Student Blogger — Jordan G.
Jordan is a senior at IWU majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Intercultural Studies.
In my experience, presentations can be one of the most difficult and nerve-wracking parts of being a college student. I’ve always considered myself to be much better at written communication than verbal communication (hence the blog) because I like to revise and reword things until they’re just right. With presentations, you only get one shot, and that’s the part I hate the most!
Whether you enjoy giving presentations or not, they are an inevitable part of most academic programs and usually cannot be avoided. Presentations also require many important skills needed later on in life, like public speaking, confidence, and the ability to communicate well. So while they can be scary and uncomfortable, the presentations you give in your college classes are a great learning experience and environment for you to develop your skills in this area. To make this process a little easier, here are 4 college presentation hacks to boost your confidence and get you through:
1. Ask for the Rubric
If the rubric for your presentation is not in your syllabus, ask the professor if you can see one. If they don’t have a specific rubric for the presentation, ask them for general guidelines and criteria they are grading on. This will allow you to shape your presentation based on their expectations and give you a greater chance for success than going into it blindly. There are some expectations like the content covered, format, and length, that are more obvious, but it is also good to know ahead of time if they’ll be marking off for things like using “um” or the attire for the presentation.
2. Practice (in front of people!)
This might be obvious, but the best thing you can do to prepare for a presentation is to practice – practice – practice. Rather than just reading over your slides and planning out what you are going to say in your head, give the actual presentation. Try once or twice by yourself then ask a friend to watch you and give you tips. I have found this to be so much more helpful than just reading over the presentation because by actually presenting, you become familiar with the flow of what you’re saying and how to transition between points (a great way to avoid the “ums”!). Give it a try and I promise you will feel more prepared and less nervous when the real presentation comes around!
3. Time Yourself
This tip goes along with practicing several times out loud and in front of others – time yourself every time! Don’t ever estimate how long the presentation will take, especially if there is a strict time limit and you will get points taken off for running over/under. Timing yourself more than once is extremely helpful because you get more fluid as you practice, often shortening your time. It’s also helpful to know if you usually speak faster or slower under pressure so you can account for that and get a good feel of what speed you need to use to hit your goal time.
4. Ask for Feedback
Asking for feedback is important before and after you give your presentation. While practicing in front of friends, ask them for what went well and what could’ve gone better. This will allow you to identify your weaknesses and work out the kinks of the presentation before you will actually be graded on it. After the presentation, pay attention to how you are graded and what feedback your professor provides. You could even ask them via e-mail or set up a meeting to discuss what you can improve on. This is a great way to constantly improve and set yourself up for success next time!
Knowing the expectations, practicing, and asking for feedback are great ways to improve your presentation skills. Using these tips will keep you prepared, confident, and stress-free when presentations come around. Good luck!
Find more of Jordan’s writings here.