In-class presentations make for one of the most daunting challenges facing university students. Why? Because not everyone is a natural-born speaker with charisma to burn. Indeed, many people find it acutely difficult if not impossible to captivate an audience. If this applies to you, don’t sweat it; you’re in good company.
But that doesn’t mean that you should refrain from trying to remedy the situation. Nor does it mean that you should worry about making that effort only for things to fall flat. We’ve got your back – and have mapped out five tips that will enable you to ace your next presentation!
Tip 1: Start with a bang, and don’t let up
First impressions tend to last; they aren’t easily overridden. That’s why, when delivering a presentation, you must hook your audience from the get-go.
Many people deem such a strong opening sufficient, but in fact the truly demanding part of the enterprise is sustaining your listeners’ interest throughout. How to manage such a feat? Try interspersing your talk’s main feature with (related) stories and personal anecdotes. This way, you’ll not only hook your audience, but reel them in.
Tip 2: Practice like a beast
Practice your presentation over and over again, and we assure you that you’ll come close to perfecting it. If you don’t have the time to do this, ask a friend to sit before you as you deliver the talk and point out anything that you might improve. If you’re too shy to request such assistance of anyone, film yourself and then evaluate your work yourself – with a critical eye.
Make sure to avoid speaking in a rushed manner, enunciate words clearly, steer clear of repetition, and limit “ums” as well as excess verbiage to a minimum.
Oh, and don’t forget your lines, of course!
Tip 3: Keep that baby short and structured
It’s important that your presentation doesn’t become unwieldy. Droning on and on when delivering a speech will bore just about anyone, and with people’s increasingly short attention spans, it’s proving harder than ever to convince them to listen for long periods of time.
Additionally, the use of connecting words and phrases when transitioning from one sub-topic to another, a tack that endows a speech with structure and militates against rambling, is essential. In this regard, terms such as “firstly” and “in conclusion” (or their equivalents) will come in handy.
Tip 4: Check your body language
Something which most people tend to forget when it comes to presentations is non-verbal communication. As it happens, maintaining an erect (though not immovable) posture, employing hand gestures for emphasis, and making eye contact with your audience are all important.
Together, these mannerisms will help you exude confidence, which has a magnetic quality.
Tip 5: Remember the crux of the matter
The presentation, for all its entertaining tangents and asides, must revolve around a specific subject. The audience must never lose sight of what that is, so avoid straying too far from it!
Also, demonstrate passion for what you’re speaking about, and do not at any point give the impression that your enthusiasm has flagged. After all, it’s a whole lot easier to pique your audience’s interest in what they’re hearing when you seem to care about what you’re saying!
Let us know if you have any tips or tricks of your own that our students at the American University of Malta might use to ace their presentations. Or, even better, enroll at AUM and help us out in person!