Presenting is no easy task. People write books on presenting, take extended presentation training courses and a whole lot of other stuff, just to make their speech stand out and their visuals deliver a message clearly. And when you are a student, the complexities rise even more. Not only you may be new to presenting, but giving a speech in front of your whole class can give a truly terrifying experience. After all, you’ll have to go to school with those people for a couple more years. But what we told you, that your presentation can make you a celebrity of your class (in a good way)? How could it be? Actually, there’s not that much you need to know to make your presentation successful. Let’s look at some of the tips:
Prepare and Pre-Plan
The foundation of a good presentation is a perfect plan. You have to make sure that everything works correctly and that you know your material well. Technical difficulties happen rather often: the projector is not working, the presentation won’t start or crashes — it really is frustrating and takes up time to fix. More importantly, it breaks the flow of your presentation, making it harder both for you and your audience to keep track of the speech.
To avoid technical mishaps, try to check everything several times. Arrive early before the presentation and take time to make sure that everything works fine. At the same time, try to prepare for issues as well — for example, memorize your speech so that you can continue without the slides in case they won’t be working. A good idea is to have an online backup for your presentation, in case that the offline version won’t load for some reason.
Know what you’re talking about
It may seem obvious advice – but you need to understand the topic that you present. What is important is to not only know your speech but to actually understand the subject of which you are speaking. High school presentations are usually made either for your research projects or for elaborating on some topic your class has just learned about. In each case, your knowledge of the subject is essential.
At the same time, your knowledge of the topic will allow for a more interesting presentation. It may allow you to put some interesting facts into your speech, and offer a better explanation of your points. People like something explained in their own words much more than to listen to a dull memorized piece of information. Finally, your knowledge would demonstrate your enthusiasm about the topic — and you will certainly ignite this enthusiasm in the audience!
Get ready for the questions
Especially for college presentations, questions and discussions are very important parts of the presenting process. The audience or the professor may ask you to clarify something, or state the viewpoint that contrasts with yours. Don’t be afraid of the questions. Instead, think of them this way: you are an expert in your topic and your answers will be valued as an expert opinion. To illustrate your point, don’t hesitate to return to the earlier slides and demonstrate your knowledge of the presentation’s structure.
However, it is possible that there would be questions that you can’t answer exactly. What to do in such cases? Well, you can’t possibly know everything. Thank for the question and try to provide your opinion on what the answer can be, based on your research for the presentation. If the questioner presented a different viewpoint on your topic, acknowledge it and present arguments that would defend your viewpoint. In other words, try to start a discussion — this move would add an interactive element to your presentation.
Find the visual appeal
The visuals are a vital part of your presentation. Even the best school presentation idea can be ruined by a bad PowerPoint template. The key principle here is to make your visuals support your points and don’t take up too much attention. To do so, try using neutral colors and simple graphics or infographics. Add photos to illustrate your points or even presentation images/schemes to lighten up the mood a little. However, don’t dedicate your slides to the images only.
Text is an equally important part of what is displayed on the slides. Keep in mind that too much text on slides is one of the biggest mistakes in presentation. A good decision would be to display several main points on each slide or the description for the visuals you are using. Alternatively, you can put on the slide some of the speaker notes to coordinate your speech using them. Put only the most essential information on the slides — sometimes the title and one image are more than enough.
Work on your delivery
In the school presentation, as in other presentations, how you talk is equally important as what you are talking about. Pauses, choice of words, pace of your speech — every detail is vital. There’s a ton of techniques that would allow you to increase your speaking skills. However, everything starts with practice. Knowing your speech well will eliminate the unnecessary pauses and “ums” or “ahs”. What is more, it would allow you to work on other aspects of your speech.
How fast you speak is also highly important. Speaking too fast will leave your audience with little understanding of your presentation, while speaking too slow will put everyone to sleep. A general advice is to speak a little faster when you are presenting than your usual speaking speed. However, if you are a fast speaker, consider lowering your pace a little for the presentation.
Hope those tips would really help you to build a perfect presentation! College and school presentations are actually meant to give you a presenting experience that you can use later in your career. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new methods while you are still at school — after all, practice makes perfect!