Presentation Success Strategies

Read over the assignment page to verify you have covered all the requirements.


  1. Have a clear thesis or research question, one or the other, not both.
  2. Do the reading on your topic
  3. Verify any data you present is accurate and is from a reliable source. If you're data is in question or proven to be in accurate, then this will undermine the validity of any conclusions you draw from it and possibly your whole presentation
  4. You should have multiple sources for any research you quote. Don't use wikipedia as your sole source for information since it can be unreliable and inaccurate.
  5. Integrate terminology, concepts, theories, lectures from the class into your presentation.
  6. If your professor makes a suggestion regarding your presentation before you present, it's a good idea to follow his recommendation
  7. Be prepared for a question like, "So what?" to come from the audience. (grad school story)
  8. Cite your sources in each slide that reference a slide at the end.
  9. Use sources that are reliable:,,, etc.
  10. If your topic or research question is not working out for you, consider changing it. You have to start early in case this happens. One group several years ago did their presentation on Racism and Fear. Their basic thesis was that racism and racist racial projects were due to fear, fear instilled by the subordinate group into the dominant group. No one in the audience was convinced of this idea after they finished their presentation. Epic fail.
  11. If your topic is Movies, you need to have watched the entire movie of any movie you plan on discussing since your conclusions can be inaccurate or incomplete. You also won't be able to defend it to someone who has watched the movie. Same goes for TV shows. If it's a series, you really need to have watched every episode.


  1. If you use powerpoint, limit your use of powerpoint to 5-15 minutes and/or interact with the students while showing the Powerpoint. Most students find powerpoint boring so you must interact with them and not just read slides for your whole presentation.
  2. Know how to work Powerpoint controls if you use a powerpoint presentation, the main ones are to go forward and back and to go full screen from the current slide. Note: Slideshow > View Slideshow will start the slideshow from the first slide. On a Mac, in the lower left corner click on the icon on the far right when you want to go full screen from the current slide. Image of 2 icons for powerpoint
  3. Use 3-4 bullet points per powerpoint slide, avoid putting too much text on a slide. (grad school story)
  4. Verify your powerpoint and any other media are visible from the back of the classroom.
  5. Powerpoint - There is a View in Powerpoint called Presenter View. This allows you to look at your notes of each slide on the computer screen, but the audience can't see those notes, only the full Powerpoint slide. This view also shows you what slide is coming up next. View > Presenter View
  6. Do not turn the projector off during your presentation since it takes time to come back on. Use the Pic Mute button instead.
  7. Mac OS has a feature called Spaces, a virtual screen utility that allows you to have separate screens with different windows open on each. This helps when presenting since you can have your powerpoint on one screen and your browser windows on another. I can show you how to use it. Here is more info on how to use Spaces.


  1. If you show video clips, make sure to download them to your hard drive and that your laptop or the class computer has the software to play the clips properly
  2. If you use video, integrate them into the discussion, so set up the video, show it, get class reaction and feedback. Don't just show a video without getting some reaction to it or integrating it into the overall presentation.
  3. Avoid telling the class what they saw in the video, it's better to ask them for their reaction.
  4. Keep videos short, 1-3 minute clips work best and make sure they are on topic and relevant.
  5. If you have a drawing or painting, scan it or take a picture of it so we can use the projector to project it so everyone can see it.
  6. If you plan to show youtube type videos, download them to your hard drive with a youtube downloader like
  7. When showing a youtube video, close any ads that pop up.
  8. When showing a video, make sure it is cued up to the part you want us to watch
  9. Don't use youtube videos as filler, instead, set up the clip, show it, get reaction and discuss
  10. If your topic is Movies, you need to have watched the entire movie of any movie you plan on discussing since your conclusions can be inaccurate or incomplete. You also won't be able to defend it to someone who has watched the movie. Same goes for TV shows. If it's a series, you really need to have watched every episode or every season keeping an eye on the character you are analyzing.


  1. Be prepared
  2. Stay on topic and don't deviate too much
  3. Make sure any visual aids are easy to see. Don't use the science fair type of visual aids articles attached to cardboard.
  4. Avoid handouts and passing pictures etc around, since they aren't paying attention to you if they are looking at the handout
  5. Arrive to class early so you can set up
  6. Manage the time of your presentation so it is 55-60 minutes.
  7. Practice any skits and time them so you know how long they take
  8. Be flexible and prepared for things to go wrong. While 1-2 people are fixing the problem, another 1-2 should be ad libbing and involving the class in a discussion.
  9. Go over any AV equipment set ups so you know everything works as you expect. Bring any powerpoint or other files ahead of time to try them out on the computer to make sure it works. If you use powerpoint, verify that you can make it project full screen. Try things out the class before your presentation date.
  10. Divide up the tasks so 1-2 members can be prepping the videos while the others are presenting. 
  11. Divide up the speaking parts as equally as possible.
  12. Don't hide behind the computer, especially if you can't see over the top of the computer monitor. Only one person should be working the computer.
  13. Involve the class in your presentation, games where teams compete work really well. Try to get students out of their seats. This is a game that worked well though it didn't involve the whole class it was relevant, creative, original, competitive and fun.
  14. Pay attention to the time. Leave enough time for a question and answer period. If you have to edit on the fly then think on your feet.
  15. Start on time, show up early to set up when possible
  16. Speaking speed should be normal. Do not speed up because you are running out of time. Just cut sections out of your presentation to fit the time frame and or ask the prof if you can go overtime.
  17. Speaking volume should be loud enough to be heard in the very last row. If someone asks you to speak louder, please do so.
  18. Have someone in the group controlling the lights, dimming for clips and raising for discussion
  19. Don't stand around for a long time while other members are presenting. If you have a large group, then the idle members might sit down in the front row instead of just standing in front of the class. Short periods of standing around are okay.
  20. Don't talk while other members of your group are presenting
  21. Avoid telling us about something cool without showing us
  22. Avoid any dead time in your presentation
  23. Some students dress up. If you do, ask all the group members to dress up, but not like you're going to a club. don't wear shorts, T-shirts, sports apparel, etc.
  24. Avoid anything dangerous where students presenting or watching might get injured
  25. Please don't throw candy! Instead hand it to people, especially when the lights are dimmed
  26. Make sure the different sections of your presentation are connected to one overall theme, thesis, or research question. Very often members will present their section but the different parts are not linked by a cohesive theme, thesis, or research question. For example. If the topic is interracial marriage. The thesis is: "all racial groups are more open to interracial marriage compared to their parents generation." Then you interview 12 people about this and their parents from 6 racial groups. Six people present the findings, one for each racial group. The seventh person needs to summarize and make sense of all the data and speak to the original thesis or research question.
  27. Have a conclusion and Q&A period. Don't just say, we're done! or that's it!
  28. Clean up after your presentation so remove anything you tape to the wall, write on the white board etc. Take all USB drives, but leave any Powerpoint files or videos on the hard drive for me to look at later.
  29. Don't put your hands in your pockets while in front of the class.
  30. Do not use profanity during the presentation unless it is a quote
  31. Show them don’t tell them. Then have the class tell you the point.

Advanced skills:

  1. Try to read your audience, see if they are confused, bored, or distracted. If they are, figure out how to get them back into your presentation
  2. Use humor. If you can make your audience laugh, they will pay attention to you.

The 13 most common mistakes

  1. Reading from a prepared word for word script
  2. Depending too much on index cards, notes, smart phone, iPad. If you must, only refer to them when you need to. Better yet, put bullet points on a powerpoint slide and then speak to the points on the slide. Try out "Presenter View" in Powerpoint.
  3. Not proposing any solutions or proposing poorly thought out solutions to the problem presented. Please think through and present viable solutions to any problem that you present. A solution to racial discrimination in the workplace,  "People shouldn't do it" is not a well thought out solution. A solution to stereotypes in the media, "The best solution is to reject them all. We are all humans" These are not well thought out or viable solutions. Does your problem have a viable solution? Some problems don't, but you need to have thought it through.
  4. "Info pack" where you just read the class a bunch of facts or statistics. We won't remember them and it's boring. A common misconception is that a presentation is a research paper that is read to the class.
  5. Having one or two people do most of the talking. Please spread the speaking parts around the entire group
  6. Asking a question that assumes people have done the reading
  7. Not thinking through the interactive learning activity section or having one at all. This is usually the weakest part of presentations.
  8. In general, not being prepared, not having researched the topic, not working well together as a group
  9. A common mistake is when the topic is for example, "Asian Americans in American Sports", or "Asian Americans in Film" or "Asian Americans in Television" the group will basically copy info from imdb, wikipedia, rotten tomatoes, etc, put the bio, filmography, and pic in a powerpoint slide. Each member will chose a different athlete, actor or TV show to discuss, and that's about it. There is no thought given to why those athletes, shows or films were selected. There is no main idea or research question. Why is this topic even important? Why should we care?It's almost a show and tell from elementary school of Asian Americans in Sports, Films, TV. This is a common mistake and will earn you a D. Make sure you have a significant research question and propose viable solutions.
  10. Another common mistake related to #9 above is that a student will critique a particular character in a TV show but will only use a very small sample including just one episode to draw their conclusions from. This is problematic since another episode might subvert your whole position and conclusion. If a show has been on for 3 seasons with 6-16 episodes each season like The Walking Dead and only one episode with Glenn in it is used to assess his character and the way Asians are portrayed, this is a bad idea. Ideally you should watch all 3 seasons to make a full and accurate assessment of his character and portrayal of Asians in general. You should also rip multiple scenes with your character from different seasons to prove your point. Has their character arc'd from their introduction to the current episode? How?
  11. Showing a video clip that is off topic or vaguely related to what you're talking about. If you're topic is Asian Americans in sports, TV, film etc and you show athletes or actors, etc that aren't Asian American, why? What is the connection? You have to clearly demonstrate why you are including them or leave it out.
  12. Confusing Satire with Racism. According to Wikipedia, 

    Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement.[1] Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon

    Look at the first 11 seconds of this Family Guy clip. The futuristic police robot still brutalizes Black men and plants a gun on him as justification. Seth McFarlane is satirizing human police who brutalize Black men and plant evidence on them. He is ridiculing them with the intent on shaming them into improvement. Michael Moore's The Awful Truth is entirely satirical. By his wallet exchange program, he is ridiculing the NYPD who routinely shoot Black men thinking they are armed with a handgun when in fact they have a wallet, candy bar, bible etc.
  13. Finally, not really interrogating the topic and research question to see if it's significant, salient, or important for our community and the audience. If it's not important or significant, why are you doing a presentation on it? (Tell Cambodian welfare story)

Three ways you can annoy your audience in a presentation according to the American Management Association are: Bad slides, boring content, failing to connect.

Epic Failures from past classes

  1. The topic was, "The Academic Achievement gap betweens Asians and Whites and Blacks and Latinos." This was from the second week of class. The group flipped 60 powerpoint slides, spent about a minute on each slide, had no solution, had no interactive learning activity with the class.
  2. The topic was, "Asian Americans on Television." Glenn from The Walking Dead was portrayed as weak, a follower, and a little bit geeky. This was proved from one clip from one episode.
  3. The topic was, "Asian Americans in Movies." A clip was shown of Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung. Tony was speaking Cantonese and Ziyi was speaking Mandarin. There were no English Subtitles...
  4. Forgot the topic but a clip was shown of Cloud Atlas and the critique was made that this is just another example of Yellow Face where white actors have make up put on to make them look Asian and take acting work from Asian actors, a clearly racist hollywood practice. A person in the audience said, "I saw the movie and they changed races of several actors this way." The person presenting this section had no response so it was clear she hadn't even watched the movie.
  5. A poorly thought out Jeopardy game with rules that weren't stated clearly and questions and answers that weren't really accurate. When calling on who had their hand up first, the group didn't call on people fairly, when students protested, they all got into an argument
  6. Racial Profiling - I'm right, you're wrong.
  7. Grad school story about not being ready and arguing

Problem solving

Question: How should we handle a group member who wants to do everything and make all the decisions?

Answer: Remind him/her that this is a group project and that everyone needs to have input and a role to play in the presentation.

Question: How should we handle a group member who doesn't do anything, doesn't respond to email, and doesn't show up to group meetings?

Answer: Just remember that you have to present on your date so the other members will have to pick up the slack. Have something in mind for the slacker to do in case he/she shows up on the day of the presentation, but also plan for them not to show up at all or to show up unprepared. Otherwise the rest of the members might look bad. Email the professor if this continues to be a problem or you think their contributions will undermine your presentation or make your group look bad.

Question: How should we handle a group member who does a minimal amount of work, shows up intermittently to meetings, misses deadlines, and is unmotivated or has other committments?

Answer: Address this issue in person during meetings and in email so the person is aware that the other group members think he/she is slacking. Plan accordingly so other members can pick up the slack in the prep and during the actual presentation if they don't show up. 

In general, work things out within your group, but keep me informed if things are going poorly or if you need advice on how to handle something. Don't wait till the last minute to inform me of a problem. If you don't catch me in class or office hours, just email me. If I see very uneven participation on the website or during the actual presentation I will probably grade each member separately.


If you do some sort of game, you have to make it fair. If you split the class up into groups, you have to devise a fair way to call on the different groups. If it's by who raises their hand first, you need to have one person from each group responsible for hand raising or a buzzer of some sort.

The answers have to be correct and match the questions.

How to win should be very clear.

Keep score correctly

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