Papers to Presentations

The ability to write a paper is highly emphasized throughout school and students are taught to write from a young age. However, communication and public speaking skills are also on the rise as essential qualities for future employees to possess. Instructors are now requiring their students to get up in front of the class and give presentations more frequently. Often times, students are required to turn a previously written paper into a presentation. This can be a difficult task and many students might not know where to start. Below, tips on turning a paper into a presentation are discussed.

The Paper

When given the task of turning a paper into a presentation, many people can be tempted to simply read their paper in a narrative form. However, this is not the best approach to take in this scenario. In order to deliver an effective presentation, it is important to decide what content should be included and what content should be excluded. Since most presentations have a time limit, it is especially crucial to only include the most important parts of your paper into your presentation.

Finding a Purpose: What is the purpose of your paper? Is it to inform, persuade, or argue? Decide what the purpose is and form your presentation around that theme. Make sure the purpose of your paper is clear during your presentation.

Main Points: Your main points should be the main topics used in the body of your paper.  In order to determine what should be included in the presentation, take a look at your main points and plug them into your outline. When you take all of the fluff away, what is the main substance of your paper? What is the main information you want the audience to know? Try taking a look at each large paragraph and finding the topic sentence.

Video Explanation

Paper to presentation

Everything that you expanded on in the paper will become your sub points during your presentation. Below, a basic outline to plug your main points and sub points into for your presentation is provided. Keep the time limit in mind in order to decide how many main points you should have.

A. Main Point

            - Sub point

            -Sub point

B. Main Point

            -Sub point

            -Sub point

C. Main Point

            -Sub point

            -Sub point


A good place to begin when creating the outline for your presentation is to examine the structure you used to organize your paper. Typically, this structure can transcend into the perfect outline for your presentation.  You may need to do some tweaking and reorganizing of your ideas, but the main structure should still stand. An outline should have three main parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Introduction: Using an attention getter to draw your audience into your presentation is the most effective way to begin your presentation. However, an introduction should also include a statement of purpose, introduction of yourself and your topic, and a preview of your main points.

Body: This is the heart of your presentation. Here, your main points as well as your sub points will be discussed. Try to have between 2-4 main points, as well as a few sub points to go along with each.

Conclusion: To conclude things, take a look back and review your main points. Try and find a closing statement that can wrap up everything! What message do you want to leave the audience with? To find out more information about crafting introductions and conclusions, click here. 

Visual Aids

Anything described throughout your paper could make for a great visual during your presentation. Visuals can include pictures, videos, or even a PowerPoint. However, it is important to ensure that visuals only help enhance your presentation, not take away from it. When working with a PowerPoint, condense what is on each slide and stick to key phrases that you can expand on during your presentation. Insert a few pictures and maybe a short video in order to help enhance your presentation. Remember, never overload slides with text and simply read to the audience-they can read on their own!

Page last modified April 8, 2020