The sweat dripping off your brow. The legs you can’t stop shaking during the anticipation of “going next”. The notes you have crumpled into a ball.

This is public speaking. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you are not alone.

I’m sure you will find that most people do not enjoy going in front of classmates and a professor to speak on a topic they only began researching likely a few days prior. Public speaking, however, does not have to be this frightening, and with goal setting and a few simple tips below, you can master the art of your university presentations!

  1. Delivery can matter just as much as content: Even if this is not on the rubric, delivery of your content can shape the way it is absorbed. The way you say something matters as much, or even more, than what you are saying. On the note of content, however, make sure to take notes in class and use the course goals and themes in your presentation.
  2. Eye contact: I’m sure you already know this is important, but I consistently see classmates reading a script off their phone – don’t do this. Don’t memorize unless you have already mastered this skill, and can sound extemporaneous. Know your main points and express them to the audience with eye contact. Use cue cards for quotations and statistics.
  3. Gestures: These can help you remain calm and keep you lose. Gestures can be used for emphasis, repetition, and more!
  4. Catchy intro: There has been one too many times I have heard: “Hello, this is my presentation on…”. Such a bland beginning leaves the audience, including the professor, with the misconception that the entire presentation will be bland as well. Some suggestions: use a shocking statistic, a quotation, anecdote, et cetera.
  5. Remember to breathe: You are nervous, but so is everyone else because they are anxious about their own presentation, meaning they will be likely preoccupied. I usually spend the time leading up to the presentation reminding myself that I have put hours of work into something that will be over soon. Check out these stress management tips too!
  6. Speak slowly: Slower than you normally would, as the audience needs time to grasp what you have said, but not so slowly that it sounds strange in your own head.
  7. Voice: Use your tone appropriately. Think about room size and shape when determining how loud to speak.
  8. Close just as strong as you opened: I also always hear “And that concludes my presentation.” No. Please don’t do this. Perhaps loop around to the catchy beginning you came up with earlier.
  9. Be enthusiastic: If you don’t care for what you are saying, why should anyone else? Even if you just want it to be over, fake enthusiasm by drawing on something you are passionate about.
  10. Have fun: This is something you should make your own. Have fun with it and be proud of the work you have done. Hard work pays off.

Use these ten tips to your advantage to help you master your university presentations so you don’t have to worry about the sweat on your brow, your shaking legs, or crumpled up notes. You’ll be confident in public speaking outside of the classroom too!

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