Tackling the oral presentation
After spending a lot of time making my Powerpoint presentation and practicing it, both to myself alone in my room and then to members of my family and friends, on Thursday I finally gave my oral presentation.
These presentations were assessed and the marks contribute to our research projects. We talked about the objectives and backgrounds to our research projects, and everyone seemed very passionate about them. It was really interesting to listen to the other students’ projects, whether they were lab-based or literature reviews. It demonstrated the huge breadth and variety of the projects that we were going to undertake, ranging from looking at nematodes in the lab to researching the literature about ageing.
We presented to our own tutorial groups and a partnered tutorial group, along with the tutors, so this was a fairly small audience, helped by the fact that we were also in small seminar rooms. When I felt nervous about it, I just remembered that any presentation/debate I gave at school would have been in front of a much bigger class, or even the whole school when it came to being part of assemblies. Also, when I was a waitress over the summer, I often had to address large groups of people, sometimes raising my voice above the noise to attract people’s attention, and so I told myself that this would be easier!
So for this blog, I thought I’d give some tips on how to prepare and deliver a presentation.
1) Practice. It isn’t enough just to read through your notes, you must practice it (even if it’s just to yourself, but an audience would be even better). I was very hesitant when I practiced it the first time, but when I became more familiar with it, my presentation greatly improved. This will make it much better for your audience, and also your marks. My housemate presented hers to me and it was only then that she realised that she would be well over time and had to cut some out.
2) Use visual aids. We all used a Powerpoint presentation, as it is useful for both keeping the audience’s attention, and images and diagrams can also help to illustrate any points. I chose not to use any animations and just had all the information on each slide ready. This was reassuring as I didn’t have to worry so much about the effects not working/being too distracting. But it is entirely up to you how you design the presentation.
3) Use cue cards. This will allow you to engage with your audience better, rather than reading from a script. After familiarising yourself with your presentation, it soon becomes a lot easier to talk to your audience, just looking at cue cards for guidance and prompts. I also found this much more tolerable than just standing up and reading!
4) Look at your audience. This is of course, easier than said than done! Just remember that everyone is supporting you, everyone is in the same boat and may also be feeling nervous too. Be confident and the time will fly by.
It is such a weight off my shoulders that the presentation is done, and I now just have to await the marks! If anyone has any questions/want advice for any upcoming presentations then please do contact me 🙂