“Speak the Speech, I Pray You”

Working on Oral Presentations at the Writing Center

Amy Shoemaker, Brendan Gillett, Dan Martin, Mike Bartoli, Rachel Davidson Pomona College

Goals for the Presentation

You will:

  • Understand the components of an effective presentation
  • Practice giving feedback on oral assignments
  • Leave fully prepared to engage in oral consultations

Clarity of Argument

  • Concerns common to written assignments
  • Transition from written to oral
  • Guiding the audience

Nonverbal Communication

  • Make eye contact without staring
  • Use natural gestures
  • Be conscious of your hand motions
  • Watch your stance and position
  • Everything in moderation

Clarity of Speech

  • Be aware of your pacing
  • Speak slowly, calmly, and confidently
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Familiarize yourself with surroundings

Script vs Notecards vs Memorization

  • Know what you need
  • Know what you want to communicate
  • Know how things connect
  • Know key phrases/specific cues
  • Prepare, but leave room for fluidity/ improvisation


  • Getting back on track
  • Unforeseen events
  • Practice variation
  • Practice to audience

Visual Aids

  • Win-win-win:
    • Prompt for speaker
    • Break up the monotony of text-only slides
    • Clarify and emphasize your main points
  • Use a variety of images, colors and font sizes to enliven the presentation (but not too many!)


  • Plan a 1-2 minute presentation on how to address these topics in a writing consultation.
  • Reconvene in 10 minutes!

Reflection Questions

  • How does this feedback compare to working with written assignments?
  • What helpful insights did you gain by being a presenter?
  • What types of feedback worked well?
  • How can you take this into your own Writing Center?