It’s not news that many students would rather undergo a root canal than deliver a class presentation in front of their peers. But since 70 percent of employed American professionals agree that presentation skills are critical to their success on the job, students don’t have much option other than to face their fears and impress their teachers with stellar visual presentations.
If the mere thought of designing and delivering a class presentation that engages the class and impresses the teacher leaves you in a cold sweat, then the last thing you want to hear are the following four words: Choose your own topic.
So, not only do you have to design a creative and effective slide deck, you now have to come up with a topic, too? Choose the wrong subject matter, and all the rest of your efforts might be in vain. Yikes!
While there are plenty of resources offering creative presentation ideas for college students, high school students and even grammar school students, you don’t have to rely on someone else to choose a winning topic. The following seven tips can help you choose a visual presentation idea that will engage the class and impress teachers:
1. Understand your purpose
Your teacher might have left open your choice of presentation topic, but that doesn’t mean just any old idea will do. What is the objective of the presentation? Is it to persuade your audience members, inform them or entertain them?
The topic of your presentation should support the same goal. For example, while a presentation about the funniest sitcoms of the 1970s might support an entertainment objective, it probably won’t work so well if the purpose is persuasion… unless you want to convince your audience why certain sitcoms are in fact the funniest.
Likewise, if your objective is to educate your audience, then you might want to shy away from a presentation about your personal opinions on a subject… unless you are teaching your audience about you, that is.
2. Present your passion
The best presentations focus on subjects the presenter is not only familiar with, but they are also topics upon which the presenter is passionate— or at the very least those which they have an interest in.
After all, how can you deliver a presentation that engages and interests your audience if the topic doesn’t even interest you? By choosing a topic on which you have at least some upfront knowledge, you can save yourself a lot of extra effort you’d otherwise spend educating yourself.
3. Remain classroom-appropriate
The topic should be appropriate for the setting and the audience. While it’s not any sort of set rule, students might want to avoid overly controversial topics, or those that might be divisive among their peers or offensive to their audience.
Still, some settings— such as certain college classrooms— might be appropriate for greater controversy if presented objectively. Presenters should remain aware of their surroundings and their audience, including their teachers, when seeking an idea for an academic presentation, and they should choose a topic accordingly.
4. Tell a story
People respond to storytelling. It’s just that simple. The communication method is common to every human culture, and thanks to science we now know why. Researchers found that our emotional connection to stories occurs because as we relate to a protagonist, our brains release oxytocin, a chemical that creates feelings of security and calm.
If you can generate empathy within your audience, you’re on the path to a successful presentation. What does all of this mean? When considering visual presentation ideas for students, consider those which allow you to tell a story relatable to your audience.
5. Remember the visual element
You aren’t simply giving a speech to your class. When choosing a presentation topic, don’t forget to consider what visual aids can accompany the information. Are there images you can include? What about infographics, animations or video? The last thing you want is to step in front of your class and teacher to present a stale PowerPoint frankendeck that is full of text and resembles thousands of others created before it.
6. Consider the data
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an infographic must be worth a million numbers. While data is vital to an effective presentation, audiences are less likely to engage with a series of numbers than to a data visualization of that same data.
Data visualizations like Beautiful.ai’s bar graph or pie chart templates provide ways to present data that is both visually appealing and easily digestible to an audience of teachers and students. If you want to take advantage of data visualizations in your presentation, be sure to choose a topic that can be supported by hard data.
7. Identify your tools
While presentation design tools aren’t necessary to seek visual presentation ideas for students, knowing what digital presentation tools you plan to use can be helpful. For example, if you plan on using infographics, you might want to use a free PowerPoint alternative presentation software for students like Beautiful.ai and take advantage of its smart slide templates.
Beautiful.ai users can choose from a host of different infographic types— everything from line charts and scattergraphs to Venn diagrams and flowcharts— and watch as artificial intelligence creates their infographics based on whatever data is entered.