You will have put a lot of work into your research or project and want to show everyone what you have achieved or discovered, so you need to impart this knowledge as clearly as possible. Don’t let your lack of presentation skills bring your message down.
Delivering an impactful presentation to an audience is all about thoughtful design, thorough preparation and plenty of practice. Here are some key tips to help you make the most of the experience:
Plan your presentation
This sounds obvious but its importance can be underestimated. Group presentations should be well co-ordinated with everyone contributing their part. So, before you start anything decide exactly who will be presenting which parts of your presentation, for how long and in which order.
Stick to the plan – avoid last minute changes as this could throw the whole presentation off. The key to a coherent, smooth running, professional presentation is to practise it all together (including entering and leaving) until it all runs smoothly and you look like a great team.
There are more details about designing your presentation and tips for good presenting in the Effective Communication section of the Study Skills Hub.
Play to individual strengths
Use your practice time to identify who is the best person to present each section of the talk. Some are better at introducing a talk with the right tone for the audience, others are better at talking through data or answering questions at the end.
Plan what you will do if someone forgets key information or runs over their time. Other people might need to adapt their talk subtly to cope with this. Practice covering potential problems and tricky questions so they are manageable if they occur on the day.
Listen carefully during practice runs
Know what everyone else is going to cover and what they will say. It will help if you have to cover someone’s absence on the day and avoids you repeating what has already been said.
Practice transitions from one person to the next
Agree your cues. Practice opening and closing the talk: these contribute to the impression you make.
Let your body talk
Smile! You will appear more relaxed even if you do not feel it. Think about your voice tone as well as use of hands – try to keep elbows to your sides to reduce distracting arm waving.
Make proper eye contact with the whole audience but try not to keep looking at only one or two audience members.
Nerves before presenting are very common, even celebrities suffer from this. You can calm nerves and build self-confidence using a few techniques, some of which you will need to practice, such as good thought patterns, developing pre-speaking routines and positive self-talk. There are simple tips to help you overcome nerves in the Study Skills Hub.
Above all – enjoy it – remember you are the experts here and anything you say will be of interest to your audience. Develop your study skills and find out more tips for presenting in the Study Skills Hub.