As a fourth year college student, I have given my fair share of formal presentations. Presentations in college can be extremely overwhelming, especially with large class sizes and high expectations from professors. The reality is, they’re really not as bad as everyone makes them out to be. Here are some tips I have learned over the years to ensure your presentation stands out:

Dress for success

I hope this one is obvious. Avoid wearing jeans or leggings if you can. You will most likely be more confident in professional attire and thus, you will feel more prepared to speak in front of the class. Stay away from prints and patterns that may be distracting. You want your audience to be focused on the content of your presentation. Patterns that look “busy” might divert the attention of your audience. Aim for solid, dark colors and wear closed toed shoes. The more professional your attire, the more confident you will feel, and the more prepared you will seem.

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Practice, practice, practice

When I have a big presentation coming up, I usually practice a few times a day for about a week leading up to the day of the presentation. Practice in front of your family and friends as often as possible, even if they aren’t familiar with the content. Additionally, practice in front of your classmates. Ask them to critique you, and take their criticism seriously. If your final presentation is with a group, be sure to set up a date and time where the entire group can meet to practice together. This way, there is no confusion on presentation day.

Make cue cards for yourself

I always make sure to do this. Sometimes, I don’t end up needing them once I get into the presentation, but it is still helpful knowing they are there if needed. Before the day of your presentation, review each slide and see if there is any information that can be taken out and added to an index card. This way, your slides won’t look “messy.” Cue cards will also help to ensure you aren’t reading word for word off of each slide. However, make sure you aren’t referring to the card too much. Keep it simple, adding only short bullet point phrases. The last thing you want is to look like you don’t know the material.

Be creative 

Try your best to make your presentation stand out from the other presenters. Instead of using a traditional power point, try branching out a bit. Prezi, for example, is a great resource for showing off your creative capabilities. In addition, use video clips, pictures, charts, etc. to organize your information. Avoid using too many transition techniques in your powerpoint, as this can be distracting to the audience (slide transitions, slam effects, etc).

Be yourself

It’s okay to be nervous about giving a presentation. Chances are, you aren’t the only one who’s nervous. Just be yourself! Everyone in the room is in the same boat, and your professors have been there once before. Have fun with it and give it your best shot.

Bethany P