Practical exercise (18.3.3.2)

Additional tips for signposting

Practical exercise 18.3.3.2: Additional tips for signposting

It is important to remember that it is harder for a person to follow an oral presentation than it is to read the same words on paper. This is because the spoken word occurs only once and then it is gone and replaced by others so there is no opportunity for the listener to revisit sentences that are not clear on the first occasion; a presentation cannot be reread in the same way as a passage of text if the meaning is not clear. Therefore, it is essential that a presentation is made as easy to follow as possible otherwise the audience will simply switch off and stop trying to listen. Not only does this mean that the presentation has failed because the information is not communicated to the audience, it can be very off-putting as a presenter to see that the audience has stopped engaging with the presentation—people will be looking around the room, whispering to others, doodling, or sending text messages instead of listening to the presentation.

There are various ways to ensure that the attention of the audience is engaged and one of the foremost of these is to make the job of listening easy for them. One way to do this is to make it clear to the audience where the presentation is going and what the role of each point is in the overall picture of the topic (which you will have outlined in the introduction).

Phrase

Significance

Firstly

Tells the audience that this is the first point

Secondly

Tells the audience that this is the second point

Finally

Tells the audience that this is the last point

Another argument that supports this view

Lets the audience know that this point agrees with that presented previously but that the reason for the agreement is different

However, it could be argued that

This suggests that the points you are about to present disagrees with the point that precedes it

Moreover

The point that you are about to make adds something to the point that preceded it

In contrast

This communicates to the audience that an alternative view is about to be presented

Having outlined the law, it is now necessary to see how it has been interpreted by the courts

This links together two distinct parts of the presentation

There are three cases that are important here. The first of these

The audience are clear about what to expect. Don’t forget to add signposting as you move between the cases

The next case to consider

Signals to the audience that your discussion of the first case is complete and that you have moved on to another case

In conclusion

To conclude

In summary

The audience will be clear that the body of the presentation is over and that you are now drawing together the main points

These suggestions may seem obvious but it is surprising how many presentations become impossible to follow because the speaker fails to include any indication to the audience of when one point is finished and another begins and what relationship each point has to the one that precedes it. As a general rule, each new point should start and end with some sort of signposting that gives the audience an insight into how the point fits into the presentation.