How to prepare yourself correctly for a presentation?

In the study career almost no student comes around for a presentation. The annoying topic that caused great anxiety and sometimes even sleepless nights at school will also haunt you during your studies. But do not worry: the big performance in front of the seminar group can be practiced.

No matter if you are holding the presentation alone or in a small group of 3-4 students – with some tips you will master the presentation. In addition to born speakers, who are blossoming through the presentation, there are many students – probably the great majority – who are afraid of public speaking and of appearing in front of a large group. These fears are understandable, but in most cases unfounded. The choice of the topic of the lecture usually starts at the beginning of the seminar. So you have enough time for a comprehensive preparation.

Two ways to prepare a presentation

But what should the preparation look like? First of all, a distinction must be made between the actual preparation of the presentation – that is, the preparation of the topic – and personal preparation. Only if both areas are sufficiently respected, you will surely be able to stand in front of the group. Expertise and personal sovereignty are therefore the prerequisites for a successful presentation.

Research and content preparation – the expertise in the unit

In order to accumulate the necessary expertise, it is first necessary to prepare the paper. First of all, a comprehensive study of the topic is on the agenda. This may not be your dream theme and it may be a painful business to find time to prepare alongside the other material. But this will eventually pay off.

In most cases, the lecturer will only give a very rough topic.

Sometimes he also provides you with a list of references to help you get an initial overview of the topic you are working on.

Have you taken this first hurdle and read yourself into the topic, you have to work out a specific issue.

Of course, depending on the subject, a specific problem can also be dealt with.

If you already notice the topic, that it is difficult for you to find a question or a problem and that the topic simply does not suit you, it may be helpful to consult the lecturer. This one will probably be ready to help, or suggest a whole new topic.

If you get along with your topic and have worked out a question, then it is time to structure the presentation. This should first give a rough overview of the topic, before then the actual question is edited.

Helpful in the presentation are the Mind Maps.

Based on this, the thoughts and connections that are connected with the question can be structured and identified. Of course it is not obligatory to create a Mind Map – but it helps some students. In the end, the presentation is similar to what is known from the school. Only the extent and the depth differ. The outline could look like this:

Introduction: At the beginning you should summarize the topic succinctly and show the question. More about that in the next section “Elevator Pitch”.

Main part: In the main part the examination of the question takes place. Make sure that you do not go too far, but do not hide important information. Develop a “common thread” that runs through the entire presentation and create a clear structuring of the contents through links.

Final: Finally, you should draw a conclusion and summarize the most important once again.

After structuring, the main part of the content preparation has already been completed. Here is more to prepare for a scientific assignment.

Short summary of the content (“Elevator Pitch”)

Once the content has been edited and the outline has been created, it goes to the summary: This can serve as an introduction to the presentation. In Anglo-American, this is referred to as “elevator pitch”. The “Elevator Pitch” should be able to reproduce the topic of the presentation and the question in short sentences. The main thing here is that you be brief and still provide all the necessary information. This introduction is usually 30 seconds long.

Aids – Sticky Notes, Handout, etc.

Known from the school and very well proven: notes or index cards. These can also be a great help during your studies. Surely you will know all the tips already from the school lessons. But let me tell you, your teachers were right. Index cards should not contain any well-formed sentences. Be brief and just note down bullet points, so there is no danger of reading the presentation. In addition, a handout is very important. Even if the lecturer does not ask for one, you should write one. On the one hand, you internalize the contents better, on the other hand, your fellow students will thank you. Keep your handout short without skipping any important content. Rule of thumb: not too much text. Content can also be rendered very short as long as it is complete.

Mental preparation – no excesses the night before

Another important point is the mental preparation. A perhaps somewhat dramatic term, which should ultimately express nothing other than: Make sure that you look well rested and well prepared on the day of the presentation. In order to avoid unnecessary nervousness, you should print all the papers that need to be printed already a few days earlier in the required quantity. You should also have sent documents that must be sent to the lecturers at least 24 hours before the presentation. So the technology can not spoil the bill.

Furthermore, it makes sense to visit the evening before the presentation no parties or concerts. Consider such dates when selecting the unit. A little stage fright will be inevitable. But with a watch, clothing that makes you feel good, a bottle of water, all the data carriers and papers in your pocket and a switched-off cell phone, the presentation is much more relaxed than without it.

Technical aids – curse or blessing?

A much discussed topic is the use of technical aids. It is certainly recommended to design a PowerPoint presentation and show it during the presentation. However, less is more. Do not overload the audience with too long sentences or too much information. The presentation should not be able to replace your presentation, but only accompany. Other aids (eg Youtube videos) can be used. This is not a must. It is important that you can also hold your presentation completely without aids. If the technology strikes, you still have to make a confident appearance. So do not rely on presentation and videos.

Appearance – the presentation

During the actual presentation, it is important to speak freely. You have already received all the necessary tips during your school career:

Look at your audience, speak freely, do not read off your cards, do not speak too fast or too slow, and do not overdraw.

Easier said than done? On your index cards, you can also leave notes that remind you of that. If necessary, you can not “Look into the cards!” Write on your cards – no matter how, you must abide by the above principles. Then you are sure of the success. Even a friendly facial expression and a rather relaxed, but not silly mood do not hurt.

Another tip: people make mistakes – speakers too

If you realize that you have misconstrued, if you miss a word, or if you have forgotten something, you should first and foremost remain calm. Do not fret about yourself and do not let it upset you. Just keep going. This is especially true if the presentation is in a language other than English.

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