Presentation skills: Structuring an effective presentation

Presentations: some people avoid them, others enjoy them! At the My Learning Essentials workshop on ‘Structuring an effective presentation’, the most important message to take home with you is given out right at the beginning of the workshop – presentations are an opportunity.

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Whatever career you end up having, at some point you will be expected to present yourself, your ideas and your arguments to an audience of stakeholders. Even if you feel like a fish in water when presenting, there is always something new to learn to make your presentation more effective and memorable.

So, what can you expect if you attend this workshop?

First and foremost, you can expect not only to discuss what good communication actually is and why it is so important in your work, but also to get some hands-on experience in delivering a presentation yourself. You will be working together with a group of people to deliver a presentation on a topic you might not actually be familiar with. This is not as frightening as it might seem at first, so don’t worry! Consider it as an opportunity to challenge yourself as a presenter and as a member of the audience.

It’s really good fun! You will work with students from other academic disciplines and get a unique perspective on how they might approach a certain subject. Engaging with others is an amazing chance to grow and get some tips and tricks you might then be able to implement in your own work as well. What you put in is what you get out; and it’s all a big learning curve!

There are different stages in preparing for and delivering a presentation. This workshop is about giving you some good planning, communication and teamwork skills and the confidence to shine at your next presentation! You might feel that the biggest portion of your work actually goes into research and writing, but this is not necessarily what your presentation should reflect. This means you should learn to be concise and effective in getting your main message through, while keeping people interested.

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Also, remember that presentations are more than just words and slides. It is also about you. Your body language, the tone of your voice, your posture, your sense of timing; all of this will have an impact on the overall quality and effectiveness of your presentation. If you’re someone who has no problem with creating and structuring presentations, but instead you struggle with public speaking, it is really important for you to be confident when presenting your work. The key to this is practice – make sure you’ve planned and rehearsed your presentation well, so when the time comes you can focus mainly on the delivery. If you’d like to learn skills which would help you deliver presentations with ease, you can attend the MLE workshop ‘Presentation skills: delivering with confidence’.

Do not overwhelm people with slides; keep them short and simple. Consider checking out some interesting TED talks or Prezi presentations. Engage with people and put yourself in their shoes. Would you find this interesting if you were them? Join student organisations or clubs where you can observe presentations and practice delivering them yourself. This will give you a good feeling for various types of audiences. When you see or hear a good presentation, try to think what it was about it that impressed you the most and got your attention, and remember… practice, practice, practice. Get your flatmates to sit down and deliver your presentation to them – feedback from an audience unfamiliar with the subject can be invaluable and it can give you a clear indication of whether and where any adjustments could be made. Be prepared to answer questions – think about what you might be asked at the end of your presentation, and come up with possible answers. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Put yourself in situations where you can experiment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

A good place to start is definitely this workshop. Also, please tweet us any questions you may have or leave your tips on how to prepare and deliver a good presentation in the comments section below! 🙂

By Helena and Anna from the Student Team

 

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