Tutorial and seminar papers
In many of your units you will be required to give a tutorial presentation. By your final year you might be required to present a seminar paper.
Both involve the oral presentation of a paper that demonstrates your analysis of a particular question set by the lecturer often as part of a series of questions designed to familiarise students with the course material.
A seminar paper differs from a tutorial paper in depth and breadth of analysis, and expected level of originality. It is primarily concerned with presenting findings of extended, if not original, research on a topic carried out by the presenter.
Aspects of tutorial and seminar presentations that you will need to consider are preparation, content and organisation, delivery and review.
Effective tutorial or seminar presentations are the outcome of careful planning and thoughtful preparation. You will need to:
- gather relevant information by consulting the appropriate literature
- plan how you will use the allotted time
- focus on the essential points when delivering your talk and remove any padding
- organise the material into a meaningful order.
Your presentation should take into account the needs of the audience and what you want them to gain from it.
The presentation must also contain an identifiable introduction, body and conclusion.
- the introduction: Introduces you, your topic (or question) and what will be covered in the talk
- the body: Explains main points, key issues and/or arguments and provides enough detail and examples to illustrate and support these
- the conclusion: Restates the main points, and may make further recommendations.
Before the presentation
- practice relevant terminology, concepts and words - especially words of another language
- practice your talk to a friend, or in front of a mirror to yourself
- anticipate and prepare for audience questions
- practice using any technical equipment you plan to use.
During the presentation
- maintain eye contact with your audience
- pace your delivery so that the presentation is neither too rushed nor too drawn out
- allow pauses, where appropriate, to add emphasis to your points or to provide dramatic effect
- vary the tone of your voice to keep the audience’s interest
- stand straight and look up at your audience to ensure that your voice carries to everyone
- remember to breathe which will help you to stay calmer.
Visual aids (including power point presentations) can complement a tutorial presentation provided they are:
- well designed and appropriate for your audience
- relevant to the presentation
- well integrated into the presentation.
Responding to questions
You should allow a time for the audience to ask questions after your presentation.
- listen carefully to the questioner and answer the question as fully as possible
- If you didn't understand the question, ask the questioner to rephrase it
- paraphrase a question if you think it needs to be clarified for you and your audience
- address your answers to the whole audience.
In the case of seminars where you, as the presenter of the paper, must lead the discussion more forcefully than in a tutorial, you will be expected to seek out questions actively from your audience and maintain control of the discussion.
After your tutorial is finished it is absolutely essential that you take some time to review your tutorial session or seminar. This will help you when you come to finish writing up the written version of your presentation.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- did you get your main argument across?
- how do you know that?
- what responses did members of the audience make?
- what questions did they ask?
- what suggestions or criticisms did they offer?
- how can you make use of their suggestions and criticisms?
By answering these questions you can incorporate the answers, where appropriate, into the final draft of the written version of your tutorial or seminar presentation if this is required.