Very few people find themselves undaunted by the prospect of giving a presentation. However, being able to present confidently and engagingly is a skill which no graduate can afford to go without, whether you are selling yourself in an interview, an idea to your colleagues or a product to customers. The recent ‘Presentation Skills’ session led by Tesco was full of useful advice on how to ease nerves, engage an audience and ensure you get your point across efficiently.
Some of the most helpful pieces of advice were centred around ‘The 4 Ps’: Plan, Prepare, Practise and Present. When planning a presentation it is important to consider your audience, why you are presenting, and the aim, length and location of your presentation. Preparation is the most essential stage – if you know exactly what your message is and how you want to deliver it, not only will you deliver a more confident and knowledgeable presentation, but it will also be a much less nerve-wracking experience! Practising will again increase your confidence on the day, and is also a good time to think about the volume and pace of your speech, plus body language such as posture and eye contact. Finally, we were given some key tips on how to keep calm whilst presenting, for example taking your time (most people talk much faster when nervous and can afford to speak much slower than they think they need to), and taking a deep breath or even a sip of water if you feel yourself becoming panicked.
For the main part of the session we all practised preparing a 2-minute presentation on a newspaper article of our choice, and then presenting it to a group of around six people before receiving feedback. This was a great opportunity to find out more about our own, and others, presenting styles in a non-pressurised environment. For example I discovered that I can probably always speak louder, as despite feeling that I was practically shouting some people still couldn’t hear me! For me though, the most important thing to take away from this session was that, approached in the right way, presentations definitely do not need to be a terrifying prospect.
Kathryn (Student Ambassador for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities)