaged with images, which you can talk around, rather than lots of text. Video can also be useful, for example, a surgical procedure. However, be warned that IT can let you down when you need it most and you need to have a backup plan if the video fails. It’s worth coming to the venue early and testing it and resolving issues beforehand with the AV support staff if speaking at a conference.

Slide design and layout

It is important not to clutter your slides with too much text or too many pictures. An easy way to do this is by using the 5×5 rule. This means using no more than 5 bullet points per slide, with no more than 5 words per bullet point. It is also good to break up the text-heavy slides with ones including diagrams or graphs. This can also help to convey your results in a more visual and easy-to-understand way.

It is best to keep the slide design simple, as busy backgrounds and loud color schemes are distracting. Ensure that you use a uniform font and stick to the same color scheme throughout. As a general rule, a light-colored background with dark-colored text is easier to read than light-colored text on a dark-colored background. If you can use an image instead of text, this is even better.

A systematic review study of expert opinion papers demonstrates several key recommendations on how to effectively deliver medical research presentations 2 . These include:

  • Keeping your slides simple
  • Knowing your audience (pitching to the right level)
  • Making eye contact
  • Rehearsing the presentation
  • Do not read from the slides
  • Limiting the number of lines per slide
  • Sticking to the allotted time

You should practice your presentation before the conference, making sure that you stick to the allocated time given to you. Oral presentations are usually short (around 8–10 min maximum), and it is, therefore, easy to go under or over time if you have not rehearsed. Aiming to spend around 1 minute per slide is usually a good guide. It is useful to present to your colleagues and seniors, allowing them to ask you questions afterwards so that you can be prepared for the sort of questions you may get asked at the conference. Knowing your research inside out and reading around the subject is advisable, as there may be experts watching you at the conference with more challenging questions! Make sure you re-read your paper the day before, or on the day of the conference to refresh your memory.

It is useful to bring along handouts of your presentation for those who may be interested. Rather than printing out miniature versions of your power point slides, it is better to condense your findings into a brief word document. Not only will this be easier to read, but you will also save a lot of paper by doing this!

Delivering the presentation

Having rehearsed your presentation beforehand, the most important thing to do when you get to the conference is to keep calm and be confident. Remember that you know your own research better than anyone else in the room! Be sure to take some deep breaths and speak at an appropriate pace and volume, making good eye contact with your viewers. If there is a microphone, don’t keep turning away from it as the audience will get frustrated if your voice keeps cutting in and out. Gesturing and using pointers when appropriate can be a really useful tool, and will enable you to emphasize your important findings.

Presenting tips

  • Do not hide behind the computer. Come out to the center or side and present there.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience, especially the judges.
  • Remember to pause every so often.
  • Don’t clutter your presentation with verbal noise such as “umm,” “like,” or “so.” You will look more slick if you avoid this.
  • Rhetorical questions once in a while can be useful in maintaining the audience’s attention.

When reaching the end of your presentation, you should slow down in order to clearly convey your key points. Using phases such as “in summary” and “to conclude” often prompts those who have drifted off slightly during your presentation start paying attention again, so it is a critical time to make sure that your work is understood and remembered. Leaving up your conclusions/summary slide for a short while after stopping speaking will give the audience time to digest the information. Conclude by acknowledging any fellow authors or assistants before thanking the audience for their attention and inviting any questions (as long as you have left sufficient time).

If asked a question, firstly thank the audience member, then repeat what they have asked to the rest of the listeners in case they didn’t hear the first time. Keep your answers short and succinct, and if unsure say that the questioner has raised a good point and that you will have to look into it further. Having someone else in the audience write down the question is useful for this.

The key points to remember when preparing for an oral presentation are:

  • Keep your slides simple and concise using the 5×5 rule and images.
  • When appropriate; rehearse timings; prepare answers to questions; speak slowly and use gestures/ pointers where appropriate; make eye contact with the audience; emphasize your key points at the end; make acknowledgments and thank the audience; invite questions and be confident but not arrogant.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with regard to the content of this report.

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Published online 8 June 2017

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21 Tips and Strategies Supporting Learners’ Oral Presentations

Design & assign.

oral presentation speech

There are many options to consider when assigning an oral presentation. As you answer the following questions, reflect on your own commitment to continue using traditional oral presentations for evaluation.

Determine Oral Presentation Type

If you answered “No” to at least half of the questions, you may want to consider the following alternative formats that mitigate some of the specific anxieties your ELLs experience with oral presentations. While the default may be the traditional individual or group presentation of concepts in front of the whole class, there are a number of alternatives that may serve the same purpose.

oral presentation speech

Consider the different types of presentations and the steps that you can do to help your learners succeed.

Types of Oral Presentations

Short oral talks in a group

Usually a short oral talk in a group is informal with little time to prepare for this type of speech. Learners  share their thoughts or opinions about a specific topic. This type of talk follows a structure with a brief introductory statement, 2-3 ideas and a concluding statement.  These brief oral talks can help students develop confidence because they are presenting to a small group rather than the whole class. They do not have to create and coordinate visuals with their talk and the talk is short. There still needs to be substance to the talk, so participants should be given advance warning that they will be asked to speak on a particular topic.  One advantage is that several students in the class can be presenting simultaneously; however, as a result, in-process marking is not possible.

Formal oral presentations in front of class

Formal oral presentations in front of the class usually require individual students to make a longer presentation, supported with effective visual aids. Adequate time has been given for the presenter to prepare the topic. This type of presentation can be used to present research, information in general, or to persuade. The presenter is often put in charge of the class during the presentation time, so in addition to presenting, the presenter has to keep the class engaged and in line. Formal oral presentations often involve a Q & A. Most of the grading can be done in-process because you are only observing one student at a time. It is very time consuming to get through a whole class of presentations and have the class engaged and learning and you are giving up control of many course hours and content coverage.

Group Presentations

college students talking around a table

  • Tips for giving a group presentation

Sharing Presentations Online

Students can be made the presenter in online platforms to complete presentations.  Zoom, Blackboard, WebEx and other similar software allow the moderator (Professor) to make specific participants hosts which enables them to share their screens and control the participation options of other students in the class.  As each platform has variations on how to share documents and control the presentation, it is important that students are given specific instructions on how to “present” using the various platforms.  If possible, set up separate “rooms” for students to practice in before their presentation.

  • Instructions for screen sharing in Zoom
  • Instructions for screen sharing in WebEx
  • Instructions for screen sharing in Blackboard Collaborate

Use Oral Recordings of Presentations Synchronously or Asynchronously

Consider allowing students to record their presentations and present the recording to the class.  While this would not be appropriate for a language class where the performance of the presentation is likely more important than the content, in other classes providing the opportunity for learners to record multiple times until they are satisfied with the output is an ideal way to optimize the quality of the presentation as well as reduce the performance related stress. The presentation can then be shared synchronously in class or online with the presenter hosting and fielding questions, or asynchronously posted on a discussion board or other app such as Flipgrid with the presenter responding to comments posted over a set period of time. A side benefit to the use of some of these tools such as Skye and Google Meet is that they are commonly used in the workforce so it good practice for post-graduation application of skills.

Possible Tools for Recording and Sharing

  • Flipgrid – an easy to use app that lets students record short video clips and resubmit as many times as needed. The video stays in the Flipgrid app for other students to see (if shared) and allow for easy teacher responses whether via video or text. (Asynchronous)
  • Skype   – Follow the instructions to record and share a video on the MS website (Either if posted on course platform)
  • Google Meet – Follow the i nstructions to record and share a presentation on Google Meet . (Either if posted on course platform)
  • Zoom – students can share their narrated PPT slides via Zoom (don’t forget to enable the sound)
  • Powerpoint – Recording of narrations for slides
  • Youtube – Recorded videos can be uploaded to Youtube to share by following instructions to upload Youtube video
  • OneDrive – most institutions provide OneDrive accounts for faculty and students as part of Office 365. Students can save their video in OneDrive and choose who to share it with (faculty member, group, class)

Presenting in Another Language

If the goal of the presentation is to demonstrate in depth understanding of the course content and ability to communicate that information effectively, does the presentation have to be done in English?  Can the student’s mastery of the subject matter be demonstrated in another language with a translator? It would still be possible to evaluate the content of the presentation, the confidence, the performance, the visual aids etc.  On the global stage, translated speeches and presentations are the norm by political leaders and content experts – why not let students show the depth of their understanding in a language they are comfortable with?

If a more formal type of oral presentation is required, is it possible to give students some choice to help reduce their anxiety?  For example, could they choose to present to you alone, to a small group, or to the whole class?

Teach Making a Presentation Step by Step

Don’t assume that all the students in your class have been taught how to make a presentation for a college or university level class. Furthermore, there are many purposes for presentations (inform, educate, persuade, motivate, activate, entertain) which require different organizational structure, tone, content and visual aids.

  • Ask the class to raise their hands if they feel ♦ very comfortable presenting in front of the class, ♦ somewhat comfortable presenting in front of the class or ♦ not comfortable presenting in front of the class.  This will help you gauge your learners’ prior experience / comfort and also let learners in the class see that others, both native speakers and ELLs are nervous about presenting orally in class.

Provide Clear Instructions

  • Write clear, detailed instructions (following the suggestions in Module 3).
  • Ask students to download a copy to bring to class and encourage them to record annotations as you discuss expectations.
  • Example: How many slides should you use as your visual aid? Do you need to use outside sources? What tools can you use to create this presentation?
  • Include the rubric that you will use to grade the presentations and explain each section, noting sections that have higher weighting.

Provide a Guide to Planning

  • Have students write a description of the target audience for their presentation and explicitly state the purpose of the presentation.

student sleeping behind pile of books

  • Encourage students to read widely on their topic. The more content knowledge the learner has about the topic, the more confident the learner will be when presenting.
  • Teach students how to do an effective presentation that meets your course expectations (if class time does not permit, offer an optional  ‘office hours’ workshop). Remember – many of your students many never have presented a post-secondary presentation which may cause significant anxiety. Your ELL’s experiences with oral presentations may be limited or significantly different in terms of expectations based on their prior educational contexts.
  • Have students view examples of good presentations and some bad ones – there are many examples available on YouTube such as  Good Presentation vs Bad Presentation .
  • Provide specific guidelines for each section of the presentation. How should learners introduce their presentation? How much detail is required? Is audience interaction required? Is a call to action expected at the end?
  • If audience interaction is required, teach your students specific elicitation techniques (See Module 3)
  • Designing Visual Aids Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo
  • Presentation Aids Video
  • Paralinguistic features like eye contact are potentially culture – bound. If the subject that you are teaching values eye contact, then include this expectation in the presentation. On the other hand, if your field of study doesn’t require presentations typically, consider valuing the cultural diversity of your learners and not grading learners negatively for not making eye contact.
  • Review the rubric. Let learners know what you are specifically grading  during the presentation. The rubric should be detailed enough that learners know what elements of the presentation are weighted the heaviest.

Model an Effective Presentation

A good speech is like a pencil; it has to have a point.

  • Provide an exemplar of a presentation that you have presented yourself and recorded, or a presentation done by a previous student for which you have written permission to share.

Require Students to Practice

  • Practice saying the presentation out loud
  • Practice with a room mate/ classmate / family member / friend
  • Go on a walk and talk – encourage students to get outside, and go for a walk – as they walk, they can say their presentation orally out loud. The fresh air and sunshine helps one to relax and reduce anxiety, so it is easier to focus on the talk.
  • Record a practice presentation. Encourage students to find a quiet place to record and to use headphones with a mic to improve quality of the recording.
  • If time allows, build formative practice presentations into the schedule. Have students practice their presentation in small groups and have other group mates give targeted feedback based on content, organization and presentation skills. Provide a checklist of expectations for the others in the group to use to provide specific, targeted feedback to the presenter. Students can watch their performance at home along with their peer’s feedback to identify areas for improvement.

oral presentation speech

  • If you have assigned oral presentations in your class, review the course outcomes and the content covered in the assignment and determine if a formal oral presentation is necessary. 
  • Think of one alternative you could offer to students who struggle with individual assignments.
  • Annotate your assignment with notes indicating possible modifications you could make to improve the inclusivity and equity of the assignment.


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Speech transitions: words and phrases to connect your ideas

June 28, 2018 - Gini Beqiri

When delivering presentations it’s important for your words and ideas to flow so your audience can understand how everything links together and why it’s all relevant.

This can be done using speech transitions because these act as signposts to the audience – signalling the relationship between points and ideas. This article explores how to use speech transitions in presentations.

What are speech transitions?

Speech transitions are words and phrases that allow you to smoothly move from one point to another so that your speech flows and your presentation is unified.

This makes it easier for the audience to understand your argument and without transitions the  audience may be confused  as to how one point relates to another and they may think you’re randomly jumping between points.

Types of transitions

Transitions can be one word, a phrase or a full sentence – there are many different types, here are a few:


Introduce your topic:

  • We will be looking at/identifying/investigating the effects of…
  • Today I will be discussing…

Presentation outline

Inform the audience of the structure of your presentation:

  • There are three key points I’ll be discussing…
  • I want to begin by…, and then I’ll move on to…
  • We’ll be covering… from two points of view…
  • This presentation is divided into four parts…

Move from the introduction to the first point

Signify to the audience that you will now begin discussing the first main point:

  • Now that you’re aware of the overview, let’s begin with…
  • First, let’s begin with…
  • I will first cover…
  • My first point covers…
  • To get started, let’s look at…

Shift between similar points

Move from one point to a similar one:

  • In the same way…
  • Likewise…
  • Equally…
  • This is similar to…
  • Similarly…

Presentation transitions at a meeting

Shift between disagreeing points

You may have to introduce conflicting ideas – bridging words and phrases are especially good for this:

  • Conversely…
  • Despite this…
  • However…
  • On the contrary…
  • Now let’s consider…
  • Even so…
  • Nonetheless…
  • We can’t ignore…
  • On the other hand…

Transition to a significant issue

  • Fundamentally…
  • A major issue is…
  • The crux of the matter…
  • A significant concern is…

Referring to previous points

You may have to refer to something that you’ve already spoken about because, for example, there may have been a break or a fire alarm etc:

  • Let’s return to…
  • We briefly spoke about X earlier; let’s look at it in more depth now…
  • Let’s revisit…
  • Let’s go back to…
  • Do you recall when I mentioned…

This can be also be useful to introduce a new point because adults learn better when new information builds on previously learned information.

Introducing an aside note

You may want to introduce a digression:

  • I’d just like to mention…
  • That reminds me…
  • Incidentally…

Physical movement

You can  move your body  and your standing location when you transition to another point. The audience find it easier to follow your presentation and movement will increase their interest.

A common technique for incorporating movement into your presentation is to:

  • Start your introduction by standing in the centre of the stage.
  • For your first point you stand on the left side of the stage.
  • You discuss your second point from the centre again.
  • You stand on the right side of the stage for your third point.
  • The conclusion occurs in the centre.

Emphasising importance

You need to ensure that the audience get the message by informing them why something is important:

  • More importantly…
  • This is essential…
  • Primarily…
  • Mainly…

Internal summaries

Internal summarising consists of summarising before moving on to the next point. You must inform the audience:

  • What part of the presentation you covered – “In the first part of this speech we’ve covered…”
  • What the key points were – “Precisely how…”
  • How this links in with the overall presentation – “So that’s the context…”
  • What you’re moving on to – “Now I’d like to move on to the second part of presentation which looks at…”

Speech transitions during a team meeting

Cause and effect

You will have to transition to show relationships between factors:

  • Therefore…
  • Thus…
  • Consequently…
  • As a result…
  • This is significant because…
  • Hence…


  • Also…
  • Besides…
  • What’s more…
  • In addition/additionally…
  • Moreover…
  • Furthermore…

Point-by-point or steps of a process

  • First/firstly/The first one is…
  • Second/Secondly/The second one is…
  • Third/Thirdly/The third one is…
  • Last/Lastly/Finally/The fourth one is…

Introduce an example

  • This is demonstrated by…
  • For instance…
  • Take the case of…
  • For example…
  • You may be asking whether this happens in X? The answer is yes…
  • To show/illustrate/highlight this…
  • Let me illustrate this by…

Transition to a demonstration

  • Now that we’ve covered the theory, let’s practically apply it…
  • I’ll conduct an experiment to show you this in action…
  • Let me demonstrate this…
  • I’ll now show you this…

Introducing a quotation

  • X was a supporter of this thinking because he said…
  • There is a lot of support for this, for example, X said…

Transition to another speaker

In a  group presentation  you must transition to other speakers:

  • Briefly recap on what you covered in your section: “So that was a brief introduction on what health anxiety is and how it can affect somebody”
  • Introduce the next speaker in the team and explain what they will discuss: “Now Gayle will talk about the prevalence of health anxiety.”
  • Then end by looking at the next speaker, gesturing towards them and saying their name: “Gayle”.
  • The next speaker should acknowledge this with a quick: “Thank you Simon.”

From these examples, you can see how the different sections of the presentations link which makes it easier for the audience to follow and remain engaged.

You can  tell personal stories  or share the experiences of others to introduce a point. Anecdotes are especially valuable for your introduction and between different sections of the presentation because they engage the audience. Ensure that you plan the stories thoroughly beforehand and that they are not too long.

Using questions

You can transition through your speech by asking questions and these questions also have the benefit of engaging your audience more. There are three different types of questions:

Direct questions require an answer: “What is the capital of Italy?” These are mentally stimulating for the audience.

Rhetorical questions  do not require answers, they are often used to emphasises an idea or point: “Is the Pope catholic?

Loaded questions contain an unjustified assumption made to prompt the audience into providing a particular answer which you can then correct to support your point: You may ask “Why does your wonderful company have such a low incidence of mental health problems?”.

The audience will generally answer that they’re happy. After receiving the answers you could then say “Actually it’s because people are still unwilling and too embarrassed to seek help for mental health issues at work etc.”

Speech transitions during a conference

Transition to a visual aid

If you are going to introduce a visual aid you must prepare the audience with what they’re going to see, for example, you might be leading into a diagram that supports your statement. Also, before you  show the visual aid , explain why you’re going to show it, for example, “This graph is a significant piece of evidence supporting X”.

When the graphic is on display get the audience to focus on it:

  • The table indicates…
  • As you can see…
  • I’d like to direct your attention to…

Explain what the visual is showing:

  • You can see that there has been a reduction in…
  • The diagram is comparing the…

Using a visual aid to transition

Visual aids can also be used as transitions and they have the benefit of being stimulating and breaking-up vocal transitions.

You might have a slide with just a picture on it to signify to the audience that you’re moving on to a new point – ensure that this image is relevant to the point. Many speakers like to use cartoons for this purpose but ensure its suitable for your audience.

Always summarise your key points first in the conclusion:

  • Let’s recap on what we’ve spoken about today…
  • Let me briefly summarise the main points…

And then conclude:

If you have a shorter speech you may choose to  end your presentation  with one statement:

  • In short…
  • To sum up…
  • In a nutshell…
  • To summarise…
  • In conclusion…

However, using statements such as “To conclude” may cause the audience to stop listening. It’s better to say:

  • I’d like to leave you with this…
  • What you should take away from this is…
  • Finally, I want to say…

Call to action

Requesting the audience to do something at the end of the presentation:

  • You may be thinking how can I help in this matter? Well…
  • My aim is to encourage you to go further and…
  • What I’m requesting of you is…

Common mistakes

When transitions are used poorly you can annoy and confuse the audience. Avoid:

  • Using transitions that are too short – transitions are a key part of ensuring the audience understands your presentation so spend sufficient time linking to your next idea.
  • Too many tangents – any digressions should still be relevant to the topic and help the audience with their understanding, otherwise cut them out.
  • Incompatible transitions – for example, if you’re about to introduce an example that supports your statement you wouldn’t introduce this by saying “but”. Use transitions that signify the relationship between points.
  • Over-using the same transition because this is boring for the audience to hear repeatedly. Ensure that there is variety with your transitions, consider including visual transitions.
  • Miscounting your transitions – for example, don’t say “first point”, “second point”, “next point” – refer to your points consistently.

Speech transitions are useful for unifying and connecting your presentation. The audience are more likely to remain engaged since they’ll be able to follow your points. But remember that it’s important to practice your transitions beforehand and not just the content of your arguments because you risk looking unprofessional and confusing the audience if the presentation does not flow smoothly.

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Scared for Your Oral Presentation in English? Follow This 6-step Example

When you stand up for an oral presentation, you want to feel like a rockstar .

Confident. Cool. Ready to blow the audience away.

That is the ideal situation, anyways.

In real life, most people—even native English speakers—feel totally the opposite before an oral presentation.

Nervous. Self-conscious. Scared the audience will fall asleep.

Most of us have been there. Every student and professional, at some point, will have to do an oral presentation . Of course that includes English language learners. In fact, oral presentations might happen more often in an English class because they are a good way for teachers to assess your speaking and writing skills.

This article will provide a six-step example of how to ace your oral presentation in English . We will provide key English phrases, tips and practice techniques you can use for any presentation you have coming up.

Soon you will be presenting in English with the confidence of a rockstar !

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Follow This Example to Rock Your Oral Presentation in English

Every country has different cultural standards for communication. However, there is a general consensus in English-speaking colleges and universities about what makes a good oral presentation.

Below, we will show you how to write a presentation in English that your listeners will love. Then we will show you the English speaking skills and body language you need to present it effectively.

1. Introducing a Presentation in English

Having a strong introduction is extremely important because it sets the tone for the rest of the presentation .   If the audience is not interested in your presentation right away, they probably will not pay attention to the rest of it.

To get everyone’s interest, try using attention-grabbing language . If your introduction is engrossing enough, the audience will not care if you have an accent or mispronounce a few words. They will want to learn more about your topic because you did such a great job of making them interested.

Here are some example ideas and phrases you can use in your own presentation introductions:

  • Start with a story or personal anecdote , so the audience will be able to relate to your presentation.

“When I was a child…”

  • Mention a startling fact or statistic.

“Did you know the U.S. is the only country that…”

  • Have the audience imagine something or describe a vivid scene to them.

“Imagine you are sitting on the beach…”

  • Show an interesting picture or video on your presentation screen.
  • Introducing yourself can also help make the audience more comfortable. It does not have to be anything fancy.

“My name is John and I am…”

“I became interested in this topic because…”

2. Supporting Your Claims with Evidence

If you have written an essay in English , you have probably had to do some research to provide statistics and other facts to support your thesis (the main point or argument of your essay). Just like those essays, many oral presentations will require you to persuade someone or inform them about a topic.

Your presentation will need background information and evidence . To persuade someone, you will need convincing evidence. No one will be persuaded if you simply say, “We need to stop global warming because it is bad.”

At the same time, it may be hard to express your thoughts or argument if English is not your first language. That is why doing research and finding credible sources is extra important.

Using information and quoting from sources can make your presentation much stronger. (Of course, always remember to cite your research properly so you do not plagiarize !) If you are not sure how to go about researching or where to look for evidence, the University of North Carolina’s Writing Center provides some excellent examples here .

After you have done research, add a section or a slide that specifically gives facts or evidence for your topic . This should be somewhere in the middle of the presentation, after your introduction but before your conclusion or closing thoughts (basically like the body paragraphs in an essay). This will help keep your ideas logical and make it a really effective presentation.

3. Incorporating Persuasive Language

Specific evidence is crucial for a persuasive argument. But to truly impact your audience, you need to speak persuasively, too .

Need some vocabulary that will catch everyone’s attention? According to Buffer , the five most persuasive words in the English language are surprisingly simple:

  • Free (this one is less relevant to oral presentations, since it is used in the context of persuading people to get a product)

Using these words in your introduction and throughout your presentation will help keep the audience engaged.

For example, if giving a persuasive speech, speaking directly to the audience will have a better effect:

“To help lessen the effects of global warming, the planet needs you .”

4. Using Logical Flow and Transitions

As an English learner, was there ever a conversation that you could not follow because you had no idea what was going on? A language barrier often causes this confusion. However, even if your English is fluent, this can also happen when ideas or information are presented in an order that does not make sense.

This applies to presentations as well. If the sequence is illogical, the audience may become confused. It is important to have a clear sequence of thoughts or events. A distinct beginning, middle and end with logical sequences is needed for your audience to follow along.

As an English language learner, you may not be familiar with certain transitional words or phrases. Below are some example English words and phrases to use as you transition through your oral presentation.

General transitions that show sequence:

  • First…
  • Next…
  • Then…
  • In addition/additionally…

When you are nearing the end of your presentation, it is important to let the audience know you are going to finish soon. Abruptly ending the presentation may confuse the audience. Or, the presentation may not seem as effective. Just like with introductions and transitions, there are certain phrases that you can use to bring your presentation to a close.

Phrases to conclude your presentation:

  • To conclude/In conclusion…
  • To sum everything up…
  • Finally…

5. Speaking Clearly and Confidently

You may be self-conscious about your ability to speak clearly if you are not fluent in English or if you have an accent. But let us be honest. Many people do not have long attention spans (the length of time someone can focus on one thing), so you will need to keep their attention during your presentation. And to do this, you will have to  enunciate (speak clearly, loudly and confidently).

Do not expect this to just happen on the day of your presentation. You will need to practice ahead of time . Here is how:

Pay attention to how your lips, mouth and tongue move.

Practice saying different sounds and words over and over in front of the mirror, or have a friend watch you. What shapes does your mouth make? When does your tongue raise or flick? How can you change those movements to make each word sound clearer?

Listen to others speak English so you know how it should sound.

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Record yourself when you practice your presentation.

This will help you get a better sense of how your mouth moves or how you pronounce words. You will also see what kind of mistakes you made and will be able to correct them.

Practice speaking slowly.

Along with enunciation, it is important to practice speaking slowly . Nerves can make us rush through things, but the audience may not understand you if you speak too quickly. Try reading your presentation for a couple minutes a day to get used to speaking slowing.

6. Making Eye Contact

In American society, it is important to keep eye contact. It is considered rude to not look someone in the eyes when you are speaking with them. Avoiding eye contact (even if it is unintentional or out of embarrassment) might frustrate your audience.

Therefore, when giving your oral presentation, you will want to try to make eye contact with your audience, especially if you are in the U.S. The audience will not feel appreciated if you stare down at your note cards or at the presentation screen. They may become bored. Or, they may think you are not confident in your work—and if you are not confident, they will not be, either!

Here is an example of a speaker  demonstrating eye contact during an English presentation . Notice how he is careful to make eye contact with all audience members, looking left, right and forward throughout the presentation.

Following the tips in this article will help make your oral presentation great. Who knows, maybe your teacher or professor will use it as an example for other students!

As an added bonus, all of the skills needed for a good oral presentation are needed in everyday English. Speaking clearly, making eye contact and having a logical flow of ideas will help you communicate better with others when you are speaking with them in English. In addition, knowing how to write an introduction, use attention-grabbing language and provide evidence will help you in English classes. You will be able to get a great grade on your presentation and improve your overall communication skills.

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials , as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


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oral presentation speech

5-Step Guide of How to Prepare for an Oral Presentation

Oral presentations provide an essential method of demonstrating the results of your learning or research process. In the social sciences, where communication with people is a central issue, oral speech is recognized as a necessary academic skill. The success of your oral presentation depends on how professionally and effectively you can narrate, organize, and demonstrate the material. In this guide, you will learn how to prepare for making a public address, organize your material, and deliver it in a manner that will help you achieve your goals.

Step 1. Preparation

Always consider your audience.

You are unlikely to gain any attention or credit for inappropriately addressing the needs of your target audience. For example, when presenting research results to college students or a group of professors, you will likely choose a different style, structure, and delivery depending on the audience. Thus, it is vital that from the start, you consider your audience, including age ranges, professional occupations, and the level of information your listeners have on the topic you intend to present.

Establish goals for your speech

Without a proper motivation or aim, your speech will probably meander through a collection of disorganized facts, leaving your audience unenlightened regarding your intentions. Therefore, next one to consider is the goal or goals for your speech. These may include but not be limited to informing, motivating, or convincing. Keep your goal in mind throughout the process of arranging the content and delivering it to the audience.

Create effective notes

While it is not usually acceptable to confine yourself to reading from your notes during an oral speech presentation, it is appropriate to use brief notes with key information or a structure to remember. If you rely solely on your memory and eschew written assistance, you may forget to address crucial topics due to nervousness or distractions. Thus, it is also an excellent practice to include important names and spellings of terms you will use, or leave blank spaces to be able to edit the note before the speech if it requires immediate changes.

Step 2. Content Arrangement

Write an outline.

An outline that has a clear structure including an introduction, body, and conclusion will, in most cases, become a solid framework for delivering your thoughts or results of your study. A speech that follows a clear structure will serve your aim better than a simple list of facts or items you would like your audience to know. As the outline stage is generally a continuous process, it may be necessary to include blank spaces or rearrange the content to achieve the best possible composition.

  • Introduction In the introduction section, similar to the introductory portion of an essay, you need to concisely present the background for your discussion topic, let your audience know why it is worth speaking about and researching, and explain the point of your presentation. It is also important to give your audience a preview of the structure of your speech and the topics included. Thus, the purpose of an introduction is to grab the listeners’ attention. After all, one of your goals should be to spark your audience’s interest in your material.
  • Body The body should present a logical order for your claims in defense of your main argument, supported by evidence. Using examples to illustrate various points can be helpful in informing or convincing an audience. Ensure that you present your material coherently, connecting each point to the next and employing clear transitions. This section should take up most of your presentation time in order to cover your topic sufficiently.
  • Conclusion In the conclusion section, sound academic practice suggests that a concise summary of all presented material can help the audience revisit the material they have just received for better retention. Thus, you should restate the purpose of the speech or research with reference to how it was achieved so that the oral presentation reaches a logical end. When wrapping up a speech, be aware of the use of transitional words or phrases to mark this section, such as “in conclusion.” If the format of the presentation permits, you may thank the audience for lending you their attention and welcome their questions.

Step 3. Summarize your ideas

In each section of your speech’s framework, you need to begin with a short synopsis of what you achieved or want to deliver. Oral presentations in an academic environment are allocated a limited amount of time, so there is a need to deliver your content and achieve your goal in a concise manner. In addition, lengthy thoughts can be difficult to follow, and you may risk losing your audience’s attention or creating confusion. However, it is also important not to shorten the ideas excessively and to always ensure the completeness of the message.

Step 4. Support your content with visual materials

As a majority of information is perceived and understood visually, you as a presenter may need to address this in your speech by including some material that the audience can see. This will help the audience follow your narration and perhaps discuss some of your points after you have finished the presentation. It may be tempting to place text on the presentation slides and read from them directly, but it is best to use bullet points, pictures, graphs, and other illustrative materials. The reason for this is that the audience may cease to pay attention to you, instead reading what you have written on the slide. To address that, you need to include only the key information in bullet points (if you include text at all) that you also explain in your speech. When using video or PowerPoint presentations to assist you in a speech, you must refer to and interact with it to truly utilize its potential. Otherwise, it will only serve as a distraction and will detract from your speech rather than assisting you.

Step 5. Delivery

Create text for a speech, not for reading.

The oral presentation format requires the speaker to deliver material intended to be listened to, as written text may be comprehended poorly within the limited presentation time. Given the differences between written and oral speech, you might need to use shorter sentences in order to be easily understood. Even if you are presenting research results to academics, there is no need for excessive use of terminology. However, you should avoid using colloquial language in order to remain within professional boundaries.

Highlight key ideas

To make sure the audience remembers the core parts, you may use memorable quotes, images, varied tone of voice, or language constructs. All of these techniques can help you emphasize the items the listeners need to remember. While the summary and restatement of goals in the conclusion section assists in this, using additional aspects of delivery for the most important points is rarely excessive. It ensures that the audience understands why these ideas are critical, without which you risk failing to achieve your presentation goals.

Demonstrate the mastery of oral communication

You should consider practicing delivery of the material to an audience beforehand, paying particular attention to the tone of voice, volume, speed, clarity, and other parameters. It is crucial to speak at a normal—or even slightly slower—pace to ensure everyone has the time to comprehend the information you relay. Here you need to accept the notion that not everyone might be equally knowledgeable of the topic you present, so by keeping an average pace of delivery, you will be considerate of their level of understanding. Pausing after key moments may also be appropriate in oral presentations, as it aids the audience’s comprehension.

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VCE Oral Presentation: A Three-Part Guide to Nailing It

January 17, 2020

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We've all been there. You're moments away from having to deliver your 5-6 minute long oral to all of your classmates and your teacher, and you're still trying to memorise that one bit that you just can't seem to get down pat. It sucks.

For many VCE English students, the oral presentation is the scariest part of the course; it’s often also the first.

Doing a speech can indeed be daunting— you’re marked in real time, you can’t go back and edit mistakes, and the writing part itself is only half the battle. Nonetheless, the oral SAC can also be one of the more dynamic and engaging tasks you complete in VCE English, and there’s plenty of ways to make it more interesting and also more manageable for yourself.

We’ll break the whole process down into three parts (don’t worry, one of these will be the delivery itself) and have a look at ways to tackle each; hopefully, you’ll feel more empowered to give it a go on your own terms. Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.

Part One: Choosing a good topic

(in this section—researching events & issues, topic ideas).

For a bit of a head start on this step, be sure to check out our blog post filled with Oral Presentation Topics for 2020 . It's one of our best kept secrets!

In the study design, the description that’s given for the Oral Presentation is:

“A point of view presented in oral form using sound argument and persuasive language . The point of view should relate to an issue that has appeared in the media since 1 September of the previous year.”

Besides this restriction on how current/recent your issue is, the expectations themselves for this task are pretty standard (and therefore pretty broad): you

  • select a topic or point of view
  • research arguments and supporting evidence; and
  • position the audience accordingly in your speech

Getting started on this first part can be tricky though, especially if you want to choose something a bit more original or fresh.

In any case, the first thing you need is an event . As a reminder, an event in the VCE English context is anything that happens which also generates opinionated media coverage —so, it’s not just an event but it has to be an event that people have published opinions about, and they have to have been published since September 1.

You might wonder why we don’t go to the issue straight away. Here’s a hypothetical to illustrate: if you asked me to name an issue, the best I could probably come up with off the top of my head is climate change. However, if you asked me to name an event, I’d pretty easily recall the bushfires—something much more concrete which a) has generated specific and passionate opinions in the media; and b) can easily be linked to a wider issue such as climate change.

So where do you find an event? If you can’t think of a particularly interesting one right away, you could always try Wikipedia. Seriously, Wikipedia very helpfully has pages of things that happened in specific years in specific countries, so “2019 in Australia” might well be a starting point. The ABC news archive is also really helpful since you can pick dates or periods of time and see a good mix of news events from then.

I wouldn’t underestimate your own memory here either. Maybe you attended the School Strike for Climate and/or you feel vaguely disappointed in the government. Maybe there was something else happening in the news you remember (even though it is often about the environment these days). It doesn’t have to be from the news though—maybe there was a movie or TV show you watched recently that you have thoughts about. You could really do a speech on any of these, as long as you suspect there might be recent, opinionated media coverage .

Only once you have an event should you look for an issue . This will be a specific debate that comes out of the event, and can usually be framed as a “whether-or-not” question. The bushfires, for example, might generate debate around whether or not the Australian government is doing enough to combat climate change, whether or not Scott Morrison has fulfilled his duties as Prime Minister, whether or not it’s appropriate to discuss policy already when people are still grieving. All of these issues are going to be more current and more focused than just ‘climate change’, so pick one that resonates for your speech. For a list of 2019-20 issue-debate breakdowns (i.e. topic ideas!), give this a read!

From there, you might delve a little deeper into viewpoints around your chosen issue, and you’d do this mostly by reading opinion or analysis articles (rather than hard news reports). Opinion is great to see what other people are thinking, and could help you bolster or reinforce your own arguments, whereas analysis is good to get a little deeper into the implications of and evidence behind the issue. The actual contention itself comes last—even though you might already have an idea what you think about the issue, you’ll be best prepared to articulate it after doing the research first.

Part Two: Writing a good speech

(in this section—register/tone selection, personas, openings, how formal you need to be, drafting & rehearsing).

For this part of the task, I’d keep in mind a specific snippet of its description: the need to use sound argument and persuasive language .

To be fair, persuasive language mightn’t necessarily be something you actively think about when you write persuasively—you wouldn’t ever really be like “hey, this is a great spot to include an appeal to compassion.” However, while you don’t need to start now, it’s good to have in mind a general register for your speech before you start. It’s one of the first things you might analyse in a written essay for good reason—it’s broad and it sets the tone for your argument/s.

With the bushfires for instance, you might contend that even though grief is a strong emotion, it should also be a trigger for resolute, permanent policy reform. But will you come from a frustrated, this-is-what-we’ve-been-saying-for-years register, or a compassionate look-at-the-damage-caused register, or an assertive, we-need-to-bring-the-community-together-first register?

Maybe you can incorporate a bit of each, or maybe (probably) there are more options, but in any case, making this decision first will help with stringing together arguments and incorporating more persuasive language techniques (PLTs). Note that most PLTs can be used across a number of registers, but there are some that might work more effectively with some of these.

For example:

These are things you’ll have to think about for your written explanations, and might also help you shape future research if you need to shore up the speech a little more. Something you may consider as well is adopting a persona , that is a character and a context for your speech. You don’t have to, but it may help you get started. It can be hard to just write a speech from scratch, but if you’re the mayor of a township affected by the fires and you’re outlining a course of action, it’ll help with your register and outlook.

Openings in general can be tricky though. Try to avoid stating your event, issue and contention outright—the audience doesn’t need to know that “recently, Australia experienced a horrific bushfire season and I’m going to talk about why now is the time to act on climate change.” They’ll figure it out. Instead, try to start with something that clearly communicates your register and/or persona (if you have one). If you’re a frustrated climate activist, start by illustrating the historical patterns of bushfires getting worse and worse. If you’re a compassionate community-builder, start with anecdotes of the damage. If you’re an assertive leader, explain who you are, what your experience is and how you want to create change. Don’t worry if you feel like the issue won’t be clear enough—again, they’ll figure it out! The opening also sets the bar for formality in your speech, and it’s honestly up to you how formal you’ll want to be. As a rule of thumb, don’t be so formal that you can’t use contractions (such as “you’ll” and “can’t”)—avoid those in essays for sure, but they’re a natural part of speaking and it’ll feel strange if you don’t use them.

I’d also recommend you draft and rehearse in front of others, highlighting areas where you think are the weakest and asking them for specific advice on those sections at the end. Having specific questions to ask, such as “should I include more data/quantitative evidence in x section?” or “is this specific appeal to x obvious enough?”, also means you get better feedback (since these are much easier to answer than “Was that fine?”).

Part Three: Delivering an engaging presentation

(in this section—body language, eye contact, rehearse rehearse rehearse, tone variation).

Most of you probably find this the most daunting part of the SAC—honestly, me too—but this is the part with the most tried-and-tested tips for success.

With regard to body language , stand with your feet shoulder width apart and, more importantly don’t move your legs . Especially if you’re nervous, swaying or shuffling will be noticeable and make you appear more nervous—when you practise, pay attention to the lower half of your body and train it to stay still if possible. That being said, do use your arms for gestures. Those are more natural and will help engage the audience, though don’t overdo it either—usually, holding cue cards in one hand frees up the other but also stops you from going overboard.

And cue cards brig us up to another important consideration— eye contact . Hold cue cards in one hand as high as you can without it feeling uncomfortable. This means you don’t have to take your eyes away from the audience for too long or too noticeably to check your notes.

Of course, knowing your speech better means having to check your notes less frequently. When I did my speech, I’d read it out aloud to myself 3-5 times a day for a week or two in advance, which made me feel like I was going insane but also meant that my speech was basically memorised . The cue cards were there in case of emergency, but I really didn’t need them at all. Absolutely make sure to rehearse your speech. Further, when you rehearse, try to pretend that you’re actually delivering the speech. This means:

  • looking up ahead
  • holding the cue cards in the right spot; and
  • not just reading the words but speaking as if to an audience.

This last point is really important— tone variation might come naturally to some but not to others. I always found that building it into rehearsal helped with getting it consistent and natural. Tone variation involves things like emphasising certain words, using pauses or slowing down for effect, or modifying volume . Incorporating some of these elements—even writing them into your notes by bolding/italicising/underlining—will help you break out of monotony and make the speech more engaging as well. Be sure to emphasise things like emotive language and any evidence you might use to illustrate your arguments. And one last thing— don’t speak too quickly ! Easier said than done, but often the icing on the cake for a speech that is memorable for the right reasons.

Wondering where to go from here? Well, luckily, my eBook, How To Write A Killer Oral Presentation, details my exact step-by-step process so you can get that A+ in your SAC this year.

oral presentation speech

  • Access a step-by-step guide on how to write your Oral Presentation with simple, easy-to-follow advice
  • Read and analyse sample A+ Oral Presentations with EVERY speech annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY students achieved A+ so you reach your goal
  • Learn how to stand out from other students with advice on your speech delivery

Sounds like something that'd help you? I think so too! Access the full eBook by clicking here !

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Written by Lisa Tran, who achieved FULL marks in her Oral Presentation:

  • How to choose, plan and write your oral presentation and written explanation
  • A simple, persuasive speech structure that will blow your audience away
  • All essays FULLY annotated so you know exactly what you need to do and what not to do

oral presentation speech


Choosing an Oral Presentation topic can be tough. Finding an idea that’s unique, relevant and interesting all at once can sometimes feel impossible; but don’t worry, this is where we come in! Below is a list of 12 potential Oral Presentation topics for you to draw inspiration from, selected in reference to the VCE assessment criteria .

Remember, this blog is not a resource to give you a finished speech idea , these are just jumping-off points. Plagiarism is very harshly punished in VCE and many other students will currently be reading this very same post, meaning it's up to YOU to figure out how you’ll form a unique angle if you pick one of these topics. To help you do this, each section provides an overview of the cultural events that make this topic relevant. Additionally, possible contentions are included, ensuring you can see how arguments about these topics can be effectively made. 

1. Kanye’s blow-up - The necessity of the media to stop platforming celebrities spreading harmful ideas

American rapper Kanye West has always been a controversial figure, but since his endorsement of Trump in 2016 he’s seemingly been on a particularly bad downward spiral. His descent into increasingly more extremist right-wing politics has led to the question of whether the news media, detached and neutral as they might claim to be, should even be reporting on him. 

As of writing (late 2022), Kanye’s recent appearances on far-right talk shows to voice support for Hitler and question the existence of the Holocaust (which has no doubt been topped by something equally controversial by the time this gets published) pushes this question right to its limit. 

Events like this are undoubtedly big stories that many people would like to know about, but does reporting on them do more harm than good? Do we realistically all have the self-control to ignore these figures when so much of modern news already revolves around controversy and gossip? Possible Contentions:

  • Major media companies should reach an agreement to actively avoid covering celebrity behaviour that spreads dangerous ideas. 
  • News media should make an extra effort to disprove the dangerous ideologies of those they cover, rather than presenting them in a ‘neutral way’.

2. Amber Heard - How online discourse can villainise marginalised groups and encourage ‘dogpiling’

A similar celebrity controversy that dominated 2022 headlines was the two-way public defamation lawsuit between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, which involved accusations of abuse on both sides. One of the most notable parts of this case was the online depiction of Heard, on social media platforms such as Facebook and Youtube. 

Heard emerged as the internet’s new favourite punching bag, with an endless stream of videos and memes where her ‘ allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment ’. Crucially, these were made to criticise her in a way that most clearly mirrored historical sexist stereotypes about emotionally manipulative women. You probably came across examples of these yourself, as platforms like Youtube have a history of directing users to this kind of content. 

As such, key issues were identified in terms of how social media warps online discussions of allegations of abuse. Additionally, like the last topic, the very fact that this legal dispute was publicly broadcast raises questions as to whether the media’s focus on this event may have worsened the issue. 

Possible Contentions:

  • Personal legal proceedings between celebrities are not something that should be broadcast to the public.
  • The online discussion regarding this trial demonstrates the need for increased regulation of hateful and abusive content on social media platforms.

3. Should Australia be made a republic in the wake of the Queen’s death?

The death of Queen Elizabeth II in September of 2022, among many other things, drew Australia back into a debate it's been having for decades; should we become a republic? This would be a shift from our current state of (effectively) being overseen by the United Kingdom as a ‘constitutional parliamentary monarchy’, with the ‘head of state’ now being an Australian citizen rather than the UK monarch. 

Although the replacement of the Queen with the new head of state (King Charles III) shouldn’t really shift people’s perspective on this issue, it most likely will. Queen Elizabeth has been the welcoming and approachable symbol of the monarchy for many Australians. Her death could be the catalyst for a shift in public opinion, severing the connection that many citizens still had to the UK monarchy. 

This issue can be approached from many different angles, inducing discussion on HOW the process of Australia becoming a republic should occur (especially how the new head of state should be chosen), as well as stepping back and assessing the positives and negatives of making this shift.

  • Australia’s transition to a republic is a necessary step in helping honour the country’s Indigenous population and rejecting its colonial past
  • Australia’s transition to a republic, although often framed as an act of national unity, will actually worsen the cultural divides within our country. 
  • Although Australia should transition to a republic, the current rise of nationalist politics makes a public election of the new head of state extremely risky.

4. Are NFTs a positive advancement in contemporary technology? 

Whether or not you understand what it actually means, the phrase ‘NFTs’ has probably been inescapable on your social media feeds over the last year. Without getting too detailed, these ‘Non-Fungible Tokens’ are essentially investments into non-replicable representations of artwork , which will (supposedly) increase in value over time. 

Despite seemingly being an exciting new technology that could have given control back to artists through copyright ownership, NFTs have instead been heavily criticised for commercialising artwork by reducing it to a literal piece of digital currency. Further issues have arisen in terms of how this technology can easily be used to scam people through misrepresenting the value of individual NFTs, or NFT owners simply taking the money and running.

What do you think? All new technology seems shaky and uncertain at the start, and maybe we should recognise that the current negative impacts of NFTs must simply be overcome with time. How do we weigh the benefit this technology has for individual artists against its potential drawbacks?

  • For their many flaws, NFTs give the power back to creators and, therefore, need to be improved rather than roundly rejected. 
  • Despite preaching democratisation, NFTs and Bitcoin are both a part of a technological trend that will further increase wealth inequality.

5. How much can Western citizens really do to fight injustice via social media activism?

The effect of the COVID pandemic on developing countries, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and human rights abuses by the nation of Qatar - this year has seen an innumerable number of news stories that would make any reasonable person jump to their phones to see what they could do to help, like signing an online petition or sharing a public post to spread awareness.

However, as you probably know, these forms of social media 'slacktivism’ have historically drawn criticism for their ineffectiveness and self-serving nature. Increasingly though, this debate has become more complicated, moving away from the simplified dismissal of any social media activism that emerged around the turn of the century . Others have rightly pointed out that many influential contemporary social movements, that have had real-world impacts, did emerge from social media, such as the BLM and #MeToo movements. 

As such, there’s a lot of room for different arguments here regarding whether a critical perspective of ‘social media slacktivism’ has become outdated in a world that is increasingly unavoidably based on the internet.

Possible Contentions: 

  • Social media activism is unavoidably the way that young people are going to engage with political issues, and a rejection of it is naive and impractical. 
  • Political activism should distance itself from the online world if it wants to make real-world change that doesn’t fit neatly under existing power structures.

6. Is the overload of various media streaming service subscriptions sustainable?

‘Streaming fatigue’ has emerged as a 2023 talking point that may have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. Remember when we just had Netflix offering us a new way of consuming film and TV that was both more convenient and cost-effective than ‘pay TV’ packages (which were often heavily inflated in price and packed with unwanted channels )?

However, as we move into 2023, many have argued that the current subscription landscape now mirrors the previous pay-TV model. Consumers once again find themselves having to pay for an increasingly large amount of services if they want to conveniently access their film and TV shows. Predictably, this has seen a re-emergence of video piracy . 

Does this mean that it's fundamentally impossible for us to access our media as conveniently as we’d like to, and the years of Netflix being the only streaming service that had all we wanted were never sustainable? Or maybe corporations are unfairly squeezing every dollar they can out of us, and piracy is a fair and just consumer response?  

  • Through offering convenience that is unparalleled by any other previous technology, streaming services are still worth the cost. 
  • Consumers should actively engage in digital piracy until media corporations create a more affordable streaming environment.

7. Is a post-COVID work-at-home model healthy for the next generation of workers?

Although 2020 and 2021 may be remembered as the ‘years of COVID’, 2022 onwards is perhaps when we will see which long-term impacts of the pandemic continue to stick around. Aside from the permanent placement of public hand sanitiser stations, working from home has emerged as one of the most prominent main-stays from our lockdown years. 

Is this something that we should embrace? A lot was said during the lockdown about the mental health effects of being deprived of human connection; is this something we should just forget about when it comes to work? As with many of these issues, the question arises as to whether this shift is an inevitable effect of technological advancement, which we can either accept or fruitlessly battle until it becomes the new normal. 

However, the fact that this ‘work from home’ dynamic only emerged due to a pandemic complicates this idea, making it possible that we may have accidentally all become accustomed to a new economic model of work that we would be better off without. 

Possible Contentions:  

  • We must actively push back against the ‘work from home’ model; if we don’t, we will suffer both mentally and financially into the future.  
  • Working from home is a win-win; it's more convenient and cost-effective for both employer and employee.

8. How can gentrified and aestheticised versions of social movements be avoided?

I wonder whether you saw the Indigenous name for Victoria’s capital city (Naarm) appear more frequently on your social media feeds this year, with people adding it to their Instagram bios or referring to it on TikTok? What started as a conscious choice to respectfully refer to the city by its original Indigenous name quickly became criticised as a trendy aesthetic for outwardly progressive white Victorians, with terms like ‘naarm-core’ becoming short-hand for a specific kind of trendy fashion that was ‘ devoid of any ties to First Nations people ’. 

‘Naarm-core’, therefore, stands as another example of a movement that may have started with admirable aims, but was drowned out by those who just wanted the social benefits of participating in progressive politics. Think of the recent similar debates about ‘rainbow capitalism’, with similar criticisms being made of brands that co-opt progressive concepts like LGBQTI+ identity purely for social (and financial) capital. The question naturally emerges as to how we can avoid this for future political movements. 

Or maybe you disagree with all these critiques? Political discussion moves so fast these days that it can feel like people are in such a rush to criticise things that they miss actual progress being made. After all, the use of the term ‘Naarm’ to refer to Melbourne was undeniably popularised on the back of this trend. 

‍ Possible Contentions: 

  • The criticism of political movements that deal with race being tokenised by white people can only be solved by allowing people of colour at the centre of these movements.
  • People are too cynical about social movements and trends; virality and popularity, despite ‘inauthentic intentions’, often do more good than harm. 

9. How can the highly polarised discussion concerning COVID vaccines become more productive?

Another thing you may have witnessed from living in a post-COVID world is an increase in how divided simple issues seem to make us. Ever tried to convince a relative or friend that, no, in fact, vaccines are not designed to implant us with microchips - seems impossible right? 

For many people, the pandemic was a tipping point into full-blown conspiracy communities, meaning people are increasingly able to exist within their own social-media realities that don’t need to be bound to scientific truth or objective fact. This all creates a division between those with different beliefs that is somehow wider than before, where we can’t even agree on simple statements of truth. 

The debate around what to do about this deals with questions of human psychology, social media (again), but also freedom of speech. Should spreading (potentially dangerous) false information that conflicts with scientific consensus be allowed on social media? Most importantly, how do we encourage actual communication between different sides?

Possible contentions:

  • Talking in person is the only way for people with vastly different beliefs to find common ground.
  • Those spreading dishonest and dangerous conspiracy theories about public health cannot be reasoned with, and need to be actively shut down wherever they appear.

10. With the infamous Oscar slap, what ‘consequences’ should comedians and satirists face for what they say?

Here’s a news story that you’re probably tired of hearing about! Actor Will Smith’s act of violence against Oscar host and comedian Chris Rock for a joke about his wife’s alopecia (hair loss) caused many different conversations to happen at once; about toxic masculinity, celebrity culture, violence as a spectacle. These are all totally valid angles for your Oral Presentation, but let’s focus on maybe the most common debate; did Chris Rock deserve this?  

Functioning as a comedian hosting an awards night, Rock’s job was to poke fun at everyone participating, and these sorts of roles have often involved controversial comments and jokes . Does this mean they have immunity from any consequences for their words though? What should these consequences look like? And, if we excuse smaller acts of violence, what does that normalise? 

The 2015 terrorist shooting of the staff of satirical French magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ for their depiction of the Islamic prophet may seem a world away from Will Smith’s slap, but some may argue that this is the logical end-point for a world that believes physical violence is the way to deal with jokes people don’t like. 

  • The idea of comedians actually being threatened by violence is overblown; the slap was an isolated incident.
  • Protecting the safety of those who make controversial jokes is paramount to maintaining freedom of speech.

11. With Optus and Telstra’s recent data breaches, is placing all our valuable personal information in virtual spaces sustainably safe? 

This year saw a record-level data breach from one of Australia’s leading telecommunications companies, Optus. The personal details of almost 10 million customers were given to the hackers. 

Then, two weeks later, a similar data breach happened at Telstra. Yes, this time, no customer information was leaked, but information on the company’s employees was again released. 

All of this may disturb the image we all have in our heads of online databases as relatively unbreachable, locked away behind thousands of firewalls somewhere in the cloud. In fact, much of modern society operates on this assumption. Maybe you’ve added your credit card details to your Chrome tab because it makes online purchases easier? This convenience comes with the implicit assumption that online personal info is pretty much always safe when protected by a big tech company, but these events arguably prove otherwise.  

Cyberattacks are ‘ increasing as a threat ’, yet danger for the sake of convenience is something that all of us deal with. Maybe you think there are degrees to this; should we draw a line at information that can cause us legitimate harm if given to a malicious party?  

  • Our society is already too technologically dependent to try and ‘go offline’ for the sake of data safety.
  • Valuables of any kind are always going to run the risk of being stolen, and digital piracy is no different.

12. What is the role of Western countries in resisting the unlawful Russian invasion of Ukraine?

As already mentioned, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was one of the biggest news stories of 2022. Putin’s unlawful decision to attack the country’s capital in February of 2022 has left more than 10,000 people dead and millions displaced from their homes. Virtually all world leaders condemned this act immediately. Yet, almost a year later, the war continues, and documented war crimes occur on Ukrainian soil.

Thinking larger than just social media, the question of what can actually be done to help by the countries who condemn this war has naturally emerged. Many nations have supported Ukraine financially, including the US giving nearly $20 billion . Some may argue that this is not nearly far enough, and that all world powers have a responsibility to wage direct war against Russia in support of Ukraine. Naturally though, many are strongly against Western intervention in this form, believing that countries like the US should not see themselves as all-knowing powers that can intervene in other nations based on their ideological beliefs. 

‍ Possible Contentions:

  • Any attempt to guilt individual citizens about their need to ‘do something about Ukraine’ is completely unfair; the responsibility for any meaningful action is entirely on the government.
  • The West, particularly the US, has a long history of militarily invading smaller nations for their own purposes; their condemnation of the Russians is hypocritical.

If you haven’t already done so, check out our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for some general tips and tricks to get you started!

Written by Milo Burgner

The oral presentation SAC is worth 40% of your unit 4 English mark and is comprised of two sections: your statement of intention, and your oral presentation. It can be difficult to understand what is expected of you, as this SAC definitely varies from your typical English essay! So, if you need help understanding what’s expected of you, check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations . If you’d like an even more in-depth guide on how to approach this assessment, definitely check out the How to Write a Killer Oral Presentation study guide!

Here, I’m going to dissect five of the most common mistakes students make during their oral presentation, and gloss over ways in which you can improve your marks for this critical SAC.

1. Writing an Unentertaining Speech

Whilst your other English SACs may require you to write in a formal and sophisticated manner, the oral presentation SAC is the one shining exception! Many students fall into the trap of writing a frankly boring and uninspiring speech that does no justice to their academic ability. Here are some mistakes to watch out for:

Choosing the Wrong Topic

Your school may or may not already give you a list of topics to choose from. However, in the event that you must research your own topic, it is essential that you choose an issue relevant to your current audience. You must adopt a clear contention in your speech. 

Do not, for example, write a five-minute speech on why one sports team is better than the other, or why murder should be illegal. Choose an issue that you can take a passionate stance on and engage the audience with. Avoid a contention that is obvious and aim to actually persuade your class. Make sure you choose a 'WOW' topic for your VCE Oral Presentation .

‍ Writing With the Wrong Sense of Tone

This is one of the biggest mistakes students make when writing their oral presentation. I cannot stress this enough – your speech is not a formally written text response! You are presenting your stance on an issue, which means that you are allowed to be passionate and creative. You can educate your audience on the facts without boring them to sleep. Let’s analyse two sample excerpts on the same issue to see why:

Issue: Should the Newstart allowance be increased?

Sample 1: 722,000 Australians are on Newstart. Single people receive approximately $40 a day. The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently increased this payment by $2.20 to adjust to price inflation. However, I am arguing that this price should be increased more.
Sample 2: As Australians, we pride ourselves on community values, and supporting one another. Yet, the way in which we treat 722,000 of our most vulnerable people doesn’t reflect this. The Australian government recently increased the Newstart payment by $2.20 weekly. But this means that Newstart recipients still live on just over $40 a day. Ask yourself, is that really enough to survive?

Samples 1 and 2 have the same information. Yet, Sample 2 engages with the audience in a much more effective manner. Try to avoid an overly formal tone and speak with passion and interest.

2. Presenting Without Confidence

Presenting in front of your class can be a very daunting experience. However, in order to distinguish yourself from your classmates, you must speak clearly and with confidence. Try to avoid making the following mistakes:

Reading Instead of Talking

Think back to primary school. Remember when your teacher would read you a storybook, and they would put on voices to make the story more engaging and interesting? The same sort of idea applies to your oral presentation. Simply reading a well-written speech will not get you marks. Rather, you should talk to your audience. Make eye contact, maintain good posture, and project your voice. Confidence is key!

Stalling for Time

I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we haven’t prepared ourselves for a test as well as we should have. The oral presentation SAC is not an assessment that you can simply wing on the day. Oftentimes, poor scores stem from a lack of preparation which can be reflected in the way students present themselves – and stalling for time is a big giveaway. Save yourself the mental stress and prepare for your SAC by writing out your speech beforehand (or even preparing a few dot points/cue cards). I personally find it helpful to practise in front of a mirror or even in front of pets/stuffed toys.

3. Not Distinguishing Yourself From Your Class

If you’re gunning for a good mark, you want to stand out from your class. This can be especially difficult if you are presenting the same topic as one of your peers. Avoid:

Starting in an Uninspiring Way

This is another big mistake students make when presenting. Let’s just estimate that there are approximately 20-25 people in your English class. Now, imagine if every person who presented before you began their speech with:

“Good morning, today I’ll be talking about why Newstart should be increased”.

It gets repetitive. You can distinguish yourself by beginning in a myriad of other ways. Here’s an example of how I started my own oral presentation for my SAC:

Topic: Should we ban sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate?

Imagine you are a foreigner, excited to visit Australia. In your head, you’re picturing our beautiful flora and fauna, our stunning beaches, and the Great Coral Reef. You finally arrive after a long flight, eager to explore the country. You’re expecting the Great Coral Reef to be boasting colour, to look like all the pictures spotted online. Instead, you find what looks like a wasteland – a reef that has essentially been bleached to death. As Australians, we have to wonder what went wrong. If we really loved and cared for our environment, how could we not be protecting the reef, preventing any further damage? Recently, Hawaii banned sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, reasoning that these chemicals were causing harm to coral. Yet, in Australia, banning sunscreens with these chemicals are seen as drastic and useless measures, which simply isn’t true when you look at the facts. 

This is an example of an “imagined scenario” starter. How to Write a Killer Oral Presentation outlines other ways to start your speech with examples! If you’re having trouble figuring out how to start with a BANG, definitely make use of this resource.

No Enthusiasm

I say this to my students regardless of the English SAC that they’re writing – you want your writing/speech to reflect that you are indeed learning and enjoying your education. Your teacher will be able to tell if you choose a topic that you have no interest in, or if you are simply regurgitating information. Use this SAC to learn about an issue and take interest in your learning. Believe me, your grades will thank you for it.

4. Incorrectly Using Visuals

Whether you are allowed to present with visuals or not is up to your English teacher. However, it is essential that you do not incorrectly use these visuals, as it can cost you marks. Avoid:

Overusing PowerPoint Slides

I’m a bit old-fashioned myself and honestly prefer presenting a speech with no images. That’s not to say that some images can’t be a great addition to your piece. However, PowerPoint can quickly steer you away from presenting your topic in an engaging manner. 

This is an oral presentation with a stance on an issue, not an assessment where you are marked for presenting information to an audience. Therefore, reading off of PowerPoint slides is a big NO. 

Using Cluttered Infographics

The point of focus of your oral presentation should be on YOU – your words, your stance on the issue. This ties into the PowerPoint criticism I made above, but using a cluttered infographic takes away from your well-written speech. Below is an example of an overly cluttered infographic:

oral presentation speech

If your speech was on renewable energy, your audience would be detracted from your stance, and too focussed on reading the information from the visual. If you have any key information that needs to be explained, it is better to embed this into your speech than rely on an infographic. ‍

5. Disregarding the Statement of Intention

If you’ve finished writing your speech, you may have let out a big sigh of relief. But don’t get too comfortable yet – you still have to write your statement of intention ( SOI ). This piece of writing is supposed to accompany your speech, and it’s worth 25% of your SAC mark. Do not waste all your hard efforts by not taking the SOI seriously. 

I like to think of an SOI as a language analysis of your own speech. Essentially, you should be explaining your choice of language, tone, and rhetoric, and justifying why that would make a profound impact on the audience.  Make sure you understand what an SOI is.

I like thinking of this as a three-step approach:

  • Quote my own speech 
  • Explain why and how my language would impact the audience
  • Link back to my overall contention of the issue

‍ How to Write a Killer Oral Presentation outlines exactly what is expected of you in this section of your SAC. If you’d like to see an annotated A+ statement of intention, be sure to check it out!

I hope that going through these mistakes will help you when writing your own oral presentation! It’s always best to ask your teacher or English tutor for advice if you’re unsure of where to start. Happy writing!

We’ve come to that time in the year when everyone is scrambling to find the perfect Oral Presentation topic. Choosing the best topic for you is easily the most difficult part of this SAC, so to hopefully ease the burden, I’ve crafted this list with the latest and biggest global debates. My two biggest pieces of advice are NOT to choose an overly complex subject and NOT to choose anything you don’t really understand. A simple idea that is argued effectively works far better than a complex idea argued poorly. Moreover, find a topic that you are genuinely passionate about; regardless of what your ideas are, your passion is the key to success.

That being said, if you are currently struggling to find some inspiration, have a read of the following oral topics that will hopefully bring light to the relevant and pressing issues of the world.

If you haven’t already, check out our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for some general tips and tricks to get you started!

1. Not enough is being done to address gender discrimination, violence and inequality in Australia

We are lucky to live in a country where gender discrimination is on the decline, and where we’re progressively making our way towards equality. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite reached it yet. Gender discrimination and sexist ideologies slowly make their way through our school locker rooms, into our classrooms, across our halls, and most tragically, into our homes. Do we really focus on fixing these issues from youth through education, or are the government and media just letting these problems run their course?

 The key thing to focus on is the barriers still present in society that are preventing us from reaching true equality. Search for famous female figures in Australia and the struggles they had to overcome solely based on their gender like Julia Gillard, Grace Tame and Nicole Kidman. Moreover, in a country as advanced and progressive as Australia, why are hundreds of women continuing to be murdered in domestic abuse disputes? It’s these terrifying statistics that demonstrate how far we have to go as a country, and how quickly we need action.

2. Addressing the ‘Climatic Catastrophe’ is being hindered by climate scepticism and multimillion-dollar corporations

Climate change. A buzzword for the top problem of the future. Even now, we’re feeling the terrible effects of the heating climate - floods, droughts and life-changing bush fires that have misplaced thousands of Aussies. A problem this big should require immediate action, right?

Well, two things are preventing us from slowing the changing climate and growing emissions. Firstly, Australia is clearly over-reliant on the coal industry. It is our top export after all, and our mining industry always proves to be a ‘booming success’. Not to mention the several ‘generous’ donations provided from multimillion-dollar fuel corporations to several of our own government parties.

Secondly, there seems to be certain online rhetoric that perpetuates false information. Otherwise known as ‘climate scepticism’, there are people who genuinely believe that climate change is a ‘hoax’ and not worth the time or effort to address. Think about the impact that the spreading of this misinformation can do. 

3. Are we too reliant on fossil fuels?

The Russian war against Ukraine has had several terrible impacts across the world, affecting countries that weren’t even involved in the conflict to begin with. You may have heard your parents complain about the soaring fuel prices, or even had to cash out almost double for petrol yourself. The main reason for this is Australia’s reliance on fuel imports from Russia, which have quite obviously been disrupted.

This brings forward an important question, are we too reliant on fossil fuels as a nation? Imagine if we had made the switch to electric cars even just a few years earlier. I have a feeling our transport situation would be significantly better. Think about the policies we would need to introduce to become greener and more self-sufficient.

4. Indigenous injustices and deaths in custody are still being ignored

WARNING: This topic contains descriptions and the name of a recently deceased Indigenous person .

Veronica Nelson, a 37-year-old Indigenous woman, died whilst in custody after calling out 40 times for help from prison staff while being tragically ignored. Her unjust death evaded all sorts of media attention until her recent coroner’s report was revealed. According to doctors, if she had simply received medical attention that night, she would still be here with us today. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated issue.

Hundreds of reports of police brutality, deaths in custody and compliant media sources have been covered up or callously ignored. Take a look at the recent Royal Commission into the almost 500 Indigenous deaths in custody. What can we do as a nation to prevent further harm to our First Nation People?

5. Are social media ‘influencers’ skewing our perceptions of reality?

There’s no denying it, social media is one of the most influential platforms across the world. We often look towards celebrities and new ‘influencers’ for inspiration, life advice and familiarity. Especially coming out of the pandemic, these influencers have been a source of comfort for many during lockdowns. Unfortunately, lives are easy to fake and we are left wondering whether the people we look up to in the social media world are creating unrealistic expectations for us. Are they gaining profit at the expense of our mental health, or do they genuinely care for human connection?

6. Overconsumption in the fashion world: SHEIN, Fashion Nova and more

Online shopping is becoming our new reality, but rapidly growing fashion trends have led to mass production and inhumane outsourcing of labour. Think about the new fast fashion outlets that opened in Melbourne. Should we really be giving a retail platform to businesses that exploit workers and tailors, consistently produce poor-quality clothes and contribute to extensive land pollution? We’ve experienced huge clothing turnover over the past decade, contributing to one of our biggest land-fill issues at the moment. The emphasis on the constant need for more ‘trendy’ pieces results in items of clothing being poorly produced and going ‘out of fashion’ faster and consequently getting thrown out at the end of a new season. Fast fashion is an affordable option for many, but it comes at a cost of underpaid labour and pollution. How can society work towards finding the middle ground, so that everyone benefits and more importantly, what individual efforts can be made to ensure this?

7. Alcohol consumption amongst youths is becoming increasingly normalised

Everyone knows about the impact of alcohol on the body and mind, especially when it is consumed under age. Yet, binge drinking in Australia is a common weekend occurrence for students and is constantly normalised at social gatherings. Turning 18 and officially becoming an adult is exciting for many because of the prospect of finally being able to legally purchase and consume alcohol. However, even now, the long-term effects of alcohol have been proven to be the same as certain drugs and yet, it is heavily marketed by various companies, particularly to young Australians (Cassidy, 2021).

Many healthcare professionals stress that we need to work on reducing the culture of heavy drinking in Australia by increasing awareness of the genuine dangers. Think about ways in which we can do this that are different from what we have in place already.

8. The treatment of Ukraine vs. the Middle East/Sri Lankan/Asian refugees

When the war began in Ukraine, it rightfully caused worldwide outrage. Countries pledged artillery, medical aid and further security assistance for those fighting and opened their borders to Ukrainian refugees. However, during numerous conflicts in the Middle East, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, the world remained silent. The irony lies too within our own government, which was quick to reprimand Russia during the war and willingly state Australia will accommodate Ukrainian refugees, yet sends all other refugees that arrive in Australia to Christmas Island, or back home. There was, and still is, a difference in the treatment of vulnerable people that has long been tied into prolonged systematic racism, and it is still not being addressed.

9. ‘Financial influencers’ are damaging people’s lives and careers

We’ve all seen it online, across Facebook and TikTok. ‘Financial influencers’ that can ‘turn you into a millionaire’ as long as you invest in their 12-step monetised plan for monetary freedom. For the most part, it is unsupported financial advice from online influencers who don’t have any qualifications. They cover bitcoin, cryptocurrency and ‘NFTs’ on social media, mainly encouraging people to quit their jobs and fully focus on the stock markets. Whilst some people have given out genuinely helpful and accessible advice, most end up teaching teenagers and young adults the wrong information, or strategies that have a low chance of success. We have a duty to protect people online, and adults making unsupported gambles with their finances is going against that. A good place to start would be to find out the real-life experiences of people who have lost money and stability as a result of this ‘advice’.

10. Social media has led to growing desensitisation and a lack of human empathy

The internet can be a place of joy and entertainment, allowing us to connect with people across the world and have access to endless information. Unfortunately, it is also a dark space filled with unregulated content that can be easily accessed. We’ve seen mass shootings, suicides and other disturbing material live streamed, exposing us to the worst acts of human nature. There are even those with a ‘morbid curiosity’ who purposefully try and find this content. Continued exposure to this type of content results in more desensitisation towards this material. If we continue this path, are the majority going to lack empathy towards others? Have a look at the wider effects of this type of content on the development of the brain.

11. The gaps in our labour market are only going to grow without rapid action

Over the past year, we have had some of the worst gaps in the labour market. There have been shortages in some of the most essential positions such as nursing, teaching, paramedics and 000 operators. The low wages and stressful nature of the jobs have made it difficult to find enough people willing to enter those job sectors. However, they are vital for our society to function, so how come nothing has yet been introduced to rapidly fix these shortages? Currently, we are out-sourcing labour, but this isn’t a long-term solution and we need to ensure that we don’t experience these problems in the future.

12. Vaccine privilege

Over the past few years, especially in Australia and the USA, we have noticed an increasing trend in people refusing vaccines (COVID and others) due to growing anti-vax sentiments. Despite the plethora of evidence online that discusses the benefits and heavy testing that vaccines have and continue to undergo, people still claim that they do more harm than good. Moreover, it has now been noted that we now have a surplus of vaccines within Australia because of our vaccine hoarding during the middle of the pandemic.

Yet, there are still people across the globe who are dying from various illnesses due to their country’s inability to afford or get access to vaccines. It is now our responsibility to ensure nothing like this happens again in the future, by finding ways to reduce these inequities and tackle vaccine privilege.

13. Our personal data, information and finances are becoming increasingly exposed

This might seem like a bold statement to make, but imagine the sheer level of data that you store online or on your phone. There’s GovID data that is simply stored on your phone that contains information about your entire identity, facial recognition technology that is used everywhere (biotech), cameras and fingerprint access everywhere. The debate is extremely two-sided, with increased cyber protection assisting in solving crimes and preventing identity fraud, but with the growing level of cybercrimes, we’re also put at risk.

What side are you taking?

See Topics From Past Years:          

Oral Presentation Topics 2021  

Oral Presentation Topics 2020  

Oral Presentation Topics 2019  

Oral Presentation Topics 2018

Oral Presentation Topics 2017

Oral Presentation Topics 2016

Oral Presentation Topics 2015

Oral Presentation Topics 2014                                                                                                                                   

Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.

Here are over 20 Oral Presentation Ideas for you if you're presenting a speech on Australian issues in the media.

  • Should gay couples have the same adoption rights as straight couples?
  • Should businesses be required to have a sex quota?
  • Should political parties be required to run a certain percentage of women candidates?
  • Gender workplace diversity
  • Treatment of refugees on Manus Island
  • Should there be a temporary ban on all immigration into Australia?
  • MP citizenship
  • Should the government classify Bitcoin as a legal currency?
  • Homelessness in Australia
  • Obesity in Australia
  • Sexual harassment in the TV/movie/hollywood industry
  • Should gender identity be added to anti-discrimination laws?
  • Should universities provide ‘trigger warnings’ and ‘safe spaces’ for students?
  • Should workplaces provide ‘trigger warnings’ and ‘safe spaces’ for staff?
  • Informed consent with online data
  • Religious freedom
  • Same sex marriage freedom
  • Adani coalmine
  • Political donations
  • Penalty rates in Australia
  • Wage theft in Australia
  • Indigenous recognition in the constitution
  • Should we invest in public interest journalism?

See last year's Oral Presentation Ideas here . You might also be interested in Advice for A+ oral presentations here too! Best of luck!

There are a plethora of controversial issues in the current Australian media that may be perfect for your 2017 oral presentation! Below are just a few ideas to get you started on your way towards acing that SAC. Remember, pick a topic that you’re passionate and enthusiastic about. Don’t forget that there is no ‘right’ opinion, however, make sure you offer a distinctive argument, even if it means adopting an alternative point of view. Good luck!

oral presentation speech

  • Should the Australian Government ban the wearing of the burka in public?
  • Should the homeless be banned from Melbourne’s CBD? (Robert Doyle proposal)
  • Should the Australia Government continue to fund the Safe Schools Coalition?
  • Should gay marriage be legalised in Australia?
  • Should the date of Australia Day be replaced/changed?
  • Treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres (especially women and children)
  • Is enough action being taken to diminish the sugar industry propaganda to minimise obesity?
  • Should on – site pill testing be mandatory at all public events?
  • Cultural insensitivity in Australia
  • Is the development of technology and social media encouraging narcissism in young adults?
  • Victoria’s legal system
  • Stem cell research
  • Is the development of technology and social media encouraging the sexualisation of boys and girls?
  • Drug testing and drug control in Australia (Bourke Street attack)
  • Fake news being published by researchers to the media
  • Should Victoria’s juvenile justice system be improved by the Government?
  • Do students learn as effectively with ebooks compared with traditional, hardcopy books?
  • Should security footage of detention centres be released?
  • Is Australia becoming an alcohol and sugar driven society?
  • Has the notion of privacy been compromised in the 21st century? (internet, technology, terrorism)

Before you start writing your oral presentation, you can't miss our A+ tips that have helped hundreds of students get perfect marks in their SAC. Stand out from others with confidence now .

oral presentation speech

David Malouf’s Ransom and Stephan Frears’ The Queen was a brand-new text pairing added to the study design in 2020. It is a unit with many nuances and intricacies to discuss, making it a perfect pairing to unpack in an essay topic breakdown!  

For some context, backstory and a plot summary of both Ransom and The Queen , head to an earlier post Understanding Ransom and The Queen . This may help with your understanding of the essay prompt later in this post. And if you need a refresher on what the Comparative is, see our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative .

Overall, both Ransom and The Queen overlap fairly heavily in terms of key themes, ideas and messages. Even if you haven’t watched The Queen or read Ransom yourself, the essay topic I have chosen can give you an idea of how to seamlessly integrate such thematic overlaps and similarities into your own writing, whilst also acknowledging the differences in both texts.

Breaking Down the Prompt: THINK

Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:

Step 1: A nalyse

Step 2: B rainstorm

Step 3: C reate a Plan

The Essay Prompt:

'it is true that the gods made me a king, but they also made me a man, and mortal.' – Priam (87-88)

'Your Majesty, there’s a last minute addition from Downing Street. They’re suggesting adding and as a grandmother here.' – Janvrin (Script, 87th Minute)

How do both texts explore the tensions that are created between a person’s public and private life? 

Step 1: Analyse 

This prompt is both a quote-based, and a how-based prompt (learn more about the five types of prompts here). This means that the examiner wants us to explain how the text creators (Frears and Malouf) convey tensions between one’s public and private life, using the quote to help us do so.

Step 2: Brainstorm

First, let’s break down the prompt part of the essay question. Here, the keywords are:

‘tensions’ - we have to focus on the contrast, and the hardships, that stem from the characters in both texts as they juggle their roles as leaders and individuals of their own accord. These difficulties are explored in more detail in an earlier LSG blog Ransom and The Queen.

‘public and private lives’ - invites us to consider the individuals in both texts, specifically leaders such as Queen Elizabeth and Priam, who have distinctly different public and private personas. Specifically, we want to focus on how the differences that arise between these two ‘lives’ suggest that compromises must be made in order for leaders to perform their role to its greatest potential.

Now it’s time to break down the quote itself!

Both the quotes from Ransom and The Queen illustrate points of tension in the lives of leaders.  

Priam’s quote occurs toward the climax of Ransom . The examiner is directing you to discuss how being ‘a man’ , and therefore seemingly unremarkable in nature, challenges Priam’s existence as a ‘king’ , thus creating a point of tension in his reign.

Similarly, Janvrin’s quote also highlights how being a ‘grandmother’ is a role that must be performed by Queen Elizabeth in conjunction with her existence as the Queen of England. Yet, the inclusion of ‘Downing Street’ in this quote also moves you to consider how the queen’s own private affairs, such as Diana’s death, must be handled in conjunction with an outside team such as Tony Blair as British Prime Minister, thus entangling both her public and private personas.

Through both quotes, it is evident that when responding to how Frears and Malouf explore tensions in their respective texts, you should analyse the key characters of each text and their roles as both leaders and individuals in their own right. 

I’ve grouped my ideas in a logical order so you can easily identify how each idea relates to my essay plan in Section C. During your own brainstorming, this will be difficult to achieve, so just keep in mind that you don’t need a logical layout of ideas until the planning stage!

  • At the beginning of both texts, each protagonist fails to recognise and adequately perform their role as a ‘man’ and ‘grandmother’ respectively, due to their duties as a leader. This leaves them out-of-touch with the people around them, suggesting that being a leader can negatively impact one’s relationships with those they care about most.
  • Priam refers to himself as ‘mortal’ in the prompt, revealing his own vulnerability. Furthermore, the inclusion of ‘Downing Street’ encourages discussion surrounding Tony Blair and his role as a public figure. In both cases, these men express their emotions to their people and those closest to them, leaving them open to backlash and criticism of their authority as leaders.
  • For Queen Elizabeth, expressing her grief ‘as a grandmother’ allows her to connect emotionally to her people and regain their support, whilst for Priam, appearing to Achilles simply as ‘a man’ enables him to return to Troy both successful in his mission and respected by his people. This reveals that leaders should not let their public and private lives evoke tension, but rather should harness elements of each respective realm to build a modern, effective and relatable leadership style.

Step 3: Create a Plan

By dissecting the prompt’s keywords and briefly analysing the quote and its meaning, I have come up with three main points:

Paragraph 1: In both texts, Frears and Malouf suggest that in allowing themselves to be controlled by their public personas, leaders may struggle to connect with both their people and their own families

  • Ransom : Somax is initially unable to connect with Priam due to his adherence to royal protocol and tradition
  • The Queen : Queen is unable to provide emotional support to her grandsons following their mother’s death, due to her own stoicism and emotionally distant nature 

Paragraph 2: Yet, in revealing an aspect of their personal lives, leaders risk compromising their public authority

  • Ransom : When Priam breaks protocol and leaves the walls of Troy, the Trojan people question the strength and competence of their leader
  • The Queen : Tony Blair’s unconventional style means he initially fails to gain respect from the Royal Family, despite being elected British Prime Minister

Paragraph 3: This delicate balance between one’s public and private lives is achieved most successfully when leaders reveal an element of their private selves and make themselves vulnerable and relatable to their people.

  • Ransom : Priam recognises the importance of being a father as well as a leader, allowing him to bury Hector’s body whilst retaining respect and admiration from his people
  • The Queen : By adopting Blair’s suggestions and addressing the British people in an honest, vulnerable way, Queen Elizabeth is able to regain their trust and respect.

Stephen Frears’ film The Queen , set in contemporary England, and David Malouf’s novel Ransom , taking place in Ancient Greece, both explore the concept that one’s public identity can create tensions between their ceremonial constructed persona, and their own private identities. In both texts, Frears and Malouf (1) suggest that in allowing themselves to be controlled by their public personas, leaders may struggle to connect with their people, and their own families. Yet, in revealing an aspect of their own lives, they may also risk compromising their own public authority. This delicate balance between one’s public and private lives, therefore, is conveyed throughout Ransom and The Queen to be achieved most successfully when leaders reveal an element of their private lives and make themselves both vulnerable and relatable to their people, harnessing aspects of both their public and private lives in order to confidently perform their roles to the greatest extent possible. (2)

Annotations (1) Make sure to refer to the author/director in your introduction and continually throughout your essay. This helps to ensure you are considering their purpose and its intended effect/message to the audience (see Views and Values for more on this).

(2) This is where I have included the broader implications of the topic – it will be my final paragraph where I somewhat challenge the prompt

In both Ransom and The Queen , leaders that allow themselves to be dictated by their public identities and subsequent rules, protocols and expectations, are portrayed to express difficulty in connecting with their constituents and their own families. In The Queen , Queen Elizabeth finds comfort in placing 'duty first, self second', as in performing in her role as a monarch for many years, she foregrounds such identity over her ability to connect personally with those around her. However, this struggle to formulate intimate connections is conveyed by Frears (3) to, at times, be at her detriment. Upon meeting the Royal Family, Cherie Blair, who symbolises the wider British society (4) , describes that family as 'a bunch of free loading, emotionally retarded nutters'. This blunt description serves to indicate that in acting according to 'how [she] was brought up' and 'all [she’s] ever known', the queen compromises her public image and relatability to her people. In a similar manner, in Ransom , Somax describes only having 'seen King Priam at a distance…he is surprised at how old he looks', clearly illustrating the emotional and physical distance between the king and the people of Troy. Such distance is portrayed by Malouf to not only affect the way the people view their king, but also the manner in which Priam himself is able to formulate and express basic human emotions, as 'royal custom – the habit of averting his gaze', initially prevents him from connecting with Somax on a more intimate level. Through this, both Malouf and Frears highlight how, (5) in allowing themselves to be consumed by their roles as leaders, both Priam and Queen Elizabeth have sacrificed their ability to truly connect and engage with those around them, leaving them out-of-touch with the same people they govern. However, this lack of connection is also shown to extend to their families, as the queen is pictured by Frears to be physically disconnected with her own grandsons. Upon learning of Diana’s death, Prince Charles is depicted delivering the news to his sons, whilst the queen watches on from the corridor, as Frears uses a mid-shot with the door frame obstructing the audience’s view of Queen Elizabeth herself. This can be seen to symbolise (6) the ‘barricade’ between the queen and her own family, as her role as monarch separates her from those she loves. (7) In a similar manner, Priam’s only recollection of the birth of his son is 'recall[ing] a series of small squalling bundles', as his 'role…to hold myself apart in ceremonial stillness' directly prevents him from understanding, and becoming involved with his family, emotionally distancing himself from his own sons. Consequently, Frears and Malouf convey to their audience that the role of being a leader can negatively impact upon one’s relationship with others, serving as a constant burden and barrier to achieving intimate emotional connections.

Annotations (3) In writing ‘conveyed by Frears’ as opposed to ‘conveyed’ I am trying to demonstrate that I am aware the film is a construction made by a director (in this case Frears) for a purpose – he is trying to communicate with the audience through the actions of his characters. See LSG’s Views and Values blog post or How To Write A Killer Text Response (the Views and Values section) for more on this.

(4) In this case, I am attempting to go ‘beyond’ what is simply portrayed in this scene and incorporate the setting of the text – in this case, highlighting my awareness of the time and place in which the film is set (i.e. context ). While aimed at Literature students, this blog on context is helpful as it walks you through some contextual aspects you should consider. 

(5) This is one of the main ways I would link my two ideas in Year 12, and draw ‘mini conclusion’ or a link (think of the TEEL structure ) back to the topic. Yet, in beginning with ‘Malouf and Frears’, I am keeping the purpose of each text central to my link.

(6) When using film techniques , try to analyse their meaning. Rather than simply stating ‘Frears uses a mid-shot’, tell your assessor WHY he does this and what its intended effect is on the audience. This not only acts as a form of ‘textual evidence’ but also demonstrates your understanding of the text itself.

(7) In this sentence, I have tried to draw connections between the physical world and the author’s purpose in portraying the isolation of the British Royal family. Here, I’m referring to the ideas, views and values of the author/director.

On the other hand, however, in revealing one’s private life and expressing humility, leaders are also shown to risk their public authority. In Ransom , Priam becomes determined, following the death of Hector, to try 'something impossible. Something new' and allow for an element of vulnerability to be expressed, in order to successfully ransom his son’s body. Such an unusual, unconventional method of leadership, however, is depicted to take the people of Troy by surprise, as they witness their leader dressed 'in plain white' (8) , stripped of his former royal gown. Therefore, the Trojans, who 'crowd the ramparts of the city' and 'line the walls of Troy' each day, in an attempt to view and 'cheer' their leader, 'do not know how to react' upon viewing Priam in such a common, ignoble state, reconsidering the way in which they regard and respect him. In a similar manner, in The Queen , Tony Blair is a Prime Minister whose ‘unconventional' style of leadership is seen to initially unnerve the Royal family. Upon being elected, Blair is described in a montage scene (9) to be a 'wonderful new Prime Minister…a compassionate young man…such a breath of fresh air', a different style of leader to previous Prime Ministers whom the queen previously worked with. The description of Blair as a 'compassionate young man' is significant as such compassion, combined with his youth, acts as a deterrent for the Royals in showing him respect as a leader, taken aback by his unusual views and values. Consequently, upon the death of Diana, although Blair attempts to advise Queen Elizabeth on behalf of the British People, Prince Phillip declares 'who does he think he’s talking to? You’re the sovereign. The head of state. You don’t get dictated to' clearly symbolising their lack of respect and willingness to consider Blair’s perspectives and ideas. In this way, Frears highlights how, in adopting an unconventional style of leadership, those in power may struggle to gain the respect of others around them, particularly their fellow leaders, with the Queen Mother’s statement of 'silly Mr Blair and his Cheshire cat grin' clearly portraying Tony Blair’s lack of authority within the Royal Family. Whilst, in Ransom , the people of Troy struggle to come to terms with Priam’s own change in his leadership style, wondering 'is the king deserting them?', those in The Queen are seen to accept Blair’s leadership style, evident through his 'landslide victory', as, unlike the people of Troy, they are seen to be open to a more progressive form of leadership. In both texts, however, Frears and Malouf demonstrate that leaders who illustrate an element of vulnerability, such as Priam and Tony Blair, may struggle asserting their authority over those with more traditional standards and views, such as the Trojan people and the Royal Family, and thus sacrifice an element of their public image and reputation.

Annotations (8) This is a brief quote – these are useful to ‘replace’ your own words. It ensures you are remaining relevant in your analysis (aka not going off track!!) and acts as a way to ‘show off’ to your assessors that you know your text. However, as these quotes are so simple, I would rarely go into depth with my analysis of them – save this for your longer quotations.

(9) Although naming the scene as a ‘montage’ isn’t entirely necessary in this case, it shows the assessor that you remember where this scene takes place and gives a bit of context , further achieving that first criterion.

Yet, both David Malouf and Stephen Frears examine the notion that in revealing an element of their private life and making themselves vulnerable, a leader may be able to become more relevant, thereby easing the tension between their public and private personas (10). In The Queen , Queen Elizabeth’s adamant refusal to 'dance to their tune' and abide by the requests of her people leads her to proclaim 'I don’t think I have ever been hated like that', with Frears’ depiction of her crying outside Balmoral evident of her realisation that she needs to adapt to the 'change…shift in values' occurring among her constituents. This private expression of vulnerability by Elizabeth is the catalyst for her change in leadership style, with the setting of Balmoral itself, and subsequent events that take place there, symbolising the ability for leaders to harness an element of their personal lives and use it to adapt and connect with their people. In a similar manner, Priam’s declaration that coming to Achilles 'as a man of sorrow' gives him the 'chance to break free of the obligation of always being the hero' highlights Malouf’s view that, at times, leaders must 'break free' of the overwhelming 'obligation[s]' of their public life in order to achieve their objectives and desires within the private sphere. Priam’s realisation that the 'gods made me…mortal' (11) and subsequent appearance as 'a man of sorrow' allow him to successfully bury the body of his son, as he places his identity as 'a man' at the forefront. Priam’s ability to use his emotion in order to fulfil the desires of both him, as 'a father', and the wider people of Troy in allowing their most esteemed warrior to receive a proper burial, is mirrored in The Queen , where Queen Elizabeth adopts the use of emotion to regain the respect of British society. In returning from Balmoral, the queen directly interacts with the people outside Buckingham Palace, with Frears using a long shot to capture the extremely large numbers that had gathered outside the palace gates to emphasise the scale of public sorrow occurring. The queen’s interaction with her people, combined with her public address 'as a grandmother' (12) , symbolises the way in which she was able to harness her identity both 'as your queen, and as a grandmother' to appeal to her people, gain their respect, and successfully lead them through an unprecedented, tumultuous event, thus easing the strain between her public and private personas. Likewise, Priam’s claim 'that the gods made me a king, but also made me a man' (13) highlights that he too has developed an understanding that in order to lead most successfully, one must express an element of vulnerability and humility, allowing for the people to emotionally connect and relate to those whom they admire. Therefore, both Malouf and Frears highlight that expressing elements of their private lives through their public identities is a method most effective in gaining leaders the respect and admiration they crave, as those they lead are able to find an element of commonality and relatability within such esteemed individuals.

Annotations (10) Here is where I begin to go beyond simply the limitations or ‘obvious’ points made in the prompt and consider its wider implications. One strategy I used to help plan and write these paragraphs in Year 12 was to ask myself ‘Why is this a topic? What is the author/director trying to tell me as a member of the audience?’ It usually helps to closely consider the author’s purpose , thus ensuring you achieve a coherent and comprehensive analysis.

(11) Here, I am using part of the quote in the prompt to serve as evidence and back up my point regarding Priam’s combination of both his public and private identities. See How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss to learn how to seamlessly include quotes in your writing. 

(12) It is here where I have used the quote from the prompt to influence my reasoning and my overall argument.

(13) Now I am moving on to explain the significance of the quote in the prompt.

Ultimately, both The Queen and Ransom explore the various tensions that can occur throughout the public and private lives of leaders, and their need to grapple with and understand such a concept in order to perform their duties most effectively. Whilst being constrained by one’s public persona may create emotional distance between an individual and those around them, in revealing an element of vulnerability, both texts illustrate that leaders risk losing respect and authority within public society. However, Frears and Malouf suggest that despite the difficult balance between one’s public and private lives, in order to lead most effectively, esteemed individuals should not allow each respective realm to create tension and unease, but rather harness elements of both their intimate and public personas in order to create a modern, effective and relatable leadership style (14) .

Annotations (14) My final sentence aims to focus on the ‘bigger picture’. Think of this as your ‘mic drop moment’ – you want to finish your essay with an overall statement that touches upon the author’s expressed or implied point of view. 5 Tips for a Mic-Drop Worth Essay Conclusion will help you nail your conclusion.

Throughout this essay, I have implemented the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy to help me discuss insightful points of similarity and difference. This is particularly important when it comes to essay writing, because you want to know that you're coming up with unique comparative points (compared to the rest of the Victorian cohort!). I don't discuss this strategy in detail here, but if you're interested, check out How To Write A Killer Comparative .

If you found this helpful and you’d like to dive deeper into this text pairing, see A Killer Comparative Guide: Ransom & The Queen. In this guide you'll learn unique points of comparison, we'll teach you how to think like a 45+ study scorer through advanced discussion on topics like literary and cinematic techniques, and we give you 5 A+ sample essay fully annotated!

1. What’s the Difference Between Year 9 English and Year 7/8 (Junior years)? 2. What Are You Expected To Cover in Year 9? 3. Assessments and Exams 4. How To Prepare for the Assessments and Exams

Did you know that when you finish high school and you decide to apply for a part time job, you’re expected to recite every single essay you’ve ever written word for word? 

Alright, you got me, I’m kidding!

You may be wondering why is the subject English mandatory? What’s the point of it? When am I ever going to apply the skills I’ll learn in English in real life?

Yes, math, science and even humanities subjects may have more apparent skill transfer to careers like medicine, politics and engineering, but the soft skills that many employers are after these days (such as strong communication skills and confident presentation skills) will develop as you continue with your English studies. And yes, if you plan on being a business owner, these skills are all the more important!

Of course, post-high school won’t involve writing essays and responding to essay topics but they help you build your critical thinking, creativity and understanding intentions (why people do what they do).

These skills will be extremely valuable to you regardless of the path you choose to pursue in life.

Let’s get straight into the nitty gritty of things then...

1. What’s the Difference Between Year 9 English and Year 7/8?

Achievement standards in the Victorian Curriculum from Years 7-9 build upon each other, and the skills learnt during the junior years will be expanded on in Year 9.

In Year 7 , students will be introduced to different text structures (novels, opinion pieces, editorials, speeches, etc.) and focus primarily on the audience, purpose and context of using these text structures. 

You would have had the opportunity to: 

  • Explain ideas and issues explored in your texts (e.g. happiness, relationships, conflict, etc.)
  • Begin looking at the implied meaning of evidence in your texts (this means forming your own interpretation of what you think the author is trying to say through characterising certain characters the way they are, or through the use of certain symbols, quotes, etc.)

The writing standard predominantly draws from: 

  • A mixture of your own personal knowledge and experiences 
  • Researched sources, such as news articles, reviews, etc.
  • Your own analysis of the assigned texts (usually linking your analysis to a prompt)

Building on the grammatical and foundational writing skills taught in primary school, Year 7 students will need to apply them when writing and editing their work.

Year 8 English develops the students' critical thinking a bit more. You would have been expected to: 

  • Interpret assigned texts, ' questioning the reliability of sources of ideas and information ' (know that some texts you will come across may be biased and only expose one side of the argument)
  • Make judgments about the effectiveness of language choices used by creators 
  • Understand how specific and selective choices of language are used by creators for different effects and purposes (be able to explain your reasoning as to how the conventions of language features used by an author enhance their point of view)

Year 9 English takes the previous two years’ worth of skills even further. This year you will be expected to: 

  • Analyse the ways in which different ' text structures can be manipulated for effect '
  • Evaluate and integrate ideas from your assigned texts to create your own interpretations
  • Realise the importance of planning before writing as well as the need for the drafting process in order to produce A+ level work (an introduction to writing will be provided)
  • Be exposed to a wider range of forms of text compared to the junior years which are mainly novels and films 
  • Extend your lists of vocabulary and techniques

2. What Are You Expected To Cover in Year 9?

One of the most important skills needed in English is being able to write an analytical essay. This entails presenting an argument about your prompt based on your assigned texts. To do this well, you will need to discuss characters, literary features, structure, themes and big ideas .

The point of the analytical essay is for you to demonstrate your ability to analyse the evidence you choose to incorporate into your essay while linking it back to the idea you’re exploring in the body paragraph. One way to approach this is to provide your own interpretation of evidence. 

This will be elaborated on with examples below.

Structure is also just as important as the content when writing an English essay. Most of the time, particularly in Year 9, your teacher will provide you with a specific structure to follow. This tends to include:

  • An introduction (100 words)
  • 3x body paragraphs (200 words each)
  • A conclusion (50-100 words)

The amount of detail you include in each of your paragraphs will increase over the years. Once you reach Year 12, your essay will sit roughly around the 1000 words mark. For now, try to aim to write around 800 words. Just remember that quality always supersedes quantity . Ensure that the 800 words you write have relevance and are not just word vomit on a page.

The Introduction

Think of the introduction as a to-do list. You can always refer back to it to remind yourself of the points you need to cover and it will keep you on track so you don’t sway from the prompt in your essay. Your introduction sets the scene for the reader. All you have to do is introduce your overall stance (contention) and your three main points (arguments) you want to unpack in the essay. In some cases, teachers would also prefer for you to add in an introduction to the text(s) you’re studying and provide some background information or an overview of the text’s social or historical context. 

The Body Paragraph

The most important components of your essay are the body paragraphs. That is where the bulk of your marks will come from - your analysis! Different schools have different acronyms they may follow for their body paragraphs, but the most common one is TEEL. 

  • ‍ T opic Sentence
  • E xplanation

As you move up into Year 10, 11 and 12, many schools will extend the acronym to TEEEEEL , meaning that you will be expected to expand on the level and depth of your analysis.

Let’s break up TEEL a bit more…

‘T’ - Topic Sentence

Your topic sentence should support your stance (contention). Your contention should answer the prompt or topic, and your arguments (which form the basis for your topic sentences) should provide a reason for your stance . Because of this, your topic sentence should directly answer the prompt. 

Examples of topic sentences include:

  • 'Orwell indicates that for goals to be achieved, teamwork and cooperation among everyone involved will be necessary.' - taken from a Text Response Essay based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm
  • The author portrays kindness and understanding as key factors that contribute to successful relationships.

‘E’ - Evidence

Most of the time, the evidence you embed into your body paragraphs will be in the form of quotes from the text . High scoring responses will also analyse evidence such as camera angles (film) or narrative conventions (novels).

Embedding quotes doesn’t always come easy to every student. Preferably, the quote you embed into your analysis will be no more than 10 words and no less than 2 words. 

Rules to keep in mind when you incorporate a quote into your writing:

  • Avoid using a quote to form the whole sentence. 
  • Don’t begin a sentence with a quote
  • Single word quotes should rarely be used. They should only appear in your analysis if you’re exploring a unique, big idea that is conveyed by that one word.
  • Use square brackets ‘[  ]’ if you want to change up the quote

It would be helpful to embed the quote into context first as this will help when you’re explaining its relevance to the idea you’re exploring in the body paragraph. 

For Example:

Parallels can be drawn to the ways in which the pigs in the farm have the role of organisers 'naturally [fall] upon' them. Here, the pigs are portrayed as 'the cleverest of the animals', suggesting that they are the leaders who make the decisions on behalf of everyone…

- taken from a Text Response Essay based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm

‘E’ - Explanation

Listing all the quotes you can memorise from the text is not going to get you the marks. You need to analyse the quotes you embed and share your interpretation of the meaning they add to the idea you’re exploring. 

Similar to math, where you need to show all the steps to prove that you know how to get the right answer, in English, the ‘explanation’ section is your opportunity to do just that. You need to explain your thought process regarding how you have reached this conclusion or interpretation. 

Can you pinpoint the differences between the low-scoring response and the high-scoring response below?

Low-Scoring Example:

Big Brother’s lack of compassion is evident through its elimination of personal relationships between the Party members. A marriage is always refused 'if the couple concerned gave the impression of being physically attracted to one another'. This means that the institution of marriage has been manipulated to only serve Big Brother.

- taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide

High-Scoring Example:

The distortion of family relationships highlights the cruelty of Big Brother’s institution. Children are taught from an early age to be ‘spies’ for Big Brother. The children symbolise the eyes of Big Brother, as they are always watching members for 'any sign of betrayal to the Party'. Ironically, although Winston believes that 'another year, two years, and they (the children) will be watching (the mother) night and day for signs of unorthodox', it is shown soon after that the father, Parsons, is denounced for 'thoughtcrime'. *** Through this condemnation of their own father, the children also symbolise the destruction of family relationships in return for their loyalty to Big Brother. This unnerving vision of a complete disposal of relationships depicts how brutal a totalitarian society can be for its members in that the very fundamentals of human connection, such as love and family, are corrupted .***

- taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide*

***The ‘explanation’/analysis is located between the asterisks.

The linking sentence is the last sentence of your body paragraph and it should always ‘link’ back to the main idea you have explored (topic sentence) as well as the prompt. Avoid merely rewording your topic sentence, and a hint to do this well is to refer to the creator’s intent .

  • 'Ultimately, the loss and alteration of meaning within marriage and sex demonstrates how brutal a dystopian society can be for individuals, and as Orwell forewarns, can be the destruction of humanity itself.' - taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide
  • 'Orwell cautions his readers to be wary of societies such as the Big Brother regime by portraying the cruelty of the Party’s actions.' - taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide

Check out our video, ' What do year 9s learn in English? ' for a more in depth look at what's expected of you this year!

3. Year 9 Assessments and Exams

In Year 9, this is where you will gain exposure to an array of forms of texts, ranging from creative responses, speeches, analytical essays, film, poetry and persuasive pieces.

Throughout the year, you will study a range of different texts (the ones mentioned above) and the activities and assessment tasks you will receive will be based on these texts. 

Generally, by the end of Year 9, you will have completed: 

  • A creative response,
  • A persuasive essay (formatted as an opinion piece, editorial, or letter to the editor),
  • An oral presentation about a particular issue,
  • A film analysis , and/or 
  • An analytical essay based on a play, novel or poems

Throughout the year, you may receive different types of classwork, depending on your teacher. These may include:

  • Performances
  • Group presentations
  • Comprehension questions
  • Practise essays/paragraphs
  • And so much more!

4. How To Prepare for the Assessments and Exams in Year 9?

Practise, practise, practise! 

One of our most common sayings at LSG is 'study smarter, not harder'. This means knowing where your weaknesses lie and doing what you must to improve upon them. Don’t stick to your comfort zone too much - allow yourself to do the unfamiliar enough times to make it familiar. This will also help you build confidence within yourself when you see the progress you make.

Here are a couple of tips for you to help you prepare for any upcoming assessments and exams like an A+ student:

Reading more than your assigned texts can help you improve your spelling, vocabulary and expression when writing! The more you read, the more knowledge you will gain about fluency and structure. I would recommend reading widely. This means not confining your reading to just purely manga, but also newspaper articles, novels, non-fiction texts, etc.

If you want to become an expert on the text you’re studying and stand out from the rest of your classmates when you get to essay writing, read more about your text. This can include reading up on the background of the author who wrote the text, investigating the social, historical and cultural context of the text. Study guides, interviews, reviews and sample high scoring essays around the text are also very helpful resources!

Drafting and Essay Feedback 

Drafting and getting essay feedback is an important cycle to come back to for the remainder of your high school career.

Going back to what I have just said, practise is key to success in English. English is often deemed to be one of the most confusing subjects because many students claim it to be subjective and will often complain that they have no idea what they’re doing. Generally, this isn’t a good sign. We understand that it can be difficult to know whether you’re on the right track or not, but it’s important we don’t just sit there and wonder the whole time. We must also seek feedback from our teachers or tutors about ways we can improve our work. 

Upon receiving feedback from our teachers or tutors, we can’t just stop there. We must also incorporate this feedback into our re-draft or finalised copy of the work. Any questions or confusion must be addressed during this stage so you know exactly what to do next time.

At LSG, we have high-quality tutors who have received the marks you’re after and can walk you through your high school English journey. 

What will we offer you?

  • Regular English advice and support (whether that is homework help, essay feedback or if you just want to go the extra mile and get ahead with your English studies)
  • A specialised LSG Signature Program that can cater to your goals and help you develop the knowledge and get all the consistent writing practise you need
  • Guidance as we work through the necessary writing skills and strategies that will get you the A+ you desire
  • Access to exclusive LSG resources that will save you time creating your own notes (planning and writing templates, sample high-scoring essays and so much more!)

If you want more information on why you should pick us, check out our tutoring page . Otherwise, click here to express your interest today!

  • Symbols and Analysis
  • Discussion Questions
  • Sample Essay Topics
  • Essay Topic Breakdown

Go Went Gone revolves around an unlikely connection between a retired university  professor , Richard, and a group of asylum seekers who come from all over the African continent . While he’s enjoyed a life of stability and privilege as a white male citizen, the lives of these asylum seekers could not be more different: no matter where they are in the world, uncertainty seems to follow. Richard initially sets out to learn their stories, but he is very quickly drawn into their histories of tragedy, as well as their dreams for the future. 

However, the more he tries to help them, the more he realises what he’s up against: a potent mix of stringent legal bureaucracy and the ignorance of his peers . These obstacles are richly interwoven with the novel’s context in post-reunification Germany (more on this under Symbols: Borders ), but bureaucracy and ignorance are everywhere - Australia included . This novel, therefore, bears reflection on our own relationship with the refugees who seek protection and opportunity on our shores - refugees who are virtually imprisoned and cut off from the world .

Richard ultimately realises that these men are simply people , people who have the same complexities and inconsistencies as anyone else. They sometimes betray his trust; at other times, they help him in return despite their socio-economic standing. The end of the novel is thus neither perfect nor whole - while the asylum seekers develop a relationship with Richard and vice versa, neither is able to entirely solve the other’s problems, though both learn how to be there for each other in their own ways. We don’t get many solutions to everything the refugees are facing, but what we end up with is a lesson or two in human empathy. 

The title of Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel Go Went Gone is a line she weaves into a couple of scenes. In one example, a group of asylum seekers in a repurposed nursing home learn to conjugate the verb in German. In another, a retired university professor reflects on this group, about to be relocated to another facility.

The various privileges Richard holds shape his identity in this text. It shapes how he approaches his retirement for example: now that “ he has time ”, he plans to spend it on highbrow pursuits like reading Proust and Dostoyevsky or listening to classical music. On the other hand, the asylum seekers sleep most of the time: “if you don’t sleep through half the morning, [a day] can be very long indeed.” Richard has the freedom to choose to spend his time on hobbies, but the asylum seekers face a daunting and seemingly-impossible array of tasks. After getting to know them more, he realises that while his to-do list includes menial things like “schedule repairman for dishwasher”, the refugees face daunting socio-political problems like needing to “eradicate corruption”. 

Freedom in general is a useful way to think about privilege in this text, and besides freedom to choose how you spend your time, this can also look like the freedom to tell your story. While Richard helps the men with this to some degree, even he has a limited amount of power here (and power can be another useful way of thinking about privilege). Richard realises that “people with the freedom to choose…get to decide which stories to hold on to” - and those are the people who get to decide the future of the refugees, at least from a legal perspective. 

Though Richard can’t necessarily help with these legal issues, he finds himself doing what he can for the refugees over time. He demonstrates a willingness to help them in quite substantial ways sometimes, for example buying a piece of land in Ghana for Karon and his family. In the end, we see him empathising with the refugees enough to offer them housing: though he is not a lawyer, he still finds ways to use his privilege for good and share what he can. He taps into his networks and finds housing for 147 refugees. 

The tricky thing with empathy though is that it’s never one-sided, not in this book and not in real life either. It’s not simply a case of Richard taking pity on the refugees - we might think of this as sympathy rather than empathy - but he develops complex, reciprocal and ‘real’ friendships with all of them. This can challenge him, and us, and our assumptions about what is right. When Richard loses his wallet at the store, Rufu offers to pay for him. He initially insists he “can’t accept”, but when he does Rufu doesn’t let him pay him back in full. Erpenbeck challenges us to empathise without dehumanising, condescending or assuming anything in the process. 

It’s an interesting way to think about social justice in general, particularly if you consider yourself an ‘ally’ of a marginalised group - how can we walk with people rather than speak for them and what they want?

Freedom of movement is sort of a form of privilege, but movement as a theme of its own is substantial enough to need a separate section. There are lots of different forms of movement in the novel, in particular movement between countries . In particular, it’s what brought the refugees to Germany at all, even though they didn’t necessarily have any control over that movement.

Contrast that with Richard’s friends, Jörg and Monika, who holiday in Italy and benefit from “freedom of movement [as] the right to travel”. Through this lens, we can see that this is really more of a luxury that the refugees simply do not have. Refugees experience something closer to forced displacement , rather than free travel, moving from one “temporary place” to the next often outside of their control. In this process, their lack of control often means they lose themselves in the rough-and-tumble of it all: “Becoming foreign. To yourself and others. So that’s what a transition looks like.”

3. Symbols & Analysis

Language and the law.

Many of the barriers faced by the refugees are reflected in their relationships with language; that is, their experiences learning German mirrors and sheds light on their relationship with other elements of German society. For example, there are times when they struggle to concentrate on learning: “It’s difficult to learn a language if you don’t know what it’s for”. This struggle reflects and symbolises the broader problems of uncertainty, unemployment and powerlessness in the men’s lives.

The symbol of language often intersects with the symbol of the “iron law”, so these are discussed together here. It’s hard on the one hand for these men to tell their stories in German, but it’s also hard for the German law to truly grapple with their stories. Indeed, Richard finds that the law doesn’t care if there are wars going on abroad or not: it only cares about “jurisdiction”, and about which country is technically responsible for the refugees. In this sense, the law mirrors and enables the callousness which runs through the halls of power - not to deter you from learning law if you want though! This might just be something to be aware of, and maybe something you’d want to change someday. 

There’s one law mentioned in the novel stating that asylum seekers can simply be accepted “if a country, a government or a mayor so wishes”, but that one word in particular - “ if ” - puts all the power in lawyers and politicians who know the language and the law and how to navigate it all. These symbols thus reflect power and privilege. 

Borders (+ Historical Context)

Throughout the novel, there’s a sense that borders between countries are somewhat arbitrary things. They can “suddenly become visible” and just as easily disappear; sometimes they’re easy to cross, sometimes they’re impossible to cross. Sometimes it’s easy physically, but harder in other ways - once you cross a border, you need housing, food, employment and so forth.

This complex understanding of borders draws on the history of Germany , and in particular of its capital Berlin, after World War II. After the war, Western powers (USA, UK, France) made a deal with the Soviet Union to each run half of Germany and half of Berlin. The Eastern half of Germany, and the Eastern half of Berlin, fell under Soviet control, and as East Germans started flocking to the West in search of better opportunities (sound familiar?), the Soviets built a wall around East Berlin. The Berlin Wall , built in 1961, became a border of its own, dividing a nation and a city and changing the citizenship of half of Germany overnight. Attempts to escape from the East continued for many years until the wall came down in 1989, changing all those citizenships right back, once again virtually overnight.

This history adds dimension to Erpenbeck’s novel. Refugees pass through many countries, but Erpenbeck draws on Germany’s history specifically as a once-divided nation itself. This helps to illustrate that national borders are just another arbitrary technicality that divides people, at the expense of these refugees. 

Bodies of Water

One motif that comes back a few times in the novel is the drowned man in the lake by Richard’s house. This has a few layers of meaning.

Firstly, the man drowns despite the lake being a perfectly “placid” body of water, and for whatever reason, this bothers Richard immensely: “he can’t avoid seeing the lake”. There’s an interesting contrast here to be drawn between this one death in a still body of water and the hundreds of deaths at sea that are recounted in the novel. Rashid’s stories are particularly confronting: “Under the water I saw all the corpses”. Erpenbeck questions the limits of human empathy - whose deaths are we more affected by, and why - through contrasting these different bodies of water, and those who die within them. Richard is more affected than most, who visit the lake all summer leaving “just as happy as they came” - but even he has his limits with how much he can see and understand. 

The next layer of meaning with this symbol then is more around the surface of the water itself: it is significant that in Rashid’s story, the casualties are below the surface. This reflects the common saying, “the tip of the iceberg” - the survivors who make it to Europe are really just the tip of the iceberg , only representing a fraction of the refugee experience. Often, that experience ends in death. Erpenbeck asks us to keep looking beneath the surface in order to empathise in full. 

Music and the Piano

This symbol is specific to Richard’s relationship with Osarobo , to whom he teaches the piano. There’s one scene where this symbolism is particularly powerful, where they watch videos of pianists “us[ing] the black and white keys to tell stories that have nothing at all to do with the keys’ colours.”

It speaks to the power of music to bring people together, and also to the importance of storytelling in any form: Rosa Canales argues the keys’ colours, and the colour of the fingers playing them, “become irrelevant to the stories emanating from beneath them”.

  • “What languages can you speak?”
  • “The German language is my bridge into this country” 
  • “Empty phrases signify politeness in a language which neither of them is at home” 
  • “The things you’ve experienced become baggage you can’t get rid of, while others - people with the freedom to choose - get to decide which stories to hold on to”
  • “He hears Apollo’s voice saying: They give us money, but what I really want is work. He hears Tristan’s voice saying: Poco lavoro . He hears the voice of Osaboro, the piano player, saying: Yes, I want to work but it is not allowed. The refugees’ protest has created half-time jobs for at least twelve Germans thus far” 
  • “Not so long ago, Richard thinks, this story of going abroad to find one's fortune was a German one”
  • “Is it a rift between Black and White? Or Poor and Rich?” 
  • “Where can a person go when he doesn't know where to go?” 

5. Discussion Questions

Here are some questions to think about before diving into essay-writing. There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these, and most will draw on your own experiences or reflections anyway. You may want to write some answers down, and brainstorm links between your responses and the novel. These reflections could be particularly useful if you’re writing a creative response to the text, but they’re also a really good way to get some personal perspective and apply the themes and lessons of this novel into your own life.

  • Where do you ‘sit’ in the world? What privileges do you have or lack? What can you do that others cannot, and what can others do that you cannot?
  • Think about the times you’ve travelled around the world - how many of those times were by choice? What might be the impact of moving across the world against your will?
  • How do you show empathy to others? How do you receive empathy from others? What is that relationship ‘supposed’ to look like?
  • What are some different names for where you live? How can you describe the same place in different languages or words? If you’re in Australia, what was your area called before 1788?
  • Have you ever learned or spoken a language other than English? What language do you find easier to write, speak and think with? How might this impact someone’s ability to participate in different parts of life (school, work, friendships etc.)?

6. Sample Essay Topics

  • Go Went Gone teaches us that anyone can be empathetic. Discuss. 
  • In Go Went Gone , Erpenbeck argues that storytelling can be powerful but only to an extent. Do you agree?
  • How does Erpenbeck explore the different ways people see time? 
  • It’s possible to sympathise with Richard despite his relative privilege. Do you agree?
  • Discuss the symbolic use of borders in Go Went Gone .
  • Go Went Gone argues that the law is impartial. To what extent do you agree?
  • “The German language is my bridge into this country.” How is language a privilege in Go Went Gone ?
  • Who are the protagonists and antagonists of Go Went Gone ?
  • Go Went Gone shows that it is impossible to truly understand another person’s experiences. To what extent do you agree?

In what ways do the people Richard meets challenge his assumptions about the world?

  • Go Went Gone is less about borders between countries than it is about borders between people. Do you agree?

7. Essay Topic Breakdown

Step 1: analyse.

This prompt alludes to certain assumptions that Richard might make about the world. If it’s hard to think of these off the top of your head, consider where our assumptions about the world come from: maybe from our jobs, our families and friends or our past experiences. Maybe there are some assumptions you’ve had in the past that you’ve since noticed or challenged. 

Then it asks us how the people Richard meets challenges those assumptions. There’s no way to get out of this question without discussing the refugees, so this will inform our brainstorm.

I think some of Richard’s assumptions at the beginning come from his status: being a professor emeritus makes you pretty elite, and he can’t really empathise with the refugees because his experiences of life are so different. Part of the challenge with this prompt might be to break down what life experiences entail, and where those differences lie: particularly because it’s asking us ‘in what ways’. These experiences could be with language, employment, or personal relationships just to name a few ideas. 

Because Richard’s life experiences are so vastly different, I’d contend that his assumptions are challenged in basically every way. However, I also think that his interest in the refugees exists because he knows they can challenge his assumptions. I want to use the motif of water surfaces to tie this argument together, particularly in the topic sentences, and this could look as follows:

Paragraph 1 : Richard realises that he only has a ‘surface-level’ appreciation of the refugees’ life experiences.

  • He realises that he knows little about the African continent (“Nigeria has a coast?”) 
  • He suffers from a “poverty of experience” which means he hasn’t had to interact with this knowledge before
  • His renaming of the refugees (Apollo, Tristan etc.) suggests that he still needs his own frame of reference to understand their experiences
  • He learns about the hardships of migration through the tragic stories of those like Rashid

Paragraph 2 : He also realises that he has a ‘surface-level’ understanding of migration in general.

  • This comes from the fact that he has never actually moved countries; he’s only been reclassified as an East German, and then again as a German. Neither happened because he wanted them to.
  • On the other hand, the refugees want to settle in Europe: they want the right to work and make a living - it’s just that the “iron law” acts as a major barrier. Their powerlessness is different from Richard’s.
  • Part of migration is also learning the language, and Richard is initially quite ignorant about this: he observes that the Ethiopian German teacher “for whatever reason speaks excellent German”, not realising this is necessary for any migrant to survive in the new country.
  • We can think of this as the difference between migration and diaspora, the specific term for the dispersion of a people.

Paragraph 3 : Richard is more open than most people to looking beneath the surface though, meaning that his assumptions are challenged partly because he is willing for them to be.

  • The symbol of the lake works well here to explain this: he is bothered by its still surface, and what lies underneath, while others aren’t
  • We can also contrast this to characters like Monika and Jörg who remain quite ignorant the whole time: Richard’s views have departed from this throughout the course of the novel
  • Ultimately, the novel is about visibility: Richard’s incorrect assumptions mean that he isn’t seeing reality, and his “research project” is all about making that reality visible. 

‍ Go Went Gone is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

All the Light We Cannot See is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Breaking Down an All the Light We Cannot See Essay Prompt

We've explored themes and symbols and provided a summary of the text over on our All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out!

Here, we’ll be breaking down an All the Light We Cannot See essay topic using LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, you can learn about it in our How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

‍ ‘In All the Light We Cannot See there is a fine line between civilised and uncivilised behaviour.’ Discuss.

Taking a look at this prompt, the first thing to note is that it is theme-based. Specifically asking about the line that separates civilised and uncivilised behaviour within the novel, this prompt focuses directly on the theme of human behaviours and how you ultimately interpret the fine line (i.e. seamless, difficult, changing, manipulative) between such ideas. Fundamentally, you have to discuss how this theoretical line drawn between the contrasting behaviours is explored within the novel in various ways throughout Doerr’s examination of humanity. 

The question tag of Discuss is the most flexible type of prompt/topic you will receive, providing you with a broad and open-ended route to pretty much discuss any ideas that you believe fit within the prompt’s theme of uncivilised and civilised behaviour. Although this may seem hard to know where to start, this is where Step 2: Brainstorm , comes into play. You can read through LSG’s Question Tags You Need To Know section (in How To Write A Killer Text Response ) to further familiarise yourself with various ways to tackle different prompt tags.

If you’re not sure what it is meant by ‘theme-based prompt,’ take a look at The 5 Types of Essay Prompts. 

A fundamental aspect of writing a solid Text Response essay is being able to use a diverse range of synonyms for the keywords outlined in the prompt. Our keywords are in bold. When you are brainstorming, if any words pop into your head, definitely list them so you can use them later. You may want to have a highlighter handy when unpacking prompts so you can do just this!!

‍ ‘In All the Light We Cannot See there is a fine line between civilised and uncivilised behaviour .’ Discuss.

  • How people have grown up determines the civil and uncivilised behaviours shown by individuals of different backgrounds and childhoods - Bastian is symbolised as the eagle that circles the youth camp, which is an uncivilised /unwanted form of hawk-like behaviour . This compares to Fredrick's love of birds as a young boy which makes him a softer character. - Bernd had ‘no friends’ as a child - showing his isolated past - which could be described as the reason he leaves his father and goes off to join the Hilter Youth ‘just like the other boys.’ (find this analysis in the chapter ‘The Death of Walter Bernd’)
  • There is a fine line that Doerr draws between the stereotypes of women and their ability to remain civilised despite being suppressed by uncivil livelihoods and experiences. - Jutta is characterised as a strong and independent woman instead of the traditional ‘pretty girl in a propaganda poster’. Society expects most women to stand on that side of human behaviour and representation however she defies this.
  • The strength of women to cross/overcome the line of uncivilised behaviour is significant within the sexual abuse and misconduct driven by soldiers. Can remain true to oneself despite the horrific behaviours a woman faces. - The role of women on the homefront (i.e. Fredrick’s Mother) highlights the stark contrast between men fighting and thinking about the ‘men they killed’ and mothers who put on a ‘fake smile to appear brave’ (the line between barbaric behaviours of many soldiers and caring/loving behaviours of those on the homefront) - women and their sacrifices is an important topic here
  • It is one’s ability to adapt to change that draws the line between civil and uncivilised behaviours . - Marie Laure’s ability to look past being a ‘blind girl’, and move on from this hardship. She adapts to the ‘changing times’ around her despite others who are suppressed in such an environment (e.g. Etienne and his ‘dread’).
  • The game of flying couch is a symbol of escaping the uncivilised world around them (metaphorical line of the human imagination). - Werner is predominantly overwhelmed by the world around him, which reflects his inability to no longer ask questions as he did as a young boy. Instead, he succumbs to the uncivilised world of death and destruction as he is unable to change. 
  • Symbolic use of Werner’s ‘soft covered notebook’ in epilogue - symbolises his loss of perspective and wonder of the world,
  • Ultimately it is this line that makes the human existence so unique

After having brainstormed all the ideas that came to mind, I’ll be approaching the essay prompt with the following contention. 

In a world where society is grounded by behaviours both civil and uncivil, there is a clear distinction between humanity's response and representation of these behaviours.

Coming up with a clear contention allows you to put together a cohesive and strong essay that answers all aspects of the prompt question. 

Now, onto developing our topic sentences for each paragraph!

P1: Embedded within Doerr’s nonlinear narrative*, the environment in which individuals have grown up consequently influences their behaviours later in life.

*A nonlinear narrative is a storytelling technique Doerr uses to portray events out of chronological order. 

P2: Encompassing the social paradigms that pervade a woman’s existence, the strength and civilisation of females allow them to traverse a line of unjust behaviours that suppress them.

P3: In essence, it is the human response to change that divides individuals from ultimately displaying civil or uncivil acts in the world.

The art of recognising the ephemera of the human existence is painted by Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See as a fine line between behaviours of civilisation and extreme brutality (1) . In the inordinate scheme of history, Doerr fosters the dichotomy between those who remain socially aware and others who are marred by desolation as a reflection on one's past. Further subverting the traditional depiction of women in a ‘war story’, the strength of women is established as a key turning point for individuals to escape barbaric behaviours and cross the line to civilisation. Fundamentally, however, it is the overall response to change that crafts human behaviours that Doerr underpins within society (2) .

Annotations ‍ ‍ (1) it is important to include synonym variation in your opening sentence to ensure that it does not look like you have just copied the prompt and placed it on your page. This idea should be carried out throughout your essay - vary your words and try not to repeat anything, this will ensure you are clear and concise!

(2) In order to improve the flow of your writing, the final topic sentence of your introduction can be a concluding statement on why/how the topic is OVERALL expressed within the novel. When you formulate your contention, it is not enough just to state it, you must also provide reasoning as to why you are writing from this point of view or how you came to this conclusion. For example, my final topic sentence here is a concluding sentence about how I believe a fine line between uncivilised and civil behaviour has an influence throughout the entire novel and Doerr’s intention, one’s response to change. As you read on, you’ll also see that this sentence relates to my final paragraph, thus linking together ideas throughout my essay.

Embedded within Doerr’s nonlinear narrative, the environment in which individuals have grown up consequently influences their behaviours later in life. The initial illustration of the ‘smokestacks hume’ and the ‘black and dangerous’ imagery (3) of the war paints a clear picture of the destruction and trauma that individuals have lived amongst, thus why people were ‘desperate to leave’. Empathising with an ‘old woman who cuddles her toddler’ on the streets, Doerr laments how young individuals who end up ‘surg[ing] towards one cause,’ which this toddler may similarly grow up to do in the Hitler Youth, directly reflects the ‘intense malice’ of their childhood. This idea that one’s past affects the future behaviours of a generation is further captured within the chapter ‘The Death of Walter Bernd’ (4) , which outlines how Bernd’s upbringing with ‘no friends’ promotes him to ‘just leave’, in order to experience something new, despite knowing this something new would bring unjust decisions into his life. Becoming ‘just like the other boys’, Doerr suggests that the line between civil and uncivil behaviours is so thin (5) that a mere need to escape one’s past is enough to create feelings of negativity and at worst death. Encapsulating the darkness that prevails over such individuals, the symbolism of Bastian’s ‘sharp eyes’ (6) poetically describes the eagle that circles the youth camp where Doerr seeks to paint a metaphorical cruel depiction of Bastian as a harmful hawk. Underpinning the fine line between human behaviour, Fredrick’s ‘love of birds’ is ‘so beautiful[ly]’ representative of his respectful nature and approach to life while Bastian’s immersion in ‘the self interest of the world’ ultimately explains how his fallacious behaviour towards others is embodied by his environment within the war. Overall, the behaviours displayed by humanity are a reflection of past experiences and how they shape the individual.

Annotations (3) Imagery is a key aspect of All the Light We Cannot See and goes hand in hand with the vast symbolism Doerr uses within his novel. When including imagery, it is great to include a few related quotes; however, you must then ensure you analyse and delve into how this technique (imagery) demonstrates the idea you are writing about. In this case, the imagery of the chimneys and foggy/dirty air illustrates the desolate environment individuals lived in during the war.

(4) This chapter is something not many students analyse or touch on so if you’re looking to add some spice to your writing I would definitely take a look and see what you can extract from some of those more unique and nuanced chapters!

(5) Referencing the ‘fine line’ continually throughout your essay ensures that you are staying on track and not talking about topics away from the prompt. 

(6) Symbolism is very important in All the Light We Cannot See . The use of the quote ‘sharp eyes’, really shows that you have considered not only how Doerr simply explores the behaviour of each character but also the physical interpretations of how individuals may demonstrate a certain persona within the novel. This focus on character description on top of dialogue adds extra layers to your writing. 

Encompassing the social paradigms that pervade a woman’s existence, the strength and civilisation of females allow them to traverse a line of unjust behaviours that suppress them. Instead of characterising Jutta as a ‘pretty girl in a propaganda poster’, whom the soldier will ‘fight and die for’, Doerr proffers the unconventional humanisation of women on the home front to pay tribute to the power of staying true to oneself (7) . Despite facing the barbaric reality of ‘sex crazed torturers’, Doerr illuminates Jutta’s capacity to ‘look them in the eye’ rather than shy away from them as a meditation on her own morals of (8) ‘what is right’. The tragic nature (9) of such abuse is specifically chronicled by Doerr to concatenate (10) the continual brave behaviours Jutta portrays even when succumbing to the line that attempts to draw women away from strength and independence. Further referencing her desire to ‘lock away memories’ of the past in her life after the war, the novel posits the importance of women during a period of inordinate history as a powerful force that remained civil even in times of ‘absolute blackness’. From the perspective of Fredrick’s mother, Doerr seeks to display how her ‘fake smile to appear brave’ outlines how many mothers and women had to remain strong for their children, such as Fredrick with brain damage, even though they were so close to falling into a world of sorrow and isolation. A clear segregation between soldiers who thought about ‘the men they killed’ and women who were made to ‘feel complicit in an unspeakable crime’ (11) they did not commit overall affirms the sacrifices women made during the war and without such sacrifices and strength the thin line between behavioural acts would be broken.

Annotations (7) Here I have included an analysis of Doerr’s message - what he is trying to say or show within his novel. Ultimately an author has a message they seek to share with the world. Providing your own interpretation of certain messages the author may be attempting to send to his readers adds real depth to your writing, showing that you are not only considering the novel itself but the purpose of the author and how this novel came to explore the fundamental ideas of the essay prompt.

(8) This quote directly relates to the keyword: civilised behaviour. Finding quotes that are also specific to your prompt is crucial to producing an essay that flows and has meaning. 

(9) The use of adjectives within the essay paints the picture of whether an act is civil or uncivil which is ultimately what we are attempting to discuss from the prompt. Here the phrase ‘tragic nature’, underpins the essence of unjust behaviours shown by the soldiers.

(10) Concatenate - link/connect ideas together

(11) Comparing aspects within the novel is a great way to show your understanding and how the same theme or idea can be shown in many different ways. 

In essence, it is the human response to change that divides individuals from ultimately displaying civil or uncivil acts in the world. Established by Marie Laure’s characterisation as a ‘blind girl’ who can ‘project anything onto the black screen of her imagination’, Doerr illuminates her ability to adapt to the ‘changing times’ around her. She is seen to be ‘carried away by reveries’ rather than a plethora of voices who ‘forgo all comforts’ and ‘eat and breathe nation’. Through the chapter and make-believe game ‘flying couch’ (12) , Marie’s nature to ‘surrender firearms’ with Etienne in their imagination is a symbolic adoption to escape the world around them, hence the uncivilised society they are learning to live in. Doerr’s congruent imagery of Etienne’s changing voice of ‘dread’ to ‘velvety’ as he becomes intertwined within ‘Marie’s bravery’ underpins the ability for individuals to seamlessly cross the line from a lack of cultured behaviour to a world of hope and prosperity. Contrasting this, however, Werner, an individual who was initially curious about ‘how the world works’, is so ‘overwhelmed by how quickly things are changing around [him]’ that his ‘interest in peace’ is stripped away and no longer exists due to his inability to change with a changing world. Doerr, therefore, laments the transmogrification of his character as a reflection of his uncivil thoughts and ideals as a soldier, ultimately resulting in his loss of ability to ask questions. This idea places emphasis on Volkheimer receiving Werner’s ‘soft covered notebook’ in the epilogue (13) where the translation of the book’s title ‘Fragen’ - to ‘ask’ in English - is symbolic of the moment Werner decided to ‘work, join, confess, die’ he immediately lost the open mind and curiosity he once had. Ultimately, the dichotomy between these two lives and their opposing character transformations resembles the line between remaining calm or acting out of haste when subject to change.

Annotations (12) Analysing not only the game but the whole meaning behind chapters and why Doerr has given them certain names is an interesting avenue to take. Here ‘flying couch’ not only underpins the imagination of Marie Laure but also symbolises freedom and bravery within just the name itself.

(13) The analysis and evidence used from the epilogue is a crucial part of this paragraph and is significant to Doerr’s novel. Unpacking All the Light We Cannot See , there is a lot of evidence and juicy ideas you can draw from the beginning and end of the novel. Here I have almost analysed the meaning of Werner’s ‘soft covered notebook’ to the bone; however, this adds a lot of depth to your writing as I’m sure your ultimate goal is to make your essays as unique as possible?!

As a project of humanism, Doerr seeks to portray a fine segregation in people's behaviours as the microcosm (14) of what makes the human existence so unique. Following the journeys of individuals who even ‘see a century turn’’ the novel displays how one’s past has an immense influence on how their future values, actions and behaviours grow and develop. Further subverting the stereotypical representation of women living in a war, Doerr establishes an acknowledgment of their roles and strength in the face of cruel situations. Ostensibly, it is the human capacity to adapt to change that marks the difference between what is just and unjust in a society that weighs both on a very unstable scale. 

Annotations ‍ ‍ (14)   Microcosm - a community, place or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of something much larger.

If you find this essay breakdown helpful, then you might want to check out our All the Light We Cannot See Prompts blog post. You can have a go at those essay prompts and feel free to refer back to this essay breakdown whenever you need. Good luck!

If you, like me, grew up Asian in Australia, you might think you already know a thing or two about, well, growing up Asian in Australia. Our stories can be pretty similar—just have a scroll through the ‘subtle asian traits’ Facebook group, or have a conversation with literally any Asian Australian about their parents.

At the same time, it’s also important to recognise that everyone’s experiences are diverse, especially given how broad an identity ‘Asian’ can be. Also important is to recognise how broad and intersectional identity can be in general—intersectional meaning that race isn’t the only thing that defines any one of us. Things like gender, socio-economic status, ability, sexual orientation and religion can also be really central, for example. Each of these things can impact the way we navigate the world.

Covering a broad range of these stories is Alice Pung’s anthology, Growing Up Asian In Australia . Some of the contributors in this volume include Sunil Badami , Matt Huynh , Bon-Wai Chou , Diana Nguyen , Michelle and Benjamin Law, and Shaun Tan , and already this cross-section is fairly diverse in nature. You can also click on their names to find out a bit more about each of their work. I think this is worth a few minutes, just to get acquainted with the sheer range of Asian-Australian creatives who are represented in this book, and to locate their work within the themes they write about—in other words, having a think about the ways that cultural heritage, or experiences with family, or economic hardship permeate their work, both in the anthology and in their lives outside it.

The anthology is (perhaps quite helpfully) divided into sections which revolve around key themes, which is also going to inform the structure of this guide. I’ll be using this guide to go through an exercise that I found really helpful when learning the text, which involves:

  • taking two stories per section and drawing up some dot-point similarities and differences
  • translating two of those points into paragraphs, a bit like a ‘mini-essay’

We’ll go through some an example of what this might look like, and why it’s a helpful exercise to try.

Before we start diving into Growing Up Asian in Australia , I'd highly recommend checking out LSG's Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Strine (Badami & Tseng)

Strine is what’s called a syncope , a shortened way of pronouncing Australian (a bit like ‘Straya’)—it refers to Australian English as it’s spoken by locals. This section of the book is all about language , and about the difficulties of juggling two languages growing up, and Badami and Tseng’s stories are great examples of this.

1. Similarity: connections to one’s mother tongue fade over time. Tseng recounts how, one by one, she and her sisters stopped learning Chinese as they progressed through their Australian education. Badami on the other hand compromises his name which stood out as too Indian when he “just wanted to fit in.”

2. Similarity: for ‘third-culture kids’, losing knowledge of their language also strains their relationship with their forebears. Badami’s mother is shocked to hear the anglicisation of his name despite the significance it carrie for her (“she spat my unreal new name out like something bitter and stringy”), and Tseng describes the experience of communicating with her father in “Chinglish” so that they can both understand each other.

3. Difference: language can be an internalised, personal experience, or a highly exposed and interpersonal one. While Tseng feels her loss of her language as a “sense of shame, a vague unease”, Badami is almost bullied into changing his name, “Sunil? Like banana peel?”

The Clan (Law & Chau)

This section delves into the complex ties that hold migrant families together. Chau’s poems are starkly different to Law’s story, so it’ll be interesting to compare how these different narrative forms work to explore those ideas.

1. Similarity : it can take at least one generation for migrant families to dig their roots into their new home. While Law’s parents are proud tourists at Queensland theme parks, he and his siblings “groan” at their comportment. Chau’s poem ‘The Firstborn’ traces his ancestry forward until he arrived, “an ABC” and his son “by amniotic sea”, both of them born into Australia.

2 . Similarity: family dynamics are still traditional and therefore gendered. Law notes how his mother’s health suffered when divorcing his father, and Chau notes that the women members of his family were “cast off” the family tree “as if they were never born.

3. Difference: family history and heritage can vary in importance. Chau’s family traces back “twenty-eight generations” of history, whereas Law’s family very much lives in the present, the only tie to older generations being his “Ma-Ma”, or grandma.

4. Difference: families show their love in different ways. Whether it’s dedicating a poem to his son about his life as one of “ten thousand rivers” of Chinese diaspora into the Australian sea, or taking the kids to theme parks on weekends, all sorts of affection can hold families together.

Putting it together

So I’ve tried to choose two sections (and four stories) that are all a bit different to try and mix it up and get some rich comparative discussion out of these. You might be studying this text alone, but even as one text, remember that there’s a lot of diverse experiences being represented in it, so discussing how stories connect, compare and contrast is just as important as discussing the content of individual stories themselves.

If we do a mini-essay, we might as well go about it properly and pick some sort of contention. Without a fixed prompt though, it might be easier to start with those dot points and pick which ones we want to write out and string together. Let’s pick two—connections to mother tongue fading over time (Strine similarity 1) and digging roots into Australia over time (The Clan similarity 1). A contention covering these points might look like:

While second generation migrants may struggle with loss of culture, they also constitute a unique and significant part of the diaspora.

Many migrants lose connections to their heritage over time, and these connections are often in the form of language. Particularly for Asian migrants, there is not as strong a need to preserve their mother tongue in the English-speaking Australia, and as such their knowledge of those languages can be easily lost. Ivy Tseng, for instance, recalls how she was never able to “grasp the significance” of learning Chinese as a child, and eventually she and her sisters would prioritise “study” and other academic pursuits over learning Chinese. Because tertiary study and education as an institution generally carry a lot of weight in migrant cultures, there is often a compromise made at the expense of heritage and language. These compromises can come from other factors as well, particularly the group dynamics of being in white-dominated Australia. Bullying is a frequent culprit, and Badami for example is indeed peer-pressured into resenting—and ultimately anglicising—his name, “Sunil? Like banana peel?” More generally speaking, a sense of shame for one’s difference is a common part of the migrant experience—Law experiences it as well at theme parks, where he and his siblings attempt to “set [them]selves apart” from the faux-pas of their parents. Not always an intentional goal, but a general willingness to compromise connections to heritage underscores many Asian Australian migrant stories, particularly of second-generation migrants.

However, the extent to which migrants feel socially integrated in society shifts generationally and over time as well. Second generation migrants are thus unique in that they have the closest connection to their heritage while also initiating this process of integration. Law and his siblings exemplify this, with their “Australian accents” and “proper grammar and syntax.” While some loss of their native Cantonese takes place, they are also the first in their family to sound Australian, one step closer to being Australian. They constitute part of the distinct, third culture of “ABC”—Australian-born Chinese—to which Chau alludes in his poem, ‘The Firstborn’. Distinct from first-generation migrants, ABCs are a product of diaspora and spend their formative years immersed in the Australian way of life. Chau’s poem goes on to highlight how sizeable this demographic now is—“the sea is awash with the unfathomable Chinese sons.” Thus, we can see how ABCs, or second generation Asian migrants, represent a unique and significant social group exemplified by great compromise, but also great change.

Why is this useful?/How can I apply this?

I like this exercise because it gets you thinking creatively about the key implications of the stories. Within a section or theme, you want to identify similarities in how both stories contribute to our understanding of that theme . You also want to identify differences to explore how stories can be unique and nuanced , which will provide your essay with more depth when you ultimately need it. Then, putting it all together helps you synthesise new connections between themes .

For an analytical study of this text, you’d flesh out those ideas until they become paragraphs, introducing relevant evidence and mixing it up with explanatory sentences as you go. Explanatory sentences keep you analysing rather than story-telling, and they usually don’t have any quotes—an example from above might be “because tertiary study and education as an institution generally carry a lot of weight in migrant cultures, there is often a compromise made at the expense of heritage and language.”

For a creative study, you’d take away those ideas and look at how else you might explore them in other stories. Feel free to challenge yourself for this; I remember falling back on more personal writing when studying this creatively, but don’t neglect other genres or forms! If second generation migrants are in fact more on their way to belonging, write a speculative story about how an apocalypse tests those connections to white Australians. I dunno, but don’t be afraid to really push the boundaries here and test the implications you draw from the stories.

Give it a go

Try it for some of these:

  • UnAustralian? (Loewald & Law) and Leaving Home (Diana Nguyen & Paul Nguyen)
  • Battlers (Dac & Law/Huynh) and Mates (Phommavanh & Ahmed)
  • The Folks (Lazaroo & Tran) and Homecoming (Beeby & Larkin)

Growing Up Asian in Australia Essay Prompt Breakdown

Video Transcription

The essay topic we’ll be looking at today is short and sweet;

To belong is to sacrifice. Discuss. 

The key terms are evidently “to belong” and “to sacrifice”, so these are the words and definitions that we’ll have to interrogate. 

Belonging is a feeling of being accepted by someone or being a member of something, so we’d have to ask who is doing the accepting, and what are the writers seeking to be members of. On the other hand, sacrifice is loss, it’s giving something up—it’s implied that seeking belonging means you may have to navigate compromises to what you have, how you live, or maybe, who you are. Have a think about what sacrifices are made by whom, and why.

With that in mind, let’s brainstorm a contention . We usually want to avoid going fully agree or fully disagree to create a bit more ‘grit’ for the essay—and in this case, the prompt is pretty deterministic or absolute; it’s saying that belonging is all about sacrifice. 

I’d probably argue that belonging is sometimes about sacrifice, and for migrant children they often give up some of their culture or heritage for Western lifestyle or values. That being said, belonging in these cases is probably more about synthesis than sacrifice—it’s about being able to negotiate and bring heritage into increasingly Australian ways of life.

The brainstorming section of writing a killer essay is where my THINK and EXECUTE strategy comes in. If you haven’t heard of it before, essentially, it’s a method of essay writing that emphasises the importance of really thinking about all aspects of a prompt and exploring all the different avenues you can go down. To be able to EXECUTE a well-reasoned, coherent and articulate essay that contains enough nitty-gritty analysis, you have to do enough THINKing to get some meat on the essay’s skeleton, so to speak. To learn more, check out my top selling eBook, How To Write A Killer Text Response .

In paragraphs , we could start by looking at some of the sacrifices people make in order to belong . The poem, ’Be Good, Little Migrants’ has a more of a cynical take on this, suggesting that migrant groups are expected to sacrifice economic mobility and even personal dignity in order to gain favour with locals: “give us your faithful service”, “display your gratitude but don’t be heard, don’t be seen.” 

Economic sacrifices are seen across many stories, from the working class “decent enough income” in ‘Family Life’ to the failing business in ‘ABC Supermarket’. Other forms of sacrifice might be less material—for example Benjamin Law’s sacrifice of his Mariah Carey cassettes in an attempt to fit in at school from the story ‘Towards Manhood’. This example is interesting because it isn’t a cultural sacrifice, but a gendered one—it’s a good reminder that identity is always multi-layered. 

For migrant children though, the sacrifices usually revolve around their race and culture . Diana Nguyen for example notes language as a key sacrifice: she quits Vietnamese school because she didn’t feel like she belonged with the grade ones in her class, and her ultimate “lack of interest in learning [Vietnamese] created a lasting barrier” between her mother and her. In Sunil Badami’s story, ‘Sticks and Stones and Such-Like’, the sacrifice is his name, as he Anglicises it to Neil. When his mother finds out, “she spat my unreal new name out like something bitter and stringy, too difficult to swallow.” The common denominator here is that Asians growing up in Australia often have to navigate sacrificing some of their heritage in order to belong in western society. 

However, the challenges faced by the Asian diaspora growing up abroad are more complex and more nuanced than just sacrifice. More often than not, they’re required to synthesise a ‘third culture’ identity that balances their heritage with western values and lifestyles. 

Diana Nguyen goes on to discuss her career trajectory in becoming a “working actor” in Melbourne’s entertainment industry, carving out a path for herself in spite of her parents’ disapproval, and going on to represent a new generation of Asian Australians in the media. The story ‘Wei-Lei and Me’ also points to this shifting demographic in Australia, as Gouvernel and her best friend stave off a racist primary school bully only to see their home change for the better as they grew up, with new restaurants from their home cuisines opening up. At the same time, they “had become what [they] thought [they] could never be: Australian,” describing a way of life in Canberra that is unmistakably Australian. 

So, belonging isn’t necessarily all about sacrifice—it doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your passions or become ‘Australian’. Sure, sometimes sacrifice is necessary, but ‘third culture kids’ synthesise conflicting identities in order to belong. 

Having arrived at the contention, let’s just have another think about the takeaway message - being able to bring other themes into an essay topic that only really raises one theme. To answer this topic fully, a good essay wouldn’t just discuss belonging and sacrifice, but it would also bring in discussion about family, friends, careers and cultures, just to name a few. Hopefully this is something you can translate into your own future work!

Growing Up Asian In Australia is an anthology with a lot to unpack, but there are plenty of unique stories with plenty of interesting links to be made. However you’re learning this text, being able to draw conclusions from stories and extrapolate them into your writing is a really important skill.

As you go, ask yourself about the implications: ‘so what?’ and ‘why?’. These sorts of questions will help you get richer insights and write about the anthology in a more interesting way.

For a detailed guide on Comparative, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative.

[Modified Video Transcription]

In a previous video , we covered some of the themes found in both The 7 Stages of Grieving and The Longest Memory. I’d recommend that you watch that video first (or read it’s accompanying blog post if you prefer reading) because once you know some of the themes, you can get even more out of this video. In this video, we’ll be looking at a scene each from both The 7 Stages of Grieving and The Longest Memory , and trying to compare them a little bit. 

We’ll be applying the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Comparative and exploring how ideas are developed in similar or different thematic directions in these texts. CONVERGENT ideas lead to similar conclusions and messages, while DIVERGENT ideas take us to different conclusions. If you’d like to learn more about this strategy which can help you build more insightful discussions of the text by finding unique points of comparison, then I’d recommend you check out the LSG’s How To Write A Killer Comparative study guide. 

The Play ( The 7 Stages of Grieving )

‍ Let’s go to scene 14 of the play - this should be the report of Daniel Yocke’s death in police custody. The woman recounts his death in a factual, impersonal style as if reading from a court report. She describes how the police pursued and arrested Yocke after he went out drinking with a group of friends, and how he was detained and taken to the watchhouse. He arrives without a pulse, but the report doesn’t go into detail about how that happened between his arrest and his arrival. The woman breaks into bursts of emotion toward the end of the scene.

While most of the play deals with issues that are universal and timeless for First Nations peoples, this scene looks at a specific real event . However, this doesn’t mean that this scene isn’t timeless - First Nations deaths in custody are still a major issue for which no police officer has been held legally accountable - but this scene chooses just one example out of several hundred. 

The emotionally detached tone makes the situation feel serious, but in a way, that distances us and the woman from the brutality and the violence of what must’ve happened. After all, how exactly was Yocke dead upon arriving at the watchhouse? How badly must the police have mishandled him for that to have happened? Along the way, there are little outbursts of emotion (like the little outburst of ‘people called him Boonie!’) and these remind us that the detachment belies the true significance of what happened - the needless loss of yet another Aboriginal person’s life. 

This has been such a persistent problem in our history - this scene happened in 1993, but even in today’s time we’re still dealing with the same problem. The institution of policing has been unaccountable and violent for decades, at least, and something desperately needs to change. 

The Novel ( The Longest Memory )

‍ Let’s go to the novel now and look at Chapter 6: Plantation Owners.

In this chapter, Mr. Whitechapel is talking to his peers about Chapel’s death in this clubhouse that his father had built for his own peers. Mr. Whitechapel is initially nervous that they’ll make fun of him, and they kind of do - they point out how hypocritical it is for him to think that he can treat the people he’s enslaved with humanity, and to stick to this argument even after Chapel had been whipped to death. At some point in this banter, he realises this physical violence is unjust and starts proposing ‘another way to organise the economy’ that isn’t slavery, but this draws even more mockery. He ultimately leaves feeling a little more convinced by the perspectives of his peers.

What does this chapter tell us, and how is it similar to the scene from the play?

Well, in both scenes, white men get away with murdering a Black man, and it comes down to socio-economic and institutional power. In this chapter, Mr. Whitechapel and his fellow enslavers all inherit significant wealth and extremely prejudiced attitudes from their fathers, and this creates not only pressure, but also a financial incentive, to conform to the system of slavery. He touches on the possibility of abolition, but this is seen as impossible - certainly, none of these men want to lose their power. 

Looking more closely at this chapter, we also see how Mr. Whitechapel is exactly the hypocrite that everybody says he is - it’s ridiculous for him to pretend he’s treating black people fairly when they are dying under his watch. He says he’s feeding enslaved workers adequately and treating them with respect, but none of this is actually going to protect them from violence, and none of this is going to level the playing field so that white enslavers are held accountable. Ultimately, Mr. Whitechapel isn’t seriously interested in making substantive changes to slavery in the name of morality; he is simply trying to save face. 

I’ve chosen these two scenes because they both illustrate the dynamics of race and power which pervade both texts, but these two scenes might not be the first ones that come to your mind as a pair that you can analyse together, and that’s totally fine! I encourage you to find your own scenes to compare because that’s what makes English powerful. If you, as a unique student, can compare two scenes that nobody else has compared, that’s going to give you an extra edge because you’re more likely to say something original. 

If you’re interested in finding more unique ways to compare these two texts, I’d recommend LSG’s The 7 Stages of Grieving & The Longest Memory study guide. I know there aren’t many resources out there for this text pairing, so what we’ve done at LSG is work really hard at ensuring that all the information in this study guide will actually be beneficial for you. We’re not here just to make you read more guides - we’ve really thought about what would be meaningful for you as a student learning this pairing. That’s why you’ll see that I’ve used some of the ideas mentioned in this video and turned them into an A+ essay, so you can see exactly how knowing this information translates into your SAC/exam.

There’s a free sample of the study guide you can check out to see if it’s right for you!

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