November tends to be the busiest month of the school year, and time seems to vanish after fall break. Countless assignments are due on top of post-midterm panic. Your grades are falling, you class syllabus is growing, and your parents are calling about Thanksgiving break. To make the madness better, class presentations are fast approaching.
Do professors really expect you to pull off a calm and collected persona, not to mention a sophisticated and academically competitive presentation, when your life is constantly spiraling into insanity? Apparently they do, so here are some tips to help make your class presentation a success.
Do your research. This is important no matter the topic. If you’re giving a presentation, you want to make sure that you’re well informed and well prepared to answer any questions that may arise. Besides, you can learn some interesting facts that may prove themselves useful after the presentation. Gotta look on the bright side, right?
Type up your outline. As an English major, I tend to approach my presentations the same way I do papers. If my topic and argument isn’t structured, then everything falls apart. Make sure your presentation has a clear intent or thesis, and use it to guide your supporting points. To keep track of everything, I make an outline (which can also help organize Powerpoints) in a Word document with key aspects of my presentation. Why not use the traditional flashcard system? Well, I’m a klutz — it’s much harder to send a piece of paper or two flying across the room than a stack full of cards.
Dress for success. People always say to not judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s still true that physical appearance influences impressions. Of course this doesn’t mean that you have to dress in a full business suit or formal gown; however, it’s important to dress appropriate for the presentation. Perhaps nice jeans and a cute blazer? My personal favorite is a sophisticated but casual dress paired with a cardigan. Finding something that looks nice will also give you a boost of confidence, so it’s worth trading in the sweatpants.
Practice. Yes, I said practice, not procrastinate. I hate talking in front of people, so I like running through a short version of what my presentation might sound like. This will help you find and fix any possible kinks in the presentation. Take it from me, completing a presentation a half hour before it’s due is not the way to go. While I had fun procrastinating, I didn’t have fun with my fussy Powerpoint.
Keep track of time. Most presentations have a time limit, so make sure you have enough material to cover the minimum. On the other hand, don’t cram your presentation into overtime. Find a good balance and keep and eye on the clock. Your classmates, professors, and grades will appreciate the gesture.
Remember to smile. A simple smile will put you at ease, which is great when you’re sweating bullets and seeing dark spots. Remember, presentations aren’t supposed to be a living nightmare, so try to have fun. You’ve put work into something you should be proud of, so don’t worry. Take a deep breath, smiles, and enjoy your momentary spotlight.
What are your tips for a successful class presentation?