Giving a presentation is anxious enough as an adult, but when you are a young person, it can be incredibly challenging. Seasoned presenters have the experience and strategies to help them cope, and even THEY can still get nervous before a presentation. So, imagine the level of intimidation students feel when they haven’t quite gotten their presentation footing yet.
The good news is, we’re about to share some simple but effective tips that will help students deliver presentations like a pro so they can win big.
1. Pick the Right Topic
There are many professional public speakers that make mid- to high-six figure earnings every year giving presentations. Why are they so wildly successful? Because they speak about things they know and love.
When you present a topic, you know about and are passionate about, you feel less scared before your presentation and more excited to talk about something you love. If you had to stand up in front of your class right now and comfortably speak about a topic, there’s a very good chance that topic would not be “How to Build a Profitable 401K Plan.” But there IS a good chance you could stand up and easily talk for 20 minutes about your favorite pizza joint or why you thought Star Wars’ “The Last Jedi” was way better than “Rogue One.”
When you are thinking about your topic, be sure to pick one that you not only know a lot about but are also really excited about. This will help you come across like an expert and make people want to listen to what you have to say.
2. Create a Mind Map
Are you more of a visual learner? If so, you might want to consider using mind maps to plan out your entire presentation. Mind maps help you to easily structure the information you wish to share to determine if it flows.
Outlining your presentation is a must, and mind mapping makes the entire process much simpler and more effective. There are a ton of free mind mapping websites online, so a simple Google search will turn up software you can begin using immediately.
3. Make Some Smart Edits
Once you have your initial outline mapped out, scrutinize the information you plan to share. Are you trying to cram too much into your allotted time? Will your audience be confused at any point?
Consider your mind map your very first rough draft of your presentation. Using this outline, begin to edit down your content to only the main points that support your overall topic. When it comes to great presentations, less is usually more.
4. Create Awesome Visual Aids
You want to help your audience learn as much as they can from you. One effective way to do this is to create visual aids that will support what you are speaking about. You could include infographics, charts and even short video clips. These visual aids will help to entertain your audience and keep them focused on what you have to say.
5. Learn Your Speech – Don’t Memorize It
One of the biggest mistakes new presenters make is to try and memorize their entire presentation. You are not an actor and there is NO NEED to memorize your speech word for word.
The better way to prepare for your presentation is to simply practice talking about it. Get used to how the information flows from one point to the next.
If I asked you to tell me about your 10th birthday party on Monday, and again on Tuesday, and one more time on Friday – you’d tell me about your birthday party each day but not use the same exact words each time. You’d simply tell the story organically, as it came out of your mouth that particular day.
That’s what you want to do. Know your topic so well you can naturally speak about it without memorizing it.
You can also keep cue cards so if at any time during your presentation you lose focus, you can simply take a peak and get back on track.
6. Learn to Pace Yourself
This is probably the biggest thing that sets experienced presenters and young presenters apart – the ability to pace the presentation. When you are feeling nervous, it is incredibly easy to talk faster… and faster… and faster.
There are a couple of tricks to help you slow down. One is to imagine that several people in the audience have been tasked with writing down your entire speech. It’s your job to speak at a slower pace so they can jot down every word.
You can also practice breathing exercises leading up to the big day. Taking big, deep breaths sends a signal to our brain that there is no threat in the area and we instantly calm down. If you feel yourself begin to speed up, simply take a deep breath or a drink of water.
7. Be Yourself
The best presenters are the ones who aren’t afraid to show their genuine personality. Use your sense of humor and never pretend to be someone you’re not. People can tell fake from genuine a mile away. You’ll come off much better if you just relax and be yourself.
Giving presentations can definitely be intimidating for people of all ages, especially young students. But if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to create and give presentations that knock people’s socks off.