Presentation is half the battle. When I say half I mean sometimes it literally is half. A friend of mine worked for a large well know design company. When she started working there they were doing a two week project for a client. At the end of the first week the ideas were going well, then the guy running the projects says, "Fine. Stop. Now let's get to the presentation." She was shocked and said, "But we have another week, we can make the ideas much better." He replied, "No, we need the whole week to get the presentation right." She admitted that at the end of the second week he was right.

It may seem sad when you know you could get further with your ideas, but you're having to move onto the presentation preparation. Sometimes that's how life is. Clients need to be convinced and the convincing takes as much time as creating the idea.

I'm not saying that in college you should spend half your project doing the presentation materials but it's worth spending more than the night before preparing presentations. With my students, a few days before the exam, we would rehearse their presentations. Some people would moan about how silly this seemed but it always made a difference. Although you might have presented the work before, you might be surprised that you can't remember what your project was even about.


Rory Hamilton 2005

If you are presenting your work in a second language you must practice it so you remember all the correct technical words. Chatting to your friends or flatmates in your native tongue does not prepare you for the English explanation.

If you are particularly nervous or your English (or whatever language you are presenting in) is not great then you should consider how to make the presentation as easy on yourself as possible. Is there video that you can prepare beforehand? Video is great because you don't have to talk during it. Are there simple slides (PowerPoint etc.) that you can use to get the idea across without having to say too much? Are there working prototypes that you can get the audience to try out? Can you make a handout (small, simple, beautiful) which explains the important points? This can help distract the audience from the fact that you are shaking with nerves.

What to show? Say what you were trying to do, what you did, and what you ended up with. Say why it's good and where it could go in the future. Only put in evidence of the process if it really helps explain the end result. Use great visuals. Don't chew gum while presenting. Speak clearly and fairly loudly. Wear nice clothes. Try to be confident, sell your idea (no matter whether the audience is your friends or big business), smile and relax.

Also see next section on presentation materials: Present Giving.


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