Guest Post: Presentation advice for students

Rachel Smith is a higher education blogger at GSM London. You can read more of her blog posts on the GSM Student News blog. In this guest post, she offers some helpful hints and tips for students looking to hone their presentation skills and rid the classroom butterflies.

Presenting as a student is never an easy task. From the subject matter itself to an audience of intimidating peers, it is no wonder that so many university students tend to dread the moment when their degree course requires a presentation element. Yet it doesn’t have to be the dreaded nightmare that so many seem to think that it is. With the right software and preparation, presentations can offer the chance to better explain yourself and your points, and best show your lecturers what you are capable of academically.

Learning from the experts

Much like you wouldn’t submit an essay without having first done your research into various areas of the subject matter using multiple sources, you shouldn’t embark on creating and giving a presentation without having first researched various methods and styles. While of course researching the subject of your presentation and putting in the work beforehand is important, it also makes sense to research how best to give a presentation.

Professional speakers and those in public eye do not get to such a level of professionalism by chance, they have had practice and the help of other professionals in the field, but there is no reason that you cannot do the same. Such institutions as The UK Speechwriters’ Guild and dedicated programs like the BBC’s The Speaker offer a great starting point to improve your technique, and therefore your confidence, when giving a speech or presentation.

The UK Speechwriters’ Guild is more specifically for those who wish to follow a career in speechwriting, but their conferences can offer the chance to learn valuable techniques and tips from those who make a living from giving presentations. Similarly, the BBC’s The Speaker, that aired 2009, offers some great advice. Even though it’s aimed at younger students between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, the takeaways are a reminder of the basics and are useful for anyone. Public speaking is scary, but the resources found on the program's pages could prove invaluable to those looking to perfect their techniques and make the whole process significantly less scary.


Prezi in the classroom

Alongside perfecting public speaking, the creation of the presentation itself is equally important. Thankfully Prezi software is a great help here and can offer a method in which to beautifully display your ideas and get your point across to your audience – both lecturers and student peers.

Lecturers and students alike use Prezi to either give a lecture or class presentation, a situation that requires something that is both engaging and crystal clear to understand. Being able to create engaging and interesting presentations makes Prezi a hugely valuable tool. So long as the ideas and information of your presentation is well-researched and thought out, Prezi can convey them in a way that makes them immediately understandable to a large audience.

Many students and lecturers find that their information often has to be split between slides as typical presentation software restricts the content you are able to create – one of Prezi’s advantages is that it allows you to create free-flowing presentations that help your audience stay on track without awkward slide breaks.

Group work and skills for future employment

The ability to collaborate on Prezi projects in groups is another useful feature, where students working on a group presentation can collaborate in real time in the classroom or at home, which is where the cloud-based technology really comes into play.

Being able to access Prezi anywhere and anyway is hugely useful for our university students, who often find themselves having to manage several projects at once. Being able to access your group or individual presentation from any computer or tablet can enable you to work better in a group, which any student will know can be testing at the best of times when your grades are reliant on the hard work of others. At GSM London we offer career-focused degrees, which is why we know that presentations combined with group work are a great way for students to hone the skills they are likely to need after graduation.

Similarly, the Powerpoint Import feature can help bring existing content from either your own previous work or that of your group together in one seamless presentation that is sure to give you the grades and, hopefully, the graduate job offers you deserve!

You can read more about how to give the perfect presentation as a student in this article featuring Prezi and read more blog posts from Rachel on her Google+ Profile.