Delivering confidently

Presentations need to be effectively delivered in order to convey your content in the most powerful way possible. Preparation and practice are the key to delivering with confidence.

Practice, practice, practice
Presentations can be daunting, but practice can reduce the stress of speaking in front of people. Keep in mind the saying 'practice makes perfect'; few people can just get up to give their presentation cold and nail it. If you don’t practice your presentation, you’re certain to fumble and lose the interest of your audience. Don’t feel like you have to memorise the entire presentation; in many cases you will be able to use memory prompts such as note cards or PowerPoint slides.

Prepare some written notes to help remember what to say in the presentation, but do so in such a way that you minimise the temptation to read and maximise the chance of speaking directly to the audience. Your notes should outline the main points only and you then expand on these as you present.

Eye contact
Remember to look up and try and make contact with at least two people in your audience. If you feel uncomfortable making eye contact, 'scan' the room without looking specifically at any one person, or look slightly above the heads of the audience.

Voice and speech
You should deliver your presentation at a speed slower than your normal talking speech. This is necessary so that people can take in what you are saying. Take a moment or two to breathe between each point. Practice your talk several times, going slowly and timing yourself. If it is too long, edit it down. Remember also to enunciate words clearly and project your voice so that all the audience members can hear without straining.

Body language
Choose a position so the audience can see you easily and stand confidently when delivering your presentation. During your presentation, keep movement to a minimum and avoid swaying and fidgeting. Try to not turn your back on the audience to read the slides behind you.

Adapted from: Turner, K., Ireland, L., Krenus, B., & Pointon, L. (2008). Essential academic skills. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.