Presenting is a skill that will improve with practice. Our resources provide information on effectively preparing, practicing, and delivering academic presentations: persuasive arguments, the mechanics of a presentation, and responding to questions. Students who want to learn ways to reduce their worry about public speaking can see the Presenting with Confidence materials.
If you are ready to practice with others, print out the Presentation Skills Checklist to see where you can grow!
Looking for something short and sweet? Read our quick tips to improve your presentation skills.
If you would prefer anything in .docx format, please email us and we can send it along.
RESOURCES: Presentation Skills
The best speakers understand persuasion, tell stories, and develop their skills.
A step-by-step guide to preparation, practice, and presenting.
Ways to manage presentation anxiety and techniques for common challenges with public speaking.
Preparing for & responding to questions, evaluating your performance (presentation skills checklist).
QUICK TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR PRESENTATION SKILLS
Prepare the content
- The OPENING: include a “hook” to get the audience attention, possibly a brief description of who you are, an overview
- The BODY: make an outline of key points, interpretations, examples or evidence. Don’t plan to think on the spot! Use visual aids sparingly.
- The CLOSING: recap main points and original purpose, leave them something to think about, thank audience
- The QUESTION PERIOD: Anticipate questions and prepare a response.
- Feel physically prepared: well-rested, hydrated, etc.
- Arrive early to check space and equipment.
- Believe in your abilities: practice a positive attitude.
- Anticipate glitches and be ready for them.
- Rehearse aloud 3+ times: alone, using a mirror, with a friend. Is presentation within time frames?
- Be aware of your body language: stand tall; eye contact with someone or back of room; smile; use purposeful movement; good volume, pace, pitch, pauses.
- Become familiar with the technology.
- Use relaxation techniques while rehearsing (see module; link below).
- “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em; tell ‘em; then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.”
- Follow your outline.
- Expect some nerves. Breathe at the end of each sentence to relax your throat.
- During Q&A: Open with “What are your questions?” Listen carefully and repeat question to class before answering. Think before answering. It’s OK to be honest with your limits of knowledge.
- Handle difficult persons calmly and politely: move on, or redirect question to audience.