In some cases, giving a presentation can also be part of an assessment. Sometimes, the presentation assignment is given out prior to the assessment. This allows you to prepare at home. You may also be given time to prepare during the assessment itself.
When giving a presentation, you should pay particular attention to three things: the content, your posture, and your voice. When you pay sufficient attention to all three, a good presentation is within your grasp.
Content: catchy and clear
The content is the story that you tell. Write this out beforehand. Think carefully about the purpose of the presentation and your audience. Pay a lot of attention to the structure of your story when you prepare. If you have difficulty distinguishing the primary issues from secondary issues, try taking a writing skills course that teaches the basics of structuring a story.
Posture: engaged yet calm
When preparing a presentation, most people focus on the content, the story that they will soon be sharing. However, the way that you present is just as important. Your posture and your body language largely determine how the audience receives your information.
- For example, avoid turning your back to the audience. Try not to touch your hair too often. Keep your eyes on your audience as much as you can. Eye contact is engaging.
- Practice the presentation at home in front of the mirror, so that you know what your posture is like when you speak. Pay special attention to your hands. Your audience can see how nervous you are through your hands. Try not to rub your hands together, play with your ring, or fuss with your clothing. This distracts your listeners.
- Keep your posture active and upright as much as possible. For example, crossing your arms creates a static posture that distances you from your audience. The best thing is to simply let your arms and hands rest alongside your body. Occasionally, you can make small hand gestures to support your story.
Voice: clear and not too fast
Your voice impacts how your message comes across, too: pay attention to volume and intonation. Record your presentation at home and listen to it several times. Find the parts where you speak clearly and the others where you do not. You can use your voice to stress the importance of certain passages. Be aware of how nerves can influence your voice beforehand. They often make you talk faster or mumble. With breathing exercises, you can control your nerves and your voice. If this is a big problem for you, we recommend taking a course in voice control. Many music centers and schools offer vocal training courses as well as singing lessons.
Recording yourself is particularly useful for this. There is often a world of difference between how you think you come across and how you actually do. This is due to the difference between identity and reputation. The way that others perceive you determines your reputation. Your internal mechanisms, fears, and uncertainties determine your identity. Watch a few video clips of yourself and try to describe what you see objectively. Next, give a practice presentation and record yourself. The easiest way is to start with a subject that requires no preparation. For instance, spend a minute talking about your vacation. Next, talk about a study/work-related topic for two minutes (thesis, accomplishment, etc.) and then finish with a personal pitch about who you are and what you stand for.
When presenting, the biggest pitfall is underestimating the preparation. Usually a good speaker is used as an example and people think that public speaking is an innate ability. It couldn’t be further from the truth. It all comes down to preparation and practice. Only after you’ve established the content of your story will you have the (cognitive) freedom to comfortably work in your sense of humor and add your personal touch.