Leicester College Blog

Effective Presentation Skills


We’ve all been there. We have a presentation to deliver. Our hands are clammy. Our mouth is dry. We panic at the thought of having to speak in front of others and imagine all kinds of nightmare scenarios which inevitably, rarely ever happen. I have delivered countless presentations in my role as a Careers Advisor and I learn new lessons every single time! These are some of my tips for delivering a successful presentation.

Be prepared and practice

There’s nothing worse than walking into a room ready to deliver a presentation when you realise you’ve forgotten key notes or a vital piece of technology like your memory stick which just happens to have your presentation on it! Prepare for your presentation in advance by practising the delivery as many times as you see fit to identify any mistakes or gaps in information, and the resources required. Have a checklist prepared which you can tick off if it helps you to make sure you have all of the resources you need. Make notes to help you remember key information. Try to anticipate potential scenarios: what can you do if the technology fails and you cannot run the Power Point presentation? Can you deliver the presentation using alternative means e.g. via group works and using hand outs? Practice will help you to be as prepared as possible and make you feel more confident as a result.

Keep the audience engaged

It helps if you have a genuine interest in the subject you are delivering a presentation about as it helps you to connect with your audience. If others can see your enthusiasm, there is more likelihood that they will take notice of the subject matter. Provide a strong start: introduce who you are and set out the aims of the session. Let the audience know if you intend for them to participate so that they understand their role in the process. Have activities planned throughout the presentation – never just read the slides! The activity can involve a quiz, a game, showing the audience a video or simply asking them questions at regular intervals to engage them in conversation which will help to maintain their interest. Share relevant and appropriate stories with the audience as it will draw them in and lend credibility to your subject matter. Invite questions from the audience and if you don’t know the answer, be honest and say you don’t know. Try to develop a presentation which ensures that there is much audience involvement as possible. Speak for 10 minutes, then introduce an activity, game, video or start asking questions. Above all, smile, make eye contact and stay in control.

Consider your audience

Consider the needs of your audience at all times. If you are using Power Point, use slides with a coloured background (I favour a blue background) to make it easier for people to read text. Do not crowd a slide with too much text either. Use animations to stagger the information being displayed and use appropriate visuals to draw the audience in. Incorporate video links if possible to give you a break from delivery and ask the audience questions at regular intervals to check their learning and understanding. Concentrate on your core message and make sure you regularly refer back to the subject of the presentation to focus the audience.

Try to enjoy the experience!

We often forget to enjoy ourselves when delivering a presentation because more often than not, the thought of delivering a presentation is much scarier than the reality! Relax, breathe, and use your nerves to your advantage by encouraging activity and interaction with the audience, varying the tone of your voice and moving around the room. You will eventually find that the experience of delivering a presentation can actually be enjoyable!

By Sonia Riyait

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