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Six tips for giving a successful presentation

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Throughout your university career, it is likely you will be required to give a number of presentations. Presentations are a great way to consolidate your knowledge, practice active listening and perfect your public speaking skills – but this doesn’t mean they’re easy! For a lot of us, giving a presentation can feel like a daunting and overwhelming task, so here are six tips to ensure your presentation is a success.

An empty lecture theatre
  1. Practice!

When creating your presentation, leave yourself enough time to practice speaking out loud. If you can, practice a few times in front of friends and family; practising your presentation out loud helps to ensure presentation makes sense to others. The more you practice, the more familiar with the content you’ll become. You’ll also be able to minimise the number of times you need to check your notes.

  1. Make eye contact

Making eye contact is an important skill that helps you engage with your audience. Try to look up from your notes after each key point you make or whenever you take a pause. A great way to ensure you are making enough eye contact is by filming yourself giving your presentation and watching how many times you look up.

  1. Number your palm cards

Numbering your palm cards is a great way to stay on top of your presentation. This way when you’re speaking you know how far into the presentation you are. Additionally, in the situation, you drop your cards or they get messed up in your bag, you do not have to try and remember the order they were in – simply put them back in numerical order!

  1. Information quality over quantity

When you’re giving a presentation, your slides should act as a support to what you’re saying. Be sure to keep slides brief by just emphasising key points. This way what you’re saying becomes the focus of the presentation and viewers do not get distracted trying to read all the information on your slides.

  1. Avoid filler words

Constantly saying ‘um’ can take away from the professionalism of your presentation. Record yourself giving your presentation and see how often you use filler words – you might be surprised! Recognise the habit and practice being silent or taking a pause when you feel the urge to use a filler word.

  1. Smile!

No matter how nervous you may be feeling inside, remember to smile at your audience. Smiling and positive body language (such as uncrossing your arms and not holding your notes tight to your chest) helps to build a positive rapport with your audience and they are more likely to be open to what you have to say.

The more presentations you give over your University career, the more comfortable you’ll become. It’s important to remember that nobody in the class is judging you and it’s more than likely they’re feeling just as nervous as you are about their own presentation! Next time you need to give a presentation, remember to utilise these tips for success.