How to ace your next presentation

There’s no easy way to say this: presentations can be difficult. You’ve got to figure out integrating text and pictures, making sure everything is accurate and looks good, plus there’s often a written component such as a class handout or report that will accompany your presentation. Class presentations can be slightly more challenging if you’re working in a group with five or six other people and have to coordinate meeting times that seamlessly fit with everyone’s class, work and volunteering schedules. But it’s not all doom and gloom. These few tips will help you create a brilliant presentation for any of your courses.

1. Make sure you (and your group members) understand the expectations

This is one of those things that is good to know from the get go. It helps to understand how long your presentation should be, what topics it should cover, how detailed it needs to be, if your professor expects many diagrams or pictures, etc. If you are working in a group, it is doubly important to ensure that everyone understands what is expected so you are all on the same page and can work together effectively. It’s a good idea to schedule a meeting with your group members a few weeks before the presentation is due to go over expectations and divide up the work. Or if you are working on an individual assignment, taking an hour or two to see what needs to be done will save you time and energy down the road.

2. Create a game plan

Creating a plan may sound like a no-brainer, but it is the best way to stay focused and make sure the presentation gets completed. I find it helps to break tasks down into weeks, for example, week one could be for research, week two might be the writing stage and week three can be reserved for final editing, last minute questions and finishing touches. If you are working on a group presentation, it’s also a good idea to schedule meeting times as you are working on your game plan to have regular discussions and make sure things are staying on track.

3. Ask questions

Asking questions and getting help with things you don’t understand are both wonderful ways to create your best presentation ever. Going to your professor’s office hours to show them your work and ideas can be a wonderful opportunity to get some feedback and make sure you’re following all the guidelines. Asking your group members questions or pitching them new ideas and asking for feedback also will help your group create a presentation that is original and interesting.

4. Practice and breathe

Practicing your presentation in the mirror, to your teddy bear or with your friends can help you feel less nervous when you present to your class and professor. It also helps to take ten deep, full breaths before you present; this can really help you stay relaxed and focused. Good luck!