Hi, I’m Jiayu, a second-year undergraduate student studying BSc Biomedical Science.
As an international student whose first language is not English and a very shy introvert, I can relate to the challenges of preparing for a solo presentation. In the science sector, being able to deliver presentations is an essential skill to demonstrate your research outcomes.
It can be a daunting task, but with consistent practice, it’s possible to overcome any challenges and give a successful presentation. Below are my tips to help you prepare.
Look for academic guidance
Before you get started, check out the new Student Services Online article How can I prepare for a presentation at King's? as well as the King’s Academic Skills for Learning (KASL) module Presenting at University.
Plan your presentation
You can prepare for your presentation just like you would prepare for a written essay. Begin with a general introduction and some background, then delve deeper into a specific topic. Organising your presentation in a logical way not only helps the audience to understand your topic, but also keeps you on track while presenting. A top tip for scientific presentations is to always define and list your terminologies.
Sign up for every formative opportunity
If there’s an opportunity in your module to give a formative presentation assessment, do it. Don't wait too long to decide or you might convince yourself not to - I used to do this!
Formative presentation assessments don’t count towards your final module mark, so they offer you an excellent chance to practice and receive feedback on your presentation skills. Moreover, it can be a fulfilling experience and give you a sense of achievement that motivates you to keep pushing forward.
Check your module’s KEATS page to see if there are any upcoming formative presentation opportunities.
Practice, practice, practice
Speak out loud to yourself, your pets or any other familiar objects to help you get comfortable with hearing the sound of your own voice. You might feel nervous and perhaps even stutter when you begin, but that’s absolutely normal. When you’ve built enough confidence, try practicing in front of your friends or family and request their feedback and advice.
If you’d like to practice, you can book a One-to-one Session with an academic tutor who won’t be assessing you, through the KASL portal on KEATS.
Record yourself practicing
I find it helpful to record myself practicing my presentation. It helps me to spot areas I could improve, such as my:
- pace of speaking
- tone of voice
- body language
- use of filler words.
Try it out, but if you find it too stressful or you don't like it, that's perfectly fine too as there are other ways to practice.
On the day of your presentation, you could ask a classmate to record it so you can compare it with your practice videos and look for improvements.
Learn not to rely on written notes
While it may seem like a good idea to write down your entire presentation, it could actually make you overly reliant on your script. Reading directly from your script without making eye contact will make you appear more nervous than confident. Instead, prepare bullet points or an outline of your main ideas and practice speaking about those points. As you practice, try to rely less and less on your written points.
Prepare for questions
You’ll probably be asked questions about your topic. Prepare for these questions by researching your topic thoroughly and anticipating the types of questions you might be asked. Practice answering them clearly and concisely.
Use these tips to help yourself sail through your solo presentation and remember - practice makes perfect.