In-class presentation assignments give students valuable opportunities to consolidate learning and research into coherent explanations or arguments.  Presentation tools such as Powerpoint, Keynote, and Google Slides   are easy to use and for the most part, already very familiar to students. While presentation slides are often used to simply display a textual outline of the talk, these tools also allow the inclusion of animations, slide transitions, and video recordings that can be used effectively to focus audience attention and to emphasize certain points.

Learning goals

  • In-class presentations provide opportunities to consolidate learning and research into coherent explanations or arguments
  • In preparing presentations, students can focus on the sequence of information being presented, the major points being empahsized, and to the audience to which they are speaking.
  • Students gain experience in public speaking


  • If you typically assign oral presentations, consider trying something different by assigning a video-recorded version of the assignment. Similar to a traditional oral presentation, the process involves outlining, planning, and scriptwriting, but can also give students opportunities to reflect upon their presentation in the process of putting it together. Video presentations also facilitate the use of music and sound effects when appropriate.
  • Several other variations on the traditional presentation might be worth considering:
    • Lightning talks are very short presentation (usually 3-5 minutes), usually intended for a non-specialist audience.
    • TED talks can be slightly longer than lightning talks, but are meant never to exceed 18 minutes. TED talks provide ample time for students to show their expertise in a topic while also be short enough to keep the audience attention focused.
    • Pecha Kucha is a format that uses 20 slides or images that are displayed for 20 seconds each. Slides are configured to advance automatically, ensuring that the presentation is concise, and that students get through all of their content.
  • In many courses, presentation and performance assignments also include a peer feedback component. Students may be expected to comment upon their fellow students’ presentations via a discussion board or blog post, or complete a peer-feedback rubric developed for the assignment.
  • Powerpoint, Keynote, and Google Slides all include tools for animating elements within a presentation. While these features can certainly be over-used and may only have a cosmetic benefit, they can also be used to great effect to focus the audience’s attention and heighten interest.
Student preparation

While some of the tools commonly used while presenting may require documentation, it is unlikely that it will be necessary to dedicate class time to training.

Possible tools
Rubrics and resources

Example presentations

Posted by May 10, 2021