7 Tips to Deliver a Successful Presentation

Presentations can be nerve-racking, but with the right tools, they can be mastered

Presentations can be nerve-racking, but with the right tools, they can be mastered.

Here are a few tips for pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists:

1. Practice

Presenting to yourself ahead of time will build your confidence, help you become more familiar with the material, and calm your nerves. When you hear yourself speaking out loud, you can vary your tone and speed to get through the slide deck in the allocated time while emphasizing specific words you want to get across to the audience.

Once you’ve practiced on your own a few times, present it to a peer for feedback.

2. Check Content and Format

First, have a title slide with your name, in case your audience didn’t catch it when you introduced yourself.

Second, have clear objectives with your audience in mind. Ask yourself, “What are the main things I want them to learn from this?” Those focused objective points should act as checkpoints in relating information while making the presentation clear and simple.

Third, your slides should be organized with bullet points, easy to read with a minimum size 24 font, straight to the point, and logically presented. Try to avoid overcrowding, small font, and typos because they can distract your audience.

Fourth, incorporate images, tables, or diagrams as appropriate to engage your audience. Constant text on a screen can become repetitive and boring.

3. Use Appropriate Presenting Style

Know what you’re talking about

Choose a topic you’re interested in so you appear enthusiastic and well informed, but don’t read each slide word for word. Good presenters can glance at a point made on a slide and expand from there while still reiterating the information presented. This will demonstrate you’re comfortable and knowledgeable about the subject.

Connect with the audience through sound

Your audience members may not always look at you, but they’re still listening. Enunciating words appropriately and varying your speed and volume can help refocus them while emphasizing certain points. Whenever you’re collecting your thoughts, try to substitute an “um” with a brief pause.

Stand with confidence

Your posture and demeanor should be professional and exude confidence. Try to keep your shoulders up and relaxed with a straight back. Avoid leaning on walls or resting elbows on a podium, as this can convey disinterest.

Make eye contact

This is an important way to connect with audience members, gain feedback on whether they’re interested or bored, and re-engage them as best as you can.

4. Ask Questions

Ask questions throughout the presentation, or at least at the end of it. This is a nice addition to promote audience engagement and re-enforce your objectives or important information.

Sometimes, you may forget that when you’re giving a presentation, you’re still in a conversation that’s simply using different forms of communication. In a typical conversation, one individual speaks while another listens. With that said, the audience gives you plenty of time to speak, so you must give them a turn.

Be open to hearing their thoughts, especially in a nonaggressive way. Put yourself in their shoes and answer their questions in a way you’d want a presenter to answer yours. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest about it.

5. Provide References

At the end of your slide deck, make sure to include sources used and cite them properly with AMA, MLA, or any appropriate citation format. This helps demonstrate professionalism and prevent plagiarism.

The font for references may be smaller than the rest of your slides, and subscripts can be used throughout to indicate a specific reference if needed. Make sure to also cite images and tables appropriately.

6. Be Prepared

Night before

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when presenting because you never know what may happen. Put your presentation on a USB and check to make sure the file is there. You may also want to e-mail the presentation to yourself as backup.

Day of

First impressions matter and can make a big impact, so plan to arrive early, smile, introduce yourself, and dress professionally.

7. Calm Your Nerves

Here are some quick pointers to try:

  • The night before or early before presenting, watch a funny video clip or read an inspirational quote to help dissipate your nerves.
  • Give yourself a quick motivational pep talk in the mirror, like, “I can do this and will do this.”
  • Listen to an upbeat song or your favorite one.

Overall, you want to put yourself into a good mood and positive attitude where you aren’t thinking about how nervous you are.