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Presentations 101


Seminar room at university

During my first semester in uni, I had to give two presentations, which was really daunting for the shy person I was. Now, I’m constantly standing up in front of a crowd to talk about student issues, campaigning or giving an academic presentation.

At least once in your student life, one of your assessments will be a presentation, either by yourself or in a group. For the more confident among you, you might even be looking forward to this. But for others, it’s a huge challenge. Let me tell you, you will be so proud of yourself once you’ve done it. However, I’ll give you my best tips for preparing and giving a presentation.

First things first

Presentations really are blessings in disguise. You have a chance to start class discussions and debates. You’ll be able to talk about a topic in your own way and correct yourself when you go wrong. Don’t worry about making a mistake, falling over your words, or missing something out. Presentations are all a chance to demonstrate your knowledge in your own way and you’ll have even more of a chance to correct your mistakes.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Presentations are not something you can prepare for the night before. They’re rehearsed talks that flow much better when you’ve practised a few times. If you’re in a group, get another group to watch your presentation beforehand and give you feedback. If you’re an individual, get a classmate or a flatmate to watch you and tell you how to improve. You’ll make fewer mistakes if you’ve practised before.

Share the workload

If you’re working in a group, give everyone a section to work on to present. Check in with each other how this work is going and help each other on bits you’re not sure on. Group work can be really tough when you feel like you’re taking on all the responsibility, so start off by deciding who will do what from the start.

When the time comes…

When you’re standing in front of your class right at the beginning of your presentation, nerves and panic can set in. Take a breath, slow your thought process down, and then begin. Remember to breathe as you go. Slow your talking down. This is all things you will have practised beforehand.

When I give presentations, I have a tendency to talk as quickly to get it over with. If you feel like you are doing this, stop at the next sentence, breathe for a moment, and consciously slow down. Engage with you class. Don’t read off the board or your notes. Read the room, look around and ask questions to the group to keep them engaged. This makes for a much more interesting presentation.


After your presentation, celebrate with your group. You did it! Get a coffee and chat about how you think it went. What did you do well? How would you change it for next time? Keep these reflections in mind for you next presentation and celebrate overcoming a big challenge.


Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay 

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