• 3-minute read
  • 1st January 2015

How to Give a Presentation

Most students will have to give a presentation at some point during their university career. If you have one coming up- don’t panic! Just make sure you follow the steps listed below.

1.  Practise!

Before giving your presentation, run through it as many times as possible. Don’t just mutter it to yourself, though: instead, pretend you are speaking to a large crowd.

Try using different volumes and voice tones and think about how you will stand and what sort of gestures you might use while speaking. If possible, round up a few friends and give them the presentation too!

Also, make sure that you test out any technical equipment that you are going to use. Will your laptop connect to the projector? Will any notifications pop up while you are delivering your PowerPoint? Make sure you’re prepared!

2. Connect with the Audience

There is nothing worse than watching someone read from their notes. While you are speaking, try to make eye contact briefly with every member of the audience (if it is a relatively small group!) at some point.

If you are speaking to a large group, make sure that you direct your speech to the whole crowd, including those at the back. To do this, make your gestures bigger and speak loudly, slowly and clearly.

Invite questions, either during the presentation or at the end. You can also ask the audience questions to initiate dialogue with them.

3. Be Confident

Confidence is the key to success in presentations. Stand upright, but make sure your posture is not too stiff. If you feel yourself starting to hunch, pretend to be more confident than you feel. You’ll be surprised at how easily confidence comes when you assume a confident posture!

Also, use all of the space available to you. There is no need to stand in one spot. However, don’t go overboard on this. It’s quite nerve-wracking to watch someone who continually paces as they speak! Try to strike a balance with some natural movement.

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4. Use Your Voice Effectively

Before speaking, do some vocal warm ups such as singing a children’s song or saying a sentence in a variety of tones (try ‘I want a proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot’).

Think about how you are speaking. Try to vary the volume, pitch and pace during your presentation. Make sure that you have a glass of water on hand. Don’t add ice though, as this constricts the vocal cords.

5. Breathe

This is key to feeling relaxed and in control. Breathe slowly and deeply, from your stomach. Leave a pause every now and then for a deep breath. If you begin to panic, your breathing will speed up, making it more difficult to speak loudly. Don’t be afraid to take things slowly!

Most Importantly…

Never apologise for yourself! You are here to say something worthwhile, and people are interested in hearing it. Obviously, if there is a technical problem, it’s fine to apologise, but don’t labour the point. Just say sorry and move on.

Be yourself! Don’t copy anyone else’s presentation style. The more you present, the more you will work out your own style. If you don’t normally make jokes, don’t try to be a stand-up comedian, as it will be awkward for everyone. Just explain what you have to come to say as naturally as possible.

Good luck!

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