Four tips to help improve your presentation skills

Daisy Raudales


Preparing for any presentation can be nerve-racking. Whether you’re making a group presentation in class or presenting your own work, public speaking can cause a lot of nervousness and anxiety. So how can you get ready and maybe even enjoy the experience?

Kevin Hart presentation memeThree Minute Thesis (3MT®) participants will tell you that preparation is key and they are experts at it. 3MT® is a university-wide competition where master’s and PhD students present their research in an engaging and compelling way, using only one static slide, in three minutes or less.

The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers various training workshops so that 3MT® participants can go into the competition confident and armed with new skills. Materials Science PhD student and 2019 3MT® participant Holly Fruehwald took advantage of these sessions and shares four effective tips she learned from 3MT® coaching.


1. Create a compelling story

“The first session I took, Selling My Research, taught me how to create a good story when giving a presentation,” Holly says. “It was helpful to learn how to break up my ideas and thesis into elements of a story: villain, hero, conflict and resolution. I was able to go home after the session and put together a script that made me feel more confident in my presentation.”


2. Use interesting visuals 

“The second coaching session, Visual Components, taught me how to appropriately lay out my slide in a way that allows the audience to follow along with my talk in a productive way. It was important to learn how to design a slide that worked my talk; rather than designing a talk that worked around a slide,” Holly explains. Check out these tips for creating a slide deck that supports your points, rather than distracting your audience.


3. Boost your confidence

“Tame Your Inner Critic was a session that taught me how important it is to make sure that your mind and body are relaxed before presenting. It is always important to remember that if you forget some of your talk, or if you get stage fright, you are an expert in your topic! Just keep talking, even if it’s not your exact script.”

Salt sprinkling presentation meme


4. Enhance your body language 

“The main thing that I learned from the session 9¾ Tips to Add Pizzazz to Your 3MT® Presentation was to make sure my body language aided in telling my story. I learned that even little things such as the way you hold your hands or position your feet can influence your story. Another important thing I learned was to visualize myself on a stage in front of a camera. This really helped to reduce some of my anxiety.”

By using these four tips, you will be sure to nail your future university presentation with confidence just like Holly did! So how did all the preparation come together at 3MT®? Stay tuned for our next post!

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