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 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. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

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.

Introduction to PowerPoint

PowerPoint has many features to help you create good slides. This introductory video will explain what the menus in PowerPoint can do. It will give you the confidence to explore the different menus, experiment with the features, and create effective slides.

It might be useful to revisit this video if you are a beginner, and with that in mind chapter headings are included in the YouTube description that will allow you to jump to a particular section. To access the index and view the video in full screen, click on the link below.

Good slide design

Well-designed slides can communicate your message more powerfully. For nervous presenters, engaging slides can give you confidence by drawing the audience's attention towards the content of your presentation and away from you. However, creating slides can become a time-waster if you are not sure how to use the presentation software effectively. The guide below is very detailed, but contains a lot of good advice. Select the parts of the guide that are relevant to your needs.  

Uncluttered visual aids

Keep any slides simple and relevant to your main message. Watch 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. Watch 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 Counselling team for strategies to help relax and present to your best potential.


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. Watch the video below to find out how to do it in PowerPoint.

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 guide to 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: