How to Make Your Final Presentations – WithOUT Putting Your Prof. to Sleep

If you recall my blog from last week, I mentioned I had a big…nay…HUGE presentation this week. If you do remember and are curious, I knocked that puppy right out of the park! Last year I was struggling to find a job and this week I am making a million dollar presentation?

Okay, I know this isn’t a regular occurrence, but still exciting!

Two weeks ago Fraser wrote about how to pick a realistic essay topic and I wanted to import some of my own wisdom to you. As a commerce student, I never wrote a real essay. I’ve done a lot of marketing plans and a lot of business strategies but never an essay. We do reports. Not essays.

Telling a commerce student to write an essay is like telling a guy to watch a Jennifer Aniston RomCom. Yech. We just don’t have it in us. Don’t get me wrong, I can admire a well written essay, and listening to the topics people discuss is really interesting, but I just can’t do it.

Want can I do?

Make Presentations.

I never saw this as a big deal or even that I was that great, until I took a “Life Sciences” course in Tourism. Wow. Those were some AWFUL presentations.

I ended up getting a lot of compliments on my presentation as I was 1 of 5 commerce students in the course. We all nailed our final presentations.

In Business, you make about 2 presentations per class, so 10 in a semester.

In fact, we had an entire course dedicated to making presentations. Tuesday you submit a 5 page report and Thursday you make a 5 minute presentation.

These presentations weren’t your average presentations. They whipped us into shape!

Here’s an example of items we got marked on:
•    Lost 3% for dysfluencies, like “um” or “uh” – That turned out to be everybody’s Kryptonite;
•    Volume, clarity and speed;
•    Hand and body movement;
•    Facial expression;
•     “Appropriate level of enthusiasm”; and
•    Professionalism of your outfit, a friend of mine lost 10% because she didn’t wear nylons with her skirt.

To summarize: this course was Hell.

Am I glad I took it? You bet! They taught us some absolute garbage in that class but they also taught us some very valuable skills and so we became comfortable with speaking in front of others…I’ll just never admit that to the professor.

So, as you approach your final exams, I’m sure 75% of you will have to make a final presentation. All of my classes gave us marks for presentation skills. Though yours may not, there really is no harm in giving a stellar performance…because you don’t get an A+ for putting your prof. to sleep. (Seriously, they’re listening to about 10 presentations, the least you can do is wake them up a bit!) Here are some great fast tips to make sure you knock ‘em dead with your

  • Nervous? Psych yourself up! I love throwing on my pump-up song. It’s Man Eater by Nelly Furtado ( An old friend of mine used to play the Ottawa Senators intro song ( Looking up pump-up music is FUN! Here’s another great one:
  • Use 1 of 2 presentation styles:
    o    Create a script and stick to it. This way you know you don’t miss anything.
    o    Be very comfortable with your content and create a story line with your slides and stick to it.
  • Memorize your part. If you read off of a sheet of paper you look like you
    don’t know your stuff. You’ll also start to mumble into your papers and just looks like a mess.
  • Stick to the important points and get detailed where you need to. If you start yammering on about nothing you’re wasting your allotted time and are boring your audience
  • Keep your slides CLEAN! Throw in a picture to illustrate your point and jot down your main ideas. When you have too much text, people won’t listen to you as they will be too busy reading your slides.
  • Be enthusiastic! How? Use your floor space and walk around (make sure you don’t block your slides) and use hand gestures. Makes you look less uptight and nervous
  • SPEAK UP! I can’t stand it when people mumble to themselves and your audience won’t be able to hear your message. When they can’t hear you, you get docked marks.
  • Speak SLOWLY. I still have issues with this. My coworker taught me to create a rhythm in my head and tap it out on my thigh before I start.
  • Exude confidence. Nobody wants to listen to the quiet and shy mumbler who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You’re selling your topic and yourself. Command the floor.

Use these tips and you’ll be a top presenter in your class. But remember to have the content to back it all up and prepare for questions!

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