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Researching the topic

Once you’re happy with your topic, get into the research. This applies even if you think you know the topic really well - there’s always more you can learn, always new angles you can take. As well as increasing your general knowledge, there are a few specific things you should look for as you research:

  • Statistics. Look for statistics that are accurate and come from a reliable source. They should support your argument or give some useful information about the topic. You should adapt them to suit your audience - no need to say ‘49.7548% of people’ when saying ‘approximately 50% of people’ will do.

  • Quotes. These are great for supporting your ideas or perking up the audience’s interest. One or two well placed quotes can really make a great presentation. For instance, say you are doing a presentation that aims to persuade the audience that we should continue space exploration. You might chuck in a quote from Alfred North Whitehead like this one:

"Without adventure civilization is in full decay."

  • Images of any description that help convey information or support your argument.

  • Explanations or definitions of key terms or ideas.

  • Support from experts in the field that back up your viewpoint.

Make sure that your sources are reliable. There is nothing worse than having someone from the audience point out that a piece of information that you based some of your argument on is completely wrong. Even if the rest of your presentation is great, this will cast a big dark shadow on the rest of it in the audience’s minds. They’ll be thinking, "Well, if he got that bit wrong, maybe he got that bit wrong as well", or maybe even, "What’s to say he wasn’t wrong about everything?"