You’ve worked hard all semester long, and the end is near. All that’s standing in the way between you and holiday break is your semester final presentation.
You’ll enjoy your break a lot more if you know that you did your very best on that presentation. Getting a good grade and positive feedback from your professor would be icing on the cake of a great semester.
But what if you’re not a confident presenter? Or perhaps you have little experience with presentations and you need some pointers. Either way, here are three tips to make your presentations stand out.
Think about how you look during your presentation. You might have spent every class period thus far in your pajamas, but that’s not acceptable during a professional display. Dress nicely, either in business or business casual clothing, depending on the type of presentation you’re giving. Your hair should be well-groomed, your teeth brushed, and your body odor-free. This will create a strong first impression that will influence your professor’s perception of the rest of the presentation.
Along with your physical appearance, think about the way you’re delivering your presentation. Think about the medium of delivery, whether it’s PowerPoint, video, or poster board. Polish each slide and image on your presentation so that it’s professional, easy to read and comprehend, and is pleasing to the eye. Aesthetics here count for more than you might realize.
Additionally, if you have any handouts, put them in a pocket folder. These are affordable and can even be customized to have your name or the name of your presentation on them so that they won’t get mixed up with the work of other presenters. It’s a simple, highly effective way to put your presentation in the front of your professor’s mind.
One of the worst things you can do in a presentation is be boring. The human mind has a tendency to wander, even if it’s your professor. You want them focused and engaged through every minute of the presentation to get all your best points across.
Let your personality show through. Make a joke here or there, use goofy cartoons to illustrate your point, or improvise when you feel like you’re losing your audience. Be interactive, asking questions and getting the audience involved. Most importantly, don’t just read the cards. Use talking bullet points that pull you back on topic, but that don’t prevent you from making eye contact.
That being said, don’t let your personality become obnoxious or out of place. It’s not always appropriate to make jokes or act silly based on the subject matter or your audience. You can be engaging without being annoying.
Practice, practice, practice
Once you’ve established the delivery method, handouts, and your presentation tactics, you need to practice. You have a lot riding on this final grade, so winging it simply won’t do.
Start by practicing in the mirror. Pay attention to your body language, eye contact, and your ability to get your points across without reading straight from the card.
When you’ve mastered that, seek an audience. Your roommates, friends, or family might be willing to listen to your presentation and give you critical feedback. Perform it in front of multiple audiences at different times so you get plenty of feedback and ideas from different people.
Your college may also have a presentation practice center that you can use. They’ll have employees — usually fellow students — who are trained and experienced in presenting and who will provide helpful feedback and ideas.
Take advantage of every opportunity to practice. It’s through these sessions that you’ll gain your confidence and ensure that your presentation brings down the house.