Talking in front of people is difficult for many of us. Academic studies have shown that many people are more afraid of talking in front of an audience than they are of dying. Regardless of whether you think it is uncomfortable for you or you think it is fun to talk in front of an audience, we hope that these simple tips will be useful for you to become even better at doing presentations.
5 top tips for better presentations
1. Practice, practice, practice
This suggestion is perhaps lacking in originality, but the reality is that it is also the most effective way to become good at something. Practice as much as you can, and practice as realistically as possible. Not only did Usain Bolt practice standing in the starting blocks, running 100 metres and finishing by falling over the finish line. He practised every part of a race – and so can you.
- Walk and practice your speech. That way, you will also learn to breathe properly.
- Film yourself. Super scary, but so incredibly useful. You will be able see your facial expression and all the weirdness and oddities you have that you don’t notice yourself.
2. PowerPoint can help you
A PowerPoint presentation should assist you in being better. For example, it is a tool to help you remember what you want to say as well as to clarify what may be difficult to explain. But be careful and don’t rely on it too much, as it is important that the presentation doesn’t make you seem like the most boring person ever.
Basic rules for a good presentation:
- Use a dark background.
- Place a maximum of three to five objects on any slide.
- Use the “presenter’s perspective” when making a presentation.
- The words should be in a large font – as that will make it impossible to have sentences in a slide.
- Work with large colour images across the entire surface.
3. Make yourself feel secure
What stresses you out most during a presentation? What can you do to counteract this in some way? For example, if you know that your chest becomes flushed when you give a lecture, you can choose a jumper with a high neck. If you get a dry mouth, bring a bottle of water. Keep things like that in mind.
Once you get up and start your presentation – dare to be yourself! Many people assume a character when making a presentation, however it is important to remember that it is people who are listening. They want to get to know you, so try to use your own words and show who you really are.
4. Nervousness can be put to good use!
When it’s time to make the presentation, the body recognises this and reacts. Your pulse quickens, your body heat increases, and you can feel butterflies in your stomach – you become nervous. Great! Your body prepares you to perform at your best. See it as your superpower.
If nervousness takes the upper hand during the presentation – pause. Stop and breathe. It may seem like a long time to you, but not to those who are listening – and above all it can be very effective. You don’t need to be talking all of the time.
5. Don’t exaggerate!
If there’s anything we humans are really good at, it is to interpret things negatively, i.e. that everyone thinks we are rubbish at what we do, that we are doing a bad job. Just because someone may look bored it doesn’t mean they really are. Think for yourself how engaged you usually appear when listening to lectures or watching YouTube. When we take in information, quite often we look bored – that doesn’t mean we really are.
So when you’re standing there doing a presentation, try not to analyse what others are thinking about you. Do what you’re doing and try to make it as good as possible! They think it’s better than what you think!
Train away nervousness in different ways
Depending on how hard you find it, there are different levels to start at. The University offers individual support, as well as training in a VR environment. You get the opportunity to practice in the way that suits you – the important thing is that you practice at your own pace.
Practice in a VR environment
You become good at what you practice. We know that. But it's not always easy to find opportunities to practice when it comes to presenting in front of a group. One way that the Student Healthcare Centre offers is to practice all or part of your presentation in a VR environment. You can then develop your ability to handle your reactions in a stressful environment at your own pace and at the same time can also practice how you stand and move. It is a good way to test and practice on your own in peace and quiet.