So You Have to Give a Presentation? Here’s How to Get an ‘A’

Last semester, I took a capstone course that required each student to give a presentation at some point during the semester. Mind you, this was a 400-level university capstone course, meaning the it was comprised primarily of juniors and seniors, all of whom were at least 21 years-old. Imagine my surprise when, before his presentation, one student admitted that he had never given a presentation before.

How does that happen? This guy was 20-something years-old, two months from graduating from a four-year institution of higher learning, and giving the first presentation of his life. How. Does. This. Happen? Clearly, the education system failed this student at some point during his education. I digress.

Public speaking, although nerve-wracking, once mastered, is an important and impressive skill. At some point or another, most of us will have to speak in front of a group of people — whether that group consists of five people or five hundred. It’s best to get those nerves out of the way as soon as possible, for the longer you put something off, the bigger your fear for it grows.

Not to brag or anything, but I have received AT LEAST ONE endorsement for public speaking on my LinkdIn profile. So, yeah, I’m pretty much an expert in this topic and many other topics. Here are my tips on how to give an amazing speech or presentation, even if you’re just telling a funny story in front of your friends:

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Confidence

Although probably the most difficult part of public speaking — to be (or pretend to be) confident in front of others while you internally fear that you will say the wrong thing — I believe it is the most important. Confidence carries over into other aspects of public speaking, and sometimes, when you pretend you’re confident, you can actually kill your nerves. Just as it’s best to get the most difficult things out of the way first, I got this tip out of the way from the start!

Practice, practice, practice

Again, if it’s just an anecdote or joke that you want to impress others with later, there is no better way to ensure a smooth delivery than to practice your speech. Practice the timing, cues, and your facial expressions. The more rehearsed you are, the more confident you’ll be in your delivery!

Smile

No one likes to look at someone who looks unhappy, so make sure you will look pleasing to your viewers! Smiling while you talk also makes you sound friendlier, making people more likely to listen to you. (Also a great phone tip, by the way.)

Be authentic

People can sense when others are being fake, so make sure to be as open an genuine as possible while you speak. Take questions, don’t be arrogant, laugh at yourself, be genuine, and have a good time!

Dress to impress

Another tip that can help boost your confidence — dress well! People will be looking at you either way, so you might as well look good, right?

Best of luck to everyone who will be giving a presentation in the coming weeks for midterms! Let me know how it goes on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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