EM SC 470
Applied Sustainability in Contemporary Culture

Creating a Presentation


Giving a presentation takes some getting used to. However, once you figure out what is involved and develop a system for putting a presentation together, it can be quite manageable.

A presentation requires two things to be successful:

  1. research and organization
  2. public presentation skills

PART 1 - Do Your Research

Without good information, you don't have anything to share. Read. Ask questions. Take notes.

PART 2 - Develop a Strategy for Getting Your Point Across

Start by listing your presentation objectives:

  • What do you want your audience to understand or be able to do as a result of your presentation?

Analyze your audience:

  • Who are they?
  • What prior knowledge do they bring to your presentation?

PART 3 - Implement Your Design


What is the best way to get your points across? Presentations should follow a logical organizational structure, such as by:

  • Topic
  • Chronology
  • Category
  • Problem/Solution

Presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote, Google presentations or Prezi includes a variety of engaging templates that will help make your presentation more engaging.

You might begin by dividing your presentation into 3-5 main points. Your conclusion should summarize your main points and leave the audience with something that they will remember. Here are some organizational tips:

  • Be concise! Include only necessary information.
  • Consider including questions at regular intervals.
  • Sketch out a simple progression or storyboard for organizing your presentation


Visuals include not only the images that you put on your slides, but also the text and the slide background. Only use visuals that are engaging and help to communicate your message.

Images are often protected by copyright. That means you cannot simply Google images and use what you find. Instead, find and use Creative Commons images that photographers have made openly available. You can find sources for such images below:

  • Free Media Resources - This list is published and maintained as a part of the Media Commons initiative at Penn State.
  • Pixabay.com - Free-use images and videos; free of copyrights under Creative Commons.
  • Wikimedia

Guidelines for Text

  • The fewer the words on each slide, the better!
  • Keep your font simple and large enough to read clearly.
  • Be sure the text contrasts with the background and is readable.

Part 4: Recording a 'Live' Presentation

Online students are frequently given the opportunity to deliver a 'live' presentation in class. For most students, this means that you may create a screen capture of your presentation delivery. Or, you may want to find an occasion that provides you with a live audience, such as a professional conference. Regardless, students should heed these recommendations:

  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Deliver your presentation slowly and clearly.
  • DO NOT read directly from your slides.
  • Avoid slang and jargon.
  • Relax and enjoy yourself.

Recording gives you the chance to get things right (because you can always do it over again). Zoom is the free Penn State-supported online meeting platform/recording tool that is likely the best option for recording your presentation, including your slides. You may also want to consider VoiceThread at Penn State.