5 Tips for Excelling in Academic Presentations


5 tips for excelling in academic presentations


You finally made it! Years of study, indecision about what career to pursue, pressure from your parents to decide your future asap.


Yes, all that’s finally behind you. You’re in college at last!

And here you’re meeting people, making friends, going to parties – a lot of parties – and having as much fun as you can cram into a day….


But what about college as a place to learn and evolve and prepare yourself to be a productive member of society?  Ugh, yeah. That place.


Well, if your goal is to study and do well in school, one of the most important things you’ll have to do is make presentations. A well-presented paper will get you the grade. And you can’t make it through college without those grades.


That’s why we decided to write this article, to share the important presentation tips we use at SOAP, so that your student work can be as great as our business clients’ work.


If you want to sail through the decisive moments of your academic life, listen up:


Your Goal

Your goal can’t just be to get a 20 out of 20 when you’re rated! What about the message you want to give the class and the teacher? So now: the goal of a presentation has to be clear to you and to your audience.


Ask yourself:
– “Why am I talking about this?”


– “Who is my audience?”


– “What is the message I want to convey?”


– “What do I want the audience to think, feel or do when I’m done?”


These questions are as valid for a presentation about an ad campaign as they are for a  presentation for a psychology theory as they are for a presentation about the importance of certain muscles in phys ed. Bottom-line, these four questions apply to whatever type of presentation you decide to tackle.


 Think Beyond the Presentation

I’m sure you’ve heard this: “I’m sorry, Professor, but the computer isn’t reading the flash drive, and I can’t open my presentation!”


To avoid snafus like this, check everything in advance, to be sure that everything you plan to use is working right:


– Test all the equipment (computer, audio, video, lights, etc.);


– Have a backup of the entire presentation (a second flash drive or a CD, for example);


– Make sure your slides can be read from a distance.


By running through this checklist you’ll be more confident when the time comes, because you know you won’t do anything too embarrassing when you get up there.



You know the presenter who starts in talking like there’s no tomorrow? Right. The one who explains the detail of the detail of the detail, while the audience is asking, “what is he talking about?”


Right. You do not want to be this type of presenter.


In fact, time must be carefully managed for a presentation, otherwise you’ll end up losing your audience in a matter of seconds.
But how can you avoid that?

Rehearse as much as possible. When should you stop? When you feel you can deliver the presentation in a natural way within the allotted time frame, and with little or no support.


Some other tips:


– Always use less time than what you’ve been given. Use the extra time to introduce yourself and the theme of your presentation and for a Q&A when you’re done.


– Spend the most time on what’s really important, your main message. Remember, you already defined the goal of your presentation. So during the presentation you should be focused on delivering the arguments that will lead the audience to your objective.


Your Audience

Who’s the teacher you’re going to have to impress? Is he/she a friendly teacher? Or one that fails students when they’re just half-a-point short? And who are your classmates? What are their interests?

One thing that always works is to try to learn as much as you can about the people who are going to be listening to you and to try to incorporate things that relate to them in your presentation. How? Like this:

– Observe the behavior of your upcoming audience during other classes.


– Use an ice breaker during the presentation that somehow relates to the students and teacher, something they value, something they talk about….


– Look for profiles of the audience members on social network sites and use the info you find there. For example, if you know that your teacher is the mother of two girls, stick something in the presentation that relates to that. Or if the teacher has worked for a particular company, try using a case study related to that company for one of your supporting arguments. If you do things like this, the audience will value your work more.


Your Profile as a Presenter

Finally, think of yourself as a Presenter! Capital P!


Write an honest review of your profile as a person and as a presenter and use it to prepare your presentation. Use your sense of humor if you’re naturally funny; use your passion for the subject if it’s something you really love; interact with your classmates during the presentation if you have a good and open relationship with most of them… But be yourself!


Often, what will distinguish your presentation from others aren’t those cute slides. What distinguishes you will be . . . YOU! The slides are just a support for the presentation content, but this same content should be in you, should be a part of you, so that you can be the best possible presenter. So, for example, if you’re not into antiquity, do not go delving into artifacts you know nothing about and care even less about to flesh out your presentation.


But know this, regardless of your area of study, it is totally possible to innovate, to stand out and to deliver memorable academic presentations. Just follow the SOAP steps and you’ll be prepared to meet any academic presentation challenge.