A lot of university courses have at least one module that requires you to deliver a presentation to an audience, be it small or large. The experience can be incredibly nerve-wracking but presentation skills are an absolute must when you’re in the run-up to the start of your career.

If you’re due to give a presentation and you’re wondering where to begin, here are our top five tips for planning and delivery.


1. Get as much practice as possible

There are always the confident few who can deliver a presentation without feeling stressed or nervous. If you’re not one of those people, take as much time to practise your presentation as possible. The more you familiarise yourself with the content of your slides and the points you want to discuss, the more comfortable you will feel.

There’s another great benefit to getting plenty of practice: it will help you make appropriate modifications to your content and timing. You may feel like you’re talking too fast, or perhaps you think a slide is too complicated – whatever the issue, practice will help you improve. If possible, practise in front of another person so you can receive some feedback on where you’re going right and wrong.


2. Use the 10-20-30 rule

Apple’s Guy Kawasaki came up with what is known as the 10-20-30 rule. He suggests that a presentation should have no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes and contain no font smaller than 30 points. Although he created this rule specifically for pitches, you could try applying it to any kind of presentation.

By following this rule, you will ensure that your presentation includes only the most important points, keeping your audience engaged and you focused on the message you want to deliver.


3. Make your graphics eye-catching

It may sound childlike but the truth is making your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation easier on the eye is more likely to capture your audience’s attention. Rather than sticking to a plain black and white theme, try choosing a colour scheme to brighten up your slides. Remember to choose lighter tones so as not to distract the audience from the presentation’s content.

There are plenty of other ways that you can make your presentation more eye-catching: try adding images, graphs, animations or videos. Make sure that any ‘extras’ you add are relevant to the topic, not just added for the sake of it.


4. Use a list of keywords to help you

When you’re delivering your presentation, it’s best not to have a full script in front of you; if you rely on a script too much, it’s likely to be obvious that you are reading to your audience, rather than talking to them.

Rather than having a planned speech in front of you as a last resort, try having a small sheet of carefully chosen keywords. Make sure these keywords are specific enough to offer you the prompt you need. As well as keywords, you could also note down some important facts or figures that you want to include – this will help you feel confident that you won’t forget the essentials.


5. Don’t just talk to your audience – interact with them

Talking at your audience and offering no chance of interaction is a bad move when it comes to delivering a presentation. You could pose questions to your audience at regular intervals or try recounting a story or two. These are great ways of keeping your audience engaged.

At the very least, you need to invite your audience to ask questions once your presentation is over. This way, they can get clarity on anything they are uncertain about, or they may even provide practical points for topical discussions. Whatever you decide, interaction will help your audience take more away from the experience.