At some point in the course of higher education, you’ll have to do a presentation.
For many, this is a frightening prospect, one that can cause many sleepless nights in the anticipation that everything that can go wrong will.
And because I know how nerve-wracking presentations can be, I bring you my best tips to conquer every presentation ever!
Armed with these tips, you’ll have what you need to impress with every presentation, through school, college, and into your careers.
Let’s get right into the best 6 tips for making oral presentations.
6 Tips for Making Oral Presentations
The best tip that anyone can give you about making presentations is to keep it simple.
The less complicated it is, the more likely everything will go just the way you intend.
Here are 6 simple ways you can conquer every presentation ever.
1. Choose a Topic
As you prepare for the presentation, consider the topic that you will be speaking about, and also the audience for this topic.
What aspect of the topic will be of interest to them, and what will they gain by listening to your presentation?
Always prepare a presentation with your audience in mind, as they matter more than you do in this exercise.
You will have to think about the best way to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject.
Your teacher already knows the background of the topic, so they will keep an eye out for whether you are practically applying the knowledge and using the right terms.
Stay on topic and don’t stray from the subject.
Don’t add on information that has nothing to do with your topic because you feel as though it will make your presentation sound better.
Chances are, you’ll be on a time limit. Don’t waste that time.
Some teachers are lenient, but others will test your ability to get the most pertinent information across in the time given.
So, decide early on which are the essential points you need to get across to your audience.
2. Keep it Simple
Always prepare your presentation systematically and try to simplify things so that even someone who does not know anything about the topic will feel illuminated by what you present.
Do not be long-winded and use long paragraphs to make a presentation.
Chances are, you will lose your audience midway through the presentation, if not earlier if you do.
Keep sentences short and use each set of sentences to provoke a thought or present an idea or lesson.
Simplicity doesn’t mean bland slides.
Try to use a good, attractive template.
Help your audience visualize the information using diagrams, graphs, and images.
Ensure there’s enough white space, and you’ve structured the information effectively so that your audience knows exactly where they are on your slides.
If you’re able to use a few keywords on your slides to trigger your memory for the information you need, it indicates that you are well-versed in your topic.
It also saves you from the pitfall of getting lost or distracted in a chunk of text or reading it out loud from the slides.
3. Use Examples
If the content of your presentation is technical, or generally regarded as difficult, use examples freely as part of your presentation.
Where possible, try to use examples that relate to the daily lives of your audience so that they will buy into what you are saying more easily.
This also illustrates that you understand your topic yourself, because you can apply it practically, and can score you extra points from your teacher.
4. Get Ready for the Presentation
Delivery of a presentation can be a nightmare, regardless of how well prepared you are.
The key things to remember are, firstly, to modulate your voice.
Don’t speak in a constant monotonous tone.
Be careful never to speak too quickly or too softly, as this will cause the audience to switch off.
To ensure that you have the right balance, practice on your own or in front of a friend.
Secondly, always make eye contact with your audience.
If you are a first-time presenter, look for a friendly face in the audience and concentrate on this person as you are speaking.
This will help you build confidence as this person interacts with you non-verbally by nodding or smiling when you speak.
Presentations can be daunting things, and it’s not unusual to blank out in front of an audience or get nervous and stumble over your words.
A tip that makes all the difference is starting early – research early, prepare your slides early, and practice as much can you can before the big day.
Whether or not you get stage-fright, knowing your material inside and out, and knowing the sequence of information from all your practice, will give you the confidence to present without a hitch.
Thorough preparation means you’re already halfway there to conquer every presentation ever.
5. Consider Using Notes
If you’re worrying that you’ll forget your lines, use notes.
There is no requirement anywhere that you must make a note-free presentation.
However, be careful that you never read from these notes only, or if you feel you have no choice, paraphrase as you go along.
Rather than having bulky, chunky notes, it’s better to have a few bullet-points containing the pertinent information to help jolt your memory.
This is why you need to start early, instead of last minute.
It’s easy to tell when someone knows their information inside out, and when someone only put the slides together the night before.
It is much better to belong to the former group than the latter.
If you have the opportunity, it is always useful to use the projector or OHP to boost your presentation.
Use short notes or visual imagery related to your topic.
This will keep the audience interested in what you have to say and allow them to keep track of the direction in which you want to take them.
6. Oral Presentation Techniques
All in all, treat giving a presentation like you are speaking to a dear friend and sharing thoughts and ideas about something.
Be honest and calm.
Too much fidgeting can annoy your audience.
Speaking too quickly or too softly can lose their attention easily.
Most of all, try to relax and find a way to convince your audience about your topic.
Treat each presentation like a valuable learning experience – if you make mistakes during one presentation, don’t just leave the room and try to forget all about it.
Mistakes are a part of learning, so determine not to repeat it the next time.
After all, presentations are a part of the life of a student, so the sooner you adapt to delivering them, the more naturally you’ll be able to perform.
Now I want to hear back from you.
Which of these tips did you find the most helpful?
Are you going to try and apply them to conquer every presentation ever?
Steve Armstrong works for www.solidessay.com, a student oriented company, which provides help with academic assignments such as essays, term papers, and research papers for students around the world.
[ Updated : June 9, 2020 ]