As you stare out at the seemingly endless sea of students, your hands begin to shake, beads of sweat begin to form, and you find it difficult to breathe. This is usually the experience many students have during their nerve-wracking class presentations. Although class presentations can be very intimidating, there are a variety of ways to get comfortable with them. Here are a few:
Get prepared. When you’re prepared and know the topic like the back of your hand, it makes it easier to present. If it’s a topic you don’t understand or a topic you’re not familiar with, research it through scholarly websites/articles and your library database. Make sure you are understanding the material you are reading. Double check numerous articles and websites to ensure the information is accurate. The library will be your best friend, so feel free to use it and check out books. Worst case scenario: you forget your original script, but you know enough from your research to improvise and still get your information across to the audience.
Outline your presentation. Once you have all the information you need, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start or when to use the information. The next step would be to outline exactly what information you’ll need and in what order you need them to be in. If you’re presenting about one of the presidents of the United States, it’s best to start off with information about when and where they were born and then go from there. Typically, your professor will give you a rubric of exactly what he/she is looking for in a presentation, so make sure you follow it.
Create the presentation. Your presentation can range from a speech to a poster board. Use the outline to help you find photos and to determine which information will go on what slide if you are doing a PowerPoint. It is best to not overwhelm yourself with too many bullet points on one slide. Instead, use about one to four, and then, write notes at the bottom of each slide to remind yourself what points you will elaborate on. It is important to include photos and graphics that will attract your audience’s attention.
Finalize the presentation. Go through your presentation, and double check your information to ensure you have everything you need. If there is too much information on one slide, try minimizing it and only including the most important facts/information. Having a prepared presentation will make you feel ready and confident.
Practice your speech. In order to be comfortable with a presentation, you need to be ready and prepared. Practice your speech in front of the mirror, friends, family or even record yourself so that you can see your body language, tone, and mannerisms.
Dress the part. Dressing up nicely will help with your self-esteem and confidence.
Think of the presentation as a casual conversation. Sometimes, when you label something, it can make you nervous whereas if you see it as something casual, like a conversation with a friend, it will make it seem less intimidating.
Sleep early the night before. Sleep your full eight hours or at least try to sleep earlier than you normally do. When you get enough sleep, you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle on the day.
Remind yourself it’s going to be okay. Presentations are nerve-wracking but they aren’t the worst thing to happen to you. Tell yourself that you are going to nail this presentation and that everything will be okay. Breathe in and out and make sure that you are calm and ready. If you mess up or forget a word, keep going.
Stand tall. It’s important to have good posture. Sometimes, it will help you feel confident and look ready for the presentation. Appearing relaxed and having good posture will show the audience that you are ready and prepared.
Lastly, speak slowly. You’re nervous and you want the presentation to finally be over and that’s understandable. But remember, if your audience can’t understand you, you will see it in their facial expressions and then, it may cause you to get even more nervous. So speak slowly and let your audience process the information you are saying.
And of course, don’t forget to smile. When your audience is engaged and eager, this will make you feel better and want to continue on with the presentation.
Presentations are always a little nerve-wracking;hey can make you unhappy, stressed and dread the day until it’s finally over. However, it’s not impossible to get comfortable with them. So if you’re struggling to feel comfortable and confident with your presentations, hopefully the tips listed above will help you tackle on your next presentation with pride.