presentation advice?

If you haven’t already contributed to the BSG resource discussion, feel free to share some advice here about do’s and don’ts for delivering an excellent presentation. Any particular advice for online presentations would be helpful, too.

5 thoughts on “presentation advice?”

  1. I think the best way to deliver an excellent presentation is to rehearse multiple times before presenting, both individually and as a group. From my other classes, I’ve found it helpful to write out the important points I need to cover and then go through my designated slides on my own while timing myself. After each person in the group has practiced, coming together to rehearse as a group via zoom can be really helpful in getting feedback from others and figuring out any areas of potential improvement, for instance, timing issues.

    In terms of designing the actual presentation, my group has decided to use Slidesgo (www.slidesgo.com), which offers free Google Slides themes and PowerPoint templates. There are an endless number of options to choose from and even if none of them perfectly suit your project, just going through the different templates can be really inspiring. For my group’s Brand Style Guide Genre Analysis on special page layouts, we decided to base our presentation’s design on one of the pre-made templates from this site.

  2. Presentations can be scary. There’s a lot of articles on the web that offer you “do’s and don’t’s” to observe on your presentation day, but even the best advice sometimes doesn’t get rid of the nerves you experience while presenting (and that’s especially amplified if you’re afraid of public speaking). From someone who has experienced her fair share of presentations (including some that were horrible and others that were amazing), here are my do’s and don’t’s of presentations:

    Do’s:
    1) DO practice. Practice enough that you are able to speak about your slides without reading off of them or using notes, but also at a pace that’s not too fast or too slow (pro tip: time yourself during your practice runs! you can also ask a friend to practice in front of or practice in front of stuffed animals or something to pretend there is an audience). Good cadence is key, and that can also be developed through practice.
    2) DO make eye contact. Eye contact keeps the audience engaged! Of course you shouldn’t have a staring contest with the person right in front of you, but sweeping your eyes across the room while pausing a few seconds here and there does the job nicely. If you’re presenting virtually, looking at the camera on your computer is a nice way to still have that “eye contact” effect. I know it seems weird to do that (and if I’m being honest I struggle with this a little), but your audience will feel like they are really being seen–as much as you can be virtually at least.
    3) DO have brief bullet points on your slide. Your slide points should serve as an outline for what you want to say, but you’ll expand on it when you talk. Another way to think about this: your bullet points are the takeaways or the highlights you want your audience to focus on.

    Don’t’s:
    1) DON’T “just wing it”. Unless you roll like that. If you’re the kind of person that can be spontaneous and improvise on the spot, then ignore this advice. But for the rest of you, please do not just wing it. Your nerves coupled with your lack of rehearsal will make the presentation experience particularly challenging for you (trust me I’ve done this).
    2) DON’T have bulky text blocks on your slide. Use bullet points and relevant visuals (pro tip: you can use SlidesCarnival or Slidesgo for beautiful slide themes) to keep the slides easily digestible, yet aesthetically pleasing.

    Some ~extra~ strategies to try out:
    1) Format your presentation in a “storytelling” or “problem-solution” type of format. Of course, these structures may not always be relevant to your presentation, so use them if it applies.
    2) Use sans serif fonts on your slides! They are easier on the eyes than serif fonts.

    One last tip: Breathe.
    This one’s important because sometimes the stress of presenting makes it hard for us to quell our anxiety. And above all, remember this: you got this.

  3. When delivering online presentations it’s important to hammer out logistics before the actual presentation day.

    Do’s:
    1. Discuss who will be sharing their screen and flipping through the presentation. Far too often the actual presentation is practiced to nauseum but small decisions like this can throw a group off balance.
    2. Keep it simple.
    This rule applies in a lot of different ways. Everyone knows to cut down on text and keep slide backgrounds clean to avoid distractions. However, presentations over Zoom require some extra considerations. Complex transitions/animations often lag and look tacky, rather than cool. Switching between screen-sharing and presenting can be a painfully slow process. Even scrolling through a website can be difficult with limited bandwidth. Just practice the presentation beforehand with screen-sharing. If technology is giving you issues look for a simpler, faster option.
    3. Try to present in a quiet environment
    This one can be difficult since many of us live in houses with a ton of people. However, few things are worse than presenting while your roommate is in the background yelling at you. Even worse, they might be strutting around wearing few articles of clothing. If the presentation is important, consider letting your housemates know in advance. They *might* be more cautious/considerate about running around in the background with undersized boxers.

    Don’ts:
    1) Don’t read off a script! It can be tempting to put your entire presentation on a Google Doc and read off it as you are flipping through slides. However, this often makes you appear flat and robotic. Memorizing your presentation will almost always result in a more lively, entertaining presentation.
    2) Don’t include external videos in live presentations. For some reason Zoom is terrible at screen-sharing videos. The audio is rarely synched up with the video, the site itself lags and the volume of the video is often unpredictable. If you do need to show a video, try screen-sharing it with your groupmates beforehand and work out as many issues as possible.

  4. With everything becoming remote nowadays, presenting has definitely taken on a new meaning. For some with anxiety, it may be less nerve-wracking to deliver a presentation without all of the eyes in the same room as you. For others, it may be harder to connect and engage with the audience.

    First and foremost, I would emphasize creating simple slides that get the point across, do not overwhelm them with essays. Online listeners are likely to multitask or to be distracted. To prevent them from missing your main points, you need to drive home your key messages quickly. Additionally, attractive visuals are definitely a plus and even better if they add to your message.

    With an online format, if your presentation is on an online service, it might even be beneficial to download a PDF version if possible as a backup, as you never know when technical issues may strike.

    And of course, practice practice practice. I personally like to write down a few key talking points to glance at, just so that I stay on track during my presentation. It also helps to time myself beforehand just so I know exactly how to pace myself and stay within a time limit on the day of the presentation. This is especially crucial if you are in a group presentation, as coordinating transitions can be much trickier online than an in person presentation, where a simple gesture can indicate it’s your partner’s turn to speak. Discuss with your group beforehand who is responsible for covering what information and discuss the flow of your presentation with them.

    One of my favorite presentation tools would have to be Canva. It has the same ease, if not more, as Google Slides/Powerpoint, but I love that they have a really wide selection of aesthetic templates. Additionally, they now have cool new features such as real-time editing with your group members, and various presentation styles (PDF to Website to Slideshow).

  5. I used to be so terrified of presenting in class. Honestly, it wasn’t till my third year of college that I realized it’s a lot easier than I made it out to be. I think it’s important to rehearse, but not to the point where you feel like a failure if you mess up, or miss a part of your script. As cheesy as it sounds, I think being confident is key. Even if you “mess up,” the way you carry yourself is what people will notice the most. I think that this applies to both in-person and online presentations. It’s also important to remember that your peers might also be nervous about their presentations, so you’re not alone! I usually use Google Slides for my presentations, but for any type of medium I think that it’s essential to guide your audience through the visuals and text, so they don’t get lost in what you’re talking about.

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