In-class presentations motivate students to perform well in front of their peers and expose their classmates to new ideas. Students become teachers of their work. Few teaching techniques can push learning to the level of competence as well as having students demonstrate mastery of some aspect of course content and/or defend their solutions to problems.
Fielding questions from fellow students and instructors increases self-confidence and provides motivation for acquiring a deeper understanding of concepts and applications. Students who traditionally don't do well on pencil-and-paper tests may excel in presenting. Establish the criteria for success or standards you will use to measure presentations and let students know them in advance so they can focus their efforts.
Group presentations are a variation on this theme, allowing students to present a more complete or in-depth look at a topic, or to cover a greater number of topics. Working in groups and making group presentations can take the pressure off students who are intimidated by public speaking, but can be difficult to grade. You may be able to overcome this hurdle by assessing the process—not just the product—of their work together.
For example, spend time in class listening to students discuss ideas, analyze data, and debate results. Ask students how their work is coming along, look over their notes, and ask them to submit reports detailing the progress they have made so far, any problems they have run into, and their plans for proceeding.