2 May 2016

Surviving your oral presentation

Public speaking is an important skill, but for some people it can be nerve-racking.  Fortunately there are resources and programs to help you, says Clinton Bell.

At least one of your courses will likely include oral presentations as part of the assessment, and for good reason. Whether it’s presenting at a meeting, making a pitch to a grant committee, or educating clients, a lot of careers involve public speaking. Getting some practice in while you’re at uni can really help your job prospects!

Unfortunately, oral presentations can also be pretty stressful. It’s normal to feel a little nervous when giving a presentation - even people who perform for a living sometimes feel nervous before getting on stage. However, if you find yourself getting so anxious it becomes a problem, or you just want to feel less nervous, there are ways to help yourself cope.

One of the best things you can do is practise your presentation before you have to deliver it. This helps you get the wording down, but it also makes giving the presentation feel more familiar, so you’re less likely to get the jitters on the day. Try practising in front of your friends or family to get used to having an audience. If you need a place to do it, you can book one of the group discussion rooms in the library.

When you’re getting ready to present, focus on breathing deeply and evenly, and try to act confident, even if you’re not. Starting the presentation is often the most nerve-racking part, so if you can put on a brave face long enough to get through that you should be fine.

There are also programs and resources that can help you. You can find several video guides to how make a great presentation on, a video training service which Monash students can access for free through the Library. Search for “public speaking” or “presentations” and you should find several useful courses.

If you’re in a hurry the Library has prepared a quick study guide to oral presentations. If you have a bit more time, we have quite a few books about public speaking and presentations. You can also come see one of our learning skills advisers at a drop-in session - they give advice on presentations as well, not just essays, and no appointment is needed.

If you don’t feel confident about your spoken English, try one of the English Connect programs. English Connect is free and run by specially trained students, and there are several options available from short one-to-one sessions (no booking required) to weekly workshops.

With a bit of preparation and the right advice, you don’t have to be afraid of oral presentations - so take advantage of the resources on offer, then get up there and give it a go!

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