Presentations

  • Presentations at university can take many forms, from a short informal presentation introducing a seminar topic, to a more formal presentation of a research or business idea. You may be asked to present individually or as part of a group project. Presentations give the opportunity to convey ideas more verbally and visually, and to develop skills valued in employment. Feeling anxious about presenting is natural, but with some planning and preparation you can harness your nerves and use them to produce a good performance. 

    Our top tips

    Planning and preparation

    A good presentation has content appropriate for the audience, a clear structure, and is presented in an engaging way. Look at this resource for a comprehensive guide to preparing your presentation.

    Good visual aids

    Keep any slides simple and relevant to your main message. Look at this video for what to avoid!

    Engaging body language

    It can seem intimidating to look at your audience. A good tip is to scan the room just above their eye-level which makes everyone feel included but means you don’t have to focus on each person. See this video for common and exaggerated body language errors!

    Managing anxiety

    The best presenters feel anxious but it can help to remember that the audience are on your side and want you to succeed. Look at this guide from the Wellbeing team for strategies to help relax and present to your best potential.

    Practice

    Looking at the room beforehand and running through your presentation to check your timing can help to build confidence as you will know what to expect. Practice is the best way to develop your presentation skills.

    Video presentations

    Although you are making a video recording, the principles of effective presenting are still relevant. You don’t need fancy software or equipment to record a good presentation. You are being assessed on how you convey your understanding of the topic, not your film-making skills, so focus on the content first. See these guides for two simple ways to record your presentation:

    Group presentations

    Presentations are tricky enough without also having to manage a group of other people! But recognising each person’s strengths and working together, as opposed to just dividing up parts individually, can make for a stronger performance. See this video on the group presentation process.

    Further resources

    If you’d like to develop your techniques and strategies for making great presentations even further, see this resource and book list created by Brookes Library: