The Key to Delivering Great Presentations

Public speaking tips for the perfect speech

| February 19, 2017

Delivering presentations is a part of being a college student. We’ve all had to do at some point and we’ll likely continue to do so in our future classes. Most of us see presentations as unnecessary or as extra work in an already demanding class, but presenting in front of an audience is a good way for students to lose the fear of public speaking and to learn how to project their thoughts in an organized, concise manner. Below are a few suggestions that might help you improve the quality of your presentations.

The words that we choose are very important. One problem that many people struggle with during presentations is with “filler words”. What are filler words? Words such as “uh”, “like” and “um” are the most common filler words. They add nothing to the message we are trying to convey and make us sound unprepared when we say them. All of us are guilty of using this words, we use them every day! They have become so integrated into our vocabulary that we no longer realize when we are using them. In an everyday setting, it doesn’t matter too much, but in a professional one we should avoid them as much as possible.

Preparation is also a big factor in presentations. If you are working alone, it can be easier to organize yourself and begin preparing for a presentation before it is due, but working with groups always makes the situation more complex. Make sure that you and your group exchange contact info and figure out meeting times that don’t interfere with each other’s schedules. This can be tricky, but not meeting with

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your group members can affect the presentation. If you need to use visual aids, it’s a good idea to open a Google Slide where each team member can add their part of the presentation. It’s more effective than a PowerPoint because don’t have to constantly resend the Google Slide when you make new edits. It’s also quite easy to use.

Don’t read your entire presentation to your audience. It’s tempting, but ultimately a bad idea because you don’t make eye contact and reading it could suggest to your professor that you haven’t taken the time to practice what you will say. Most professors will allow you to have some type of outline on an index card with you just in case you forget key information, but try to have most of your presentation memorized beforehand so you don’t have to read too much information from your outline.

Make sure that your visual aids are not just ready for the presentation, but that they look great. If you use a visual aid during your presentation, always make sure that it looks organized, and that your points don’t end up all over the place. Try to include pictures relevant to what you are talking about, and if it is a group presentation, make sure everyone is using the same color scheme and format. Also, ALWAYS double check for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.

Do your research. If you have a good visual aid and you know exactly what you are going to say, all of that can get overshadowed if you don’t do proper research on the topic of your presentation. For example, if you are giving a presentation about World War II, you need to read what your textbook says about it, visit to credible websites and make sure you have a solid grasp on the content. Make sure you cover all the important points. What good would it be if you covered WWII but completely avoided talking about the Holocaust? You would be missing a huge part of your presentation. Remember to always prepare yourself with research.

Practice, practice, practice. Don’t just run through your presentation once or twice. Practice it out loud, just to make sure that it all sounds good and that you can run through it smoothly. Lack of practice is what sometimes lowers your score. If you have trouble pronouncing words, or are constantly stuttering, or speaking at a very fast pace, this means that you need more practice. Speaking to an audience can be intimidating, but by going through everything you will say, word by word, you can make sure that the mistakes you make are at a minimum.

Lastly, keep your main points simple. The best way to make people lose interest in your presentation is by stuffing too much information in at once. Don’t use long, overly complicated words unless you are completely sure that your audience will understand them, and remember to try to connect the topic you are presenting to your audience; try to add an interesting fact related to your topic. Keep your audience engaged!

Try to apply some of these suggestions to your next presentation. Even if you aren’t the best public speaker, these suggestions can help you give a strong presentation and get a good grade.

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