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Plymouth University's CDE Model: Content, Delivery, Engagement.
Plymouth University’s (2019) CDE Model

What makes a good presentation?

Plymouth University’s (2019) CDE model shows the elements of an effective presentation.

  • Content: plan a logical structure that shows your knowledge/research.
  • Delivery: communicate your ideas confidently and effectively.
  • Engagement: make a connection with the audience.

1. Planning


  • Introduce yourself: who are you?
  • Outline the topic: what is your talk about?
  • The hook: interesting facts, statistics or quotation to grab the audience’s attention.
  • Justify: why is this a topic of interest?
  • Coming next: what key points will you discuss?


  • Divide the topic into key points to discuss.
  • Consider what details or examples you might mention.
  • Plan how much time you’d like to spend on each point.
  • Consider using a planning grid such as the one below.
Presentation planning grid PDF Presentation Planning Guide Word


  • Summarize: what main points were covered?
  • Memorable ending: state your final point; have a call to action; end with a rhetorical question.
  • You can also invite questions.
  • Prepare by thinking about what your audience may ask.
  • If you don’t know the answer, say ‘Can I come back to you?’ or open it up to the audience ‘What does everyone else think?’

2. Designing Visuals

  • The visual appearance of your presentation is important.
  • We learn 90% of information visually and only 7-11% through hearing (Bradbury, 1995, p. 64).


  • Use clear headings to guide your reader.
  • Bullet point information & avoid too much text on each slide.
  • Aim for around 25 words per slide (Van Emden and Becker, 2016, p. 40).
  • Use sans serif fonts that are easy to read such as Arial, Calibri and Veranda.
  • Aim for around 24 point font for PowerPoint slides.
  • Pick a font colour that contrasts with the background.
Image of a colour wheel.
Colour wheel



  • Choose a consistent colour palette to use throughout.
  • Use the colour wheel (beside) to aid this.
  • Complimentary: •Opposites in colour wheel e.g. blue and orange.
  • Monochromatic •1 colour in different shades and tints.
  • Analogous •3 colors next to each other on the color wheel.
Ineffective slide design example with mixed graphics/colours, textured background and different to read fonts.
Example of ineffective slide design.

3. Delivering

  • Avoid speaking too quietly or quickly. Remember to pause between points.
  • To improve delivery, aim to rehearse before the talk.
  • Create prompts such as a script, PowerPoint notes or A5 index cards.
  • Try the Orai app to test your delivery, or ask your friends to watch.
  • What worked well? What areas do you need to improve?

Non-verbal communication:

  • Keep your body language open rather than closed.
  • Closed body language can include folded arms, crossed legs and hands in pockets.
  • Instead, aim to engage your audience with eye contact.

Can you spot the mistakes?

  • Watch the video below.
  • What mistakes are made in terms of design and delivery?
  • Watch until the end of the video to get the answers!
Example of a bad presentation

Sources consulted

  • Bradbury, A. (1995) Successful presentation skills. London: Kogan Page Limited.
  • Levin, P. and Topping, G. (2006) Perfect presentations. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Plymouth University (2019) Presentations. Available at: Presentations.pdf ( (Accessed: 15 December 2021).
  • Van Emden, J. and Becker, L. (2016) Presentation skills for students. 3rd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Image to represent link to eBooks about giving presentations.


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