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Oct 11 2015
by Mia Renee Cole

10 Ways to Give a Kick A** Presentation

By Mia Renee Cole - Oct 11 2015

Ah, college: the time when we have to say goodbye to the measly, half-assed presentations of high school. Now we're expected to be professional by presenting ourselves well and without relying on our partner to do all the work. But how do we do all of this without any guidance? No worries, your Presentation Godmother (that's me) is here to help.

1. Rehearse

Rehearsal is the key to success for whenever you find yourself speaking in front of an audience. It's not just meant for the drama geeks or dance team; know what you're gonna say and how you're gonna say it in advance. Start rehearsing for your presentation at least 5 days before, if not more.

2. Dress to Impress

You want your audience to be interested in your presentation, not asking themselves why you decided to wear your Spongebob pajama pants to class that day. Always dress nicely (read: business casual). Pick out something that shows you say what you mean and mean what you say. After all, you have been practicing hard for this moment.

3. Have Notes on Hand

The accessibility of notes can vary depending on what your professor prefers, but in most cases, it's okay to have flashcards. However, keep in mind  that "notes" does not equate to "reading from the paper." Presentation notes are really just there for your convenience if you get off track or need to refer to something that is hard to remember. Better safe than sorry.

4. Exert Energy

We've all had that teacher that just stands at the front of the classroom, speaking in a monotonous voice while everyone drifts off to sleep -- don't be that person. Whatever vibes you're giving out, you're going to receive back, therefore if you want a lot of cooperation and enthusiasm from your audience, you need to show them that you're willing to give them the same.

5. Project Your Voice

There is perhaps nothing worse than having to entirely focus on exactly what a presenter is saying because you simply can't hear them. Speak loud and clearly for everyone to understand. If you're soft-spoken (which is perfectly understandable!), practice projection in front of a friend or family member, having them move farther and farther way from you as you speak. This way you can find your comfortable voice level that can still able to be heard without the hassle of someone in your class yelling, "Can you speak up??".

6. Make eye contact and involve your audience!

In order for your audience to receive the full effect of your presentation, you need to make sure they feel included. For smaller classes, try to meet everyone's gaze at least once while speaking. In larger lectures, aim to move your eyes all about the room and its different rows of desks in order to be engaging. If you're able to, include fun games or polls to keep your audience awake as well!

7. Move, Move, Move!!

Not only will moving keep up your energy level, but it will keep up your audience's as well. Make a point to move around the room, or at least speak with your hands. If you're giving a particularly long presentation, try to get your audience moving as well with these free videos.

8. Be Prepared to Answer Questions

You should always, always, always dedicate a portion of your presentation to answer any questions your audience might have. This is where your notes might come in handy, or your amazing BS-ing skills depending on the type of questions you receive.

9. Have Appealing Props & Presentation Platforms

Nothing says "I'm cool" like bringing a snake to your presentation. Have fun games planned or props to use, and utilize presentation platforms that are different from the bland PowerPoint (I personally recommend Prezi). Boring presentations are 100% guaranteed to put people to sleep.

10. Embrace Your "Stage Presence"

What is "stage presence," you might ask? Why, my dear reader, it is all of these things we have previously talked about...combined. Stage presence is allowing yourself to shine while speaking to other people; being prepared and awake will definitely enhance the amount of stage presence present at the time of your presentation. Stage presence will guarantee your audience stays awake by the time you're done.

Lead Image Credit: NBC

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Mia Renee Cole - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mia Renee is currently the Senior Editor with Fresh U and a student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is studying Spanish and French. In her free time she enjoys knitting, photography and drinking hot tea while writing on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @miareneecole or her blog at!

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