Presenting is a skill that takes plenty of practice. But what if you’re a relative novice and presenting in front of people is completely new to you? The same theories apply if you are stood in front of five people or five hundred people. It’s all about preparation, relaxation and finding the best way to get your message across. These universal techniques can help you present with confidence whether you are studying business, history, medicine or law.
We all get anxiety in some form during our lives. To conquer it you need to relax and be mindful of your thoughts. It’s easy to fall into the trap of fretting over a big presentation in the days and hours leading up to it.
So take a break from your preparation every so often if you need it. Make a drink or go for a walk around the block, before coming back to it with fresh eyes. You might have a great idea while you’re doing something else which you can incorporate into your slides. Then, on the day, if you relax and are confident that you know your subject inside-out, you’ll be just fine.
It’s like the old saying: “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” Even if things don’t go as well as you’d hoped, you can always learn from your experiences. Be human and try making a joke to get your audience onside ‒ this will ease your own nerves and you’ll win your audience over.
Prepare: visualise exactly what you’re going to say
Presentations are all about preparation. Visualise your presentation going well and running smoothly. Learn your lines and rehearse the presentation as much as you possibly can. Always make your presentations as interesting as you can and learn as much as you can about the topic. This will help you seem authoritative and a real expert. Take your time and speak clearly and confidently, always projecting your voice across the room.
Find a structure that works
What you think will work in theory might not work when performed out loud. Iron out any structural issues early on and make sure the presentation is the right length, so you can cover everything you want to. Your slides needn’t be crammed with lots of images and words. Keep them simple and just include an overview of what you will be talking about. Create a clearly defined introduction, main body and conclusion, and then end by addressing your main points again, before inviting questions from the audience.
Conquer your next presentation
Presentation anxiety is real, but remember that your audience ‒ which is likely to be your coursemates ‒ will be in the same boat you are. A majority will have the same reservations and will be suffering from nerves just like you.