You should give a paper or write, but have no idea how to do it and where to start? At school, in your studies and also at work, you will eventually have to prepare and present a topic. But that’s no reason to get nervous. We show you the best tips for a successful presentation.
What is important in a good presentation
The aim of a presentation is to present to your audience exciting information about a topic with which they usually have never set themselves apart. At school or in college, it’s also about being able to reason with your research and knowledge. The rule of thumb is as complex as necessary, as simple as possible. Some teachers and lecturers also use a presentation to review your level of learning, knowledge and methodological skills. A good presentation will bring you and your speakers as well as your listeners. On the one hand, you learn a lot about a new topic yourself and improve your presentation skills. On the other hand, you bring the topic closer to your audience. In order for you to succeed, it is important that you carefully familiarize yourself with the topic and then build up your presentation in a structured manner. Even before you deal with the actual topic, you have to think about what a good presentation looks like.
Presentation: The preparation
A good preparation is all that. This also applies to the presentation. Before you can write or hold a presentation, you have to think about a topic first, if you do not get one given and then gather information. Because only if you know yourself well with the topic, you can offer your audience a real added value. If you have no idea, the presentation certainly ends in a fiasco.
The topic selection
Often you will be assigned a theme or you can choose one from different suggestions. Both can be a curse and a blessing at the same time. Although you do not have to think long about which topics you have all dealt with and which of them is suitable for a presentation. On the other hand, it can of course happen that you can not do anything with the topic and can not find the right access. Then it’s time to close your eyes and make the most of it.
Even if you have a hard time getting seriously excited about the topic and are motivated to approach the presentation, a supposedly boring topic also has some advantages. Maybe during your research, you even find out that the topic is not so dull and has some exciting aspects to offer. Forced to leave your comfort zone and learn something that you might never have learned otherwise. Since most of you have probably already dealt with your topic intensively, you will be the absolute expert as a speaker and do not have to be afraid of know-it-all comments. Sometimes you can even hope a little for the goodwill of your teachers or faculty when they know the difficulty of the subject and give it a positive credit when deciding on a topic that no one else might want to take on.
But it can also happen that you are already required in the topic choice. Then you have the chance to focus on your personal interests. For a topic that excites you, you will be more successful in the presentation. In addition, the audience will feel your enthusiasm and listen attentively and probably also more interested in the topic.
Do: No matter how difficult or boring the topic is, you should still deal extensively with your topic and at least try to develop a degree of interest. Because only if you can inspire yourself for something, you will succeed also to inspire your audience. Give your audience the impression that the aspects of your presentation are really relevant.
Do not: If you have the opportunity to choose a topic for yourself, you should make sure that the topic is not too extensive or general. Instead of writing a paper on climate change, you could write a paper on the consequences and impacts of climate change in South America.
You should start research as early as possible to have enough time for all sub-steps. Topic finding, if not predetermined, literature research, outline, writing, presentation preparation and practice – all of these things take time and you need a degree of self-discipline. There are so many topics to read and research that you have to restrain yourself so as not to lose yourself in the research. Similar to learning, you can also create a schedule for writing the presentation to control yourself.
If the topic is given, there is usually a list of literature, at least at universities, which is important for your presentation. In addition, you can of course also research on your own. If no literature is given, you have to do it anyway. It is up to you, and of course the timing, how much you invest in the literature research.
Do: Pay attention to the quality of the sources. Nothing is more embarrassing than presenting false facts. Think about what you find most important and what questions your audience might want answered.
Do not: Even if the time is short and the lure is great. Avoid downloading a finished paper in any case. Often you get into a rip-off trap and risk a bad mark because of fraud or failure of the seminar at the university, if the unit is a prerequisite for the award of credit points.
After your research, you can write a summary that contains everything that you later want to write in your presentation and then present. From your summary then results in a concept and the structure or the structure of the unit. You should be structured as in an essay in the introduction, main section and conclusion.
When researching you should have the most important places marked and summarized in bullet points. For complex topics, a mind map is also suitable for better assigning thoughts and connections. Then you can also write down your own thoughts and theses and connect with them or make differences.
Write a paper: The construction
Now that the preparations are complete and your structure is in place, it is time to fill them with content. The presentation should be structured according to a logic that is also apparent to your listeners. How exactly you do that is up to you. However, you should be careful to be true to your style throughout the presentation. You can, for example, orient yourself to a specific case and refer to it again and again or you can arrange your contents in chapters and subchapters.
Do: Think about a meaningful structure that not only you, but also your listeners can follow and build your presentation based on key questions. So you make sure that a thread runs through your entire presentation.
Do not: Avoid information and slides that have no relation to the outline.
The introduction serves to introduce the topic and the structure and to arouse the interest of your listeners. With a boring entry you will lose most of the listeners right at the beginning. In an appropriate framework, however dreary topic suddenly seems exciting. Take advantage of this fact and choose a creative or fun entry. Although the introduction should not take much of the time, it is essential for the further course of your presentation. As usual, the first impression counts, why the entry into the topic should be well chosen. In addition, you should give your listeners a first orientation. This should make it clear which topic it is, which question or problem arises and why it is worthwhile to deal with the topic.
Do: Choose an entry that will be remembered and will immediately grab your audience. This can be either an anecdote, a funny graphic or a Fun Fact. Even a provocative question or a short video will cause pricked ears and attention. Give your listeners a rough outline. So you can better prepare for your presentation and follow you more easily.
Do not: Do not lose the connection to the topic. You do not have to look for a fun entry. For example, if a topic does not convey this, then a slide with a relevant number to which you have something to say will be sufficient at the beginning. For example, in a paper on the impacts and impacts of climate change in South America, you could start by what percentage of the Andes glaciers have melted over the last few years.
The main part
The main part is, so to speak, the heart of your presentation and contains all the important information and details. Whether data, facts, theses, arguments, pros and cons – everything worth knowing you should now understand understandable and prepare. You should not indiscriminately present and string together the individual information. Make sure that they are in a meaningful order. For this you should also divide your main part again and close the general on the special.
During the presentation you should make it as easy as possible for your listeners to follow you. In addition you can repeat central points and clarify, why this point is just relevant. At the end of each chapter you can briefly summarize the most important and ask if you could follow until then. As this section of your presentation takes the most time and contains the most information, it is especially important to make the main part as vivid and exciting as possible, so as not to lose the attention of your audience.
Do: As with the introduction, you can also arouse the interest of your audience with anecdotes, testimonials and metaphors. The magic word is storytelling. If you manage to tell a story around your lecture topic and make your listeners curious and emotional, they will remember your talk and important information longer.
Do not: Do not overtax your listeners with too long paragraphs, but take care of short themed blocks as well as exciting and varied transitions.
If you have set up your paper based on a question, now is the time when you need to answer these questions. In any case, you should summarize the key points and draw a conclusion. While you have soberly and factually presented the topic in the main part, you can now also incorporate your personal opinion and give a future outlook. In the end, you should inquire if anyone has questions or ambiguities. Here your thorough research will pay off during the preparation. It may also be a small discussion that you should moderate before you say goodbye as a speaker.
Do: If there are no questions, you may be able to raise a few to promote the discussion and exchange.
Do not: Do not finish the presentation without asking questions from your audience.