Part of the university experience that many students often come to dread is the thought of having to give a presentation to their fellow students and professors.
It doesn’t matter how much studying you do, or how well you know the topic you’ll be discussing, it’s often difficult to feel confident when you have to stand up in front of everyone.
However, giving presentations is a common occurrence at university so it shouldn’t be something that leaves you feeling overly nervous.
If you want to ace your next presentation and impress your professors and fellow students, here are some of the top tips that you should follow.
10 steps to giving the perfect university presentation
Presentations can be scary, but if you follow our simple ten-point plan, you’ll be able to pull off the perfect presentation and get the best grade possible.
1. Start with an outline
When you first receive your assignment from a professor, the easiest thing is to forget about it until the last minute – but this can be a big mistake to make!
The secret to giving a great presentation lies in the preparation and, the earlier you get to it, the greater your change of obtaining a great grade.
This doesn’t mean that you have to write everything straight away, just starting with an outline is a good enough start.
In your outline, you should cover the points you want to discuss, along with any important topics and references that you may need to collect to back up your points.
Once you have the outline completed, you can add additional information as you go along.
2. Create your slides in advance
Once you have an outline in place, it’s always good to start getting your slides in order.
Your slides are an important part of your presentation as they act as a visual aid to everyone watching you present.
Start putting the information from your outline into the slides and then building on your points to make your presentation more informative.
You can also experiment with different slide orders to see what flows best and makes the most sense for your assignment.
3. Don’t forget about the importance of design
Although you may not gain many points for having an aesthetically pleasing presentation, it always helps to draw in everyone’s attention. Good design enhances the clarity of the information you’re presenting.
If in doubt, going clean and minimal is often the best approach. A design that’s loud and flashy as it can make text difficult to read, and may distract your audience from the important information you’re sharing.
4. Write your own separate speaking notes
It doesn’t look professional if you’re constantly turning to look at your presentation slides to see what you are speaking about. Instead, write yourself some flashcards of everything you want to say.
These speaking notes shouldn’t be a word-for-word script for what you want to say. They should just be basic pointers to keep you on track and prevent you from forgetting any important information.
Remember that during your presentation, your eyes should be on the audience, not just looking down at your flashcards for what to say next.
5. Get familiar with the room you’ll be presenting in
If you worry about nerves, getting to feel a bit more confident with the room you’re presenting in can help calm you down before a big presentation.
Find out what room you’re going to be presenting in and see if you can take a look beforehand. This will give you the opportunity to figure out where you can stand, where everyone will be sitting, and how to get the projector up and running etc.
6. Pick an outfit you feel confident in
This may feel like a small thing, but the clothes you wear can make a big difference to how you feel and how you present yourself.
With presentations, it’s always best to dress slightly more smartly than you usually would at university. This will help you to feel professional and confident – which is always important when giving a presentation.
It’s also important to wear something that you feel completely comfortable in. It’s not helpful to look the part if all you can think about during your presentation is how uncomfortable your shoes are!
7. Get feedback on your slides
Before presentation day, it’s a good idea to carry out some test runs where you give your presentation to your friends or family.
This is a good time to ask them for feedback, and to let you know if there’s anything you could improve on before the real presentation.
8. Practice, practice, practice
The more time you spend going over your notes, practicing speaking to an audience and memorizing the order of your slides, the higher the chance of everything going smoothly on the big day.
You should be practising to the point where you feel that you don’t need your notes anymore – this is a sign that you have most things under control.
9. Set yourself up for success on the day
On the day of your presentation, get to the room early so you can set everything up and make yourself feel comfortable.
The worst thing to do is rush to your presentation and forget everything that you’ve practised just because you’re feeling flustered.
Give your speaker’s notes one last read and then try to relax; the calmer you feel, the better things will go.
10. You’ve got this!
After going through all of the tips we’ve mentioned above, you shouldn’t have anything more to worry about when it comes to your presentation.
All that’s left to do is give your presentation and look forward to getting a great grade from your professor!
At EU Business School, our courses offer students a range of opportunities to improve their presentation and communication skills. Find out more about our courses here.