If there is anything most students dread even more than writing essays and term papers, it's giving an oral presentation. Almost nobody likes it and it can be very nerve-racking. You are being judged and critiqued in real time by both your professors and your classmates. It can make you feel like you're in a pressure cooker that's just about to blow.
The good news is that the anxiety and fear associated with giving an oral presentation doesn't need to cripple your performance or your chance to get a good grade. If you take the advice ahead and implement these seven ideas into the writing and delivery of your presentation, you'll do just fine.
#1 – Start With Good Writing
One of the advantages of presentations is that you don't have to be an expert essay writer or any kind of writing professional to stand out amongst your classmates. The language of a presentation is less formal, so you can write your script in a way that is more conversational than an academic paper. The freedom to do that should, in and of itself.
A well-drafted script, formatted like an essay or term paper, can help you get more comfortable with the information and its delivery. Start by drafting a comprehensive outline and build a script around that. It will help you organize your information and will decrease the likelihood of forgetting to include key details.
#2 – Study Your Draft
Once you have a solid draft written, read it over and over again. Resist the urge to make too many changes unless you spot some glaring errors or misinformation that needs to be revised. Getting familiar with the salient points in your script, along with the supporting details, will make it easier to transition to the next step.
#3 – Use Icons to Fortify Key Points
Remember that you are giving this presentation to a largely millennial audience that grew up on visuals as part of their overall communication style. Graphic interpretations of key concepts or those that accentuate your description or explanation of them will get you far. Make good use of icons in your visuals. They are a popular addition to many written conversations, so leverage them as powerful visual aids. Some great examples can be found here.
#4 – Make Good Use of Color in Your Visuals
Color is also a vital part of any visual presentation. Don't go the fast and easy route. Select templates and color schemes that accentuate the tone, mood, and feelings you are attempting to convey. Colorful visuals add an extra dimension to your presentation and can often go far toward clarifying key concepts or making your own thoughts and opinions clearer.
#5 – Use Your Personality to Your Advantage
Now comes the part where you need to deliver your presentation and you want that delivery to be as strong as possible. Stiff, practiced, monotone presentations are boring. They become interesting when the presenter adds his or her own personality to the delivery. Walk around, use your hands, use appropriate facial expressions. All of these things will help accentuate your message and keep your audience engaged.
#6 – “Um...” Don't Get Stuck
The curse of “um...” has taken down many a presenter. This is why you want to be as familiar as possible with your material and the structure of the presentation ahead of time. Silent pauses are much preferred to a nervous “um” so work those pauses in ahead of time.
#7 – Relax and Enjoy
Try to approach your presentation from an angle that personally interests you and organize the information in a way that is easy for you to understand. Doing so will boost your confidence along with the quality of your presentation. Don't try to impress with lofty details or ideas that are beyond the scope of the class. Stick with what you know and are being taught. It will earn huge points with your prof.
While we can't make the experience of giving a college presentation less scary, we hope that the above advice will help you at least feel more prepared when the time comes. Remember, out of all the things you'll be asked to write during your college career, this is actually one of the easiest so don't be daunted by the task. You've got this and we've got your back.