15-minute coaching session on presentation skills
University studies require a surprising amount of public speaking and actually performing. Public speaking includes discussions in which you must express your views. As professional confidence develops, these situations become easier.
In addition, presentation is a skill that can be practised! During your studies, it is good to focus on your own presentation skills and practise them. The themes of the 15-minute coaching session focus on presentation in digital environments. The same tips can be used for live presentations. In this section, you will take a little plunge into developing and honing these important skills.
As we developed this tool, we collected students’ comments on presentation. You can view them in the document below. When you click on the title, the file opens in a new tab. You can return to this page by closing the opened page.
How do these experiences seem to you? Do you feel the same way? What insights did you gain while reading?
Online presentation skills
In the video, we will learn more about the issues related to online presentations, such as capabilities, preparation, training and interaction. During the video, you can think about your own attitude towards presentation. Do you give it the same weight as the content? How do you prepare for presentations? Can you use feedback in planning or training? What about after the presentation situation? (The video has English subtitles.)
In these exercises, you will be able to practise your presentation skills. You need a device to video yourself. You can use your mobile phone, for example. Do the tasks independently or with a friend so that you can give feedback to each other.
You can choose a task that suits your needs from the options below. You may also want to shoot several consecutive videos, between which you will think about what you would change in the previous version. Keep practising – it’s worth it!
Short exercise, improvised content
This exercise is suitable for a quick check of what your own presentation looks like and sounds like. In addition, this exercise allows you to test how well you can answer a question, and how successful you are in justifying your opinion. Such situations often occur relatively spontaneously.
Example questions: What do you never get tired of doing? What should Parliament do about the loneliness Finns experience? What job would you choose if money wasn’t the deciding factor? Are you determined or hesitant? What is important in life (other than health and loved ones)? What is the most important characteristic of a person?
For example, choose from the questions above or come up with a short answer to a question related to your field. Shoot a 1–2 minute video of your answer. Watch your presentation and observe how you succeeded. You can observe the way and style of speaking, the fluency of the language and expressions you use, your gestures and facial expressions, or even your eye contact. Finally, think about what you need to pay more attention to in the future.
Short exercise, a planned presentation
Plan a speech of a few minutes about a topic of your choosing. The speech can be about expressing your opinion on a topic, expressing your own point of view to a group, giving an answer to something or justifying your own opinion.
Choose a goal from the following: Informing, teaching or training? Motivation, inspiration, stimulation? Assertion, selling, persuasion? Reflecting, discussing, negotiating? Amusing, entertaining, making others laugh?
Think of a few arguments that will help you achieve your goal. Shoot the video and watch it, keeping in mind the goal you have chosen. How did you succeed? Would you have persuaded the listener, got them to reflect on the matter, got them inspired, etc.?
Longer exercise, prepared content
This exercise is suitable for practising short presentations and for noticing mannerisms, for example. Mannerisms are repetitive habits, words, or stubborn gestures that we all have. In presentations, it is good to be aware of your own mannerisms and try to reduce the use of disturbing ones. Note that some mannerisms are positive.
Choose a topic that interests you, and that you have good knowledge and experience of. Prepare your speech by making a bulleted list of the main points. Shoot a video of 5 to 10 minutes of yourself talking about the topic. If there is a moment where you freeze or struggle to find words, carry on anyway. This exercise focuses on aspects other than the information content.
Watch the video for the first time, paying particular attention to the following: Posture, gestures, hands, head, gaze and movement. How do you behave? Is there a repetitive gesture? How do you hold your hands? What kind of eye contact do you have with the listener (camera)? Think about whether you could calm down your performance or use your body a little more.
Watch the video for the second time, this time focusing on your speech. Do you use certain words a lot? Do you have a filler word (e.g. like, sort of, anyway, eh, etc.) or a vocal expression that you use often?
Longer exercise, a finished presentation
In this exercise, you can choose according to the purpose, whether you are filming yourself talking online (e.g. a Teams/Zoom situation) or filming yourself talking at a live event. Think about the angle and position yourself according to the situation.
The purpose may be to prepare for a thesis seminar, present your own work to a group, or present the plans of a work group. In these situations, you will normally have a slideshow to support your presentation, so using it in this context is a good idea.
Many things are involved in preparation, and they can be used to calm your nerves, for example. Think in advance about the things you can do to relax, and what kind of preparation will help you give your presentation successfully. Use them in this task.
Shoot the video and then take a break. You can have coffee, go for a walk or even browse the news of the day for a moment. Then go back to the topic and the video. Look at the video through the eyes of the viewer. Here are some questions to help you watch the video:
Do you think you were yourself? What gave it away? What did your presentation look like? Did you speak clearly? How did you show your enthusiasm? How did you get your message across to the listener? What was the rhythm of the presentation? Did you pause at appropriate points during your speech? At which points did you pause, or at which points would pausing have been useful? Was the framework and structure appropriate to the topic? What would you change about the structure? Did you notice anything related to the materials that would be worth paying attention to in future? What do you think could be developed in this particular presentation? What did you do particularly well?
You can reflect on your presentation with questions of your choosing. When you watch the video, it may help to take notes. Any observations you make will serve as a basis for improving and developing your own presentation skills. It is often a good idea to plan activation questions for the audience in advance. It is worth adding them to the presentation you give to an audience.
A few thoughts on presentation
There is a lot to consider when it comes to presentations. It can be a short moment for which a lot of work has been done. It is good to learn how to act both systematically and personally. Systematic action is related to the whole. Groundwork, planning, preparation, getting yourself ready, the routines at zero hour: relaxation and/or building up energy, self-confidence, believing in yourself, feedback and self-assessment. It is good to create certain ways of doing things that are natural for you.
Personality and giving presentations while being yourself are often things people will remember. The feeling you evoke in your listeners will also stay in their minds. We all make mistakes when we perform. Fearing them can cause us to avoid situations where we are in the spotlight. Here, a back-up plan for messing up might help. Think in advance about the methods you can use if you make a mistake. Thinking out loud or saying that you have made a mistake is perfectly ok and human.
Hopefully you’ve been given something to think about and some tips for developing your skills. It is good to do the groundwork, and you can even observe skilled performers. Honed performances can work as examples, and you can pick up ways that suit your own performance. In addition, it is good to be bold and plunge into situations where you can be in the spotlight. You’ll learn from experience. They say you learn by doing, and that’s true. It is also said that you learn better when you reflect on your experiences. Self-evaluation and reflection play an important role.
Let’s meet in the spotlight!