I don’t want to call this nervousness. To be honest, I don’t even know what this is. 

Every time I am told that I will be making a presentation in class (I’m in 9th grade) my body flips. I don’t even know how to explain this feeling in words but I’ll try. ….

David McQueenDavid McQueenSpeaker. Presentations Coach. Startup Mentor

This is anxiety my friend. A lot more people suffer from this than they care to admit.
Nothing is wrong with being afraid of public speaking but there are ways to be able to tackle it as well. Some things I get my clients to do

1. Keep a panic diary. Writing stuff down helps you to stay calm, as the mind focuses on what happened you become more of an observer than a sufferer.
2. Meditation. I get clients to spend time before they speak with their eyes closed just meditating. Silent deep breathing to control their heart rate
3. Breathe and smile. Just before you speak, shake your hands out and smile. Reduce that cortisol and raise testosterone.
4. Pause. When you feel that wave of panic, sometimes you have to let it wash over you, pause a minute and then start again.

These interventions are best done with someone who understands anxiety but even if you have a friend who can keep you accountable, who you trust and is not judgemental then it’s a start.

I wish you well in your presentation.
Look back on it when it’s done and you might find it’s not as bad as you think

To your success.


Sunayana Reddy has made more than 100 PowerPoint presentations

The quickest way to develop amazing slides is to follow these 10 hacks:

1.6×6 Rule
This cardinal rule of PowerPoint design should never be violated. According to this basic rule, any given slide must have only six lines with six words on each line.

2. Black out/White out
You see your audience’s attention waning? You can very cleverly just black out the projected screen. Hit the B key on your keyboard and all your distracted audience will see is blackness in front of them.If you are a little more peace-loving, you can choose a white-out as well. Hit the W key on your keyboard and dazzle your audience with the white screen.

3.No Messy Bullets
Bullets can look messy and can well be considered as a waste of space. They often are quite unnecessary and the best slide designs prefer not using bulleted text.  A better way to do it is to space out each point across individual slides.

4.Bow down to the Master Slide
More often than not your presentation ends up looking drab, courtesy the boring templates that Microsoft provides you. There are a host of templates that you can download from the net and the latest Microsoft Office has included sleeker, more appealing slide designs. But when you have the option of creating your own unique slide design why settle for something readymade? Look at your topic, pick images and the colour scheme and put it all on a master slide.

5. Make use of the Grids and Rulers
Life is so much easier when things just fall into place. The grids and rulers option in the PowerPoint helps you do just that. The grids and rulers are not on by default but you can turn them on by clicking on the space outside the slide but not on the sidebars.

6. Animated!
PowerPoint offers a wide range of animations and they can be used to create interesting slide designs and jazz up your presentation.

7. Animate the Charts!
Boring statistics? Worry no more, because your pie chart or bar graph or histogram can now be animated. Once you have inserted your chart and added animations to it, go to the final tab “Chart Animation” and change “Group Chart” from “As One Object” to “BY Category”. Now you can get your chart to appear as you speak about each of its components.

8. Duplicate – Don’t Copy and Paste
We are sure that CTRL + C and CTRL + V aren’t your favorite keyboard shortcuts. But imagine copying and pasting a particular text or image multiple times on a slide? That would annoy even the biggest fans of Copy-Paste. An easier way to do it is to duplicate instead. So click on any object that you want to be copied and press CTRL while you drag it. They space themselves out evenly as well.
The more useful thing is duplicating an entire slide. Select the slide or set of slides that you want to duplicate, go to the New Slide menu and select Duplicate Selected Slides. You get all the slides duplicated automatically.

9.Create New Shapes
PowerPoint has a beautiful variety of shapes that you can use in your slides. But what if we told you that you can combine them together to create more shapes of your own? You can just select all the objects, go to the Drawing Tools option and select Format under which you can select Merge Shapes. It subtracts the overlapping portions from the two shapes, giving you a cool new shape! What is more exciting is that it can do the same with images and text as well!

10.Save it as .PPS 
Remember the last time there was a group presentation and the person controlling the PPT kept fumbling around the screen trying to look for the slideshow button and you lost out on precious time because of that? Well, this trick will eliminate the entire process of opening the presentation and going into slideshow.

Once you finish designing your PPT, go to File and select Save As. In the dialog box that follows, select the file type as .PPS and voila! When you click on this file, it directly opens the slideshow screen and takes care of the hassle in between.


John Ramos

John RamosWrote the book The Super Student’s Guide to Presentations @ TheStudentPower.com


3 minutes seems like little time to deliver a compelling presentation, but I’ve been asked to present my entire Master’s thesis to a jury in 3 minutes - it’s possible, but you have to be objective and systematic.

First off, define a clear structure to your speech and stick to it. There’s not time to ramble whatsoever:

  • Minute 1: Tell your purpose, what the presentation is all about and what’s the message you want to send across.
  • Minute 2: Tell the audience why, what’s the reasoning that supports your argument, what is the story you want to tell, where is the proof backing your claims.
  • Minute 3: Repeat your message and end on a high-note, using a quote, sentence or story that the audience won’t forget easily.

Some actual suggestions for topics:

  • Your Project Explained in 3 minutes
  • A Cool Mathematics Trick Explained in 3 minutes (check some here)
  • Your Country’s History in 3 minutes (use lots of comedy elements)
  • 3 Lifehacks in 3 Minutes
  • My Life’s History in 3 Minutes (interesting introspective exercise, as well)
  • The Politics of the Middle East in 3 Minutes
  • Newtonian Mechanics Explained in 3 Minutes

As you see, there’re a lot of creative options at your fingertips, or should I say at the exit of your vocal chords?


John RamosJohn Ramos,

Wrote the book The Super Student’s Guide to Presentations


Excellent question! Most technical presenters do not put any effort into their presentations at all. To me, that always came a bit as a disappointment – in today’s world, the best science is not made inside the lab, it’s made outside, communicating with our peers.

I have presented my Masters’ thesis in the form of poster and slide presentations in the past. Every time I did I tried not to put my audience to sleep, by following these steps (note that I assume that you’re planning, researching and rehearsing correctly apart from all of this):

  • Assume that most of your audience will not understand most technical terms. No, I have no idea of what ubiquitin is – I study brain imaging! Explain your project slowly and carefully, making one point at each time.
  • Use pictures and diagrams as much as you can. Explaining Science through words alone is painful. It’s much easier to use diagrams, charts or pictures from other papers or that you created on your own.


  • Organize your speech so that you don’t go over the allotted time.

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Jason Whyte

Jason Whytewhen I present, I usually get invited back

What you’re basically asking is how to make a good presentation. The technique is the same regardless of who you are presenting to and what you’re presenting on. Here are some simple rules:

1) Think about your audience.

Who are they? What sort of topic might they want to listen to? How do you connect your topic to their lives? What’s in it for them?

2) What’s your point?

What’s the one thing you want them to take away from the presentation?

3) Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you’ve told them.

You generally need to repeat your message seven times to make it stick. (I like to think of the funeral speech in Julius Caesar, with its repetition of “for Brutus is an honourable man” – though in that case, the meaning changes over the course of the speech)
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author imageCarolyn Williams
Carolyn Williams began writing and editing professionally over 20 years ago. Her work appears on various websites. An avid traveler, swimmer and golf enthusiast, Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College and a Master of Business Administration from St. Mary’s College of California.


The more you practice your public speaking skills, the easier it will be to speak in front of a group. Exercises for public speaking in class can help you continue to advance your public-speaking abilities. Classroom exercises help if you’re teaching a course on public speaking, wish to incorporate public speaking into your general curriculum or want to brush up in advance of your class.

Imaginary Animal
Give students 10 minutes to create an imaginary animal and prepare information about the animal. List five questions on the board to ensure students have a uniform set of information to present, such as its habitat, size, color, sound, number of legs and predatory abilities. Have students then present their animal in front of the class using their notes and answering each of the questions. This type of exercise helps students gain confidence, a critical component when speaking in front of a group. Since the animal is known only to the student, she can share information with an air of authority and expertise.

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Leo Lam

Leo LamPhD in Electrical Engineering, Adjunct Faculty at University of Washington

Some assumptions need to be made here. I am assuming that you have all the materials you need to present and that all research required to pass your defense is available, and that your adviser has agreed that it is sufficient. I am also assuming that this is a Master thesis (using the American definition for a thesis, for a PhD it would be a dissertation).

With that said, I should remind you of the goal: to demonstrate that you have performed original research, with results at a level that are commensurate with a Master degree (specificity dependent on your institution/adviser).

If that’s the case, 5 days would be plenty. Also, this applies to a great presentation, not a mediocre one.

  1. Divide: break your presentation into parts, like introduction (short), discussion of existing knowledge (short), problem you needed to solve (medium length), research work (medium length), results (detailed discussion) and conclusion (short). I am using relative terms since you did not specify how long your presentation is going to be.
  2. Conquer: After you have broken up the presentation into parts, think about what your audience needs to hear in each part. Start with a liberal amount of content, and you will notice your presentation is likely going to be too long. Distil it down to the most important points, then create the slide content. Your slide should be clean, with clear data (and not too verbose). You should aim that your audience will be listening to you, instead of reading everything on screen. Your slide should be supplemental to your talk.
  3. Practice: Once you have the slide deck down, practice. Your script should be mostly memorized and if you need any note, make it very short and only uses it to remind you of the content. Don’t read from a script.
  4. Get feedback: You should pre-present with both your peers and your adviser if she/he is amenable to that. Get feedback. Tweak. Practice.


Hope this is helpful. Best wishes on your defense.



Rhiannon Sanders    Rhiannon SandersFounder, author TwoMagpies online courses in public speaking

Here is the short answer in case you don’t have time to read the rather long-winded one below.
First: don’t do what everyone else does, think of something original.
Here are some ideas, I’m sure there’s more:

  • Start calm and slow. Give people time to size you up and get used to your voice. A person who is in control and command does not rush.
  • Start with your main message (or key message – a short statement of the whole point of your talk and maybe what you want people to do when you’re finished) in some form. Unless you want to keep it a total mystery, see below
  • Let people know, one way or another, why they should listen to you. Tell them the end. Tell them what they will gain or learn. Tell them why it’s important.
  • Don’t start with your CV, set the scene first, then introduce yourself very briefly
  • Create a mystery, then solve it at the end
  • Ask a rhetorical question
  • Tell a story to illustrate your point, give it details and life, but make its relevance extremely clear
  • Start in the action, not with all the background

So here’s the long version. The first thing I would say is – don’t start the same way everyone else starts!
You know, “hello everybody, it’s really great to be here. Thank you to the organizers for inviting me, my name is (followed by your CV) and I’m going to talk to about…”

If we hear, yet again, the standard procedure for starting a presentation, many people will be thinking to themselves “okay, here we go, another ordinary, boring presentation.”

So what do you do? 
There are two times in a presentation when you are absolutely guaranteed the attention of the audience; the beginning and the end. At the beginning people are looking at you with curiosity. They’re sizing you up and making judgments. So you have their attention but they’re not necessarily listening to a word you say.

Before you start you should have thought about the purpose of your presentation and it’s main message. This is a one short sentence summarizing the whole point you are making. Like “recycling is a good thing and easy to do when you plan properly” or “designing great slides is very easy when you know five simple rules.” You should also have decided what you want the audience to do or think when you’re finished. These things should be made clear in one form or another at the start and finish of your talk.  The form, however, can vary greatly, specially if you’re planning on starting with a mystery! (see below)

Start calmly and slowly. Walk slowly to the front of the room and don’t speak at the same time. Give people time to see you properly and get used to your voice. A person who is in control and command does not rush.

You may have heard the advice to grab people’s attention at the start. This gives the impression that you need to go out with all guns blazing but some energetic wild starts quickly fizzle out into plain and ordinary performances. You don’t so much need to grab people’s attention as to capture it and hold onto it.

By the way, if there is something genuinely distracting about how you look then say something about it. I once listened to a talk given by a guy with his leg in plaster and he didn’t refer to it ever. I spent most of the talk wondering how he’d done it and didn’t hear a word he said. So mention the elephant in the room first and then move on. Otherwise, allow for people to spend some time sizing you up and don’t say the most important thing at the very start.

The key principles of a good start

Clarity and relevance
What exactly will you be talking about? If you are one of many presenters you need very quickly to let people know, metaphorically speaking, what planet you’re on, followed quickly by the country, city right down to the very spot where you are standing (the scope of your presentation), if you see what I mean.

Start by answering the following: Why should people listen to you? Why is the subject interesting? What are you going to deliver? Make them care.
In other words, tell them what they’ll get out of it all. Tell them the end so they understand why they should listen.

You could say for instance, “at the end of this talk you will understand exactly what you need to do to earn €1000”. Or, “at the end of this talk you will knows the three steps that you can do tomorrow to improve your running style”.

Be as specific and clear as possible when telling people why they should listen to you.

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Robert FrostRobert FrostTeach NASA instructors how to use PowerPoint effectively

No.  Presenters should not hand out their PowerPoint slides.
When one allows their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts, one starts to design their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts.

The purpose of a slide and the purpose of a handout are not the same:

Slide: a slide serves to visually interpret the idea that the speaker is discussing.  It is not supposed to have to stand alone.  It exists for the brief period of time that the presenter is speaking.  The spoken words and the visual interpretation are supposed to complement each other.

Handout: a handout is a reference that the audience will take with them and refer to at a later point in time, to refresh themselves on the material.  It needs to convey the full message, in the absence of the presenter.

I recommend creating a summary sheet to accompany your presentation.  That summary sheet will consist of full sentence and paragraph summaries of your main ideas in addition to the most useful visuals from your slides.  Your audience will be much more grateful for a single sheet of paper that will still make sense if they look at it in six months than they will in being given a 50-page stack of printouts of your slides that, absent your narration, will not make sense in six months.



click to enlarge



Adriaan Bloem

Adriaan BloemSr Mgr Online at MBC

  • Use large fonts. The beamer will probably have a low resolution (you might still come across a 800×600!) and people need to read at a glance. 30 points minimum.
  • Don’t use Serif fonts. (Like Times: the fonts with the small hooks at the ends.) They were designed for legibility and space saving in print. Print is very high resolution, you want to save paper and ink because they cost money. In PowerPoint, paper and ink are free: go for a Sans Serif!
  • To sum it up: 30 points or larger Sans Serif. E.g., Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Lucida.

…but sometimes, to make an impact, you have to break the rules. Sometimes, much larger, frivolous or very stern fonts can set the tone. Just be very sure why you would break the rules, understand the drawbacks, and please… don’t ever use more than two different fonts!

I have seen presentations in Courier and Mistral where it worked very well. Usually, though, it’s a terrible idea.

If your bullets don’t fit with the 30 point minimum, by the way, that’s a major clue there’s too much text on your slide.