Campus Workshop: Oral Presentations Edition

If there’s one thing middle school, high school, college students, and adults in a workplace have in common it’s fearing oral presentations. Which is why it is important to be aware of ways to prepare a good oral presentation and how to manage our nerves during one. Not every school offers students a workshop on this topic. Thankfully my university recently had one and the information given was very valuable. 

On Wednesday, October 9th, a professional licensed counselor of our campus offered a workshop about strategies for successful preparation of oral presentations. Her name is Mrs. Yarelis Morales, and this is the second workshop she has given this semester. During the workshop, she explained  important pointers and gave advice for a successful oral presentation. The best example on how to apply the advice she gave was the way the room was set up and the speaker’s closeness to everyone. To begin, she had a poster of the movie “The King’s Speech”. The idea behind this was for everyone present to comment on it or inspire the group to watch it. It has a very important message: that even someone with a speech impediment can give an oral presentation, so why are we so  scared of them? It is understandable that we all get nervous, but hopefully what I will mention next will help in the process of preparing and giving an oral presentation. 

The first advice mentioned at the workshop was to control your nerves and have a method prepared to achieve it. Some of the advice given was: to control your breathing, practice muscular relaxation and tell yourself some positive reaffirmations. When you are preparing to control your nerves, it is important to: sleep well the day before, get there early, do not fully memorize it as that will make you look like a robot, have your resources ready and practice your presentation a few times before the day.. The perfect phrase to resume how to prepare for a presentation is “practice makes perfect”. 

Another important fact that was mentioned was how to communicate. When giving an oral presentation, it is important to transmit a message. For that, you need to have good communication with the audience. Your eyesight should not focus on only one person, try to find three people in different parts of the room. That way you are establishing a sense of comfort. It is important to keep in mind that your audience will have a variety of ages and majors. Find a way to connect with them. Use a professional vocabulary, but not too extravagant. There are words that can be too academic, and many will get confused if they do not know the meaning. 

Furthermore, it is also important to capture and incorporate the audience’s attention. In her case, she had questions for us and made sure our opinions were heard. But this is not the only way to do it. There are other ways like sharing experiences, telling a story, do a group dynamic and use audiovisual aids. To finalize, some more important advice she gave was: have your ideas clear, use a power point, talk calmly, change tone depending on the importance of the information, give more examples and less theory. Also, when you create your powerpoint,  do not forget to check your grammar, writing, coherence, and that you have enough time.  

Workshops are very valuable for students. This is something that should be taught at all ages, that way it slowly prepares a person to give oral presentations. Each of the pointers mentioned in this article should be a good guide for anyone preparing one. Although it is  okay to know that it won’t always be perfect. Mistakes and getting nervous during an oral presentation is perfectly normal.