In both your academic life and your career, you will probably have to do a lot of presentations. The objective of these presentations can either be to test your presentation skills or to have you share something with the people around you. Most of the time, it’s both. So here are some tips on how to give a good presentation!
1. Be prepared!
Good presentations begin before the presentation itself. First of all, make sure you fully understand the content and flow of your presentation. Go over all of your slides and materials and make sure everything is where it should be. I highly recommend doing a rehearsal or practice run so that you can iron out any potential mistakes and errors.
You don’t have to memorize your presentation but don’t read from a script either. If you can use the slides as your guide, do that. If not, I recommend using flash cards.
Knowing your audience is also important because it lets you know:
a) How to keep your audience interested.
b) What kind of questions they might ask.
The age group and academic or professional background of your audience will affect how they respond to your presentation. An older and more professional audience will be more interested in facts and they will ask specific and technical questions.
Don’t forget to have a final discussion with your teammates if it’s a group presentation. Make sure everyone knows what they need to do and how to do it. Again, a rehearsal or practice run will help a lot.
2. Make the presentation simple and clear for the audience.
In the beginning of your presentation, ensure that you have clearly stated the main topic of your presentation. This is crucial because the audience will lose interest very quickly if they are not sure of what you are talking about.
A clear beginning is one thing, the journey of the presentation should be clear too. Provide an outline or flow of the presentation to the audience so that they never feel lost during the presentation. Every time you move from one subtopic to another, make sure you inform the audience.
At the end of your presentation, provide a summary before you wrap things up. Recap the subtopics you have presented and then give your conclusion or closing statement.
3. Voice projection
Whether or not you are provided with a microphone, make sure you speak clearly so that everyone in the audience can hear you. To avoid misunderstandings and mistakes, it is highly advisable that you speak slowly.
If you find yourself speaking too fast, just pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and continue slowly. It happens to all of us so don’t panic, take it slow.
4. Eye contact
It is neither easy nor practical to make eye contact with everyone in the audience, unless your audience is less than 10 people. So I recommend finding 3 points or location in the audience that you can look at. Switch between them every few minutes. Here’s an example:
5. Body language
Be creative with your facial expressions as you present your slides. When you talk about a lighthearted or humorous point, smile or laugh a bit. If it’s something you find peculiar, you can raise your eyebrows and so on.
Your hand gestures also play a role in making your presentation better. Use them to enhance your explanations and visualize to the audience your ideas.
If you’re allowed to move around the stage, do so moderately. Move around too much and you might annoy some of the audience but not moving around at all might bore them.
6. Ask for feedback!
After your presentation, ask some of the audience on what they liked and disliked about the presentation. This will allow you to identify what you need to maintain and what you need to fix.