You may be asked to lead a seminar either on your own or with other students. This enables you to develop and demonstrate a wider range of skills. Some people express themselves better orally than in writing. This is also good practice for giving talks either at work or for life more generally.
Remember the audience
The most important aspect of making a presentation is to consider the needs of the audience. If you simply read or repeat information ‘off by heart’ your presentation will probably sound very flat and dull to the audience. There is also a greater risk that you will lose your place in your talk.
If you are a natural entertainer, then use these skills in your presentation. However, bear in mind the purpose of the presentation and how it will be assessed. Make sure you cover the essential information and that this comes across very clearly to the audience.
Prepare for the presentation
Write out your main argument or conclusion, just as you would for a writing activity.
Write out the main points as headings and bullet points on a series of index cards or on a sheet of paper. These will prompt your memory if you lose your place.
Visit the room and try out the technology. This will increase your confidence on the day.
Time yourself making the presentation. Cut it back if it is too long.
Have a clear and opening and closing line that refers directly to the main issue.
Use visual aids
If you use PowerPoint or similar software, avoid gimmicks such as jingles, animation, or sound effects that either distract attention or slow down the presentation. If you ‘fly in’ text, make sure you use the same method throughout the presentation.
Use only a few lines of text in large print or a simple diagram for each slide. Remember, your visual aids are there to reinforce what you are saying.
Keep it simple. Use technology as a tool where it helps, rather than for the sake of it.
On the day
Arrive early enough to check the equipment and seating are as you want them.
Have water to hand.
Act confident no matter how you are feeling.
Do not make apologies for things you haven’t done. Act as if everything is as it should be.
Make eye contact with the audience.
Many presentations, even those by professionals, may go wrong because people try to cover too much information in the time available. They then try and gabble their way through a set of bullet points at top speed even though people cannot take in what is being said.
Cut out unnecessary information - and even information you think is valuable if it does not fit into the time allowed. You must be able to deliver the whole presentation at a speed slower than your normal talking speech. This is necessary so that people can take in what you are saying and jot down some notes.
Talk more slowly than you feel is necessary. Take a moment or two to breathe between each point.
Leave time for questions
Even if the time available to you is brief, leave a few minutes for people to ask questions. This will indicate that you are confident about your material.
Prepare an ‘additional point’ to use up the time in case there are no questions.