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TOK Tips: The presentation

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TOK Oral Presentation

The oral presentation counts for a third of your whole TOK grade, so it’s worth performing well. We have some quick tips to help you ace your presentation.

TOK is difficult to get your head around. You find hard just learning about it, and now the IB wants you to talk about it in front of your teacher and classmates? Yes, the oral presentation is quite a daunting task to do, but it’s worth a third of your TOK grade, so read on to find out how to ace your presentation and blow your peers’ minds.

Your Real-Life Situation

For your presentation, you have to choose a real-life situation (RLS). This can be virtually anything as long as it is not a hypothetical scenario. It’s in the name, really. Spend some time thinking about what you will talk about, as it will be the basis of your whole presentation. A personal example is a good option, but loads of people choose something they’ve seen on the news too. The important thing is that your RLS is simple and easy to explain – you don’t want to lose your audience in a complex explanation of what your RLS really is.

You will then draft your Knowledge Question (KQ) from your RLS, which will inevitably influence which Areas of Knowledge (AOKs) and Ways of Knowing (WOKs) you choose. You can see your RLS is very important, but do not focus your presentation on your RLS. Focus on making links to your WOKs and AOKs and talk about the real TOK stuff, not your RLS. For more guidance, check the diagram below.

Painter’s Page ©


Like in all presentations, your structure is key if you want your audience to understand what you are trying to say. Obviously, you need an introduction and a conclusion, but what about the main “body” of the presentation? Well, for each argument you make, follow this structure: claim, counterclaim and mini-conclusion. State your argument with its appropriate evidence, make a counter-argument and point out implications, and wrap it up with a nice, brief conclusion. Do that for all your claims – you should have three separate ones. Your final conclusion at the end of your presentation should summarise all your arguments and reach a final answer on your KQ.

Terminology & Perspectives

Don’t forget to use all the terminology from TOK. From WOKs to AOKs and everything in between. You will sound more professional and like you actually know what you are talking about (and hopefully you will do). When making claims, don’t forget to mention different perspectives on the matter; how is your viewpoint different to someone of a different age, gender or ethnicity? Different perspectives not only make your presentation stronger, but will also let you identify limitations and implications of your claims, which will help you think of counterclaims to include.

Presentation Style

Finally, there’s no point in you making a great TOK presentation if your delivery makes the examiner fall asleep. You need to be an engaging speaker – change your tone, use rhetorical questions… You know, all those things TED Talk people do. Be careful with cue cards; if you start reading from them it may seem like you don’t really know your material. If possible, do not have any notes with you and never ever look back and read from the slides. You should practise your presentation several times.

Good luck with your presentation! If you need more advice, check out the links below!

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Further Reading

How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Presentation:

Painter’s Page TOK Presentation:

How to Ace Your TOK Presentation:

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Timothy Hoffmann