Pupils and students have to give one or the other presentation during their school time, training or studies. Even if it is a horror to many, practice (in front of an audience) makes perfect. On the one hand. But giving better presentations starts with the methodological basics and good preparation. In the following, we present important tips that will help you prepare your presentation properly and deliver it successfully at the end..
➠ Content: What you can expect
Presentation and lecture: What is the difference??
Many a student deals with the basics of good presentations right from the start of their studies. Good so! Often, however, lectures are equated with papers. And that is only partly true. Sure, the basic rules of a lecture or presentation apply to a paper as well. Nevertheless, both forms differ considerably from each other.
Lectures and presentations usually have three goals:
- To convince people
Listeners, customers (in spe), colleagues, bosses
- Conveying knowledge
Innovations, trends, techniques
- To give impulses
Activate, motivate, inspire audience and employees
Presentations in the context of studies pursue other goals. The audience is different, as is the speaker. As a rule, he or she is not an expert or provider, but just as much a student or pupil as his or her audience. In addition, there are numerous formal specifications and requirements for presentations, which are usually determined by the universities in the form of guidelines and directives. As a rule, a presentation serves the following purposes:
- Conveying learned knowledge and researched knowledge
- Documenting your own learning and knowledge
- Demonstrating methodological skills for giving a presentation
- Taking an oral exam
The focus is therefore much stronger here on the achievement of a performance, which is subsequently evaluated. This does not exclude the possibility to entertain your fellow students, but at best you will get bonus points for this. The actual presentation is therefore only part of the paper. Its preparation, the technical preparation of the material, its accuracy, the answering of subsequent questions, and a compact documentation of the presentation (handout) are also crucial. In most cases, the lecturer receives an evaluation for the overall package.
Frequently asked questions about speeches
A presentation is a form of speech in which a person or group presents a topic within a limited time. For this purpose, pupils or students research specific events, facts or published research papers by scientists. Often there is a certain focus, from which questions arise that the presentation should answer.
Many pupils and students find it difficult to give presentations. They are nevertheless important because they prepare you for your future professional life and other situations in which you need to be able to speak freely. In addition, giving a presentation helps you to structure your thoughts and topics logically and to present other people’s content in a comprehensible way.
It depends on where and for what purpose you are giving a presentation. In school, presentations last between five and ten minutes in the lower grades. In the upper school – for example, in preparation for the Abitur – a presentation can last half an hour.
The speaking time increases with age and professionalization: At university, a presentation can last between 45 and 60 minutes, followed by time for discussion and questions. Impulse presentations in the modularized bachelor’s program, on the other hand, are much shorter, between 15 and 20 minutes.
A reasonable structure in introduction, main part and conclusion gives the presentation a structure and is essential for the audience. First, state the topic (and, if applicable, a specific question). Then give a brief (!) Outlook about which points you address below. In the main part follows the actual presentation of the topic.
Use different media for this for illustration. Phrase in an understandable manner and speak at an appropriate rate of speech. In the concluding part, summarize your findings (confirmed/refuted theses). Put the topic in its overall context, present your evaluation or that of a researcher for discussion, and give an outlook on aspects worth knowing that could be the subject of further research.
Usually there is a concrete subject, for example, the child should talk about his pet or his favorite plant. Further specifications have to be clarified, such as the duration, whether writing down is necessary and which media (blackboard, flipchart, audio files…) should be used.
The structure of the unit remains the same: Introduction, main body, conclusion. Of course, the demands on sources are less in elementary school compared to university. Nevertheless, even children should learn that recourse to reference books, encyclopedias and experts is important for the quality of the presentation. First hints for research are given by the teacher, further information can be found in libraries and on the internet.
Giving a presentation: Preparation, outline and media
For presentations, good and comprehensive preparation determines success or failure. Even the most talented presenter, the most ingenious campaigner, cannot compensate for weaknesses in content and expertise (especially in front of an audience of experts).
The teacher or lecturer Assigns the paper topic; often there is a list of suggested topics from which you can choose a topic of interest. Pupils and students should take the time to learn and prepare the contents and topics of their presentation thoroughly. That’s why it’s important to start as early as possible. Here’s how to go about it:
Usually choose a topic that the speaker can already relate to or that seems particularly interesting. Write down all the ideas and questions that come to mind about the topic. Think about what you find particularly important, what questions your audience wants answered.
In some cases, a few points are close to each other in terms of content, so that they can be combined into one overall theme. Based on these questions and ideas, you can already create a rough outline. A coherent outline of the material not only helps to keep the overview later, but also facilitates learning. Everything that logically and dramaturgically builds on each other is easier to remember and present.
Often the teacher or lecturer already gives a hint where to get first information. In libraries, you can also turn to employees for help. Also helpful for getting started are handbooks or bibliographies. Then research here using the snowball system, which means you will get further reading and from there you will come to more sources.
At the university you will learn Also know the relevant journals for your subject area, so you can target specific media for keyword searches. Be careful not to get bogged down! You can research yourself to death, there will always be some aspect you may not have considered. Limit yourself by focusing on a specific aspect – that can be a specific time or era, it can just as easily be local or otherwise limited.
If you have to give a paper on Goethe, you cannot possibly cover the complete works and life of this poet and universal genius in twenty minutes. Instead, you can focus on certain aspects, such as his travels to Italy, or works from the Sturm und Drang period. How the paper turns out in detail is a question of the addressees:
A paper on Goethe in elementary school should briefly introduce, for example: Who was Goethe, when did he live, what distinguishes his work?? Most of the time, the teacher will provide appropriate guidance beforehand on roughly what the presentation should cover. The situation is different in a main seminar at university: If you start with Adam and Eve, you tend to give the impression of not being able to set priorities. Presenters can confidently assume that the audience is familiar with the poet and thinker. If, for example, you have to give a presentation on a certain drama, aspects such as the classification in the overall political context or references to antiquity are more likely to be in the foreground.
The structure follows the classic outline: an introduction in which you roughly introduce the topic and explain what you are getting at. Then the main part, in which you elaborate the aspects of the topic that are central to you. Here, you often work with a variety of media to support what is being said (for more on this, see below). Then the conclusion, in which you roughly summarize the topic and provide an outlook on possible further (side) aspects.
For a successful conclusion you should come up with two or three questions to discuss with the audience. These can be points of contention about specific facts or general considerations, such as the extent to which an author’s biography is incorporated into his or her novel, or the like. In your structure, also consider the time schedule, which should definitely include time for subsequent discussions in the case of longer presentations (45 minutes or more).
Frankly, this is where opinions differ. If in doubt, talk to your teacher or lecturer, otherwise come up with a reason why you are doing what you are doing. Some students expect a complete handout at the end of the presentation, so to speak a written summary of the topic presented, at the end of which there is usually further literature. You should distribute this only after you have given the presentation, otherwise your audience will read the text but not listen to your explanations.
Emphasize others, That it is a thesis paper. Therefore, the most important points should only be listed in bullet points or phrases – as a kind of orientation for the audience listening to the presentation. If you decide on this, then you should distribute the thesis paper immediately before the presentation. This gives the audience an opportunity to take important notes.
When choosing the presentation media, there are often (technical) specifications by the school or university. Those who can choose more freely should consider the following:
- PowerPoint, Keynote, and other presentation programs are simply tools to assist in communicating content. You and the contents are in the foreground.
- Analogue aids such as a flipchart or planning board can also be useful.
- A change of media can increase the attention of the audience.
- slides should only contain key points, no text deserts.
- Pictures and graphics often convey complex content in a more compact and comprehensible way.
- You should adapt the speed of the presentation to the audience and their previous knowledge. Less is more.
- If the focus is on imparting knowledge, you should actively involve the audience if possible.
Giving a presentation: What to do when the topic is difficult?
It happens that someone has completely overtaken himself with his topic. The choice fell on a presentation topic that seemed interesting, but suddenly you are overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of information. Or there is something completely different behind it than you thought at the beginning. Or you simply do not understand parts of the topic. This situation is the main reason why an early start is important, because you will otherwise lose valuable time. Two tips for this:
- Seek out the conversation
It will either take you longer than expected to cover your chosen topic, or you will have to learn about a completely new topic. Get an overview of the time remaining until the deadline for handing in your presentation. Very important: Talk to your teacher or lecturer about the problem! Lay out the state of affairs.
- Look for alternatives
It’s not enough to say you can’t handle the subject and then expect the lecturer to hand you something on a silver platter. It must be recognizable that you have invested time and effort and at least tried to engage with the work.
Nevertheless, especially as a student or freshman, no one will tear your head off if you can explain where your difficulties lie with the topic – especially if you have never had to give a presentation before.
6 Tips: How to give a successful presentation
After a good preparation, nothing stands in the way of your successful presentation – if there were not the small problem that you still have to give your presentation. Do not drive yourself crazy, but trust your good preparation.
If you can then engage your audience with exciting facts If you can inform the audience with interesting stories, your presentation will not only be a success, but you may even enjoy it. These tips can help you with that:
Speak calmly and slowly
You are nervous, maybe even scared, and want to get it over with as quickly as possible. However, this should not be noticeable to your pace when speaking. If you rattle off your presentation at breakneck speed without pausing or taking a breath in between, you will appear hectic and disorganized.
In addition, it is difficult for the audience, to follow such a flow of speech. Instead, slow down. This has the advantage that you automatically speak more clearly and the listeners can follow you.
Choose understandable terms
The challenge is to convey your knowledge to the audience in a way they can understand. You are familiar with the subject matter and may have had several weeks to acquire knowledge. Your classmates or fellow students, on the other hand, often have only a rough idea of what it’s all about. The crux here is: When you give a presentation at university, you are expected to use technical terms – but not all listeners are familiar with these by any means.
You should therefore have definitions ready and also work with the common synonyms for technical terms. Be sure to adapt the text so that you avoid nested sentences. Instead, wrap your presentation in simple and clear messages.
Your attitude toward the presentation plays a big role in your success. If you think in advance only about the terrible agony that you are facing, you will certainly not feel better while you are giving your presentation.
The listeners will also quickly realize, that you feel unwell. Therefore, approach the matter with a positive attitude and you will notice that the presentation will be easier for you and more appealing to your audience.
Do not hide
Insecurity tempts to behave as inconspicuously as possible. Now this is not so easy when you are standing at the front of the room and everyone is focusing on you and your words. Often speakers try to take a position behind the table. Or the cards with the notes have to serve as a saving shield to ward off both the looks and the attacks of the others.
For one thing, this does not work, On the other hand, it is part of giving a presentation that you look the audience in the eye. By maintaining eye contact with your prof and fellow students, they will feel personally addressed and be able to follow you in terms of content.
This is probably the supreme discipline in giving a speech, but you should be able to do it at university at the latest: Free speech. This includes having internalized the topic accordingly. If you have to give a presentation about physical processes, but do not understand them yourself, you will have difficulties. Great help is provided by a previously worked out structure: what is the issue, what are the problems / specifics, what is the goal or outcome? If you can answer these questions after preparation, you will only need index cards as an aid to memory.
Please do not write all over it, but list a maximum of key points. First of all, you do not have time in front of the audience to read your own novels. Secondly, this quickly leads to the fact that you do not formulate yourself in your head, but read from it. Even if even university lecturers sometimes read their lectures word for word: Nothing is more tiring for the audience and should also be avoided when giving a presentation.
Hold a dress rehearsal
Grab a friend, classmate, fellow student or family member and tell him or her about your topic. This has several advantages: First, it allows you to check how fit you are in the subject, how fluently you can present. Secondly, you can estimate the time you have for the presentation: Do you perhaps have to fill half an hour, but are already through with your presentation after ten minutes??
Check that you are getting the first point across (speaking rate) have taken into account. Otherwise, there may be room for aspects that haven’t found their way into your topic yet. And very important, thirdly: Have the audience of your dress rehearsal understood what it is about?? If not, you should check point two (technical terms). Questions from your audience can also be very valuable: Incorporate the answers to them still into the presentation.
I don’t want to give a presentation: Overcoming fears
The thought of giving a presentation often causes sweating or sleepless nights before the deadline. What is healthy nervousness and slight stage fright for some, degenerates into panic attacks for others. Triggers are usually two fears that you need to overcome:
- Fear of making mistakes
The good news: It is not so bad if you make a mistake. No one can know everything, and especially when you are nervous, it is understandable if you can’t think of every aspect. Don’t worry: Mistakes are part of it and happen in almost every presentation.
- The fear of embarrassment
The greater the excitement, the worse the irrational fears. Remember that this is just another form of knowledge test and no one’s goal is to put you in a bad light.
To overcome rising panic in the presentation, there are three simple tricks: