Oral Presentations

Picture of student in seminar, holding book

Do you feel sick the moment a professor even mentions the words oral presentation? If so, it may help you to know that you are not alone in your fears.

Research has shown that most people are afraid of getting up in front of a large group of people. But there are strategies that you can use to regulate your fear and deliver presentations that will make your classmates stand up and applaud! Keep reading for some tips to make the process easier, if not less painful.

Be sure you practice a few times

  • Take advantage of anyone who offers to listen to your presentation.
  • If there is no one available, use the old talking-to-the-mirror trick or record your presentation and listen to how you sound.
  • If your presentation has time constraints, be sure to time your talk and make sure that it meets the requirements – a presentation may seem a lot longer than it actually is when it is written but not spoken.

Do not write your presentation out word for word

  • By looking out at the audience, you show that you know enough about your topic to feel comfortable with only minimal notes.
  • When using PowerPoint, keep slides short and to the point. PowerPoint slides are not supposed to act as cue cards. These slides should contain minimal information in large type so they are easy for the audience to read and understand.

Make eye contact

  • This is another technique that shows the class that you are interested in your subject, and that you are interested in people’s reactions.
  • Eye contact also keeps you from reading your presentation and makes it much more interesting for those who are listening.

Model your presentation after a lecture by your favorite professor

  • Use the techniques your professor uses to keep the class engaged and interested.
  • Remember that you are only responsible for one day and that your professor has to do this every day – keep your presentation in perspective, and it won’t seem as stressful.

Breathe and smile

  • Relax and pretend that you are having a conversation with the classmates you already know.
  • Realize that when your classmates do their presentations, they will be just as nervous as you are.