How to make the best presentations at University

8 minutes
Written by: Natalia De la Peña Frade

Nervous? That’s normal!

When you’re working on an assignment, it can be hard to banish the dread of the presentation you have to give in front of your classmates and professor. And when the moment arrives, you’re a ball of nerves!

And multiply those nerves by 10 if you’re in the final year of your bachelor’s, postgrad, or master’s degree and it’s your thesis you’re planning. This, of course, goes for any other kind of final project; they can have different names depending on the country you’re in.

These kinds of projects are a challenge because they involve significant autonomy and because you need to demonstrate your capacity to apply the knowledge you’ve acquired and its related competencies.

As if that weren’t enough, you also have to show your mastery of digital tools and other data search sources. There’s so much to think about!

Genially to the rescue! We’ve created this post for those of you that have a university presentation or thesis coming up but have no previous training in how to communicate or present effectively.

We’ve got first-hand information (from college professors!) on the combination of deciding factors to help you get the best possible grade.

Steps for making the best presentation in your class

We’ve outlined the process in 5 stages. You may think that some appear more important than others, but don’t be so sure: each one contributes to your success, so don’t leave any out!

1. Get inspired

It’s a good idea to start by reflecting to inspire yourself and to figure out what content to include in your presentation. Take time to get information from different sources. For example:

  • Speak to students who have given a presentation in the same subject in previous years or semesters.
  • List possible topics that are not too overdone and that you can find enough data about. You don’t want an obscure subject that nothing has been written about, but you also don’t want a topic where everything has already been said and you cannot contribute much.
  • Do an online search for examples of similar assignments related to your subject area.

First, choose the topic that interests you – the more specific, the better. Next, think about what problems it presents and what variables are involved. As you know, your decision to choose a given subject will need to be agreed upon with your advisor, who can even help you choose a topic within your research interests.

Once you have chosen a topic and you know more or less the content you want to include, it’s a good idea to create a concept map.

Concept maps are a very useful tool for laying out information and deciding how to divide it into chapters. Try to put the information into a template like this one:

2. Plan carefully

You already know what information you need to gather, now how about setting some deadlines for yourself? It’s just like when you make a schedule for yourself during final exams. Creating a timeline will be really useful for getting organized, and make sure to communicate these deadlines to your advisor to help you stay on track.

You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. If you split it into smaller goals, it will be much easier to tackle it. Organizing your goals into a calendar will help you reinforce your commitment and will help prevent you from straying from the deadlines you initially set. You can even share it with your professor. Or, if it’s a group project, share it with your classmates.

Want a professional tip on content creation? Content should be left to sit for a while once it’s created. You need to walk away for a few hours so you can review it later with a clear mind. That’s why leaving it to the last minute is a bad idea. Take your time to get the most out of your work. Everything can improve with some good editing.

3. Sources

Work with scientific databases and contrasting and trusted sources of information. Universities have a wide catalog of databases, books and magazines for their students. You have a whole universe of physical and electronic resources at your disposal! You can read a multitude of academic articles about the aspects that relate to the topic chosen for your assignment or project.

Get a good deal of articles on your subject and highlight the most important parts of each one. It’s essential to know what has already been published to provide new knowledge or insights on your topic.

If you are going to include numeric data or a phrase or paragraph from someone else, remember the correct way to cite sources. Generally, the citation method followed is APA. If you have doubts about the rules about citing authors and data, the faculty at your university should be accustomed to working with them and can give you the instructions.

Do you know what works great? A mind map as a summary table of bibliographic references. It’s easier than it seems. Simply choose the template that best suits you and include your information at each point.

4. Prepare your content

An important question: Do you already know how much time you will be given to present? It’s imperative that you adjust your presentation to fit the time you are given. It can be 15 or 30 minutes.

Once you know the duration of the presentation, the next thing to do is to select your content well. No matter how much time as you may have to present, it will be impossible to present all the work you’ll do over the next few months. That’s why you have to choose carefully and emphasize the most important information.

What information is essential in the presentation of your university assignment or project?

During your university degree, you will have to do different types of assignments, papers, and projects. They can be divided into two main types:

  1. The assignments and presentations that you will have to do in the different subjects which will contribute to the evaluation and grades of each one.
  2. Your final project or thesis, and its subsequent presentation to the board of examiners.

1. Papers and presentations throughout the course of your studies

Throughout your university life, you will most likely have to tackle several papers and presentations. Depending on the criteria of each one, the structure of the presentation may vary.

But to give you an idea, for these types of presentations, in addition to the introduction, development, and references, you should include:

  • A slide to explain the overall goal and specific goals of your research.
  • A slide for your conclusions. You can number the conclusions, make them in sections, or in blocks. It’s not about summarizing your work, but about detailing what you’ve contributed.
  • A thank you slide. Dedicate the last part to thanking your audience for their attention and answering their questions.

These templates for university papers and projects include all the essential slides and some extras in case you need them. The designs are very visual and it’s all structured and ready to go.

2. Preparation and presentation of your final project

This type of work is much more extensive than previous ones. Normally, you will be asked to adopt a more investigative role and to develop one or more hypotheses and results. 

Therefore, your presentation should include the following sections:

  • The justification. Explain why you have chosen this topic. Think about why it’s important to solve certain problems in this sector, what social benefits are provided, and what contribution to knowledge is made.
  • A slide to explain the overall goal and specific goals of your research.
  • A slide for your hypotheses. It is generally recommended that you incorporate all hypotheses in the presentation, but if you don’t have enough time, choose the most important ones.
  • A slide for the methodology used. Here you can talk about how you obtained the data and what process you followed to analyze it. 
  • A slide for your results. Explain each result achieved, their meaning, and evaluate them against the results obtained by other authors and confirm or reject the hypotheses you presented earlier.
  • A slide for your conclusions. You can list the conclusions, or do them in sections or in blocks. Also include some commentary here on possible future lines of development or research on the subject, as well as their limitations and implications.
  • Closing and final thank yous. And once you have answered all the questions … that’s it, you can breathe again!

If you need specific templates for your final project, we’ve got them! Choose the one that best suits your subject or topic and wow your audience. Here are some examples:

Whatever type of assignment and presentation you’re working on, remember:

  • Simplify the text as much as possible
  • Transmit just one or two key messages per slide
  • Organize your content
  • Use royalty-free, high-quality images
  • And take full advantage of the power of interactivity!

Finally! It’s time to succeed with your presentation

Content is ready and checked! The worst is over … almost! Naturally, the thought of presenting in front of lots of people also scares you a little, doesn’t it?

With the help of these tips, you’re going to have an incredible presentation, and it’ll be easier than you think:

  • During your presentation you have one clear goal: to attract and maintain your audience’s attention. Don’t worry, just stay focused and bring it home. Interactivity and animation will be the aces up your sleeve.
  • If you are able to convey confidence, your audience will feel that you’ve mastered the topic. Project your voice, make eye contact, don’t turn your back to your audience, maintain a confident posture, and use gestures (without overdoing it) to reinforce key ideas.

Your body language is a reflection of yourself, so try to convey confidence and strength

  • Remember the basic tips for public speaking: don’t cross your arms, don’t put your hands in your pockets, and stand throughout the presentation.
  • What should you do with your hands? You don’t need to chop your arms off – just make sure you keep them under control! To control your arms, always try holding something during the presentation: A pen, a pointer, or a remote to change slides with.
  • Look out at your audience as much as you can. We often end up looking only at the person who gives us the most confidence, but make an effort to try to look at everyone on the committee relatively often.
  • Think positive thoughts! It’s the best way to avoid succumbing to your nerves. Remember, you are the one who knows the most about this topic. You and only you have worked for months on your Undergraduate or Master’s thesis. Trust yourself! You’ve studied your research, you’ve specialized in reading on the subject, and gained a lot of knowledge.

We wish you all the luck in the world… and one last tip: end with a sincere smile, because everybody likes a smile.

Natalia De la Peña Frade
Natalia De la Peña Frade
Content creator: I try to write things you like to read
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3 Responses

  1. One of the best guidelines for a successful presentation (I see that most of them do fit the post-graduation as well).
    It covers most of the aspects, glad to have the chance to pass by this masterpiece!
    Cordially,

    1. Hi, Grégoire, we are happy to read this.

      Thanks and have an awesome day! 🚀

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