University of California, Davis
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
GUIDELINES FOR ORAL PRESENTATIONS
We cannot overemphasize the importance of knowing how to give effective oral
If you decide to go into industry after graduation, most formal
communication within a company will involve oral presentations.
External to the
company, oral communications are essential to effective communication with customers
or prospective customers, with funding sources such as venture capitalists, and with
Your ability to give an effective oral presentation will be pivotal as to
how management receives your ideas, and how customers perceive you and your
An engineer in industry who gives poor oral presentations is rarely promoted,
and their ideas, while perhaps technically sound, are often discounted.
If you decide to
go on to graduate school, you will be asked to give oral presentations of your research,
and an oral presentation is a key part of most Ph.D. examinations.
In short, presentation
skills are important to increase sales, communicate results, educate your customer,
convince others of your ideas, and give a good first impression of you and your company.
Presentation “slides’ are typically drawn with computer-driven presentation
software such as Microsoft PowerPoint.
Most presentations are given using a laptop
computer to control a small projector, with the slides projected on a screen.
We do not expect that you will give perfect oral presentations in ECH 155A&B,
since oral presentation skills are perfected throughout your career, but we do expect you
to display a reasonable competency.
We want for you to raise your confidence as a
We will work with you to learn how to speak effectively in front of an audience,
present information from slides, and effectively handle questions from the audience.
Everyone evolves to a personal style in giving their oral presentations, but there
are definite skills in giving any oral presentation regardless of the style of the speaker.
We have divided these skills into four areas:
Physical Skills, Putting the Presentation
Together, Giving the Presentation, and Handling Questions from the Audience.
discuss these topics below, and then we outline the presentation requirements for ECH
Improving the physical skills that are essential to effective oral presentations will
increase your power as a speaker.
These skills can be grouped into three categories:
Power, Voice Power, and Body Power.
The audience has been convened because communication of ideas on
a certain subject is important.
Some nervousness is appropriate and even beneficial to a
Nervousness can become a major impediment to a presentation when it
interrupts a speaker’s thoughts.
One result of excessive nervousness is scanning,
continuously moving the eyes around the room.
The eyes may dart from place to place,
or slowly survey the room without stopping anywhere.
Speakers are usually unaware of