More and more schools are asking students to deliver an oral presentation for their assessments.
The reality is your marks are going to improve greatly if you’re able to present confidently and effectively, regardless of what your actual content is like.
And this is true not only at school, but throughout your career and your life. In fact, being able to present confidently actually equates to a pay increase on average of $8,500 per year for recent University graduates.
So, by working on your presentation skills, not only are you going to do better at school, but in your career.
In this article we’re going to go through four practical strategies to help you nail your oral presentations at school and develop your presentation skills for your career and life beyond school.
The most simple thing you can do to improve your oral presentation is to look at your stance.
Often when students stand up in front of the class and deliver a presentation, their stance is poor, with their feet really close together.
This results in a lot of moving around, wiggling, shifting on your feet and nervous gestures that look horrible and are extremely distracting.
I’m sure you can recall seeing someone give a speech where they do a little dance, shifting from side to side and all you could concentrate on was their movement and not the actual presentation.
The strategy here is really, really simple: pretend that you’re Wonder Woman.
Once you get up to deliver your speech, you want to place your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, which helps you stay grounded in place and it’s much harder to move around.
Pace is all about how quickly you’re speaking.
Often when we get nervous, the first thing that happens is that you start to speak really quickly. You might even find that you feel like you’re speaking at a normal pace, but everyone in the room is thinking: “What the hell is going on here?!”.
So, you need to be able to slow your pace down and use pauses effectively, and there’s a really simple way to do this.
Grab your speech and identify what are some key areas that you think pausing and slowing down is going to be important and add a little reminder for yourself to pause.
What you want to do in those pauses is to count for 3 seconds. It’s going to feel like a really long time, but in reality it’s going to be quick for the audience in the room.
Unless you’ve got a crazy incredible memory, you’re going to be using notes to help you during your oral presentation.
And using notes is okay, you can deliver a fantastic speech while using notes.
But what often happens during oral presentations is that the notes become a crutch and students just start to read from their notes.
And the reality is that this isn’t a great use of your notes, because what you’re doing is reading, not presenting. It also prevents you from maintaining eye contact with your audience.
A really simple thing you can do with your notes is to grab a pen, and at every point you think it’s important for you to look at the audience, make a little mark in the notes.
This helps you if you are reading your notes, to prevent you from forgetting to engage with your audience. It’s a reminder to look up and maintain eye contact, as well as helping to build rapport and connection with your audience.
The reality is that most students delivering an oral presentation are speaking very quietly… and no one can hear them!
Vocal projection is really important, and you need to make sure that people at the back of the room can clearly hear what you’re saying.
The way to do this is by actually over-compensating. You’re going to think you’re speaking too loudly, but I promise you, you’re not.
This is because your nerves will get to you and you’ll be speaking more quietly than usual, so you need to speak even louder to make sure you’re projecting effectively.
One simple thing you can do to help you project your voice is to go to the bathrooms, or the back oval at school and just shout.
The point of this is to go crazy and extreme for a moment, and to stretch your comfort zone, because when you come back in and deliver your presentation, you’ll find your voice is naturally a little bit louder.
This is a great way to trick yourself into speaking louder and projecting your voice during your oral presentation.
There are 4 Simple Strategies for Nailing Your Oral Presentation:
Strategy #1: Stance. Think like Wonder Woman and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Strategy #2: Pace. Slow your speaking down and mark points in your speech where you want to pause. To make sure you’re pausing long enough, count to 3 in your head before continuing.
Strategy #3: Notes. If you’re using notes, mark down points where you want to look up from your notes, make eye contact with the audience, to engage and build a rapport with them.
Strategy #4: Volume. Before your speech, SHOUT! Get out of your comfort zone, and this will help you keep your volume up and project your voice during your oral presentation, so everyone can hear you.
If you’re really passionate about public speaking, presenting and want to learn more, check out the global not-for-profit, Toastmasters.
Looking for extra help with your Oral Presentation Skills?
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Isabella Hanley loves science. She loves science so much she’s making it her career. While completing her Bachelor of Medical Science she is also a Coach and Digital Content Manager at Art of Smart. She is super passionate about sharing her knowledge on surviving the HSC since completing the HSC herself in 2014. In her downtime she enjoys Netflix binging like a pro, singing in the shower and hanging out with her awesome rescue dog, Ruby.