Presentation Tips

Presenting in Front of Class: How a Solid Outline and Format Can Overcome Nervousness

Jordan Turner
 | 
May 11, 2021
 | 
8
 min read
Presenting in Front of Class: How a Solid Outline and Format Can Overcome NervousnessPresenting in Front of Class: How a Solid Outline and Format Can Overcome Nervousness

It’s safe to say that paying attention to a poorly executed PowerPoint is likely pretty low on a college student’s to-do list. So it’s no wonder that most twenty-somethings dread their class presentations. And they’re not alone. Nearly 75% of people fear presentations, or have a fear of presenting in class, more than death. Between the nervousness that comes from presenting to your peers and the pressure of your final grade, class presentations can feel a lot more like a chore than a simple homework assignment. And as a result, many students will put it off until the eleventh hour. 

Unfortunately (for college students), it’s not uncommon that you’ll have at least one presentation assignment per course each semester. You do the math. If you’re taking 4 or 5 classes a semester, that could equal up to 10 presentations a year. Regardless of whether you’re a show-up-to-class-early kind of student, or would rather be asleep in the back row, it’s time to dust off your A-worthy public speaking skills. We can help.

All it takes is a solid presentation outline, a killer format, and a beautifully designed deck to help ease some of your nerves. Here’s how to not to be nervous when presenting in front of class.

Know your topic

It’s likely that your topic was assigned to you by your teacher or professor, and you couldn’t care less about it. We’ve all been there. But to really nail your presentation, you need to know your topic and your audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re presenting about why your favorite fast food chain should come to campus, or who built the Sphinx of Egypt— the more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel talking about it. In fact, you should always know more about your topic than what you’re sharing. This ensures that you can answer any questions thrown your way that you might not be prepared for otherwise.

Once you have your assignment, don’t be afraid to get creative. Check out these 50 creative ideas to nail your next college presentation. Have fun with it, your audience (and teacher) will notice!

Structure your story

A solid outline, and firm grasp on how you’d like to structure your talking points, will help you feel much more organized going into presentation day. Structure your presentation like a story, so if you ever start to feel stuck or nervous, you can resort back to your story outline. Choose a beginning, middle, and end— and stick to one key point per slide as you build through the narrative. Our presentation templates help you structure your story in a more thoughtful way so that your presentation flows more naturally. 

Pretend you’re having a conversation with your friends and are telling them about what you had for lunch in the dining hall (even if you’re really talking about the top five most influential Presidents of the United States). Knowing your story, and making it more conversational, can help you overcome any lingering nervousness. This will also help keep your audience more engaged, which will make you feel more at ease.  

Build your confidence 

If your stomach is in knots, you can find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. We’d be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 students have a fear of presenting in class. While we can’t physically calm your nerves, we can help you overcome them mentally. A strong presentation deck is the easiest way to build confidence when public speaking. If you’re proud of what you’re presenting (a killer deck), you’re going to feel much more relaxed at the podium in front of the classroom.

Beautiful.ai makes it easy for students to create something fun, modern, and clean regardless of the topic. And don’t worry: no all-nighters required. With our design AI, we handle the heavy lifting so you can create something beautiful without sacrificing movie night with friends. If you truly don’t know where to begin, we have an inspiration library— stacked with fully customizable slide templates— to kick-start your ideas. Gone are the days of spending all night on a Frankendeck that you’re embarrassed to share with the class. 

Focus on your material, not on your audience

You know how they say to picture your audience in their underwear? We’re telling you to do the opposite here. Focus on your material, instead. If you feel good about the material you’re presenting to the class, you’ll be a lot less concerned about the class itself. While you should always learn to read the room, and engage with your audience, that might make your nerves worse if you’re already feeling anxious. Instead, focus on what you know: your material. 

Include strong visuals so that your audience is more engaged and interested in what you’re sharing on the screen. That way, they’ll feel seen and connected to the content, even if you’re really just staring a hole through the back wall of the classroom. Beautiful.ai offers a free library of hundreds of thousands of high-quality imagery, custom icons, and logos for you to incorporate into your deck.

Practice, and then practice again

Of course, the above is all for naught if you don’t practice. It’s recommended that you practice one hour for every minute of performance. But we’re not like the regular presentation software, we’re the cool presentation software, and we know that no college kid in their right mind is going to spend five hours practicing for a five minute presentation. At the very least, you should run through your presentation 3-5 times from top to bottom. Learn the ins-and-outs of your presentation, and decide what key points you want (or need) to hit in order to crush it. If you’ve practiced, and feel good about your content, don’t be afraid to interact with the audience on game day and incorporate questions to get them involved. 

Pro tip: If you’re presenting remotely, you might even tape note cards to the top of your laptop to reference throughout the presentation. They will help keep you on track, and it will look like you’re staring into your computer camera and making eye contact with the audience on the other end of the video call while you read them. Win-win (you’re welcome). 

Jordan Turner

Jordan Turner

Jordan is a Bay Area writer, social media manager, and successful blogger. Check out TheOceanMinded.com or find her on Instagram @theoceanminded.