Our IFY students are currently working to prepare group presentations that they will give next week. We’ve got a lot of wonderful topics to look forward to – from the UN to Chemical Bonding – and our EAP teachers are reading up furiously so that they can ask lots of intelligent questions.
Presentations and working in groups are big parts of academic study in university today. Presentations allow the students to show their knowledge and group work encourages collaboration and a collegial spirit. These are vital skills that will stand to them when they leave university. For instance, if you look at research papers today, the majority are collaborations – academics working together to complete bigger projects than they can finish alone.
Having given (and watched) a lot of presentations over the years, these would be my top 5 tips:
1. Know your stuff – do a lot of reading, watch videos, think of questions that people might ask you. If you can think of a relevant question and you don’t know the answer then look it up.
2. Focus – you don’t need to be an expert on everything. It is better to know a lot about one thing than to know a little about a lot of things.
3. Keep it simple – you want the audience to enjoy themselves and follow your talk. Trying to pack in too much detail, too many ideas and too much jargon will give the audience a headache.
4. Smile – you might feel nervous but that doesn’t mean you have to look nervous. It can be really, really difficult to talk in front of other people (especially in a different language) but a smile might help both you and the audience relax.
5. Pace yourself – the most common mistake is to speak too quickly. In my first presentation, I spoke at a hundred miles an hour and people couldn’t follow me at all.
Best of luck to all of our IFY students – we’re looking forward to hearing your presentations next week.