Our 10 Top Presentation Tips For Students | The Study Guide

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The dreaded university presentation can be the most anxiety-inducing experience for students. Presentation stress is even more commonplace due to the pandemic. Most new students will never have had the opportunity to present in front of a room full of people before university!  

Even though nearly 60% of students enjoy next to no restrictions at uni, over a fifth are apprehensive of having none. This anxiety could be related to the change we’ve all been through over the last two years and also the fact you’ve got to learn new skills…again. Just as you’ve mastered online learning, you’ve got to go back in person.  

Presenting over Zoom is one thing, but you won’t be able to switch your camera off and mute your mic to scream into the abyss in front of the lecture hall or a seminar room.  

Unfortunately, giving presentations will keep popping up after university. Most jobs will require you to give presentations to a team or client, and depending on the industry, this could be an everyday thing.  

However, before you click off sweaty and scared, we’re here to help you overcome any worries and nail that existing talent. Here are our top 10 tips to help you succeed in your presentations.

1. Start strong 

presenting in front of lots of students

Audience engagement is key to a successful presentation, so crafting an exciting beginning is vital. There are so many ways you can achieve this; a few examples are:-   

  1. Opening with an anecdote or story. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has got this down to an art.  
  2. Stating a divisive or shocking statistic that is central to your theme.
  3. Set up the exciting problem or question you will be trying to answer in the presentation.  

If you start on the right foot, you’ll smash the rest of the presentation. From flow and delivery to engagement, your presentation will benefit. Amy Cuddy does an excellent intro getting the audience to do a task – the perfect way to engage and get the presentation off to a flying start.  

2. Be enthusiastic  

be happy during your presentation and show enthusiasm

If you want people to pay attention to you, you have to give them a reason. You must show the audience that whatever topic you’re talking about is worthy of their enthusiasm and attention. The easiest way to do that is to be your enthusiastic self and show the audience how to do it.  

3. Get inspo from others 

People collaborating with others to work better

Now please don’t report us for plagiarism here. We’re defo not advocating that you copy other students’ work! What we are suggesting is that you have a look at inspirational speakers to learn about different techniques for presenting. TED Talks like Simon Sinek and Chris Anderson are brilliant for this! Try to copy their delivery style, watch how they hold themselves on stage and practise developing your stage presence.  

4. Remember your body language  

man struggling with body language

So much of human interaction is non-verbal. We’re all constantly and subconsciously assessing other people for social cues. How you stand whilst presenting can considerably impact the audience. Try not to hide behind a podium or notes table. Remember to keep your body open to the audience, maintain eye contact, and stand straight. All of these things will give your presentation added authority beyond just what is being said.   

5. Keep it simple 

Keep it simple slogan

You will likely be expected to produce a PowerPoint with slides to assist your audience. The most simple slide is the best aid for the audience. Don’t fall into the common trap of using your slides in replacement of your notes. You should plan what you are going to say and how you will say it before you even consider working on your PowerPoint. Your PowerPoint should have the highlights, and the key points and be very visual.  

6. Project  

Projecting voices in a presentation to make sure people listen

Delivery is almost as important as the content itself. Your audience must be able to hear you, so practise projecting that amazing voice. There’s obvs a line between good projection and just shouting; it’s something you should work out before stepping up to deliver. Another good tip is to keep any notes away from your face, as this will only block your voice further.  

7. Keep it slow  

keep your presentation slow like a tortoise

When we’re nervous, there’s a tendency to try and rush through the presentation as quickly as possible to get it over and done with.  

This is a big no-no!  

Make sure you speak slower than you usually would help the audience understand and absorb what you’re saying. This will calm you down and stop any stumbling over those long, complicated words you will inevitably want to include because… well… you’re a genius… 

8. Prep the tech 

computer tech being set up for presentation

There are so many options for presentation tech. A lot of the time, there’s a tendency to over-focus on the visual technology side of your presentation. It’s super important to make the tech enhance your presentation, not detract.  

People don’t want to watch you read out your presentation from the big screen in front of them. Think, does this video or clip or slide make my point clearer or bring the topic to life? If not, then maybe you could do the presentation without it.  

9. Embrace the nerves 

girl worried about her presentation

Nerves are the worst bit about presentations. All of the tension, the sweating and the heart palpitations are enough to make us vow never to stand up and present anything ever again.  

You have to find ways to embrace the nerves and stop them from becoming an obstacle to your presentation. The audience expects you to be nervous, and you could even go as far as publicly addressing your nerves at the start. This is a good way to ease a speaker into their rhythm and get the audience on the side.  

10. Practice practice practice   

practising in front of an empty audience

The best way to help a good presentation become an amazing one is to give yourself plenty of time to prepare. The best public speakers plan their speeches and presentations months to really iron out the issues by running through practice sessions. 

If you can, practice in front of a test audience, but choose your faux audience wisely. You want to avoid those friends who can’t keep their “constructive” criticism to themselves. The last thing your confidence needs when trying to hone your presentation is a host of unfocused advice. 

University is a time of change and excitement, but it’s also a time where we are challenged and pushed outside of our comfort zone. This is where personal growth happens, so don’t be intimidated by your upcoming presentation; harness our tips and thrive. Got some online exams you need to prep for? Well, here’s how to utterly smash them and a few tricks on how to get motivated to revise.