How to … give applause-worthy presentations

Are your presentations a vision of PowerPoint perfection or are they snooze-inducing slides with dense text and dull images? Teachers have had to up their presentation game since remote learning became more prominent, and keeping kids fully engaged is a challenge. Jodie Quirke, Acting and Production Arts Programme Manager at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, draws on her performing arts background to share tips on delivering great presentations.

Keep your students, parents, and colleagues engaged by delivering great presentations.

  1. Slick, simple slides

When you’re giving presentations you have the double concern of your slides and what you’re going to say, but if your slides are text-heavy, your audience will spend too much time trying to read your text rather than giving their full attention to you. Use bullet points, flow charts and visuals to keep your slides short, engaging and to the point.

2. Flashy flashcards
If you need flashcards – and they are very useful for longer presentations – keep them bright and succinct. Use different colours to highlight the key or trigger words. this can make the words or points stand out and remind you, the presenter, what the key point is if you lose your train of thought. So the slides are used as a tool to help the speaker, just as much as the audience.  

3. Practise makes perfect
90 per cent of an actor’s work is done in rehearsal. When we enjoy a beautifully effortless performance we don’t see how much practise has gone into making it because the artist makes it look easy.  WWhen I have to give presentations I swear by recording myself beforehand, so I can hear and see what the audience will see. This helps me adjust my delivery.

4. Breathing beats
One of the common reactions to public speaking is to speak really fast, so the experience passes faster, but slow breathing slows the mind and gives you control over your speech. The breathing exercise I use before starting a presentation is: ‘breathe in, 2, 3, 4 and breathe out, 2, 3, 4’. I say this mentally to myself and follow this breathing pattern. It is simple and helps to control your breath and lower your heart rate. Slowing the pace of your breathing will slow the pace of the presentation.

5. A warm welcome wins
How you start will dictate whether you carry your audience with you. A bright smile always works. Practise your first line repeatedly until you can deliver it with confidence and without your flashcards, so that you can hook your audience early and they pay attention to your message.

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