Most students and teachers will agree on one thing: the great majority of school (high school or college) presentations are boring. Although this is a saddening fact, it is not an irreversible spell either! The main question to ask ourselves is: What makes a presentation entertaining and memorable? How can you grab your teacher’s and fellow students’ attention and maintain it during 5, 15 or 30 minutes?
In this article, we will share many tips that will help you understand the specificity of a high school / college presentation. We actually offer you a checklist of things to do before and during your presentation. Getting prepared and organized will definitely give you the necessary confidence to shine on D-day.
According to a survey led by SOAP Presentations, 90 percent of the anxiety we feel before a presentation comes from lack of preparation. You can therefore conquer your glossophobia (the fear of public speaking) by checking every detail of your presentation and practicing as many times as possible. Of course, it requires time and effort, but this is how your presentation will stand out from the crowd.
What are the characteristics of a high school (HS) / college presentation?
A high school / college presentation has specific features that distinguish it from other types of presentation. In a university presentation, you are not trying to sell a product or convince a potential client. So what are the goals you want to reach when you are in front of your classmates and teacher?
- Show everyone you master the topic.
- Inform, enlighten, and inspire your fellow students by conveying memorable information.
- Convince your teacher you have become an expert in the topic.
- Show your personal abilities in public speaking.
- Show your charisma and personality.
What should you do to nail your high school / college presentation?
A. During the days before your presentation
1. Research and study
This is the bulk of your job. A common mistake is to spend too much time on designing your slides: remember the substance is always more important than the form. Therefore, most of your time should be dedicated to understanding the topic and looking for original and fascinating information to share. Of course, you should not procrastinate: start researching as soon as possible.
2. Know your purpose and audience
It is essential to know what is expected of you. What is the aim of your presentation? What is the time allotted? Your preparation will depend on this and on your audience. Remember you need to inform, inspire, and convince both your teacher and classmates. Therefore, you should adapt your speech as well as your oral and body language to the circumstances.
3. Create your story
Think about what story you are going to tell. To make your presentation memorable, you need to hook your audience from the start. A great presentation relies both on great data and information and on storytelling. According to cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner, attendees are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it is told in the shape of a story.
4. Build your slide deck
Now that your speech is ready and you have a great story to tell, you can start designing your slides. Don’t spend too much time on them. Look for a great presentation template and add striking visuals to your slides. Keep them clear, simple, and full of impact.
5. Practice as much as possible
The best way to erase possible stress linked to public speaking is to rehearse as many times as possible, so that your speech becomes fluent and natural. You can do it by recording yourself, asking some friends to form a small audience and give you feedback.
6. Have your stuff ready
Since every little detail counts, don’t forget to prepare your school bag with everything you need. Your notes and your laptop but also your battery charger, cables, and water bottle. Also prepare your outfit and an extra shirt or blouse in case you stain it before the presentation!
7. Have a good night’s sleep
It seems obvious but resting properly on the night before will help you stay relaxed and focused on the day of your presentation. So don’t spend all night preparing or rehearsing it! On the contrary, disconnect before you go to bed and don’t burn the midnight oil!
B. Right before your presentation
Here is another checklist for you to make sure that you are 100% ready to make a great presentation. On D-Day, you should:
1. Arrive early and know the room
You should be present early enough to get familiar with the room, especially if you don’t know it. Place everything you need at specific and practical places, especially your laptop, water bottle and notes.
2. Check the technological aspects
Check your laptop battery, connect the charger if you are not sure it will last. Make sure that no other program than the one you need is open. Project your slide deck and move the slides to see their appearance on the big screen. Also check the sound if you are going to use a microphone.
3. Hit the bathroom
Have a last check of your appearance in the mirror. You can actually enjoy this last moment of calm to rehearse the first words of your presentation.
4. Breathe, drink, and move
Nervousness is normal at this point, but you can manage it with a few deep breaths, moving your body and preparing your voice.
C. During your presentation
1. Start strong
Hook your audience right from a start with something powerful, such as a provocative question, a mind-blowing image, a hilarious joke, or a stupefying statement.
2. Keep your voice natural
We sometimes tend to speak faster or at a higher pitch when we get nervous. So, try to take your time and maintain the right pace and tone. Also make sure that everyone can hear you.
3. Use body language
Non-verbal communication is extremely important. People analyze, even unconsciously, every gesture of a public speaker. To inspire charisma and confidence, you should move your hands and body in a natural way, emphasizing the most important parts of your speech.
4. Close with style
Just like your first words, your last ones can create a big impact, so give your audience a fantastic conclusion.
That’s it! We hope you will find these tips helpful. As usual, we wish you the best of luck on your next presentation.