Standing up in front of a group of people and giving a presentation can be scary. Some people may find it easier than others and for those who suffer from nerves, it can be a real challenge.
However, presentations are an essential part of your Pathway course, which means having to speak in public. This is because this is what is expected of you as an undergraduate in the UK, and also, the world of work beyond graduation.
Whether you are required to present on your own or as part of a group, you must be able to talk clearly and in an engaging way to the rest of the class. We have come up with a few tips to help you face your fears and deliver a great presentation.
There are many videos of speeches on YouTube, from Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ to Steve Jobs addressing Stanford University students. Don’t worry – no one expects you to become as good as a human rights activist or tech genius overnight, but it is good practice to watch masters at work. You can learn from the way they speak and how they connect with their audience, both through their voice and their gestures.
You might have heard the saying, ‘practice makes perfect.’ The best way to become good at something is to do it over and over again – and giving a presentation is no different. Try on your own at first, then in front of friends a couple of times and ask them what they think you could do to improve. If you’re part of a group, make sure to practice together more than once. Top tip: Ten minutes before your presentation, stop practicing and sit quietly – this will help you stay calm.
You will be more confident if you actually know what you’re talking about in your presentation. This goes beyond just knowing your lines, if you know the subject you’re naturally going to feel confident talking about it. This also helps should any questions be asked about your slides. So make sure you properly research and prepare for your presentation, and trust us, you’ll want to present it!
What happens when you get nervous is that your breathing tends to speed up and become shallower. When this happens, your brain gets less oxygen and sometimes you can begin to hyperventilate (breathing very fast). As soon as you start to panic, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will calm you down and slow your heart rate.
You’re going to be using your voice, so you want it to be as clear and as strong as possible. Drinking water is a great way to make sure your throat and mouth don’t get dry, as well as being great for your general health and wellbeing. Bring a bottle with you into the presentation. Have some before you start and then keep it nearby in case you want some more a little later.
Smiling is actually slightly magical. As well as making you appear confident and attractive, smiling is good for your health! It releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin (all the happy chemicals in your brain) which relaxes your body, slows your heart rate and lowers blood pressure. It’s hard to smile when you feel nervous but take a deep breath and make yourself – it will help you and those you are speaking to enjoy the whole experience much more.
If you’d like to expand your career horizons by studying at Northumbria, then take a look at one of the many pathway courses available. Or contact us directly for any other questions.