How to Write a Presentation in Shakespeare Studies

Writing guide
Posted on July 4, 2019

Wondering how to write a powerful presentation in Shakespeare Studies? Writing college-level papers and oral academic presentations can be tricky because these tasks require strong writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills. To help you cope with your coursework assignments, we offer here a lot of full guides to all writing assignments out there. In this article, you will find useful recommendations on writing an impressive presentation about Shakespeare and his literary works. Keep reading to learn how to find a good topic, structure your presentation, write a draft, and edit and proofread it. Besides, we will provide you with a great list of 15 interesting topics for your inspiration.

What Is a Presentation in Shakespeare Studies?

William Shakespeare is regarded as one of the greatest writers in the world literature and his works have profoundly shaped our modern notions of human identity. Shakespeare Studies is an interesting course that gives students a unique opportunity to study plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and develop an appreciative understanding of his contribution to theatrical and literary history and his influence on the English language.

Writing a presentation about Shakespeare and his works can be really challenging, taking into account his unique status in Western literature and his effect on literate cultures across the globe. Many people think that Shakespeare was a literary genius who wrote the best poetry and the best prose in English and brought to life a cast of unforgettable characters like Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Prince Hamlet, King Lear and more.

A presentation in Shakespeare studies can be focused on careful and detailed analysis of specific characters, themes, and linguistic patterns in one of his plays. You need to provide a strong argument on your topic and you don’t have to read secondary literature for such presentations. Instead, you are required to analyze Shakespeare’s texts and support your claims with quotations.

How to Choose a Topic for a Presentation in Shakespeare Studies

You should choose a unique topic that can capture your audience’s attention and will allow them to learn something new. Shakespeare wrote about important themes such as love, life, death, magic, revenge, murder, jealousy, grief, mystery, and more so you can devote your presentation to one of these immortal themes or analyze a specific play – its characters, themes, scenes, speech, literary devices, etc. You can also write about Shakespeare’s plays in relation to the cultural and social context, analyze his influence on theater, explore his impact on the English language or examine his contribution to Renaissance. Here are some interesting topic ideas. Feel free to use them for making your presentations:

  1. Key Themes in The Merchant Of Venice;
  2. Shakespeare and the Globe Theater;
  3. Analyze how Shakespeare Uses Language and Rhetoric;
  4. Supernatural Elements in Shakespeare’s Plays;
  5. Gender Issues in Shakespeare’s Works;
  6. Dramatization of Religious Ideas and Issues in Plays of Shakespeare;
  7. Explore Conflicts Between Children and Their Parents in Works of Shakespeare;
  8. Shakespeare’s Views on Love and Marriage;
  9. Idea of Revenge in Plays of Shakespeare;
  10. Role of Fool in Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Comedies;
  11. Analyze a Film Version of King Lear;
  12. Discuss Shakespeare Play Themes;
  13. Explore Shakespeare’s Contribution to English Literature;
  14. Explain Why Shakespeare is Still Popular Today;
  15. Philosophical Issues in Hamlet.

Plan Your Presentation in Shakespeare Studies

A key to success of your presentation in Shakespeare Studies is careful planning that involves determining your objectives and strategically choosing appropriate information. Besides, every presentation needs a clear message which helps you communicate your ideas more effectively and achieve more than just delivering certain information. First of all, you need to determine the scope of your talk. Academic presentations are limited to 10-20 minutes so you should think about the amount of information you will be able to deliver in such a short period of time. Keep in mind that you will need time to introduce your topic and to conclude your presentation so you are unlikely to be able to cover more than 4 points. You should identify the key message of your presentation and then determine the main points that support your message.

The next step is to structure the content of your presentation in Shakespeare Studies. Oral presentation should be clear and logical so you should avoid complex structures and focus on the need to develop a convincing argument. It’s critical to build your arguments on the previous points and avoid large jumps in sequences. At this stage, you should also choose supporting information – some factual data, examples and appropriate quotations from Shakespeare’s texts. You may plan to present supporting information in imaginative ways using pictures or video segments.

To make the most impact, your presentation in Shakespeare’s studies needs a carefully defined structure. The structure of oral presentation is similar to essay structure and includes 3 essential parts:

  • A welcoming introduction which provides details about the talk;
  • Main body that presents main points in a logical sequence;
  • Conclusion that summarizes the content and highlights the significance of your talk.

Let’s talk about each part of the presentation in detail.

Create an Engaging Introduction

The goal of an introduction is to engage your audience, introduce the topic, and outline the key points you will be discussing during your presentation. So, what are the key elements of successful introduction? You may use the following structure:

  • Greet the audience and introduce yourself even if they know you;
  • Tell them what will be discussed: ‘I’ m going to talk about …’;
  • Explain how you are going to treat your topic: ‘I will be examining texts and comparing …’;
  • Provide necessary background information and explain the key terms.

When planning your introduction, think about incorporating media – a photograph, a picture, a video clip because visual images can invoke a quick emotional response and help you get your audience’s attention. Besides, you can also use such techniques as telling a story that connects the topic of your presentation to your audience’s experience, asking a thought-provocative question, beginning with a surprising fact, etc. For example, you may start your presentation like this:

‘Did you know that the word “unreal” first appeared in Macbeth? Scholars have found that Shakespeare made up about 1,700 new words which still live in the modern English language. So even if you have never seen any of Shakespeare’s plays, you have used at least one of the words or phrases he invented.’

Another way to engage your audience is to ask them to respond to your questions or tell about their experiences related to your presentation topic.

Write Coherent Body Paragraphs

In this part of your presentation, you need to provide support to your key message, discussing each of the main points in a clear and logical order. That’s why first, you need to decide what organizational structure you will use – a chronological order, order of importance, comparison-and contrast or theme structure etc.

Start each paragraph with a topic sentence to introduce your claim. Then explain it and add clarity to your argument with supporting information – facts, examples from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, quotations. Supporting information adds color to your talk but you should use it sparingly in order not to overburden your audience and distract them.

It’s important to provide clear link statements to show how your main points, examples, and explanations fit together. Transitions help your listeners navigate through the presentation. Use linking statements to highlight your key points, introduce supporting evidence, and emphasize the most important information. You can use such phrases as:

  • I will begin by discussing …
  • Another point is …
  • Turning to the next point …
  • I would like to move on to …

Plan to use visual aids to illustrate your main points and engage the interest of your audience. Use the principle ‘show, don’t tell’. Consider using photographs, illustrations, and videos to bring a historical event to life or help your audience connect with a particular person.

Create Convincing Conclusion

In the conclusion, you need to summarize the key points you have discussed in your presentation. Don’t present any new information here. Your goal here is to leave your listeners with something to think about.

First, you should signpost that you have reached the end of your presentation, for example, like this:

  • I’d like to finish by …
  • In conclusion …

Remind your audience about the topic and the purpose of your presentation and restate your main points:

  • In this talk, I wanted to analyze …
  • We have discussed …
  • I believe it’s now clear that …

Last, thank your audience for their attention and invite them to ask questions.

Revise and Edit Your Presentation in Shakespeare Studies

The first draft of your presentation is unlikely to be perfect. In fact, no one is able to produce the best stuff when they first get started. That’s why revision, when you look at the big picture, is a critical step in the writing process. It gives you a good chance to look at what you have written and find out if it’s really worth saying and if you managed to communicate what you wanted to say. Be ready to write multiple drafts and go through multiple revisions before you can move on to the editing and proofreading stage.

Revision of your draft may mean making changes in the shape and reasoning. You may need to delete or add sentences and paragraphs or shift them around.

  • First, you should check the focus of your presentation and make sure that you stay on the track through the entire paper. Make sure that your thesis statement is clear and that you support it with appropriate points;
  • Then check the organization and your paragraphs. All main points should be presented in the logical order, with transitions which will move your audience smoothly from one point to the next;
  • Check the content of your presentation to find out if the supporting information is relevant and persuasive and if there are any ideas that need further development.

Now move on to the sentence level and edit your draft:

  • Read your presentation sentence by sentence and make sure that their meaning is clear to your audience and they don’t sound dull;
  • Cut out extra words to avoid wordiness and use thesaurus and a good dictionary to ensure that you use the precise words;
  • Check your sentence variety and try to use different sentence patterns;
  • Check for comma splices, sentence fragments, and verb errors and fix them.
  • Eliminate spelling and punctuation mistakes.

Working with Visual Aids

The purpose of using visual aids is to enhance what you are saying and to help your audience remember your message. But you should use them wisely because they can also distract your audience from your talk. Keep in mind that slides should just support you in your presentation so you should never use them as a read-aloud script for your speech. If you want to communicate complex information in the visual way, you can make handouts and distribute them when you finish your presentation.

Here are some tips on making effective PowerPoint slides:

  • Create slides that will provide a few keywords, important data, and relevant images to enhance and emphasize your points. Include only necessary information;
  • Make your slides simple and don’t write in full sentences. Use bullet points instead. Limit punctuation and remember: the fewer words, the better;
  • Use simple sans-serif fonts consistently on all slides. Choose a font style and size that your audience will be able to read from a distance;
  • Be consistent with using contrasting colors for text and background;
  • Use only high-quality photos and graphics to make your presentation visually appealing;
  • Limit the number of slides and use one slide per minute.

We have discussed essential aspects of making effective presentations in Shakespeare Studies and offered you practical strategies for structuring your presentation, developing a logical argument, and using visual aids. We hope that our tips will help you create powerful presentations and make them memorable to your audience.

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