Preparing for your group presentation
Our top tips for your group presentation
Chances are that at some point during your degree you will have to do a group presentation. If the word ‘presentation’ fills you with dread, don’t worry; you’re not alone! Group presentations, although in some ways more challenging, may help to quell your fears as it takes some of the pressure off you and allows you to know that others are with you for the experience and support.
Giving a great presentation is simply a matter of knowing you are 100% prepared and ready to speak. Here are a few tips in order to instil some confidence into your talk.
Practice is arguably the most important aspect of preparing for a presentation. You should aim to practice so much that you don’t really need your notes anymore, but still bring them along to the presentation, they’ll help with nerves! Get used to what you’re saying so that on the day of the presentation you are able to speak clearly and slowly, a vitally important aspect of appearing calm and in control. It’s all too easy to rush through your lines during your presentation, so repeating them during practice can help you get used to a reasonable pace. Don’t forget to get the whole group together to practice so that everyone knows when their cues are and there’s no confusion and embarrassment on the day.
You need to get comfortable with what you look like when you’re presenting, focus on your body language and levels of eye contact, and rehearsing in front of a mirror or recording device can help. Eye contact is vital for making your audience feel involved in your presentation. Recording yourself or talking to a mirror, although it may make you feel a bit silly, will help you focus on giving eye contact, rather than staring down at your notes which can be tempting. Alternatively, if constant eye contact sounds intimidating then focus on something at the back of the room like an exit sign. This makes it seem like you are addressing the crowd far more than if you are persistently looking at your notes.
Try and ensure that things aren’t too chaotic within your group, and take control if you need to. Remember that the group as a whole may be responsible for your grade, so it’s important that everyone is working well together. Make sure that everyone is doing their fair share of the work as well, delegate out tasks so that the work load can be lightened for everyone when you pull all your work together at the end. As well as this, schedule in regular times to meet up to keep track of what work has been done – you don’t want to get together the day before to find someone’s PowerPoint slides aren’t up to scratch! A good group dynamic is very important in a joint presentation so ensure no one on your team is letting the side down.
Ensure that your notes are as clear as they can possibly be. Type them out in large font and use bullet points – you don’t want to be getting lost in paragraphs of text during your presentation. I tend to go blank and forget how to present when I go to talk, so I write little reminders to myself sporadically throughout my notes, such as ‘breathe slowly’, ‘smile’, ‘eye contact’, ‘pace yourself’ and so on.
On the Day
On the day of your presentation, get as prepared as possible. Take water with you, as a dry mouth is a very common side effect of nerves, and this could cause you to stammer over words and can increase your discomfort. Make sure you’re confident in how you look as well, dress in clothes that make you feel as confident as possible so that you feel ready to speak in front of people. Finally, get your notes ready and read through them a couple of times before the presentation and stay as calm as possible - you’ll do just fine.