How to Ace Your Next Presentation

Ashley Chen

10/14/20232 min read

Are you one of those people who break into a cold sweat at the thought of speaking in front of others? Don't worry, you're not alone! Many people tend to feel this way, and it's perfectly normal. Public speaking is an important skill to develop, however, and is incredibly useful not only in school, but in the real world too. Luckily, there are many tips in this article to help you overcome the fear of public speaking.

Why Are We Scared of Public Speaking?

First, let's understand why this fear exists. Most of the time, it's not the speaking itself that scares us; it's the fear of being judged by others. This fear often comes from past experiences where we felt judged or embarrassed while speaking in public. To ace your presentation, you need to conquer this fear first.

Overcoming the Fear:

1. Practice Makes Perfect:

The more you present in front of others, the less scary it becomes. Think of it like a video game where you level up as you go along. Even speaking in front of a smaller group is a step in the right direction. It's like exposure therapy – the more you do it, the more confident you'll feel.

2. Breathe Deeply and Pause:

Taking deep breaths during your speech can help you stay calm. Shallow breaths make you more nervous, and you might sound out of breath. If you ever need a moment, it's perfectly fine to pause. Those brief moments of silence can help you and your audience catch their breath and make your presentation feel more like a friendly chat.

3. Be Kind to Yourself:

Remember, you are often your own harshest critic. If you make a mistake, don't dwell on it. Your audience won't notice most slip-ups, and even if they do, it's not a big deal. Keep going with your presentation, and chances are, no one will even remember the blunder.

Now, to ace the actual presentation.

Have visuals! A slide deck, picture or video.

If possible, having a visual projected behind you is a good way to engage the audience. Many people are visual or auditory learners, and don’t take verbal information as well as others. Having an appealing visual slide deck is also a way to impress your audience, and engage them.

Ask questions or incorporate the audience in some way.

The best way to engage the audience is to talk to them directly! By cracking jokes, or directing a few on topic questions to your audience, you are able to gain their responses, and make people feel less bored while you’re presenting. Studies have shown that by asking questions, the audience will more likely remember that presentation, and the person presenting. (Source)

Believe in yourself.

This may sound cliche, but the audience can feel when a presenter lacks confidence, and people generally gravitate towards others with a leadership personality, and have high energy. In order to avoid boring your audience, confidence in your abilities to educate and entertain is key. Use visuals! A slide deck, picture or video can help to illustrate your points and keep your audience's attention.

Summarize your points at the end of the presentation.

Do a little TL;DR section at the end of your presentation, whether it be visual or verbal. Try to linger on this part of the presentation to really hammer in the key points of the presentation. Try to also create a catchy summary; not too lengthy as this may bore audiences.

Practice makes perfect, and I believe that the more presentations you do, the better you’ll get at them! Now go ace that presentation!