Most courses require students to give a presentation at some point during their studies, for many the prospect fills them with dread. Unfortunately or fortunately depending upon your perspective, the inherent nature of graduate jobs means that at some point there will be a requirement to present to or address an audience.
The prospect of presenting is so distressing for some that they waste too much time worrying and vital preparation time is lost. Worrying is counter productive, so you must put it out of your mind.
The fact is that confidence is a great antidote for nerves and a presentation that is well researched and properly prepared will give you that confidence.
The opposite is also true. I have known students who have been so side tracked by fear that they have been unable to concentrate upon the task in hand leading to sub-standard preparation, in turn promoting a lack of confidence which equates to increased nerves.
You need to break the cycle! Focus on the work and the nerves will to a greater extent take care of themselves. Don’t forget once completed, it will be easier the next time.
If your presentation is to be assessed the first step, is to read the assessment criteria. Look at how the marks are allocated and gear your efforts accordingly.
Take particular note of the time limit keeping to a time specification is a vital part of the presenter’s skill, so ensure that yours is spot on. Too much under the allotted time and you will have probably failed to do your subject justice, over run and as interesting as you subject may be, you will fail to demonstrate your ability to plan effectively.
Decide on whether you are going to use a visual aid and if so, what. Aids tend not to be mandatory but their use is advantageous for four reasons:
1. They add quality and will make you look more professional.
2. Make it easier for your audience to follow.
3. Provide you with a prompt so you don’t have to rely on cards.
4. Take the attention of the audience away from you.
Your subject matter will probably dictate the type of aid you will be able to use. Acetates still have their use but the favourite for many now is ‘PowerPoint’ it’s simple to use and very effective.
Whatever you decide make sure that you use a font size that is easy to read and use a clear heading and bullet points around 4-6 per ‘page’, avoid cramming in loads of information.
Do your research, know your stuff, and don’t forget that knowledge equals confidence!
Make sure that the information flows in a logical sequence, once you have it planned out practise, practise and practise some more.
Don’t just run through it in your head, actually speaking the words will take longer than thinking them-remember that time limit!
It’s a common mistake to think successful people are just born that way. Footballer’s, golfer’s, advocate’s, actor’s, artist’s, writer’s, no matter what the field, successful people have one thing in common, they practise and keep on practising until they get it right. So must you!
Presentation complete, the next thing to consider is how you are going to present yourself. Don’t turn up in jeans and trainers show your audience and the occasion some respect. If you look professional, you will act professionally and if you are being assessed you will gain extra marks.
If you are unfamiliar with the equipment make sure that you have a couple of practise sessions so you know how to use it.
When the moment arrives wait until everyone is seated and quiet, introduce yourself and tell the audience the subject that you are going to examine.
Make eye contact with a couple of audience members periodically throughout your talk.
Unless you are supremely confident and time is not an issue, you will not want to be disrupted by questions as this may throw you off course and will eat into your allotted time. So inform your audience that you will take questions at the end. At least if you are being marked the assessor will know at what point the talk ended and the questions began.