One thing about me is that I don't like over-rehearsing/practising my presentations as I like to improvise. I like to give relaxed presentations that can go any direction depending on how I feel as it shows confidence in your presentation/project. I know my project very...very well so this was a route I know I wanted to take, but a risky one as I haven't presented in over 2 years and certainly not in front of a group of consultants. But because I didn't want to make a fool out of myself, I thought it was a good idea to practice a bit more than usual so I rehearsed once a day starting on Monday. The one rule I have for myself is to never use cue cards or notes and this was definitely not going to change for this presentation. When I showed up at the meeting, I think the lead was a bit surprised by the fact all I had was my powerpoint and no notes/cue cards to run through while I wait for my turn. To be fair, I wanted to look like I was confident and at ease about my presentation, but actually I was completely bricking it inside. The night before I was "choking". Was confident until the night before and everything just fell apart. I was stuttering when I was running through and forgetting to talk about certain things as my slides contain very little info as I like to expand on my points.
Anyways it got to my turn and I told myself that one of my strong points are doing presentations and this is not anything different. I introduced my powerpoint and I went through my powerpoint like it was second nature. It was almost like I wasn't even consciously doing it. It felt really good! Then the dreaded part: question time. Surprisingly, the first question wasn't even a question. A consultant took the time to complement me so I was really chuffed about it. It definitely made me feel proud of myself and especially when I was the only medical student presenting amongst a bunch of registrars. At least it was some sort of confirmation that I didn't make myself look like a complete idiot, but the bail out sentence was always ready: "Sorry I am just only a medical student." The questions asked weren't too bad and it actually started a discussion amongst the audience about the thing I studied.
After doing this presentation it gave me an idea to make a post of tips for making presentations:
- Keep your powerpoint short and simple - maximum 4-5 points per slide - use these as cues for yourself and expand on these points
- Use images to make your slides/presentation look more interesting
- My personal rule is about 30-60 seconds per slide. 10 minute presentations = 10-15 slides. Any more slides, you could potentially end up speaking too quickly
- Practice your powerpoint without any cue cards or notes from day 1 - if you don't get into the habit of using cue cards...then you'll never need to rely on them
- If you're really unsure about your presentation, find a friend to practice in front of and ask he/she to give you feedback
- If you're nervous at the time of your presentation, pause for a second at the end of each slide to allow yourself to gather your thoughts for the next slide. The audience will think you're giving them time to read your slide so use the opportunity to calm yourself and gather yourself.
- Introduction is key - also an easy way to calm yourself as you'll never forget your own name!
- Always end your presentation with a summary slide as it's a nice way to round off the presentation
- Body language! Be aware of how you stand and what you're doing with your hands. If sitting, don't fidget/swivel in your chair. Standing and don't know what to do with your hands? Clasp them in front of you or try to use your hands to point to relevant images on your slide. Practice makes perfect for this. Avoid closed body positions such as crossing your arms across your chest and leaning against the wall. Don't want to look bored of your own presentation!
- Look around the room when talking. Don't have to make eye contact, but remember there's more than one person there so involve the room by looking around.
- And SMILE! Don't want to look grumpy about your own presentation!