Welcome to university: where the young adolescent runs wild, where the parties are aplenty and where presentations have to be made as part of your assessments.
If you make it through a law degree without having to make a give a presentation, do let us know, as you’re probably the only law student in the country to have blagged such an arrangement. For the rest of you (yes, that include you), making a presenting is likely to be part of at least one of your modules.
Whatever the topic of the presentation – sources of constitutional law, the various types of trespass or the EU institutions – there are certain ways to make sure that you make a thorough plan and effectively deliver your presentation.
Planning a presentation
There’s loads to consider when planning a presentation, most of which you will do subconsciously. You’ll know why you’re making the presentation (to get a 70+ mark and make the module exam that tiny bit more straightforward) and who your audience will be (your lecturer and fellow students).
Be creative yet informative
What you should consider, however, is any new information you can include that will wow your lecturer and get other students scribbling away in their notepads. It’s also important that you present your information in an interesting format. A plain PowerPoint presentation with a white background with black text is unlikely to stimulate even the most boring imagination, but making a Prezi with a healthy mix of bullet points, graphics and a helpful handout is more likely to result in an engaged audience.
You’ll also have a good idea of the amount of time you’ll be allowed and the level of insight required. You don’t want to regurgitate an entire textbook, but you don’t want to provide basic knowledge. Ideally, you’ll present points that introduce a debate and can be explore further by your audience if needs be. For instance, if you were presenting on a topic of sources of constitutional law, you could touch upon the debate surrounding the ‘British Bill of Rights’, highlight some of the main points and indicate where this debate is heading in the future.
Can you back that up?
Your main points should also be linked, and backed up with evidence or theories. There should be an introduction to the topic that should also explain what you expect the audience to take from the presentation, along with a conclusion, which should summarise what you have explored in the presentation.
At the end of your planning session, you should make sure that the presentation meets the objective, is structured logically, has relevant and targeted material and is the right length.
Now all you have to do is deliver the presentation!
Delivering a presentation
Okay, deep breaths.
It goes without saying that you should practice your presentation before the big day. You need to make sure you have your timing down and that you don’t need read from your script too much – you need to keep your audience engaged. Staring at your notes and mumbling isn’t the best recipe for this.
Engaging your audience
Making eye contact, maintaining an upright posture and speaking clearly is also a must. Obviously, you’re likely to be slightly nervous when presenting, but this is normal for everyone. You don’t want to talk at 200mph. Take a few deep breaths and make sure you have water at the ready, just in case your throat dries up.
Other ways to engage the audience is to use hand gestures and ask rhetorical questions. Only use humour when you know it’s going to go down a treat. If in doubt, don’t.
Presentations are inevitable at university, but you should put as much effort into them as you do your essays!