15 Tips for the Reluctant (or New) Presenter

I have a love/hate relationship with presenting. I love sharing my knowledge and teaching experience with others, but I always get anxious about public speaking. Every time I step up to the podium, I need to say to myself, “Syl, you can do this.”

Over time, I have gathered some tricks and tips to help prepare me for presentation day. Here they are:

  1. Go over your presentation days before. Make sure all the links and videos work. Try opening all Google Apps documents with a different Google account. (Note: see this sketchnote for some EdTechTeam tips on a great presentation).
  2. Practice your presentation. Ask a friend/colleague to watch and provide feedback.
  3. Check earlier in the week that you have all the equipment necessary for your presentation (dongle, clicker, power bar, projector, speakers, etc.) and put them in a bag by your door.
  4. Try to get a good sleep the night before. If you suspect that you’re not going to sleep well, try to get a good night’s sleep two nights before.
  5. Charge your devices the night before.
  6. At the venue, ask someone in charge who to contact in case you need help with technology. If possible, go to your presentation room early in the morning before anyone arrives. Plug in your laptop/speakers/projector and make sure that everything works.
  7. Make sure you know how to set the proper resolution for your laptop to maximize projection on the screen and to be able to view all of your open tabs. If you don’t know how to do this, get help. (NOTE: Every projector will display your screen in a different way which is why I recommend you check this early.)
  8. Internet connection: Sometimes there will be a special wifi network for presenters only, so ask about this. But if you have a hard-wired option, take it. In fact, it’s a good idea to have your presentation (and videos) in a non-internet-dependent form in case you lose all internet connection.
  9. Close all applications on your laptop during your presentation to prevent them from slowing it down. Also, make sure that you have turned off all notifications so that they don’t pop up during your presentation.
  10. If the room and audience is large, ask for a microphone. Wireless clip-on is best. If going with clip-on, avoid wearing a long top/shirt (or dress) without a belt to clip the receiver onto.
  11. If you are at a conference, try to get to your presentation room at least 15 minutes before your presentation. Sit at the back of the room, and as soon as the previous presenter has wrapped up, start setting up for your presentation. You might have to be assertive: that’s okay.
  12. When people start to arrive to your session, be friendly and say hello (it will relax you). Ask them how they are enjoying the conference, etc.
  13. Make sure you have lots of water nearby: you will get very thirsty!
  14. Just before your presentation, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself why you are there: You have something to offer and the audience appreciates you being there to share your expertise.
  15. Apply to present again and again. The more you do it, the less nervous you will be.

Many thanks to organizers of conferences such as GAFESummit, OMLTA, BringItTogether, ConnectISTE, and the AIM Summer Institute for giving reluctant/new presenters like myself the opportunity to step outside their comfort zone to hone their presentation skills. I am truly grateful and one of these days I hope to be able to present with full confidence!

Do you have a tip for presenters? How do you stay calm before a presentation? Please add your tips in a comment below!