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Show Up Confident For Your Next School Presentation


a girl confidently gives a school presentation

School presentations can be worth a significant part of your grade. Unfortunately, they can also be nerve-wracking and challenging. The key to acing your next presentation is to come across as a confident speaker with a unique approach and striking visual aids. Get an A on your next presentation by following these tips. 


Present with Personality

Remember, your teacher and classmates have had to watch many presentations by the time you get up to present. To keep them engaged, get creative with your approach. Prepare visual aids, or take a new perspective on an old subject. Share relevant personal anecdotes to build trust and credibility with your audience, and create variety in your persuasive approach. 


Keep Your Visual Aids Simple

Creativity is great, but your visual aids should not be a distraction. Stay away from flashy graphics and animation. Choose visually striking images that capture your audience’s attention, instead. 


It’s okay to have some text in your visual aid, but don’t overcrowd slides with text or – even worse – write out everything you’ll say. Instead, use short bullet points to highlight your key points or stay away from text altogether and graphs or charts to support your point. 


Practice in Front of an Audience

Public speaking can be nerve-wracking for many students. Practice your presentation in front of a supportive audience of friends and family to help calm your nerves. If even this is too scary, practice in front of your mirror, first. Then introduce an audience when you’re feeling more comfortable and confident.


Embrace the Silence

Many students believe their job is to fill the silence. Terrified of any pause, they use filler words like ‘um’ and ‘uh.’ This breaks up the presentation and doesn’t allow your audience a moment to digest key points. If you’ve ever watched an expert speaker give a speech, you’ll notice there are moments of silence where they take a sip from their water bottle or switch to the next slide. 


Identify places in your speech where your audience may need a moment to take in an important point and pause for two to three seconds before moving on. 


Show Confidence Through Body Language

Body language can help you earn top marks on your next school presentation. Nonverbal communication includes natural hand gestures and making eye contact with your audience.


To appear confident, stand up straight and tall with your shoulders thrown back and your feet flat on the floor and directly under the widest part of your hip bones. Avoid pacing, but you also don’t want to look like you’re hiding behind the podium. It’s okay to walk to the other side of the screen to point to something on your slides. 


In the video below, you can see how Sarah Kay's hand gestures add to her spoken word poetry. She's just as fun to watch as she is to listen to.



Perform Your School Presentation, Don’t Just Read It

Reading from slides or notes can prevent you from connecting with your audience. Your eyes are on the paper, not on them. And your hands may be full so you can’t gesture confidently. 


If you don’t feel comfortable using just your visual aids, try bullet points on a small set of note cards. That way you can still speak naturally, but have a guide in case you lose your place. It’s much easier to keep your audience engaged when you’re using your own words. 


At LeadYouth, we believe learning how to be a great public speaker has implications that go beyond getting a good grade. It helps students excel in admissions interviews, job searches, and future careers. We’ve mentored more than 400 children to help them become confident leaders and communicators for life. Our members have earned seats in student government, joined award-winning debate teams, and matriculated into competitive universities. Learn more about LeadYouth membership here. 


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