Giving a postgrad presentation at university is not an easy thing. Of course you will have some prior experience when doing your undergraduate degree – but it can still be a nerve-wracking process. A combination of nerves and poor preparation can actually cause a lot of damage. But don’t worry – we’ve got some tips on how to ace your university postgrad presentation by making sure you’re fully prepared.
Do some effective brainstorming
Brainstorming is a hugely useful tool for any kind of work, but for presentations it’s essential so make sure you set enough time aside to do it. There are a variety of different ways to do your brainstorming; you might use an app that works on cloud-based software, for example. These are extremely useful because you can work on them in real time with others; ideas can be shared instantly. Alternatively, you might prefer the good old-fashioned paper and pen method. Whatever works for you, do it. Write down anything that comes to mind, anything at all, and don’t limit yourself. Don’t dig too deep or try to work out what will work and what won’t. That’s for later. Right now it’s all about ideas.
Choose how you will present
Some people are happy to stand up and talk. Some need slides. Some need to have created an entire presentation from scratch on their tablet. Again, the method of presenting your talk doesn’t matter (unless, of course, the preferred method has been stated in the guidelines) as long as you are happy with it. However, remember that if you need to have any tech with you, it should be full charged, completely compatible with the university’s equipment and, most importantly of all, you must know how to use it. As long as you know this, you can proceed because even if there is a problem, you’ll know what to do to fix it.
Having a good, clear structure to your postgrad presentation is vital. Knowing what you are going to say and in what order will give you a much-needed boost of confidence, and your performance will be greatly enhanced. Make sure that you have everything set out in the right order before you enter the room so that you’re not having to flip through pages in your notes or on your Powerpoint document as this would look unprofessional. Although the actual structure is down to you and will depend what it is you’re presenting, it should always start with a good introduction that explains what your presentation is about. It should end with a conclusion that offers insight. In between, each section should flow into the next.
By the time you’ve finished writing and preparing your presentation, you might be tired of it, but you can’t just wait until the day itself to talk it though. Rehearsals – and yes we mean many of them – are crucial because they will show you where any stumbling blocks are. A rehearsal will highlight any words that just don’t work as they are meant to, any parts that don’t link up or contradict something else you have said… and much more. But it’s not just about the words; it’s about your performance. Standing in front of a panel of people and giving a presentation is not for the faint-hearted, but the more you practice it the more confident you will feel. That confidence will shine through in your talk and make it much more engaging.
You will be nervous – embrace it
Nerves are inevitable when it comes to something as important as a university presentation. They are going to happen to even the most confident of people. So because they are going to happen, it’s important to embrace them, and use that nervous energy to your advantage. One way to do this is to relax as much as you can whilst still maintaining an alertness that will help you deliver your content. Remember, the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed the audience is, and a relaxed, interested audience will help you to keep more confident.
Being natural in your presentation is essential. Anyone can read words from notes or slides, but that won’t sound like them. You need to sound like you if you’re going to ace your university presentation. This is why rehearsal is good; the less you need your notes, the more natural you will sound. Eye contact will also help, so although it’s hard it will be something that you should make a conscious effort to do more of. Your presentation may be just you on stage, but it’s a two-way conversation because you want to be able to have a discussion when it’s done. This is why being natural is so important.