Beyond just preparing for exams, your classes may also require that you put together a presentation that covers the term or year. As such, on top of revising, you may be feeling pressured to put together a polished presentation that shows you prepared, memorized, and rehearsed. To make it just a bit easier for you, we have put together some top tips for getting your presentation put together and you prepared to give it!
Of course, planning what you want to say and what to include is an essential part of every presentation, but even more valuable is to be able to not rely on a script and read it word for word. Instead, you want to be able to just focus on some key words and present in a more relaxed, natural way so you can focus on getting the audience engaged rather than putting them to sleep! While you have the tips listed below, the most important advice of all is to practice your presentation many times – stand in front of a mirror, present to your friends, and line up your cuddly toys if you have to but make sure you go over it again and again rather than wing it by leaving the presentation prep to the night before standing up in class!
As you get started, your need to first determine your objective and think about what your audience (including your professor) wants to know about and what you think would be interesting if you were sitting there. Then, you can brainstorm by making a mind map and draft out your materials into a set of cue cards. Make sure your visual aids are eye-catching and not overly wordy. These should be as brief as your cue cards and be more visual appealing.
When making a list of what to prepare, remember the following:
- Use 5-10 cue cards with keywords only.
- Prepare some questions that the audience might ask.
- Create a slide presentation and handouts if they are required, including any extra materials that you feel will help your audience.
- Spend time memorizing the main ideas and using mnemonic techniques to provide the memory recall you need so as to not rely on reading from a script in what becomes a monotone, one-dimensional presentation.
- Depending on the type of presentation you are giving, include some props like a product or a model of what you are talking about. This holds interest and provides more visuals that help impact your audience as well as serve as association cues for what you are memorizing for your presentation.
Next, you need to work on your presentation delivery, and this is where all that practice comes into play. You are not reading to your audience; you are talking to them. Think about what you do with your friends or family – it's a conversation or a dialogue that seems more natural in its delivery. This includes making eye contact and using body language to get your points across n an engaging manner. Here are some tips that will help you achieve this polished delivery:
- Speak at a natural pace. When you are nervous, it is easy to want to rush through what you are saying. Take a deep breath and slow down.
- Keep it simple and brief by focusing only on the key points that your audience can process and tuck away in their memory banks. Consider using a summary at the end just to reinforce the important information in the minds of your audience.
- Practice any words or technical terms that are hard to pronounce or difficult to remember. You will want to get these down so that you do not stumble over them during the presentation and lose face with your audience.
- Work on varying your voice level and pitch so as to not come off monotone or you will put your audience to sleep.
- Stand up straight and hold your head up so you exude confidence and credibility during your presentation.
- Be sure to stay attuned to your audience to see how they are reacting and change things around if you need to or explain a point again if they look lost or confused.
Even with practice and preparation, it is still all too easy to get a case of the nerves. Try the following to help you stay calm and keep your mind focused on the task at hand so you can recall information and present with confidence even if you think you are crumbling inside:
- Smile and think about the audience as a group of old friends or your family.
- Take deep breaths as this helps you calm down.
- Focus on the information rather than on what you are doing in front of an audience.
- If it is appropriate, resort to humour here and there. It will help relax you and it will put the audience in a great frame of mind not to mention make the presentation more interesting.
Now that you have your presentation preparation and delivery under control, it is back to the task at hand – revising for those exams. The next chapter lays out a comprehensive, yet easy to implement, revising strategy to get you on the track to exam success.