Learn with the Archive

Prior to visiting this site, you may have been offered various tips for effective public speaking: make eye contact, project your voice, dress professionally, speak clearly—and so on. This advice can be useful, since you want to make sure your audience can hear you and understand what you’re saying. But when we reflect on the purpose of an academic oral presentation, these suggestions prove limited.  

That’s because this kind of advice tends to focus on the performance aspect of presenting. This site, however, is designed to get you to start thinking about academic speaking as an important part of scholarly communication. This means shifting your thinking about your presentation: instead of stressing yourself out by believing your presentation needs to be the “final word” on your subject—a performance to be delivered without error—think about presenting as part of a broader research process. This shift will help you to recognize scholarly speaking as an opportunity to share ideas that you care about and to receive feedback that could refine and improve them. Check out  the guides below to explore how you can import these ideas into your presentations.

To learn more about our approach to scholarly speaking, click here. (You can also check out our bibliography: the idea of shifting from a “performance” to a “communication” orientation for successful public speaking, for example, first came from the Communications scholar Michael T. Motley ).


Speaking with Citation

Citing other voices in your work is essential but can be challenging in oral settings. Discover how students cite scholars, summarize findings, and present literature reviews.


Joining the Conversation

On this page, you will see some of the diverse ways students bring themselves into scholarly conversations. You will hear examples of arguments, moments of interpretation and original analysis, as you hear students make the case for the importance of their projects.


Anticipating Audience Needs

This page outlines some ways that speakers can address the needs and expectations of their audiences. How do you “write to speak”? What do effective slides look like? How can strategies like signposting and transitions help your audience follow your presentation?


Discussing your Research

Many scholarly speaking situations involve a discussion or a “Q and A” session—and these are unique situations unto themselves. Watch students ask and answer a range of questions.