Livin' La Vida Lucia

How to Kick-Ass on Your Class Presentation

Projects Are Tough…Speaking to a Class Can Be Tougher

By Lucia Rossi

Fear not glossophobians, everyone has to do a public speech sometimes, especially college students. When you’re up next, make it your time to shine.

Here’s how to prepare and power-up for your next project presentation. Start by saying that 10 times fast, it’ll help with your diction.

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Firstly and most obviously, you should DO your project, and do it well. This means don’t wait until the last minute to do it because professors will know if you try to bullshit them. That may be more embarrassing than presenting a project you actually worked hard on. Do the work your professor expects of you, have the research done, and know your topic. This way you will be prepared if there are any questions.

However, try not to talk too much. You’ve got nothing to prove except your point in the project. If you give the class too much information, you’ll fry their brains in boredom and lose their attention as well as your main topic. Speak slowly, clearly, and give a sweet, short, but impactful amount of information.

The most common advice that you’ve probably heard of would be to give eye contact with your audience. I know this may be difficult for some people because then you realize how many people are in the room looking at you with their judge-y eyes. What they think doesn’t matter, what the professor thinks does. So, just focus on what you need to say. If looking at them makes you feel uncomfortable, just try to look up every now and then while you read.

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Personally, I don’t believe in the whole, “visualize everyone in their underwear thing,” but I do believe in pretending like everyone is a customer who I am trying to sell something to, or like I am the teacher and they are my students or like I know them and they’re my friends. Visualizing things like that will automatically give you a friendlier and more positive voice and attitude which will make you look lively while giving yourself the impression that you are in charge.

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The audience gives back the energy you give them. Try to show some passion even though you might hate public speaking and not care for your topic. Think of the tone you should have that adds some emotion to your words. You should make it a little fun for yourself as a way of encouragement to keep going.

Think of the audience’s point of view when making your presentation. Think of it like going through a story book, it has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. More specifically it would mean having an introduction and some background info, a couple of points backing up your message or thesis with evidence, and then a conclusion wrapping it up reiterating your main point.

Make your presentation entertaining if possible, but don’t get carried away. If you’re not a naturally funny person, don’t try to be. Add a few humorous pictures in your slideshow to keep the audience’s attention but nothing inappropriate. I’ll get more into detail about slideshows and power points later.

Boring Presentation

Good things come with practice, especially presentations, so don’t do it without doing at least one run-through beforehand. Practice presenting your project to family member, friend, or loved one. If that’s too much, present your project to your dog, cat, or stuffed animals. At least you know they can’t judge (not verbally anyway). This will help you with your timing, what parts are difficult to go through and will help improve your mannerisms while presenting.

Remember to be relaxed, or relaxed looking, and be yourself. Bring a bottle of water if you need to and wear clothes they can’t see you sweat in if it helps. If someone wants to interrupt you with a question, don’t be afraid, that means they’re engaged and interested. Welcome it. Plus, it will look good to the professor.

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End your presentation with a strong note or message that makes students feel like they learned something, it doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, just pleasant.

Let’s talk PowerPoints, Penzi, and other slideshows. I’ll try not to get too much into detail because it is a very broad topic and there is so much you can do with your visual tools. However, you can’t revolve your entire project around it. Its only purpose is to support what you’re saying, not do it for you.

Use as many slides as you need, no more and no less. Going through slides as you speak can be quick, fewer is not necessarily better, just do what’s relevant. Save the language for your speech and just focus on pictures with a few describing words or key terms. Make use of the space you’re given, try not to leave a lot of blank space. Make pictures bigger or put more than one. Use cool fonts, colors, and screen transitions, have fun with it! Figure out what you want to say with each and use flashcards if necessary.

Stay calm, you got this. Good Luck!

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