Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yes, You Do Have to Give a Presentation

You know that old adage, "People would rather die than give a speech." Well, it's true, at least until you get used to giving speeches or presentations.

How do I know? As a brand new professor, after handing out the syllabus for my very first college class, I moved a chair to the front of the room and sat down. I thought I was going to faint (I didn't). Then I thought I was going to throw up (I didn't). I READ the syllabus from start to finish without looking up. My anti-antiperspirant gave out about half way through. And for all I knew everyone could have left before I was finished. But I showed up to the next class and my butterflies weren't as bad. By the fifth class they were almost gone. Now I can't wait to get to class.

Students go to great lengths to get out of giving presentations, from calculating how many points they can miss and still have that A or B, to calling in sick, to video taping the presentation and then showing a YouTube clip to the class (NO you can't do that anymore). I most admire the student with the shaky voice who not only delivers their presentation, but also hangs in there for the full time commitment.

So what's the point? When you give a speech or presentation you will be nervous. You may even feel like you're going to barf or faint, but you won't and it does get better. However it only gets better with practice. So think of your ten-minute class presentation as an opportunity to get over your presentation anxiety.

Here's another way to look at it. You are going to give the biggest presentation of your life as soon as you get out of college -- the job interview, so this is your chance to practice.

Here's what not to do:


Do you have any tips that help keep your nerves under control when you give a presentation?

16 comments:

  1. When it comes to presentations, I just try not to over think it. I'll go over what I'll do, sure, but if I keep thinking and thinking and thinking, I'll overwhelm myself with trying to be perfect and end up bungling it more than if I'd just winged it. Also, I think keeping calm helps a lot, too. Don't go to the point that you're over-casual (though, sometimes that might help if you're in a class, but job interviews... not so much), but just relax.

    "Whatever will be, will be" is usually what I try to tell myself. If I mess up, I mess up--I'll just take the criticism and use it to improve for future presentations.

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  2. Zahra:
    One of the methods I use for my presentation is making outline on small note card for each slide of the powerpoint. My notes are colorful, so I would be able to find the point I am looking for easily in under the pressure of giving live speech! :D

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  4. Courtney Pask

    When it comes to presenting a topic in front of an audience it can be one of the most terrifying experiences for the presenter if they are not prepared or if they are nervous. To calm a presenter's nerves there are multiple techniques or little tricks a presenter can do before his or her presentation to prepare for the presentation. One thing that I like to do is rehearse in front of a mirror the day of or rehearse in front of a group of friends. Dress up for your presentation. When you are in business causal clothes you feel professional, and personally when I am dressed up I feel more confident. Finally you have to believe in yourself to give a good performance. If you believe in yourself to give a good performance, you are dressed up, and you have rehearsed you will most likely give a good presentation.

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  5. When I started high school, I had to give a big presentation for my theology class. At that time, I hated presentations. However, my teacher told me a few pointers to help me give a great presentation. First, he told me to talk about something I am comfortable talking about. Second, to get rid of my anxiety, he told me not to look at anyone. So I assume to look down and he said NO. He told me to look right above everyone's head so I would not panic. Lastly, he told me to include minimal words in my presentation. He told me if you had pictures, your audience would be more likely listen to you and not fall asleep. And guess what, it worked. So this is my advice to everyone.

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  6. When it comes to giving a presentation in front of a class room, it could be your worst nightmare or a walk in the park. I think it depends on how much you know of what you’re talking about, like if you actually rehearsed and practiced your presentation. Whenever I get up in front of the class, I make sure I know what I’m talking about. That way it isn’t as nerve-wracking and I don’t feel so scared to get my voice out. Usually when someone doesn’t know their topic, you can tell. They’re shaking, nervous, and they’re speaking nonsense.

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  7. Presentations are something to look forward to for me, but I was nervous before. In middle school I hated getting up in front of the class but ever since high school, i see presentations as an EASY A. They are so easy, the only way to fail on a presentation is not being prepared. In high school in my art history class we had to give presentations at least once a week, which was no biggy and only helped me in the long run. And just recently in my Chemistry class we had to give an oral presentation that was worth an exam score. In my group I volunteered but a very devoted Asian student beat me to it and didn't want anyone handling his future and grade. Silly boy. But in the end, its funny how I went from hating to give presentations to volunteering to present.

    Having oral presentations periodically only made me more comfortable around my peers. I'm able to be myself, rather than some nervous wreck.

    Party Hard

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  8. Giving a speech has been one of my fears all throughout my schooling years. I hate standing in front of my classmates giving a speech that chances are I am not even interested in, in the first place. I've learned the hard way though that it can only get better with time and practice. In my senior year of high school I did a project on the fear of public speaking. This project taught me a lot about myself and how to handle speaking in front of groups of people. Something that really stood out to me which I had never realized before was that almost everyone is afraid of speaking in front of others. If everyone shares this fear, then you know you cannot be the only one nervous to relay your message to the audience listening. Telling yourself that your speech is good will help immensely. Being confident in whatever you're saying will make your speech successful as well as convince the audience that you do in fact know what you are talking about. Take a few deep breaths before you begin and most importantly do not look at the clock constantly. Every single tip I have found, is easier said than done. But as long as you take the time to practice and force yourself to speak in classes, it will one day become second nature, so the next time you get up in front of a class, you won't even think twice about whether or not you are nervous.

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  9. I can relate to this blog post because I hate public speaking. I took a group discussion class to fullfill my speech requirement for college. I know that I have to get better at public speaking and the only way to achieve that is through practice, I do agree with that. However, it's really hard because I don't like feeling nervous. I like feeling confortable in what I am doing. I have to give a ten minute presentation at the end fo this semester for my Microbiology class on a specific disease and I am already getting nervous. I really want be able to only have note cards and speak freely without having to just read off of something from feeling nervous but we will see. Ten minutes seems like it's not very long at all but when you are up in front of everyone, it feels like forever. My teacher has given some great helper hints for example, adding a few extra slides to the presentation in case you speed through it nervously, you then have a couple slides to resort to. There are many tricks to help people with public speaking that I think are usefull but the only real way to overcome the fear is to practice and keep doing it. So I am going to look at this presentation for microbiology as a practice because I'm sure I will have to give many more speeches in my nursing student career.

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  10. Public speaking has always been my weak point. Whenever I am forced to present in front of a group of people, my biggest concern is that my nerves will make me forget to mention something really important. There are a few things that I do prior to my speech that boost my confidence. The first thing I always do is outline my whole speech, and make my most important points stand out. After, it is essential to practice the speech out loud. Practicing a presentation out loud will help you memorize the material better. The second thing that I tend to do before my speech is make a couple of note cards with the facts about my topic that I do not want to omit. Having note cards whenever I am presenting relaxes me because I know even if I freak out and forget something I could always refer to my notes. Coming prepared to a presentation is crucial in order to keep calm during your speech.

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  11. Telling someone to, "just not think about it" before giving a speech is pointless. Thats the whole reason they are scared. Youre standing in front of a group of people, all listening to every single word you say, and if you mess up, everyone knows. Especially the teacher, who is paying even closer attention so he/she can give you your F. I have never been a great speaker,But there are two things that help me get through my speeces. Usually, you are instructed to look at people in the eye while giving a speech, try looking at their forehead instead! That way you dont feel as awkward. Next to that, I also drink a huge energey drink 15 minutes before my speech, so that way im extremely hyper. My hyperactiviy outweighs my nervousness, and I appear more calm and confident.

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  12. In middle school I considered giving a presentation the most terrifying thing ever. But after my first year of high school I didn't find it as difficult. Usually I prepare for speeches by making note cards and practicing it a few times the night before. Repeating the speech a couple of times in front of the mirror really helps with memorizing it. Presenting beforehand also controls the time, if it is a timed speech I usually go over it using a stop watch. This way I can make adjustments if it becomes too short or too long. While giving the speech I try to make it as clear as possible for my audience. I use the technique of staring at an object across the room to get me through the presentation. Being prepared is a huge help to improving a presentation.

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  13. At first I used to be real nervous to talk in front of big groups of people, then I participated in sports. But I used to be nervous back in elementary school. In sports, it's a team effort to speak out, as it is in school you have to present and give speeches. I got to the point in life where I got used to speaking out in public to where instead of being nervous for actually presenting to a big group of people, I'd just be nervous to if my information I'm giving out would make sense. I took a speech class, and I would recommend that to anyone who is nervous to speaking out in front of a classroom. It helps with repitition and you learn your flaws in your speeches, so it's less stress when you do your next one. It's just a great experience as well, so in the long run if you want to be less nervous about speeches, take a speech class, and I guarentee it will help you in life.

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  14. When it comes to presenting a topic in front of an audience, it's one of the most frightening experiences for the presenter. What I tend to do is take deep breaths before presenting. It seems simple but it really works. Also, practice over an over what you're going to present for the class. The more times you present at home or in front of a group of friends, the easier it will when you're presenting. It's never a bad idea either to write some notes on index cards just incase you lose your train of thought or forgot to mention something. When presenting also look at everyone in the class, don't look at just one person, and if you're scared of doing that look at the top of there heads so it seems like you're looking at them.

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  15. Stage freight is one of the biggest problems I have in school. Getting up in front of the class with everyones attention focused on you, and only you gives me the chills. As soon as I get up in front of the class my voice cracks, my arms become real stiff, and my hands start shaking. I was one of those students who would try to do anything and everything to get out of giving a presentation. However, I don't mind doing presentations with a group of people because I'm not the center of attention. I feel as though giving speeches and presentations comes with practice,like the good ol' saying, pratice makes perfect! Till this day, I am still a bit shaky when it comes to speeches, although I must admit that I have gotten a bit better with the techniques that I have learned throughout my years of schooling!

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  16. I used have utter fear when i had to make a presentation. Not that i don't have it memorized, but i always have the feeling that something bad will happen. Since i did a lot of presentations in my senior year of high school, i have no problem presenting now. Even now and then however, i get nervous, but luckily it goes away. One tip i would give to someone is to just relax, and go up there and have fun. Another tip i would give to someone is if something goes wrong or people looked bored, to not stress out about it too much and hopefully "rebound". Hopefully these help few tips help someone.

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