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Many residents of our UTA student housing struggle with academic presentations or just plain hate doing them. The academic presentation can be a challenging assignment, especially when you haven’t done one before. It taps into the anxiety many of us have around public speaking and can require as much or more time to prepare as it takes to write a paper.

With a few simple tips, though, we know you can nail your next academic presentation and develop skills that will help you in your professional career beyond! That’s why today we’re taking the time to share some of our tips for effective and engaging student presentations. Let’s get into it, shall we?

Understand the Assignment

This is the first step for any assignment, but it is surprisingly easy to skip, especially if an assignment seems straightforward at first glance. Take some time to go over the assignment to make sure you know how many minutes your presentation needs to be, what you need to cover, whether you need to cite any sources, etc. Talk to your instructor ahead of time if you need clarification.

Create An Outline

Just like academic papers, class presentations can benefit greatly from a good outline. Your presentation should flow smoothly from point to point and be organized in a way that helps effectively communicate information. Consider starting with an outline—especially if you have complicated and/or abundant information to cover—so that your final product isn’t a confusing mess.

Use Visuals As Supplements, Not Stand-Alone Material

If your presentation includes a powerpoint or similar visual aids, avoid the trap of putting all the information in the visual aid. Your visual aid(s) should be only a supporting part of your presentation; it need not—and likely should not—stand on its own. Not only will your presentation be less engaging if you (and your audience) are simply reading from a slide, but you also miss out on the main value of visual aids, which is to add a dimension to your presentation that your words alone cannot provide.

Images, short video, charts, and figures, or even funny gifs may be better uses of your visual aid software/materials than simply writing all your points out in bullet form. Just make sure what you include adds clarity or nuance, strikes the right tone and helps engage your audience.

Address Your Audience

Speaking of engaging your audience, no presentation exists in a vacuum. It’s important to take your audience into account when creating and delivering your presentation. While preparing, take time to think about what your audience (typically your classmates and instructor) knows and doesn’t know, and what interests them so that you can present information in a way that is engaging and easy to understand. When it comes time to present, make sure to actually address your audience. You don’t necessarily have to elicit audience participation, but make eye contact with them and make it clear you’re talking to them rather than simply talking while they happen to be watching.

Pace Yourself

It’s a presentation, not a race. It can be easy when presenting to let your anxious energy turn into a feverish pace that’s hard to sustain. Slow down, give yourself time to think, and give your audience time to digest the information you’re presenting. By pacing yourself, you’ll also help avoid some of the less professional-sounding verbal patterns we tend to rely on when we’re rushing to collect our thoughts, including fillers like “umm,” “uhh,” and “like.”

Practice Makes Perfect

For a coherent presentation that flows smoothly and fills just the right amount of time, you’re going to have to practice. Even if you’re pressed for time, try running through your presentation (out loud if possible) at least once so you know what you’re going to say when you’re going to transition between visual aids, how long your presentation will take, and where you should stop for questions. You can do this alone in your private bedroom at our UTA student housing, or enlist the help of a friend or two to practice doing it in front of a charitable audience.

Have a Back-Up Plan

Nothing feels worse than spending hours preparing your presentation, then realizing the internet isn’t working, the file is corrupted, or you don’t have the right adaptor for your classroom’s presentation hardware. Ask your instructor what exactly you need to bring with you or send in ahead of time in order to be prepared, but also try to have a backup plan in case things still go wrong. Print out your presentation notes and other materials in case you need to rely on a hard copy, and save any digital materials in more than one place (e.g. email it to yourself and also save it to a flash drive).

That’s all the presentation tips we have for residents of our Arlington apartments! UTA students, if you liked this post and you’d like to keep up to date on future posts, be sure to bookmark our blog page! We’ll have another post in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, go ahead and follow us on Instagram for all our special promotions, community updates, and events!

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