Last week I had to deliver two presentations, one for my course and one for the Leicester Award, explaining my Volunteering Experience. I really enjoy giving presentation, and I always get good grades for it. I know that for some people, including many of my friends, it can be really daunting. So I thought it would a good idea to write a couple of tips. And bear in mind, I’m not here to say: “Oh come on, it’s the easiest thing in the world! How can you find it difficult?”. Absolutely not.
I know speaking in front of an audience is no easy task, and the only reason why I got good at it, it’s because I’ve had to deal with it many times in my past education (in Italy) and now in England, and with a number of different audiences, from classmates to a committee of teachers. So please understand I didn’t always have it in me, I had to learn as well and it was terrifying at first.
Alright, so the trick? Don’t let them smell your fear.
No, seriously, the best way to deliver a good presentation is make them believe you are confident about what you’re saying. There are a couple of things you can do to convey a sense of self-confidence.
First of all, notes. Try as hard as you can not to read from your notes. It can be hard to learn everything by heart, but if you’re allowed a PowerPoint, use key sentences to remind you of your next line/topic. If anything, keep your notes on the table, or close to you, without looking at them. This can provide some sense of reassurance.
If you’re anxious about forgetting stuff or pausing, remember you’re not a machine. In normal, human speech, it is socially acceptable to pause between sentences 😉 Try not to panic, have a look at your slides and start from where you left off. It’s okay, so don’t let that scare you! 🙂
Then, eye contact. The big scary beast. If you are not reading from your notes, you’re eyes must look somewhere… and making eye contact is a great way to show people you know what you’re talking about, and it also signals your interest in the audience itself. If you really don’t want to look people in the eyes, try to look in the general direction of the audience. If you look slightly above their heads, it usually does the trick.
Then, the general things. Make sure the structure of your speech is clear, so that people can follow your train of thought. And don’t write too much on your slides, but just hint lines, key words and such.
Also remember: you’re the one explaining things here, so people in the audience will listen to you. Embrace this power 😉 And smile, smile, smile. 🙂
Hope this was somewhat useful! Also, I’d be interested to know if there are other issues in giving presentations I did not cover in this post..! Let me know if I can help 🙂