Agony aunt: giving a presentation

Any advice on how to ace a presentation? I’ve got an important one coming up and would love some tips!

There’s no escaping the fact that at some point during your university studies, and then no doubt in your work life, you will have to give a presentation. This could be a small one in a seminar in front of ten people, or in a conference where there are a few hundred people. Regardless, presentations are nerve-wracking, so here a few tips on how you can ace them:

• Preparation – You might feel more nervous if you haven’t prepared enough. Before the presentation, double check you have all the materials you could possibly need, and perhaps prepare some answers to questions that the audience could ask you. Practicing in front of friends and family is also a good thing as they can give you advice on where to improve.

• Speaking and Body Language – Probably one of the most important aspects of your presentation. Your work will not be well received if you spend the entire time hunched over, staring down at a piece of paper and mumbling. Have a go at varying the pitch and intonation of your voice to hold the audience’s attention. Smiling and not standing in the same position the whole time can go a long way. To avoid always looking at pages of notes, practice is key, and a few flashcards should be enough to lead you in the right direction.

• The Actual Presentation – The last thing you want when looking out over your audience is to see a group of people yawning. To keep your audience engaged, the trick is to make your presentation content varied. Yes, have written content, but don’t just add a block of text onto each slide. PowerPoints need to be visual, so include pictures and short bullet points that viewers can digest in a couple of minutes. It might also be good to add a video or some questions for the audience to allow them to fully engage with the subject of your presentation.

That’s pretty much the gist of presentations really. It can seem like a lot to begin with, but once you get into the swing of things, the nerves will die down and you will become a confident public speaker.

Megan Harrison

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