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Once you have the words written and have sussed out the best way of making the presentation more interesting in the visual sense, and have assessed what facilities are available to you such as power sockets for CD players, computers for PowerPoint shows, whiteboard and so on, it is time to put together the visual side of things.
The hardest part of the preparation has been done, this is the easy bit.
PowerPoint – design your slides and have fun with them. First, try to make them work alongside your topic. If you have a serious debate then you should stick to plain lettering, and keep the colours calming, but if you have chosen something based on a hobby or music then you really can be a bit more relaxed. Choosing a little character can give them a comical and interesting twist, they can be brightly coloured or plain, there really isn’t much that you can’t do. But when designing try to remember a few things –
- Do not go over the top – have a few bullet points on each page (five should be plenty), don’t have too many colours or too many graphics. Try to remember that less is more and you don’t want people to spend so much time working out what is going on that they will be distracted from listening to you talk.
- If you do choose a fun character then make it relevant, such as a talking football for sport. Try and make a single theme for the whole presentation to avoid confusion.
- Don’t forget the tip in the last section, print off copies of the slides and hand them out at the start or pass them round during the presentation for people to follow what is going on and be able to re-cap on what was said after the presentation finishes.
Whiteboard – the most important thing to remember here is the lack of space. If you are able to access the whiteboard before the presentation then put up some key points before you start. If not, then just make notes of the most important factors of your speech as you are presenting it.
Flipcharts – the biggest problem with flipcharts is that they are so small and not always visible in a large room. Also they don’t hold a huge amount of information so perhaps you could also hand out copies of the PowerPoint slides to work alongside your flipchart.
Props – these always add a fun and amusing side to any presentation and, if suitable, are definitely encouraged. Perhaps even some audience participation could make things more interesting.
After all the decisions have been made – the topic, the words, and the visuals – the only thing left to do is to make the presentation. Here are a few pointers to help the final bit go as smoothly as possible:
Practise your presentation as many times as possible before the day. Time yourself; get family members or friends to be your audience. The more times you practise the easier it becomes, and if you know the words back to front before the actual day then you are on to a winner!
Make sure that you have everything ready the night before. Don’t forget:
- Your notes/flashcards
- The PowerPoint presentation if using one
- Your handouts/slides
- Music, equipment, props, costume
- A bottle of water (in case of a dry mouth)
- This will make sure you aren’t rushing about on the day trying to find something that you have forgotten.
The simple things are often those that are overlooked. Have breakfast and/or lunch before your presentation slot, because if you are hungry you will lose concentration.
Find out if you can access the room and familiarise yourself with it, especially if it isn’t a room that you normally use. If you are able to set things up then do so; if not, have things ready in the order that you will need them, because if you are doing ten-minute presentations as a class you might not get much time before you start. Maybe even have a practice run in an empty room if you can.
Remember that most people are nervous when standing in front of a group of people, it doesn’t matter if it is a topic that they know everything about or something that they have only just learned, it is perfectly natural to be nervous. Some people use this to their advantage and present better because of the nerves. Try not to talk too quickly, speak at normal talking speed. Just imagine you are talking to a group of friends and you will be fine.
Sharren L Bessant