Though you may not (yet!) be as dynamic as your favorite lecturers, philosophers, authors, or comedians, you probably draw some form of inspiration from them. Perhaps you’ve observed their use of charts and graphs and noticed that you can indeed present data in a compelling manner. Maybe you admire the way they use working scale models to bring their ideas to life. Or, possibly, you’ve noted their decision not to rely on hundred-slide presentation decks in a forum that’s usually packed with laser-pointer-wielding speakers. As a result, you’ve now added new tools and techniques to your repertoire.

Just as you want to inspire your audience and leave it wanting more, your students will also feel rewarded when they give a presentation that engages their fellow students and earns them a satisfying (or even impressive) grade.

You may require students to incorporate the use of presentation aids into their assignments. They may also opt to include these of their own volition. Of course, as you’ve learned for yourself, it’s not always easy to know which tools to use; but, with some thoughtful planning, their sights, sounds, and speech content can come together and result in a pleasing performance. So, whether they’re planning to use informative slides that help others follow along with their message, videos that capture the audience’s attention, tech tools that engage people and get them actively involved, or “props” that demonstrate the concepts they’re addressing in their presentations, their mission is to choose the aids that enhance, rather than detract from, their work.

If you’d like to help your students start the planning process off on solid footing, share this exercise from William Keith and Christian O. Lundberg’s Public Speaking: Choice and Responsibility, which encourages students to consider what tools and techniques best supplement their speeches and presentations:


Think about the speech you are currently working on. Make a list of the elements that might be strengthened by some kind of presentation aid or supplemental media. Next to each, write the medium that would be most appropriate and which goal for your speech it might advance. Were you able to find a goal for each presentation aid? (240)


Reference: Keith, William and Lundberg, Christian O. 2014. Public Speaking: Choice and ResponsibilityBoston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


Do you assign presentations in your course? Share some of your students’ innovative ideas with us! Comment below.