Introduction: How to Give a Short Class Presentation Competently

This Instructable is composed of bullet points with a lot of words attached to them. I know words can be intimidating, but reading these particular words will help you avoid common pitfalls when giving a classroom presentation. It doesn't matter what topic you have, and if you have 5 minutes or 20; this 'ible provides tips to help your presentation shine.

Step 1: Speaking/Presenting

How you carry yourself when you are giving your presentation is just as important as all that work you put into researching for it. A presentation is 2 parts: information and show. You get the information together, and here's how you do the show:

• Speak loudly but do not yell.
• Speak slowly and clearly.
• Smile, maintain good posture, and make eye contact with audience.
• Be succinct: keep your presentation simple but make your words count.
• Be engaging. How can your audience be interested in your presentation if you aren’t?
• Vary your tone, don’t “read” your script; even if you are actually reading it, it doesn’t have to sound that way.
• If you mention a foreign word, put it on a slide – some people will not really understand a new word without seeing it too.
• Likewise, if you come across a word you are unfamiliar with, look up the pronunciation or ask a professor/teacher/sage before you make a fool of yourself. Another solution would be to replace the difficult word with a synonym. (Example: change “prevalent” to “common,” etc.)
• Do not turn your back on your audience; it is extremely rude. ESPECIALLY do not go to the computer where your slides are loaded, stay there, and read from the computer without ever looking at your audience.
• Dress professionally when giving your presentation – like you would for a job interview. (Examples of what not to wear include shorts, flip-flops, a black bra under a white shirt, etc.)
•  Don't step back and forth, pace, or dance a jig out of nervousness when you're presenting. At best it makes you look silly, at worst it makes your audience seasick.

Step 2: PowerPoint

Your slides cannot save your presentation if your script sucks. Slides ≠ your presentation. They are a separate entity, and you cannot depend solely on them to make you dazzle.On that note:

•DO NOT put your entire script in the slides.
• DO NOT read your slides as you present.
• Use slides for what they are: visual aids. Include pictures, make them aesthetic. Use them to highlight ideas, words, or concepts.
• Don’t use fancy transitions and effects, they will only make your slideshow look cheesy and will draw away from your presentation.
• Spell-check your slides, but have someone else look them over, too. “Route” and “root” are both spelled correctly, but they are not interchangeable in context.
• Store your presentation on a flash drive in “PowerPoint Show” format so you can click & go; this will keep you from having to navigate to “Slideshow” and click “Begin from current slide.”
• Save your PowerPoint in legacy (compatible with older versions) format – you can’t be sure what version your presenting computer will have.
• Email yourself a copy of the presentation if possible, in case there is a problem with your flash drive, the USB port, or other technical difficulties.
• Use standard fonts. Your computer might have Zappywigserif44, but your presenting machine likely won’t.
• If technical difficulties are irresolvable, be prepared to give your presentation sans slideshow. Your slides are not your presentation, just a background to it.

Step 3: Content

This is not a guide to how to set up the content of your presentation, but rather to offer tips on how to do so. If you need a basic reminder or how to set up a speech: Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; tell 'em; tell 'em what you told 'em.

• Don’t inject too much opinion into your presentation unless the project directs you to specifically do so. You are a reporter; be impartial.
• In conjunction with the above, do not fear-monger or seek to sensationalize simply to get attention. Stay in the realm of mainstream sanity. You must maintain credibility in the eyes of your audience.
• Conclude your presentation so that your audience knows it’s over, don’t just trail off or get to the last slide and say “that’s it.”

Step 4: Rehearsal

A lot of people skip this step, and a big majority of them reaaaaallly needed to practice more.

• If you have a verbal tic (“um,” “like,” “so, yeah,” “uh,” etc.) practice is especially important.
• Try to pace your breathing in rehearsal so that you do not speed up, run out of breath, panic, and get flustered.
• Rehearsal is not optional prep – and you must do it in front of real people. Get your parents on Skype, call friends over for a movie night and surprise them with a presentation on Surrealism during the intermission, whatever it takes. Rehearse twice minimum.
• Use observations from rehearsal to eliminate awkward phrasing, awkward pauses, and to mark your script exactly where you need to change slides.
• Make sure to time your rehearsals so that you will stay within/meet your time limit.

Step 5: As an Audience Member

Remember, if you're in a class and have to give a presentation, it's likely your audience is made up of future or past presenters. Be a good audience for them and maybe they'll reciprocate. Also, it's just good manners.

• Do not heckle, comment, or raise your hand during the presentation. Questions should come at the end.
• Stay in your seat. The middle of someone else’s presentation is not the right time for a bathroom break.
• If you are late to class, wait outside or in the doorway until the presenter is done, then enter.

Step 6: In Conclusion...

If you are someone who suffers from stage fright, I recommend either researching stress-relieving exercises you can do before (and possibly during) your presentation, or working customer service for 4 years to give you a strong backbone and make you bitter. Either way, good luck!!! You'll do great! Just do alllll the things I said to do. ;)