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Very often, during university, you will be expected to make a presentation of your work, a report or a project. This might be the first time you are making a presentation in front of a group of people, and it’s natural to feel worried or nervous. You might be frightened by negative thoughts, a fear of not performing well, or how well you will deliver the presentation.

The key to making a brilliant presentation is a little planning.

First, look at what your presentation needs to convey to its audience. What is the message you want to deliver, and what information needs to accompany it? Think carefully about which words you should use. Make sure your writing is correct, clear and crisp, and that your writing is in chronological order. Your presentation needs to have a first slide, which should attract attention, and feature the title of your presentation. This slide may be on the screen for some time while you are preparing, so make it interesting and relevant.

The next slide should be a summary of the rest of the presentation. Use bullet points or numbers, and stick to the same font throughout. Now it’s time for the main presentation. This should be as many slides as you need, but make sure you use each one to its full effect. Too many will make your presentation appear to be dragging on. This is the time to state and back up your main points, and use any images, diagrams or quotations you need. Make sure your argument is as structured, supported and coherent as you would write in an essay.

Next, produce a conclusion. This needs to reference the main findings and results to your main points, and sum everything up. Try to keep it simple, and back yourself up. This is usually followed by a feedback slide, or a questions and answers session. Make sure you know your presentation thoroughly if you allow other students to ask questions, as they may ask something you hadn’t thought of.

Next, make sure your presentation is stylish. Check that you have put a warm welcome to everyone who has spent their time to listen to you, and that the main title is viewable for the longest. As you present, start at a consistent pace. Do not hurry at any point, and take note that the recipients are able to make the most of your message. You can judge this by looking at them. Keep your eye contact with them, but do not focus on one person.

After you have concluded, give them a proper chance to clear any doubts. Talk confidently, and state facts. However, don’t memorise your entire presentation. A well received presentation needs life and energy, and if you memorise yours it won’t have any of these. Not only will you lose your audience, but you will be hard pressed to adapt if you are sticking to a strong mental script. That said, it is a good idea to rehearse in front of flatmates, or parents, and have them sit at the back of the room so you can practise speaking loudly and clearly. Ask for honest feedback when you’re finished, and work on what is suggested to you. Keep repeating until you are comfortable giving the presentation.

The last point you should consider is what you’ll do if things go wrong. It is always a good idea to take a printed copy of your notes, and a copy of your presentation on a USB flash drive. That way, you’re prepared for most situations. Good luck!!

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