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As a student, you probably have had to sit through your fair share of boring presentations. You might
have even had to give a few. At the same time, you’ve probably seen a few engaging presentations as
well—the kind where you feel entertained enough to pay attention and actually learn something.
Understandably, you’d like to be among those presenters that have the audience hanging on their every
word and make the whole thing seem like a breeze. But you haven’t quite cracked the code on what
makes a good presenter. Instead, here you are, with a looming deadline, and you don’t even have
enough ideas to fill a few slides.
Well, you’ve come to the right place! These three essential tips will guide you from the documentation
stage to the point where you receive standing ovations.
Become a Master of Your Topic
Being well-prepared is the best confidence booster! If you don’t know what you’re talking about, your
audience will notice, and they’ll become less engaged. They won’t put much value on your presentation,
so they’ll simply wait for you to finish without paying attention. It’s not enough to throw some words on
a bunch of PowerPoint slides. In fact, you should avoid reading from the slides.
The PowerPoint presentation is for your audience. You use it to highlight the main ideas you’ll be
discussing. Keep the slides short and to the point. It’s also advised to mix slides with text with slides that
contain only an image since images are much more emotionally evocative.
During the research phase, you can use tools like PDFChef to collect and organize the information. Most
presentations include a Q&A section, and if you managed to engage your audience, you should get at
least a couple of questions. To prepare for this section, while you’re researching, you can ask yourself
questions and find answers to them.
However, you also don’t want to over-prepare since this will just make you feel more anxious, and we’re
sure that you have a lot of other academic assignments to complete. You don’t have to be perfect. If
someone from the audience asks you about detail and you don’t know the answer, you can thank them
and praise them for the good question and admit that you don’t know.
You’re not expected to spend years researching a topic for just one presentation. As long as it’s obvious
that you took the assignment seriously, understood it, and prepared for a reasonable amount of
possible questions, you’ve done a good job. Plus, the combination of confidence and humility will
impress bot your peers and professors.
Give Your Slides Consistency
PowerPoint offers a lot of features, and as you’re browsing through them, you might feel tempted to try
them all to make your presentation more colorful and fun. However, you need to remember this is an
academic assignment, and there are better ways to keep the audience focused.
Your slides don’t have to be bland or generic, but they should be consistent enough that they’re easy to
read and understand. A sleek look is preferable to a jumble of fonts and colors.
You’ll also want to limit the number of slides and the amount of text on the slides. As we mentioned in
the previous tip, the slides are there only to highlight the main points you’ll be discussing. You’re not
supposed to cram as much information as possible on them. The norm is one slide per minute. So if you’ll be giving a ten-minute presentation, you only need ten slides. Each slide should contain no more than six lines and each line no more than six words.
To make the text on the slides more readable, you can use contrasting colors and bold or larger text to
highlight keywords, but you’ll want to refrain from writing some words in all capital letters.
You’ll also notice that PowerPoint also has a lot of special effects but use them sparingly. As we’ve
suggested before, if you want to engage your audience, it’s much better to mix in some slides with
Show Your Personality
Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Even though this is an academic assignment, you don’t have to
be overly formal. This is your moment. You’ve come prepared, so smile and embrace it. It’s a chance to
learn some new skills.
To feel more at ease, you can practice in front of the mirror. You can also record yourself with your
smartphone. This will allow you to experiment using different tones and hand gestures. Alternating your
tone is a great way to emphasize key points and keep your audience focused.
You’ll also want to pay attention to your facial expression. Once you’re presenting in front of the class,
you’ll want to make eye contact. Beginners often make the mistake of maintaining eye contact only with
the decision-maker – in this case, their professor. Instead, you should pace a bit and make contact with
people from different areas of the room.
Jokes are a great way to engage people but, once again, you don’t want to overdo it. Considering the
setting, if you want to connect with people on an emotional level while also presenting information
pertinent to the assignment, you can mix in a story. Find some common ground with your audience. This
shouldn’t be too hard since the audience will consist of your peers. Think of a few experiences you might
all have in common and come up with a story that ties into the presentation’s topic.
To conclude the presentation, you’ll want to review the main ideas you want your audience to
remember. In his famous work “Rhetoric,” Aristotle says that whenever they’re learning something new,
most people will remember just three things. You’ll want to limit your review to the top three ideas.
Then you can either end with a question you want your audience to think about or a call to action in
which you urge them to act based on the fact and ideas you’re presented.
A third strategy is to end with a quote that sums up your conclusions and lends your point of view