How to Excel at College Class Presentations
BY ANTON LUCANUS
It’s one of the aspects of higher education that students dread the most – class presentations. Trying to get our point across clearly, succinctly, and effectively can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. There are a few things to keep in mind when working on your presentation that can help make the entire process easier, and result in a stronger presentation overall.
If you find yourself struggling with presentations, in college, school, or even in work, some of these tips might help you get a handle on the situation. Here are some of the big ticket items to remember when writing and presenting your work.
Keep It Simple: Giving Yourself the Best Possible Start
Starting a project is always the hardest part, and presentations are no different. If you’re presenting in front of your class, you’re likely all working from the same base understanding of a subject. Straight away this gives you an advantage when it comes to determining the information you need to cover in your presentation. To avoid a messy, aimless presentation that reiterates information that everyone already knows, you can omit broad and basic points entirely.
Take some time to brainstorm your ideas and choose only clear, specific points to focus on. Choose your angle, and be sure it’s something you can explore in detail. It’s sometimes difficult to find a balance between covering ground that’s too broad, or selecting something too niche and difficult to examine. Write out a list of your aims for the presentation, and from there decide which aims to prioritize over the others.
A good rule of thumb in any project is to keep it simple, for your own sake and the sake of your audience. Challenge yourself to write everything out in short, snappy bullet points and use those to form the basis of your slides.
Finding the Right Structure: Working Within Your Allotted Timeframe
Once you’ve decided upon what information you want to cover in your presentation, it’s important to work out how you’re going to structure that information and how much time you’re going to afford to each slide and/or point.
Look over your bullet points from before, and break each of them down into further, more detailed points. This will help you get your ideas in order, and also get an idea of how long each point is going to take. Time yourself reading the points aloud, and try to round off to the nearest minute. Don’t be afraid to read them aloud to a friend or family member too, just to get an accurate idea of how it sounds to an audience. Sometimes when you’ve been working on something for a long time, you lose perspective on how it sounds or appears to an observer. That’s why it’s important to get second opinions from people outside your class, who can be impartial and unbiased.
This process can also help you to omit further information if you find it no longer flows well with the rest of the presentation, or if it takes up too much time that could be better occupied by other points.
Lay It All Out: Creating A Powerpoint Presentation
So you’ve chosen the points you want to cover, and you’ve got a rough structure to work from. The next thing you need to do is build your Powerpoint presentation. This can sometimes be the most daunting step of all, because there are so many options and formats to consider. To make things easier for yourself, you can always check out some Powerpoint templates online. There are a lot of pre-made templates that lend themselves well to college presentations, so all you have to worry about it filling in your information.
There are some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to making a presentation. Always devote your first slide to a quick run-through of the information you’ll be covering, to give your audience a brief overview of what they can expect. This can be as simple as showing the headings of each subsequent slide.
Remember, you don’t need to include every single sentence of your presentation in the Powerpoint. You can keep things brief and simple in the presentation, and elaborate on each point when speaking. This allows you to keep your presentation streamlined and visually-appealing.
It can be difficult in the beginning, but once you’ve practiced these steps long enough, writing and presenting information becomes second nature. And don’t zone out during the presentations of others, either. Not only can you learn from the information they’re presenting, but observing the presentation habits of others can help you improve your own. See what works and what doesn’t, and try to incorporate that into your own presentation style.
Learning good presentation techniques will help you in college, and later in life too. It’s always good to start practicing public speaking and getting into good habits, to allow you to communicate effectively and clearly throughout your career.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and educational fulfilment during college life. You can contact Anton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org