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Before the Presentation
Goodman School of Business
Before the Presentation
Most people get nervous before making a presentation as they are worried about making a mistake and being embarrassed. The most important thing you can do is relax! Your classes require you to prepare and give individual and group presentations so that you have an opportunity to practice and perfect your skills before you get into the workforce. The more you present, the more comfortable you will become and the more confidence you will obtain with oral communication. Look at your classroom presentations as a way to try new things and find the style that works best for you.
Try the following tips and tricks to help you when you are in front of your class, your professor, or your boss. Remember - practice makes perfect!
Channelling Your Nervousness
Why it is important: Most people get nervous before speaking in front of groups; however, most careers consist of delivering a variety of information orally, so it is important to find ways of making the process easier. Nervousness can make you uncomfortable and make it harder to engage the audience. Worrying about making a mistake in front of an audience can also make you more nervous so relax, take a deep breath, and read on!
Try some of the following tips to help you channel your nervousness into helping rather than hindering your presentation.
- Most people don’t expect to write a test without studying and get an A. Why are presentations any different? Try practicing your presentation by yourself and then with your group. This will help make the presentation look more professional to your audience as well as helping you feel more confident in your material.
- Remember to breathe and slow your pace of speaking! When we get nervous we tend to speak too quickly. Try to channel your nervousness into energizing you beforehand and animating your presentation for better audience engagement. Practicing your presentation as well as having a clear and organized plan for delivery will help you to speak confidently and avoid using informal vocal crutches such as “um” and “ah” during your presentation.
Know Your Material Inside and Out and Present it Clearly and Logically
Why it is important: Have you ever tried to follow directions somewhere new and become lost because the directions left out important details and landmarks? Think of your presentation as a map of what you are trying to say and what you wish the audience to receive. If you do not organize your presentation and corresponding speech well, the audience cannot follow your directions.
Three easy tips for organizing your presentation:
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them (agenda or breakdown of presentation topics)
- Tell them what you want to tell them (content of presentation)
- Tell them what you told them (summary of major points in presentation)
- For the purposes of presentations, the individual or group presenting are considered the experts. If you are not well informed about your topic the audience can be easily confused. Prepare clear points before your presentation that illustrate what information you are going to transmit.
Understand Your Audience
Why it is important: Listening to a presentation that is either too technical or not technical enough can be frustrating for your audience. Understanding your audience and speaking to their level of content knowledge is an important part of giving a professional presentation. Make sure you are using professional language and proper sentences.
When preparing your presentation, ask yourself:
- Who is the audience and why are they here? (What information are they interested in?)
- What information do they already know? (What is their level of understanding of the subject matter?)
- What information should they know? (Is there specific information they need to know in order to understand your ideas?)
- What information is unimportant for them to know? (Is there information that you find interesting but isn’t necessary for the audience to understand your ideas?)