When studying for exams and writing final essays, presentations often get overlooked. Many profs use presentations to assess your knowledge in a different way. Besides, oral communication skills are important! We hung out with Studying for Success to get their tips and tricks to what takes a presentation from good to great.
Step 1: Planning
The best way to set yourself up for success is to be prepared! Know the purpose of your presentation and know your audience! Check out the guidelines for your presentation such as your time limits, the criteria, and any specific expectations your prof has.
Step 2: Research
It’s one thing to learn about a topic, it’s even more difficult to understand something well enough to explain it to an entire class! Background research is crucial for making a logical, easy to follow presentation. Knowing your time limit is important here, you might have to narrow your focus to fit everything in.
Step 3: Make it flow
The structure of a great presentation follows a clear, organized path. Your goal is to help your audience understand your topic, not to confuse them! When in doubt keep it logical and keep it simple.
What does a well organized presentation look like?
Normally, most presentations have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion followed by time for questions. The introduction is there to get your audience’s attention and state the purpose of the presentation. The body is full of clear points backed up with examples from the literature. Finally, your conclusion highlights the main points of your presentation and invites additional questions. If you happen to have a question period, be prepared with background information about your main points. Think of it as additional time to explain your arguments! And yes, it’s OK to say you don’t know the answer to a question.
You might prefer working alone, but effectively working in a group is a crucial part of the workplace. Start off strong by organizing and preparing as a group to create a cohesive message. Once your presentation is complete, practice run-throughs together as many times as possible.
Your slides should be there to enhance your presentation, not to read verbatim. The amount of text per slide should be limited! If you’re trying to present data, use a figure over a table. A visual representation is much more clear.
Public speaking is most people’s biggest fear. It’s OK to be nervous to present, almost everyone is! A big part of this can come from confidence. Make sure you practice, practice, practice to perfect your delivery. While you’re presenting, speak slowly and clearly. Don’t forget to make eye contact with the audience. One of my favourite tips is to turn your nervous energy into excitement. You’ve been preparing! Think of your presentation as an opportunity to explain an interesting topic.