Making a Presentation: Part Three

If there is one thing that produces that “butterflies in the tummy” churning kind of feeling in an instant it would have to be giving a presentation. Most people will openly admit that it makes them nervous. And yeah, it’s true that some people can actually perform better when nervous, but the majority of people get so nervous that they would rather avoid giving the presentation completely. This is the final article in the series of Making a Presentation, following on from Part One and Part Two. 

The truth is that at some point in our lives almost all of us will have to present something to a group of people. Getting that new job or a better grade could depend on it. And let’s face it, what is the worst thing that can possibly go wrong? Ok, so you could perhaps completely forget what you were meant to be presenting; that probably has to be the biggest fear, but it is easily prevented.

I attended a poetry reading recently by a prestigious poet who has written many books, and who confessed at the beginning to have given hundreds of talks about the work they have written. Halfway through the talk, the poet was about to recite a poem from their own book when it became apparent that they couldn’t find it. The audience sat waiting, and not very patiently either; they were becoming fidgety and began talking amongst themselves whilst the speaker fumbled about looking frantically for this specific poem.

Lack of Preparation

This could have been avoided so easily by a small amount of preparation beforehand. Even the most experienced speakers can lose their train of thought for a few moments. So here’s what you do – if you are reading from a book, find the pages that you need and put a little slip of paper or a sticky note on those pages, and number them or give them a title so you know which order you will use them in.

If you aren’t reading anything from a book, and most of us won’t be, then make some flashcards to go through as you are speaking. They will remind you of what you want to say next. If you are using PowerPoint don’t forget that all-important agenda slide.

Garr Reynolds has given a list of six points which he picked up from a keynote presentation by Steve Jobs recently. In one point he tells us that you don’t need the agenda slide for your presentation. Well, that’s okay for those people who give presentations regularly, but for those who are presenting for the first time, those who lack experience and/or confidence, this slide is an absolute necessity. And print it out and take it with you, because in the event of a technical glitch (and once again, these happen to everyone), you will not be in that uncomfortable situation of trying to remember what comes next. You don’t need to go through the agenda slide in great detail; just a brief outline of what you are going to say is fine.

“Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em

Tell ’em

Tell ’em what you told ’em”

Ok, so these tips might sound a bit basic, even a little obvious to some, but for the inexperienced speaker remembering them could be the difference between success and failure – besides, aren’t the easier things to remember also the easiest ones to forget?



Published On: 21st Jan 2013

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  1. This web site is so helpful.I suggested it to my instructor to help other students.I hope she approves.You guy did a really great job.Thank so much for the help.

    angel 23 Mar at 3:43 am
  2. Thank you for your comments Angel, I hope this series of articles is useful to your fellow students.

    Look out for the next two articles in this series, and good luck.


    Sharren 23 Mar at 1:18 pm
  3. I like to use PowerPoint, but not too much. It is too easy to stack it full of text, pie charts and bar charts. Keep it simple and keep it visual. Always remember that PowerPoint is the tool you’re using to help you, it is not the presentation itself. Regards Vince

    vince stevenson 29 Apr at 5:42 pm
  4. I really think that this information will be helpful for my 4 minute speech. I know it’s a little short, but this is basically my first time delivering a speech so I’m kind of nervous… But this is going to help me loads. Thank you.

    Bluebird 5 May at 3:45 pm