Tips for Nailing a Class Presentation

While studying at Uni you will find that assignments come in many shapes and sizes; some are long form essays, others short and sweet and then there are the speeches and presentations. These are perhaps the most intimidating way to submit an assignment. With speeches and presentations, you are being graded for both your work and your ability to present it. Understandably the idea of standing up in front of your peers and tutors can cause a lot of anxiety and pressure, and like any performance there is the potential of getting stage fright. For some students this is where they strive but don’t let that discourage you, public speaking isn’t everyone’s strongest trait but there are tips and tricks to help you survive your presentation and do it well. Being proactive with this assignment is the best way to nail it.


Getting to know your topic

The most important aspect of this assignment is your speech, you should prioritise writing this before you go on to the presentation and PowerPoint. By working in this order, you can go on to include key words and relevant information within your PowerPoint that correlates with your speech. Having a sound understanding of the topic and information you are to present to your peers will make this process more comfortable. It will also prepare you for any questions you might receive on the topic. If you don’t understand something you have included within your speech it will create uncertainty in your work, only include content you know.


Practicing and memorising your presentation

Once you have finished the written version of your presentation it’s time to practice, practice, practice. By reading your presentation out loud you’ll be able to hear any mistakes and anomalies, if certain areas need to be expanded upon or reduced to be more impactful. In this process you will begin to memorise your presentation by reciting your speech continuously alongside visual cues. This stage may prove to be frustrating but the amount of time you put into it will show on presentation day. When you’re happy with your progress go on to practicing in front of friends or other peers from your class, this will be a good way for you to work on your confidence and receive feedback before the big day.


Have a PowerPoint that supports your presentation

Your PowerPoint is important but not the star of the show, try following the 10-20-30 rule. You should have 10 slides, the presentation should last 20 minutes and using font in size 30. This is a great tip to follow, it limits the amount of information you use, making what you have concise and clear. Make sure to include key words or bullet points to help you stay on tract with your speech. It’s easy to get overwhelmed while taking the stage so having that information accessible can help trigger your memory. And if you decide to use a timer on your presentation make sure to give yourself enough time to get through the information for each slide, this can help on the day to indicate if you’re speaking too quickly.


Winning over the audience

It’s important to remember that you are being marked on your delivery; building a repertoire with the audience will ease some of your nerves and add an interactive aspect to your presentation. Don’t be afraid to engage with the audience, ask and answer questions where possible. This means that you will need to take your time with giving your presentation to allow the audience the opportunity to get involved. Making eye contact is a necessity, it shows confidence and it breaks down the barrier between speaker and audience. Seek out friendly faces or let your eyes wander across the crowd, if even this much contact seems too much then look slightly above everyone’s head.


Making the most of presentation day

To help on presentation day make sure you carry flashcards with you during your speech or have enough information within your PowerPoint to work with. While you might know your speech inside out, stage fright can cause some lapses in memory so having something to refer to is helpful. Being confident is key but it’s best to be prepared for every situation. Also have a backup copy of your presentation on hand to reduce stress, there is nothing worse than technical difficulties.

If it’s optional as to who presents first then be brave and put your hand up, not knowing when it’s your turn can make the experience more nerve racking. If your entire class is doing a presentation on the same topic then there will be similarities between your work and your peers, it’s expected, but don’t let that derail you from your presentation and try not to make any last-minute changes.


Moving on from mistakes

Making mistakes is normal, stumbling over words or missing a whole sentence from your speech isn’t the end of the world. You won’t be judged by your mistakes but on your recovery. Don’t let one slip up and eclipse your entire presentation, brush it off and keep going. You are the only person that knows this presentation inside and out, it’s highly likely that any minor mistakes you make won’t be noticed by the audience. If you start to feel overwhelmed then take a few seconds to breathe, have water nearby and try and enjoy your time in the lime light. It’s healthy to laugh at yourself but see this assignment as a learning experience; what worked well for you and what you think might help in the future. Student presentations might be in the classroom but in the future, you could be standing on a stage giving your very own ted talk!


- Shannel Milne, NxtStep Content Writer