In recent years, more and more female students have been required to give presentations, and in some types of schools these presentations are even part of the school-leaving examination. This is an attempt to take into account the fact that presentation is a general skill that is important in many areas of later professional and sometimes private life. Many of our learning tips have already dealt with details of such preparation, so here we want to point more to supplementary steps.
A presentation is not only the spoken word, but always a kind of “Gesamtkunstwerk” consisting of the person, the topic, the supporting media and the cooperation of the participants, i.e. the classmates and the teachers. When giving presentations at school, however, one should always avoid the impression that one is doing the presentation only “for the teacher”, even though this may be true in some cases.
At the beginning of the preparation there is always a schedule, which should be prepared in time and always in writing in the form of a list. On it you write your topic in the form of a working title – the actual title, which should be concise and arouse the interest of the audience, you can choose only at the end of the preparation. We also always give our learning tips the final title only after the last revision. As a working title there was: ” Prepare presentation?” A good plan, in the creation of which some time has been invested, is often already half the preparation, although it should be noted that any plan can also be changed later. Therefore, a plan doesn’t have to look perfect the first time around.
Nowadays, many students, once they have the topic, rely on finding something on the Internet (Hopefully I’ll find something on the Internet) – preferably a ready-made presentation. Apart from the fact that you learn very little, it is also forbidden to pass off someone else’s work as your own – this is called “plagiarism”. But for searching sources the internet is very suitable, especially you can use Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/) and Google Books (https://books.google.com/), but also going to a library (school library, adult education center, university) will be useful.
A key process in developing a presentation is reading (“How do reading professionals read?“), always putting everything in writing while also making sure the sources are properly cited. These should be cited during the presentation or listed on a handout.
Once the material has been collected, you should start to work out a structure – a mind map on a large poster is often helpful here, on which the topic can be clearly developed. The finished plan can then be used in a smaller form as a presentation guide.
If you have little practice, you should give a test presentation (The speaker’s fear of the audience). Presentations should always be interactive, i.e., involve classmates in some way. Indeed, anyone who presents for more than 15 minutes without involving the audience in some way usually loses one listener after another. Presenters should therefore always consider which questions they can use to involve the audience in their presentation, but the point is not to start long discussions.
At the end of each presentation, it is important to close the circle to the beginning, i.e. to the topic, i.e. the entire topic is once again placed in a larger context. The conclusion of the presentation should contain all – and no more! – that you want the audience to remember three weeks from now. It applies to the summary: Do not be afraid of repetition!
It is also a good idea to allow time for questions from classmates or teachers after a presentation, although you should always be prepared for the fact that no questions will be asked – here you can perhaps address one or two critical points of a topic yourself.
What should the audience “take home”? A handout of one to two pages summarizing the most important points of the presentation in a concise form is particularly “effective”. This handout should also indicate all sources that were used for the presentation. By the way, this should be distributed only after the presentation, because then the audience is not tempted to read along with the presentation.
Today, very many presentations are made with media such as overhead transparencies and PowerPoint – this is a very extensive and also difficult topic, which we want to deal with in a separate learning tip. Only this much: less is more!
One last tip: Immediately before the presentation, don’t get flustered, because then you’re just watching the flowers grow.
See also “How to prepare anchor points“!