Did you know that a fear of public speaking is considered the number one fear among society?

However, as students we are often forced to step out of our comfort zone and face our fears- which means having to do a few presentations. Depending on your program, some of you may have to present countless times over the semester while others may have to present just once. For some of us, each time we present it gets a little bit easier, while for others each one is as nerve-wracking as the next. Despite the circumstances, here are some tips to deliver an effective presentation which will keep your audience engaged!

Come prepared:

This one may seem a bit obvious, but nonetheless it is very important. The night before, rehearse what you need to say. This can be as simple as reading in front of the mirror or using a pet or roommate as an audience. This will allow you to be more confident and competent as you deliver your content. Also, make sure you have all your materials with you. If any copies or handouts need to be made – have it done ahead of time! The last thing you want to deal with on the morning of a presentation is a broken photocopier or a really long line up at the library. Always arrive with some time to spare. Having extra time allows you to compose yourself and test out the technology you’ll be using.



Begin with a strong start:

The first few moments are critical because that is when you have your audiences undivided attention. You get to start off with a fully engaged audience and these moments determine whether they choose to stay engaged. There are various ways to capture their attention such as a shocking statistic or a quick video clip! If you’re feeling really creative, use a resource such as Powtoon to create an animated video clip.

Be sure to project your voice and show that you are passionate about the topic! It doesn’t make sense for an audience to want to listen if the presenter doesn’t seem to be interested in what they are speaking about.

Incorporate a fun activity:

Every great presenter is able to entertain their audience. Even in a short seminar presentation, there are various things you can do which will make your audience eager to participate. Rather than simply asking questions, it can be done in the format of a game. Websites such as Jeopardy Rocks  are very easy to use and can really enhance your presentation.

However, something to keep in mind is that the resources are simply there to enhance your presentation. Do not make it the core focus, the audience expects you to deliver the material – and for the duration of the presentation, you are the expert!

Get your whole audience involved:

Oftentimes, presentations delivered in a class require dialogue and discussion. There are few things as uncomfortable as asking a question and having a room full of blank stares looking back at you. Some of my personal favourite strategies which guarantee discussion are:

  • Snowball activity: this is great when you have a shy audience. The audience is able to write down their ideas on a sheet of paper, crumple it up and throw into a bin or at the front of the class. They then pick up a “snowball” and share what it says. This allows your audience to share ideas without feeling self- conscious.
  • Think pair share: This allows rich discussion because individuals do not have to speak up in front of the whole group. They can debrief with a partner, or the people around them. It also allows the presenter to speak to the small groups, and generate discussion. You can then debrief with the audience, and have the pairs share what they have discussed.
  • Graffiti activity: When you have an audience who does not seem inclined to answer questions, this is a great way to still have them contribute their ideas. The graffiti activity can be done by writing your topics on pieces of chart paper and scattering them around the room. The audience can then write down their ideas and wander around the room. It also gets them moving which is another great bonus.

Most importantly – enjoy the experience! Presentations are a great learning opportunity and your peers understand what it feels like to be in your position. Remember that you are not alone; your TA or professor will be eager to meet with you ahead of time, and help you make sure you are on the right track. Delivering a presentation gives you an opportunity to connect with others at a different level. Being an effective speaker is something which anyone can master, it just takes practice! Good luck Badgers!