I dread giving presentations. It’s hard enough talking to one person I’m not too familiar with, so the very thought of speaking in front of a whole class makes me want to drop out and move immediately. Actually…all the more reason to follow my secret dream of getting done with college as quickly as possible and adopting a bunch of cats. Sounds good to me.
But seriously, presentations can’t be avoided. You can go months without doing one, but sooner or later, your teacher will tell you that a required presentation is coming, and one day…it’ll creep up on you and all the cats in the world won’t be able to save you.
I had to present a PowerPoint (about my other blog funny enough) in front of my Digital Portfolio and Career Readiness class yesterday. Thirteen students and my professor. I spent half the day being nervous (class was at 2:30). When my turn finally came to go up, I was a little bit shaky and I could already feel the sweat on my back starting to form. Throughout my presentation, I said “so” and stuttered too many times, probably didn’t make enough eye-contact, and had a line of sweat on my forehead. Obviously I’m super qualified to give tips on this. Ha.
Tip #1: Know and practice what you’re going to say.
PowerPoints should not have full sentences. I’m sure you’ve heard that thirty times or more. So, keep the bullets short. Easy. Now, figure out what how you want to explain each of those bullets. If you’re like me and it’s hard to talk on the spot (hey, how you doin’?), then plan it out. You can make notecards, or even go for some memorization instead. But definitely practice. Whether it’s in front of a mirror or a friend. Do it until you feel comfortable with your words. Going up there with a blank mind is a major factor of why presenting is so stressful!
Tip #2: Make lots of eye-contact.
This should be easier if you’ve decided to follow step 1. If you know what you want to say, then there’s no need to look at your slides or notes. And don’t forget to glimpse at your professor often. Look for that reassuring nod that they’re listening to you. I find that to be somewhat comforting, because it makes me feel like what I’m saying is important, whether my classmates ignore me or not.
Tip #3: Be lively!
I think I messed up on this one a little bit. I’m not going to lie. My classmates lost interest a couple of times, and I’m pretty sure I know what I did wrong. I was too focused on figuring out what I wanted to say to sound natural or intriguing. Try not to say “um” or “so” before every couple of sentences, and don’t be monotone. Smile. Make little jokes if you can! Your voice has a wide range. Use it! Whatever you do, just don’t leave them bored!
Tip #4: Remember that no one else there wants to present either, and it’s really not a big deal.
You probably already know it, but presentations don’t last forever. They actually go fairly quickly! They’re just pesky things that we have to get over with. Remember that everyone has to present, and most people get anxious or fearful about it-it’s not just you! No one will judge you or even vividly remember it in a week or two anyway. It’ll be over before you know it.
“So” remember, look around the room, be lively and smile, plan out what you’re going to say, and practice. It’s a moment in time that will pass by soon. No biggie.