I'm going to have an oral presentation in school. It should be like 5-10 min and I'll chose my own topic. So I was thinking about describing how a guitar works. How the sound is created and played through the amp, and stuff like that.

My question is, do you think that a "normal" audience will find this utterly boring? If so, what should I do to make it more interesting? I will have a computer available for Power Point etc if needed.

Basically, I know where to start, but not what info I should use. Like, should I describe every part of the guitar or should I describe scales? Im sure some of you have done this before so please reply with some tips on what to do and what I shouldn't do.

Thanks in advance.
I've done a physics project on the very same thing before and it can be very interesting!
My presentation involved a few short videos of batio playing his four neck guitar - most people find that pretty outrageous, especially the hair! So I basically showed some videos at the start to get attention and then i explained it from there.

I would recommend going the more scientific route - i.e explaining how the sound is created rather than scales and music theory although it depends on the subject.
Erm. Play guitar. That's usually interesting enough for a school presentation.
Show them how you string a guitar, its ten times easier, and it would take up the time limit.
I think the average school going audience will be thrilled. Especially if you can bring your guitar. Try to go after a boring topic. Right after some smart kid talks about taxes or politics or veneral diseases or something.

I wouldn't complicate too much. If you have only 10 minutes, don't go into theory.

Start by showing and correctly naming the parts. Visual parts first, then strings and pickups.
Talk a bit about how the string vibration causes sound in the air. (Your teacher will love this). Here's some info about that:

But keep it short. Only talk about length of string and pitch for instance. Explain that the frets are measured to shorten your string to preset lengths.

Then give a short demo: pluck every open string once, without amplifier first, then with. (Your co-students will love that). Name your strings as you play. Then play a simple scale and name the notes.

Briefly explain the possible settings on your amp, and demonstrate the differences afterwards. Don't play too loud to not upset your teacher (and principal).

Don't play too much during the presentation. Your teacher wants you to talk. 10 minutes is easily filled anyway. End with a short half minute riff, but pick something you know really well. Then ask if there are questions, and check with your teacher if there is time to answer them. You can always answer questions (to the girls especially) during lunch break.

You will be scored on three things:
Clarity: Explain everything briefly. Don't talk about too much.
Structure: Guitar parts - Sound physics - Demo. Practice a couple of times in private.
Time: Keep everything short. Talk for 8 minutes, play for 2. Not the other way around.

Damn, I almost wish I could do this presentation... :-)

Good luck to you.
Last edited by Withakay at Apr 14, 2008,
A "normal" audience will definitely not find it boring. In fact, they may be more thrilled by it than a musical audience, since a "normal" audience doesn't exactly know what hammer-ons, pull-offs, tapping, palm-muting, scales, etc. are. They are not used to seeing someone kick ass at guitar. When I gave my presentation on how to play a guitar a while back, I actually went over 10 minutes, because everyone liked it, lol. All I was doing was teaching power chords, scales, and improvising in Am.
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I think a presentation on techniques would bore the tits off a non-guitar playing audience. They're not going to give a toss about stuff like that.

I'd personally do effects - an explanation of how they sound, an explanation of how they actually work to make the sound and a brief history as in when they were originally introduced (eg flanging done by manipulating tape reels).
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I like the idea of stringing and tuning a guitar. That will definately take up 5 minutes and you can be making jokes the whole time. If you have a tremolo bar, you can explain how tightening one string loosens the others.

And after your guitar is tuned, you can wail away for about 30 seconds.

Sounds good to me!
Agreed on the stringing part!
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Ok, thanks for all the good replies I think I'll follow you guidance Withakay, it sounds perfect. I have like 3 weeks to prepare so it shouldn't be a problem. You really made me want to do this now!
Withakay is right. Watching you change strings would be boring. That's why performers don't do it on stage.
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Withakay is right. Watching you change strings would be boring. That's why performers don't do it on stage.
Well, I don't know. Stringing is as good a topic as another. But the assignment was to give a presentation. That means to talk. The teach will not want you to make jokes all the time while performing some manual labour.

Now, if you explain what you are doing while changing a string, that's something else. But you have to finish in under 10 minutes, and keep the audience hooked.

Personally, I'd stick to the basics. Best of luck. If you need more info, you know where to find us. Let us know how you did.
Yep. I brought my guitar with me. We had a young female teacher at that time and she was so stunned that she gave me a brilliant mark even though my presentation was only average.
I guess you did something other than change strings, then?

Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

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