The slightest change in the presentation of even just a sentence can change its entire meaning. Take these two sentences, for example:
I see a man eating chicken.
I see a man-eating chicken!
The first sentence is pretty tame and probably brings to mind an image of someone at KFC munching on a piece of chicken. But the second one makes you think of a giant Godzilla-sized chicken running around the city feasting on human beings. See? Presentation matters and is something you need to pay attention to. The way you deliver piece of information is almost as important as the information itself, especially if you're being graded on it. If you want to know how to give a presentation in class that’ll get you an A+, just keep on reading!
Components of a presentation
Many university courses have their own grading systems that aren’t quite the same as school. Your final grade isn't based just on a few multiple-choice exams. Instead, your final grade will likely combine assignments, exams and presentations. This is why you need to know how to give a presentation in class if you want a good grade at the end of your semester.
To know how to give a good presentation, you first need to know exactly what goes into making a presentation. Your presentation will likely have two main components - a visual element and a spoken element.
Whenever you’re made to give a presentation in class, it's usually to showcase your knowledge on a particular topic, including your research, findings, and essentially any data or information you’ve collected or created for your assignment. All your data will usually be represented in the form of a visual representation, usually a powerpoint presentation. Most students will have a slideshow presentation that picks up key points from their presentation and puts it into a visual format.
Tips for creating a good visual presentation
If you’re wondering how to create a presentation for class that your peers and professor will love, here are a few important tips you should keep in mind:
- Keep it brief: Make sure your presentation isn’t 20-30 slides long. Most well-made presentations can convey all the information you need in around 10-15 slides.
- Use minimal text: Do not over-crowd your slides with information. If people are too busy reading, they won’t pay attention to what you’re saying and will lose interest pretty quickly.
- Use relevant images: The images and visuals you use during your presentation should be catchy, but don’t forget that they all need to serve a purpose. A picture can speak a 1000 words, and that’s exactly what you want your visual component to do for you.
The spoken part of your presentation is where most students have a tough time. Some students find it hard to write down a good speech, while others start sweating buckets at the mere thought of getting in front of a class and speaking. If you want to know how to give a presentation in class that’ll get you a good grade, your speech needs to be well polished.
How to write a good speech
Your speech ties together your entire presentation and is the anchor of your presentation. If you want to know how to give a presentation in class as a student, you must first learn how to write a good speech.
- Use a good hook: The beginning of your speech should get the attention of your audience right away and pique their interest. They won’t be very interested in the rest of your content if you start off boring.
- Use some humour: Speeches are a way for you to showcase some personality. If your professor wanted a dry assignment, they would have made you write a paper. A spoken assignment gives you the freedom to be a little creative and better engage your audience.
- Complement your visuals: Your speech needs to be informative and convey all the information you worked so hard to prepare. It must showcase your topic knowledge and accurately describe everything you’ve mentioned in your slides.
Public speaking tips for students
So your speech is written and it's great! But that's only half the battle - your delivery is just as important. If the thought of public speaking makes you feel weak in the knees, try these few tips to help you out.
- Record yourself practising: Listening to yourself speak helps you better understand where you can improve your delivery at different points. Once you know how you’re going to sound in front of an audience can take the pressure off your final presentation.
- Practice in front of friends: To get comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of a crowd, practice with your friends. The people closest to you are often your harshest critics, so if you can handle them, you can handle anything.
- Memorise your speech: Most people fear getting up on stage and forgetting everything they had prepared. To ensure that doesn’t happen, ensure you’ve practised your speech enough times that you’ll remember it even if you’re nervous.
Speaking of assignments and exams- with exam season coming up, do you feel the pressure mounting? Read our guide on how to beat the exam stress and enter exams season feeling cool and confident: How to Deal with Exam Stress as a College Student.
How to give a good presentation
Now that you have a fair understanding of the different elements of your presentation, we’ll give you some tips on how to give a presentation in class that will earn you the highest grade in the class. Here are some tips to stick to before the big day:
Understand your content
Your final presentation will be an amalgamation of both your written and visual elements. It is vital that you have a good understanding of the content that you are presenting. If you don’t understand what you’re trying to say, how will your audience? Test out your presentation on some friends to ensure that your content is understandable to someone who isnt too familiar with the topic, so you can ensure that your classmates and professor can easily understand your content.
Organise your structure
The way you structure your presentation is incredibly important to increasing its comprehension. If you want to know how to give a presentation in class that will get you an A, remember that a well-structured presentation is much more likely to impress your professor than a haphazard mesh of information thrown together.
Drink some water
Before you get up in front of the class, take a deep breath and drink a few sips of water to clear your throat and prepare yourself. If you’re slightly nervous, it can dry up your mouth and lips pretty quickly, which will hamper the understanding of your speech.
Speak slowly and clearly
While you’re giving your speech, make sure that you speak slowly and clearly. If you want to know how to give a presentation that will get you a good grade, the way you deliver speech is very important. When nervous, people have a tendency to speak fast which makes their voice much softer. Speaking slowly and clearly allows you to be as audible to your audience as possible.
Speaking slowly is also a common power move, exercised by many high-level executives in corporate environments. Speaking slowly forces people around you to hang on to your every word, drawing more attention to you.
Practice makes perfect
Don’t forget - practice makes perfect! It's a cliché, but it's true. The more you practice your presentation, the more confident you’ll be when it's finally your turn to get up in front of your class and present and once you’re up there it'll all be over in just a few short minutes.
Things to avoid during a presentation
Now that you know what you should do, here are a few things you definitely should NOT do. If you want to know how to give a presentation in class to impress your professor, do not make these rookie mistakes while you’re presenting.
Reading from your slides
Professors have to watch dozens of students’ presentations every day and the last thing they want to see is a boring presentation with someone reading off of their slides. Slides are a visual aid and should NOT be used as cue cards.
Avoiding eye contact
However uncomfortable you may be, make as much eye contact with your audience as possible. Do not look at your shoes or keep glancing towards your slides. Maintaining eye contact shows confidence and will keep your people engaged in your speech.
Rushing your speech
Your first instinct may be to get your presentation over with as soon as you can but fight that urge with all your might. Don’t rush through your words because that will make you come across as underconfident and will reduce your volume. Keep a consistent pace throughout, and you’ll get through your speech in no time!
Creative presentation ideas
If you’re wondering how to give a presentation in class, but the typical powerpoint slides and speech combination seems to bore for you, there are a few different presentation styles you could try:
If you’re in a creative field, this could be the perfect presentation style for you. A video presentation is a great way for you to pack in as many visuals as you want into your presentation while still keeping your audience engaged. You can even try out some timed speech to complement specific parts of your video if you really want to go all out.
You can also fill your presentation with short quizzes or audience opinions to get the entire class involved in your presentation. This could be a fun way to lift everyone’s spirits after a long final week and will also ensure your presentation stays in their minds even once they leave the classroom.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can bring in physical visual aids to supplement your presentation. For example, you could bring different candy bars and tie their names to some part of your speech. “You all may snicker at me when i say this, but i truly think that mars is the best planet in the solar system.”
That wasn’t the most creative example out there, but you get the general idea. Incorporating props into your presentation shows an extra level of planning, creativity and effort that your professor will be sure to reward.
That was our comprehensive guide on how to give a presentation in class as a college student. We know we’ve packed in a lot of information, but if you break everything down step by step, it's all incredibly simple. If you follow all our tips, we can ensure that you’ll give a killer presentation that’ll blow your class away!