Beyond preparing for exams, you may have to put together a presentation that covers the term or year. On top of revising, you may be feeling pressured to put together a polished presentation that shows that you prepared, memorized and rehearsed. We have put together some top tips for getting your presentation ready!
Of course, planning is an essential part of every presentation, but you should try not to rely on a reading a script word-for-word. Instead, focus on 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! The most important advice of all is to practice your presentation many times - stand in front of a mirror, present to your friends, line up your cuddly toys if you have to, but make sure you practise rather than leaving the presentation prep until the night before standing up in class!
First, determine your objective and think about what your audience (including your professor) needs to know about and how you can make this interesting. Brainstorm by making a mind map, then draft out your materials onto cue cards. Make sure your visual aids are eye-catching and not overly wordy.
When making a list of what to prepare, remember the following:
- Use 5-10 cue cards containing keywords only.
- Prepare for likely questions the audience might ask.
- Create a slide presentation and handouts if required, including any extra materials that will help your audience.
- Spend time memorizing the main ideas so you do not rely on a script - this leads to a monotonous, one-dimensional presentation.
- Depending on the type of presentation you are giving, you might include some props like a product or a model of what you are talking about. This holds audience interest and can serve as an association cue.
Next, you need to work on your presentation delivery, and this is where practise is vital. 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 natural in its delivery. This includes making eye contact and using body language to get your points across in 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 rush through what you are saying. Take a deep breath and slow down.
- Keep it simple 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 most important information.
- Practise 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 your delivery is not monotonous or you will put your audience to sleep.
- Stand up straight and hold your head up so you exude confidence during your presentation.
- Stay attuned to your audience to see how they are reacting - 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 nervous. Try the following to help you stay calm 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 being 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.