Giving a presentation can be very stressful. The best way to relieve some of the stress is to be well-prepared. Feeling nervous is normal and the extra adrenalin can actually help with your performance. Remember the audience is sympathetic so think positively, breathe deeply and try to relax.
Preparing for a presentation
- Give yourself plenty of time to prepare so that you feel confident about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.
- Make sure your presentation is on the topic – keep referring back to the title of your presentation and leave out anything which is not strictly relevant.
- Limit yourself to a few main points – the audience doesn’t want to know everything you know about the subject.
- Structure your presentation. Like an essay, it needs a beginning, a middle and an endk
- Use visual aids wisely. Overuse of technology, busy slides and special effects will detract from what you are saying.
- Don’t expect a PowerPoint/Prezi presentation to do the work for you. Your audience doesn’t want to read slide after slide of text, or listen to you reading slides aloud. YOU need to present the information, PowerPoint/Prezi is only there to highlight and illustrate.
- Practice makes perfect. Practise giving your presentation to a friend or to the mirror and make sure you time yourself.
- Prepare cue cards with the main points on them
Giving the presentation
- Make sure you can see a clock and time yourself
- Make sure the audience can hear you
- Speak slightly more slowly and loudly than normal
- Make eye contact with your audience but don’t focus on one person - try to include everyone
- Try to control nervous habits such as playing with your hair or pen
- Try not to read from your notes or the PowerPoint – use cue cards instead
- Most people remember the end of a presentation so don’t just stop talking. Make it clear that you are drawing the presentation to a close by summarising the main points
- Invite the audience to ask questions but don’t worry if you don’t know the answer – respond positively by offering to get back to the person at a later date or by saying something like ‘That’s an interesting question but I don’t have that information to hand’