Oral Presentation Tips for MCS-378: Operating Systems (Fall 2009)

On several occasions I have taught a First Term Seminar course, where one of the goals was to build oral communication skills. In each case I had the students attend some of the Nobel Conference lectures and then, based on that, we held a class discussion of what made some of the lectures better than others -- what did some of the lecturers do right and others wrong. Based on that discussion, we came up with a list of questions that were to be used in evaluating the students' presentations. The point is to revise your presentation plans and practice your presentation until you are convinced that the answer to each question is "yes." The lists have been somewhat different each year; for MCS-378, we'll use the most recent one:
  1. Does the presenter speak at an appropriate tempo?
  2. Does the presentation seem complete and reach closure?
  3. Is the presentation phrased in simple language well matched to the audience?
  4. Does the presenter's voice vary in tone?
  5. Does the presenter operate visual aids confidently and at a tempo matched to the presentation?
  6. Does the presentation incorporate specific evidence such as data?
  7. Does the presenter explain the format of data so as to be sure it is understood?
  8. Is the presentation organized with an introduction, body, and conclusion?
  9. Does the presenter speak fluently and naturally?
  10. Does the presenter outline the presentation and announce its major sections?
  11. Does the presenter foreshadow topics that will be treated later?
  12. Does the presenter move within a natural range and spread attention around the audience?
  13. Does the presenter speak about the topic, rather than the visual aids, and in particular avoid reading them?
  14. Are the visual aids simple, clear, and appropriate to the audience?
  15. Does the presenter enunciate clearly?
  16. Does the presenter connect with the audience, including gaining their attention at the beginning and maintaining eye contact?
  17. Is any humor appropriate?
  18. Does the presenter stand in a comfortable but focused stance?
  19. Does the presenter project his or her voice?

Course web site: http://gustavus.edu/+max/courses/F2009/MCS-378/
Instructor: Max Hailperin <max@gustavus.edu>