So your professor wants you to do a big presentation on Prometheus. Why is it that being bound to a rock and attacked by an eagle sounds infinitely more appealing than speaking in front of your class?
Many people find presentations daunting, but they don’t have to be. The truth is, your instructor is likely not trying to punish you eternally, but simply helping you develop a skill that you’ll need far beyond your college years.
Here are a few tips that will ensure a great delivery:
- Preparation. “Winging” a presentation usually invites disaster. One way to prepare is to create a list of major goals. What are the key points you want to convey to your audience? Another important factor is to know your audience. When you know your audience, you know how to tailor your delivery and content. Next, keep a simple outline and make it organized. This will ensure that you and your audience can follow your ideas from start to finish.
- Materials. Once you have figured out the content of your talk, decide what materials you want to accompany it. Do you want to present everything on PowerPoint? Do you want to give the audience handouts to follow along? Are there any exciting “show and tell” type items to pass around? You don’t want to make your audience too distracted, so if you have numerous handouts, wait until the end of the presentation to distribute them.
- Delivery. If you are truly prepared and have decent materials, your delivery will likely go smoothly. Preparation is the key to confidence. However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of a stellar performance. Try to make eye contact when possible; it creates a connection with your audience. Try to remember to speak more slowly than you would in regular conversation, as your audience needs time to absorb all that you are saying. Additionally, try to vary the tone and volume of your speech— otherwise you could end up sounding monotonous. Only use hand gestures to emphasize important points; otherwise, it may be distracting.
After your presentation is over, take stock of how you did. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What might make it better next time? Remember, a flawless performance is hard to achieve. After all, Prometheus represents human striving, not perfection!