As the school year nears its close, students will be expected to turn in final exams, write final papers, and give final presentations.  While final exams and the preparation process they require have long been familiar to any successful student, final presentations often leave students puzzled as to how best to approach an interactive presentation in front of their entire class.  This article will provide guidelines for students looking to create a sensational final presentation.

The first consideration is whether the presentation is an individual or group assignment.  Either way, it is important to set deadlines well in advance of those provided by your teacher.  For group assignments, early deadlines give each group member a chance to complete his or her portion of the project and have it reviewed by the entire group before each student’s work is joined together into a unified whole.  For individual assignments, early deadlines ensure that you will have plenty of time to revise, format, and rehearse your presentation.  An additional reason to set early deadlines is that if your presentation involves any technical aspects, particularly videos, you can almost always count on technical difficulties and a greater time commitment than you had previously predicted.

Class Presentation

Many students start giving final presentations as early as middle school and will continue through high school, college, graduate school, and even work. Learning good presentation and speaking skills early on can have a lifelong positive impact.

The process of creating a PowerPoint (or similar format) presentation should involve multiple steps.

  • First, you (and your group, if you are working with one) should brainstorm as many ideas as possible.  Write them all down.  Then, eliminate the bad ideas, and pick the best one.
  • Next, create an outline to plan what you want your final presentation to look like.  Just like an essay, a presentation should have an introduction, a body (or multiple bodies), and a conclusion that ties back to the introduction, giving the audience closure. Make sure that your group as a whole decides on a unified formatting.  Nothing is more time-consuming than having to reformat dozens of slides one at a time.  PowerPoint and similar presentation programs have a number of preloaded themes from which you can choose.  Using one of these ready-made themes is a good idea to save time and encourage uniformity; pick a theme that fits the content of your presentation.
  • As you assign responsibilities to each group member, you should also assign deadlines. Save yourself from having to stay up late the night before the presentation to make sure everyone is finished. By setting a deadline a day or two before the teacher’s assigned deadline, you can ensure that everything is done well and save yourself the panic of not having everything together hours before it is due. If doing the presentation individually, set deadlines for yourself to keep you on track to create a stellar presentation.
  • If creating a slideshow, make sure to include plenty of images (a good guideline is 1 to 2 images per slide).  After all, the purpose of a visual aid is to add a visual element to your presentation; a whole slideshow of text is a sure way to bore the audience and reduce your grade.
  • Once the presentation has been fully put together, practice, practice, practice!  Do not count on your ability to go up in front of the class and wing it.  The presentation is important to your grade (and ultimately your GPA), so treat it that way. Rehearse your presentation at least seven times before the in-class presentation.  Do this in front of family or friends to recreate the nerves you will feel in front of the classroom audience.  Solicit feedback from your practice audience and make edits to refine your presentation.  Make sure that your presentation fits comfortably within the assigned time limits: it is painfully obvious when you have to rush a long presentation or try to stretch out a short one.
  • On the day before you are set to present, test your slideshow on a classroom computer (the one that is being used for presentations) to make sure that all your images and videos appear as you intended.

If you spend that final night rehearsing until you’ve got your presentation down cold, you should be ready to wake up the next morning and deliver a presentation worthy of an “A”!

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