With the exception of just a few people that I know, everyone at university will have to make a presentation of some kind during their course.
This year alone I have four presentations!!
These assessments can contribute towards your final grade, and therefore, it is important to make them to the best of your ability. So here are some tips from my own experience:
Do your research!
The most important thing here is to know what you’re talking about. You don’t have to be an expert, but often you will be asked questions at the end of your presentation, so I think it’s good to know some background information about your topic. Thorough research outside the box will give you something to fall back on during question time – and also if something goes wrong with your powerpoint!
Find a balance for visual aids
My lecturer once said that ‘the most informative powerpoints are the most boring ones’. I agree in part with this statement. When the slides are filled to the brim with facts and references, it shows that you have done your research.
However, a powerpoint is a visual aid, and I think it’s key to add imagery and colours to keep the audience interested. That doesn’t mean that you should just post lots of pictures though! Take a bit of time and you’ll be able to find a balance between text and image. Be creative too: maybe use of a video to break things up even!
Make prompt cards
Prompt cards for me work in two ways.
– They are a backup when you suddenly forget what you are going to say during your presentation. This is very important as it will help you to keep calm.
– They are a good way of revising. Writing the words out will instantly help your brain to memorize them more easily, which will come in handy on the day! This also helps with exams.
Find a focus spot
If you find it hard to look people in the eye during presentations (I do!) then here’s a little trick I like to use. Looking at a point just above people’s heads, from your standing up height it will appear as if you are looking directly at them! You can scan around at this level too, and maybe if you feel brave, glance down a little further and make eye contact!
Rehearse rehearse rehearse. It’s the only way to really guarantee that your presentation will go well. You’ll know your timing, learn your script, and be able to practise ways of speaking better to your audience. If you do it in front of someone whom has no idea what you’re talking about, such as a housemate, then you’ll know if your presentation is easy to understand too!
Good luck, young grasshopper!