In the Zone

Presentation/Public Speaking Skills

  • Unfortunately, in college, it’s not always so easy to avoid presentation in front of your peers and faculty. Sooner or later, you’ll be asked to deliver a presentation, an assignment that strikes fear in many a student. But, there’s no need to catastrophize your upcoming presentation. Your goal is to simply avoid some common presentation flaws. This will enable you to delight your teacher and peers with your presentation abilities. These developed presentation skills will pay off in future in job interviews and the post-college world of work. Here are some tips for a successful presentation.

Plan an Interesting, Well-Organized Presentation:

  • If given a choice of topic, try to choose a subject you know well and are comfortable with. The classic organizational structure for a presentation is to tell your audience what you plan to tell them, then actually tell them, then summarize by telling them what you told them. Sprinkle stories, humour (as appropriate), and starting statistics throughout your talk but don’t bury the crowd. Including massive numbers of quotations or unfathomable amounts of data can overwhelm even the most attentive audience. Ask if your audience has questions when you conclude.

Rehearse, Rehearse and Rehearse:

  • Perhaps the most significant key to an effective presentation is to practise as much as you can. First, you’ll get the timing right if you rehearse, ensuring that your presentation is neither too long nor too short. Next, you’ll overcome any technical glitches if you are using audiovisual equipment. You’ll get more comfortable with your content, which will help you tackle your nerves. Many gifted speakers look as if they’re just talking off the cuff, saying whatever comes to mind. But, in truth, they’ve spent considerable time figuring out what they’re going to say.

Carefully consider Visual Aids:

  • Keep the attention of your audience throughout your presentation by utilizing visual stimuli in addition to their spoken words. PowerPoint slides have become such a staple in presentation from the classroom to the boardroom that “death by PowerPoint” is not uncommon. Consider whether slides will really add presentation. Could you add creativity and interest in another way, such as handout? Could you prepare slides in a different way – say, focusing on graphics and photos with minimal text? If you decide on power point, don’t get text-heavy with your slides. Stick to simple design that is visually pleasing and typo-free.

Have your technology nailed, and have a backup plan:

  • If your using technology in your presentation be sure you know how to use the equipment in the room in which you will be presenting (your multimedia components might work on your own computer, but be sure they would also work on the presentation computer). Practice with the actual equipment if possible. Always have a backup plan in case of a technical glitch.

Conquer your nerves:

  • Being nerves before your presentation is normal! Channel your nervous energy before your presentation by taking a walk and a few deep breaths. Be sure to have some water handy in case of any dry mouth. Transform your nerves into positive energy that makes you appear enthusiastic but be yourself. Although it may be difficult do the best you can to appear relaxed. You don’t have to actually be relaxed few speakers are – but at least try to appear as relaxed as possible.

Take it slow:

  • The single biggest mistake inexperienced speakers make is going too fast. Remember that your audience is hearing the material for the first time and isn’t nearly as familiar with the topic as you are.
  • Connect with your audience
  • Avoid distracting verbal behaviour and body language
  • Try to avoid high use of pause words – “um”. ”Uh”, “Like”, and “You know” – Practice and knowing your material will help. Also, fidget, chew gum, fumble with your notes, put your hand s in your pocket or jingle coins or keys.

Dress the part:

  • Even if business attire is not required for your presentation, you will always make a good impression – on your audience and teacher - If you dress up at least to the business causal level, instead of raggedy cut-offs, Ball cap, flip flops and a T-shirt. Your appearance is a good indicator of how serious you are taking the material you are presenting and may help make you see more authoritative and persuasive.

Be in good voice:

  • Be sure you can project your voice loudly enough to be heard (again rehearsal will help) speak neither too slowly nor too quickly. Avoid sounding monotone by being animated and varying the pitch of your voice.

Take special care with group presentations:

  • It is important before the presentation that everyone knows what his/her role when presenting. Use your rehearsal and practice time to develop smooth transition from presenter to presenters. Also try to figure out where team members will stand not speaking to avoid everyone clustering around the audio visual equipment for example
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