Top Tips for Delivering an Excellent Presentation

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Whether it’s during your postgraduate study or in your first job, the chances are that you will have to give a presentation at a relatively early stage, so let’s take a look at what you should focus on to make it a great one.

Beat those nerves

The main concerns for anyone doing a presentation are, of course, nerves, especially if it’s in front of a large group consisting of senior management or course directors, for example. Mild anxiety is normal and natural, but you can overcome this with practice. Like anything else, the more you present, the more comfortable you will become with it. What will make you less nervous is knowing that you have put together a very good presentation and that you have a strong grasp of the content. Be prepared for any questions. They key to a good presentation really is the content, you are secondary!

Don’t go overboard

If you’re presenting on a technical or academic subject, it will likely be to people who have a keen grasp of the subject matter. Remember this in terms of how you put the content together.  Use language that is relevant to the content of your presentation. Don’t embellish it for the sake of the audience; they won’t appreciate it and it will add nothing to the content. Use clear, concise language and remember your presentation should tell a story. It should have a beginning, middle and an end. Identify the background to the presentation; explain the objectives and then move on to the core content before giving a summation and leaving plenty of time for questions, observation, and feedback.

Spruce up those slides

Of course, the platform you use for your presentation is key. There’s a lot more out there than simply PowerPoint slides, which are very dated looking at this stage. Prezi, Keynote, Beamer, Adobe Connect and Camtasia are just some of the other packages that can help you display and explain your content in the best way possible. Also, many presentations are now online, particularly if you’re doing distance learning or blended learning course. So showing a sequence of uninspiring slides is unlikely to help your cause to someone watching remotely. Use video, audio, motion graphics and infographics to bring life and colour to your project. However, the core should be good solid information with a purpose. Don’t use fancy effects to try and cover up or compensate for your lack of knowledge about a particular area. Also, don’t over-elaborate, many people dread having to listen to presentations that go on interminably. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience and focus on brevity, engagement and, where possible, entertainment.

Practice makes perfect

It’s important that you practice your presentation until you’re well versed in both the content and the delivery of it. Of course, you can encounter questions that you may not have covered in the course of the presentation. Try and prepare for this by asking colleagues or fellow students to view or listen to your presentation. Get them to throw some sample questions at you. The more you rehearse and actually do presentations the easier they will become; it’s a great skill to acquire as you’ll use it no matter what sector you’re working or studying in. The ability to communicate clearly is something that employers frequently identify as an element that can be lacking amongst today’s graduates. Honing your presentation skills and the ability to convey information in a clear and digestible fashion will not go unnoticed. There are plenty of online tutorials and podcasts and videos, so there’s really no excuse not to have the tools you need to deliver a good presentation.


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