Many people dread public speaking — even if they’ve spoken a language their whole life — so it’s only natural for international students to worry about presenting in front of their peers. No matter which course you choose, you’ll probably have to do at least one class presentation during your time in Australia — after all, they do provide good practice for presenting your ideas and projects in the workplace. We offer some tips to help you prepare.
Understand your topic
The more you know about the topic you’re presenting on, the easier it will be to talk about it. If you’re confident and know enough about your topic to speak from memory, your presentation will appear more natural and you’re less likely to become flustered. You’ll also be in a better position to answer questions from your teacher or classmates.
Avoid relying on notes
As above, if you know your topic well, you won’t need to rely on your notes — but even if you’ve researched your topic extensively, it’s easy to fall into the trap of staring at a piece of paper, especially if you’re nervous. A good tip is to write down key points only, rather than full sentences. This will prompt you to make eye contact with your audience, while still providing a guide to keep your presentation on track.
Practise your presentation at home
Like everything, practice makes perfect when it comes to presentations. The more you go through your presentation at home, the more confidence you’ll have when you present to your class. Practise saying your speech in front of friends and, most importantly, time yourself to ensure that your presentation meets the minimum or maximum time limit. You don’t want to be cut off before you reach the important points or find yourself rushing to finish your presentation in the final minutes.
Take advantage of visual aids
For most presentations, you will be given the opportunity to use multimedia. In some instances, it may be a requirement. For Australian students, this typically means a PowerPoint presentation. While slideshows often get a bad reputation, they can be a great tool when used effectively. Try to avoid listing your whole speech on your slideshow — use it to complement rather than replicate what you’re saying instead. You may decide to include key points from your speech (in a bullet list), images, quotes, graphs or statistics. Videos are another great option as they give you a break from speaking — just be sure to check that videos are working beforehand and check if they are included in your time allowance.