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Presentation Skills

Planning an in-class presentation takes time, careful preparation, and practice.

Use the 3 Ps for a great presentation:

Planning, Practicing, and Performing!


  • Search for a topic that you feel passionately about even if the overall subject matter does not interest you
  • Find connections between the material you research and the course material
  • Focus your presentation on a clear point you want to make
    • What do you want to say?
    • What do you want your audience to take away from the presentation or learn from you?
  • Create flow
    • Make certain that your material is easy to follow and allows your audience to understand your conclusion
    • An easy format is:
      • Tell the audience what you plan to talk about
      • Talk about it
      • Tell them what you talked about and what conclusion(s) you have made
    • You can also use a storyteller format
      • Framing your presentation as a story can easily engage your audience
      • Beginning/introduction
      • Middle/build to climax
      • End/resolution
    • Point A should lead to point B and so forth
    • Limit the information you are giving
      • 10-15 mins = 2-3 key points with supporting arguments
      • 30 mins = 5-6 key points with supporting arguments
    • Be careful not to go off on tangents, ask yourself:
      • Does the information directly relate to the key point?
      • Is there a specific reason I need to include the information?
  • Create a Powerpoint or similar visual aide
    • Carefully consider the pictures, charts, statistics, and short video clips you include
      • Are they relevant to the material you are presenting?
      • Do they enhance your presentation?
      • Are they accurate?
    • Keep it simple
      • Information on each slide should be brief and concise
      • Tell your audience what you want them to know, if the audience can read it, why do you need to say it?
      • Include key words and visuals to enhance the audience's ability to follow your presentation
      • Do not clutter your slides
  • Have a Plan B for visual aids just in case something goes wrong
  • Know yourself and use your strengths
    • Are you someone who goes off point easily or tends to talk a lot?
    • Create a presentation that is under the time limitation
    • Use visual aids and note cards to keep you on point
    • Are you someone that speaks faster when you are nervous?
      • Create a presentation that is over the time limitation
      • Pause during your presentation in order to draw attention to visuals or to ask questions
    • Notecards or memorization?
      • Ideally presenters will know their research very well and be comfortable presenting with or without notecards
      • Notecards can be useful to remember key points or ideas
      • Notecards should only contain key facts or cue words and not your full speech
    • Do nerves take over?
      • Practice relaxation techniques prior to your presentation. (see Test Anxiety for relaxation techniques)
      • Let your visual aids help you
        • Make your visual presentation clear enough that you can speak less and show more
        • Include short videos
      • Create your presentation early so that you can spend a week or more practicing your presentation


  • Begin practicing about a week prior to your presentation date
  • Become familiar with the technology you plan to use
  • Time yourself while practicing
    • Adjust your presentation in order to be within a minute of the time allotment
    • Take into consideration your personal style 
  • Rehearse with friends or in front of a mirror
  • Practice body movements
    • Helps you to feel comfortable getting out from behind the podium
  • Read over your presentation daily


  • Connect with your audience by smiling, making eye contact, and answering questions
  • Avoid turning your back on the audience
  • Wear appropriate clothing - avoid jeans with holes, T-shirts, flip flops, or baseball caps
  • Monitor your speech and limit the use of "uh," "like," and "you know"
  • Project your voice and articulate your words
  • Remember- only you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Your audience will not notice if you do not do your presentation exactly as your rehearsed it
  • Be confident and have some fun!