Reduce stress and increase success – How to present in front of class
Learning how to prepare for a presentation for class is a key part of a college education. Here are 10 tips for presenting in class used by the pros!4 min read Published: 28 Jun 2023
Feeling nervous after being asked to present in front of the class? You’re not alone. Sleepless nights, stress, and anxiety are common symptoms of stress and, if left unchecked, can impact your performance. The good news is that giving a presentation in class is a skill that anyone can learn, and practice makes perfect.
Learning how to prepare for a presentation for class is a key part of a college education, and we’re here to make it easier. Here are 10 evidence-based ways to reduce stress and increase success when presenting in front of the class.
10 tips for presenting in class
Nerves are the enemy of an excellent presentation, so we need to find ways to fight back. The more stressed we are, the less information we can remember – causing our brains to fog up. The reality is that stress is part of life, and we all need to find ways to cope with it.
Here are some proven strategies on how to do a presentation in front of the class.
#1 Eat healthy, sleep well, and avoid caffeine ☕️
You'll want to ensure you're well-fed, well-rested, and relaxed for your presentation. Try and eat healthily, avoid alcohol the night before (and definitely on the day), and exercise to get your endorphins up. Some people find that mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help manage anxiety.
Definitely swap your caffeinated coffee, soda, or energy drink for something else. It may give us a boost, but it can increase anxiety by 300%, a study found.
#2 Use positive visualization 🧠
Visualization involves playing over your presentation in your mind, imagining how you will smash it. Scientists have shown that visualization can create new neural pathways that prime your brain for success. Seeing really is believing.
#3 Start with a joke (or make people smile) 😆
Great speakers – even those talking about the most challenging subjects – start by making the audience smile. One of the best tips for presenting to class is to begin with a well-rehearsed icebreaker. Seeing a room full of smiling faces should help put you at ease. It also builds trust in your audience that you will be relaxed, informal, and funny when presenting in front of the class.
#4 Invite a friend, study friend, or family member 👯
Looking across an audience of any size can be daunting, so when presenting in front of the class, focus on a friendly face. For example, you can invite a friend, study friend, or family member. Focus on them as you deliver your presentation.
As long as you’re looking at the audience directly, not staring down at your papers, you’ll deliver a great presentation.
#5 Make presentations interactive ⭐️
One of the main reasons people hate presentations is the thought of hundreds of pairs of eyes trailing on you. The solution? Get them looking at a screen, listening to sounds, asking questions, and playing a part!
Avoid ending up with another uninspired slide deck that bores the room. Doing something different will grab attention and take the focus away from you.
#6 Study, study, study 🚀
Most of us aren't born full of confidence; we build it up over time – and that comes from experience and knowledge. One of the best tips for presenting a presentation in class is to have total mastery of your subject.
One reason we're afraid to give presentations is the fear of losing our place or looking silly. The answer to this is to study more.
Put in the hours researching your subject from reliable sources, and you'll have the confidence to deliver a presentation and back it up in Q&A sessions.
#7 Learn from the experts 👀
TED Talks have transformed how we think about presentations. They're interactive, fun, short, and engaging. One great tip for giving better presentations is to analyze the techniques used in TED Talks (and by other professional public speakers).
Watch how they interact with the audience and tell a story. Learn how they command the physical space and inspire confidence in the audience.
Then remind yourself that these people were all like you once. If they can learn these skills, so can you. Don’t be afraid to copy them.
#8 Tell a story 📕
As humans, we love a story. The narratives we create have a start, a journey, and an ending. When thinking about how to do a presentation in class, consider the journey you want to take your audience on. Of course, you’ll want to share information, but the best presentations are engaging and trigger emotions.
Use your subject matter knowledge to surprise and excite your audience. Case studies and real-life examples can bring any presentation to life. Find great facts, surprising insights, and inspiring stories.
#9 Practice Your Presentation 🗣
It sounds obvious, but it's critical that you practice your presentation before delivering it. Try to replicate the environment as best you can. If you're standing up in front of a class, do so at home. If you're on a videoconference, get some friends and family to dial in and do a run-through.
The more times you run through the presentation, the more confident you will be. You'll also be able to track timings and iron out technical issues.
If you're feeling brave, capture the video on your smartphone and identify areas to improve.
#10 S-L-O-W down (and leave gaps) ⏳
When we’re nervous, we all speak faster than normal. While your well-practiced presentation may have taken 30 minutes at home, you can rattle through it in 20 in front of a crowd. The lesson here is to slow down, take your time, and leave gaps.
If you’ve studied the pros, you’ll see they always leave a pause after each statement or sentence for the audience to process it. Great speakers, like former President Obama, have honed this into an art form. His laid-back delivery and mastery of his brief shine through, and even those who didn’t like what he said respected how he said it.
If you're worried about pausing, write a cue card and leave it on the desk. This can prompt you to pause, grab a sip of water, and prepare to deliver your next point.
Remember: Everyone wants you to do well
Fear of failure is the cause of nerves, stress, and anxiety. But always remember, everyone in the audience wants you to do well. They’re interested enough to attend your presentation, so focus on informing, engaging, and entertaining them.
You'll quickly learn that presentations aren't something to fear but a challenge to overcome. And trust us, the more you do, the easier it becomes. So while you may never enjoy giving presentations, you'll learn it's nothing to be afraid of.
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