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How to give a succefus presentation in class

Formal Aspects:

  • The presentation should not exceed 45 minutes, including the discussion
  • Provide a handout for the class
  • Start with presenting the structure of your presentation; that makes it easier for the class to follow your thoughts and arguments
  • Introduce your audience to the topic of your presentation and give an  overview of the material you use (texts, primary sources, websites, etc.)
  • Main part: discuss the main ideas and key topics in the relevant literature, provide the class with the most important aspects of your topic
  • Wrap-up: make a conclusive statement, prepare questions for the ensuing discussion (here, it has proven productive to give the class some questions to chew on beforeyou start with your presentation, i.e. aspects they should keep in mind/focus on. You will then have more attentive and focused listeners)


  • What are the key concepts?
  • Do youneed to elaborate on certain terms?
  • What are the key statements of the author?
  • Does the author have a thesis? Can you describe it in your own words?
  • Are you convinced by the theses/arguments made in the text? What is your position?

Presentation in Class:

  • Time management, keep an eye on the time!
  • What do you need for your presentation? Laptop/projector/Sound?
  • Use your handout as a reference point during your presentation, let the class know which aspect you are discussing to help them follow („I will now come to my second part...“)
  • Pause and ask the class if they have questions, if you need to clarify something

The Handout:

  • 1-2 pages, including your name, title of the seminar, topic of the session and your presentation, date etc.
  • The handout should have the same structure as your presentation
  • Use bullet points, do not write short essays
  • You may want to add short passages/quotes from the text that you consider crucial for the overall argument
  • Provide the class with a short bibliography, 2-5 titles relevant to your topic suffice (these can be monographs, anthologies, articles, websites (if you cite a website, make sure it is a trustworthy one!) etc.)