student presenting her slides

Focus and Substance

The best presentations have a clear focus and an obvious sense of purpose, as well as substantive content.

  • Provide framing. Be sure to begin by briefly orienting your listener to the project and your role in it.
  • Be selective. Focus on one or two points about the work you did and the field you participated in, and illustrate these points with concrete examples and detail. If you are working with a panel of presenters, plan ways to distribute your focus amongst the panel members, and to make connections between the different approaches each of you takes. Consider the following questions to find your focus:
    • What is the most significant aspect of this project that you want to convey?
    • What was the most surprising and unexpected aspect of the work you did?
    • How did your perceptions of the field, work, topic, or people shift as a result of your experience?
    • If you did a research project, for example, what questions has this experience raised for you about your discipline?
    • For an off-campus work project, what do you now know about the field that you didn’t know before?

Plan to use your presentation to further your own learning. What do you want to record and remember about this experience? What do you want to be sure you don’t forget? How can you use the fact of presenting at Tanner to build shape around your off-campus learning? What about your own learning will be meaningful to others? 

Connections to Work at Wellesley

Consider how this experience connects to your work at Wellesley. How has the experience challenged you to rethink what you learned in your coursework, or shed new light on your earlier coursework? How has it influenced your intellectual interests, your course selection, the way you participate in class or study for class? What implications does this experience have for your future direction and/or career goals? Your ‘connections’ may infuse the body of your talk—but you may also find it useful to use “connections-to-Wellesley” as a way to conclude the presentation. 


  • Attend the public speaking workshop offered by the PLTC for help planning and practicing your presentation.
  • Time your practice session. Each session is 70 minutes in length. If you are part of panel, please time your presentation so that all panelists have equal opportunity to speak.
  • Check out the room beforehand, and give yourself hands-on practice with any A-V equipment you plan to use. Email ahead of time for any special technology needs.
  • Plan ample time to work with your advisor and your fellow panel presenters.