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Thursday, June 05, 2014

A Few Tools to Help You Present Better

Guest post written by Esther Ling
The Pencil Box
"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." - Steve Jobs
So you’ve done your research required for that assignment. Done the homework for the presentation. Got your results from the lab. You give yourself a pat on the back, thinking, ‘I’ve put in a lot of effort, the lecturer should now appreciate my hard work.’

Not quite.

You’ve still got to complete the assignment, do the presentation, and write the lab report. Quite often we think effort translates easily to well-deserved appreciation and good grades; after all, the teacher should have noticed right? But we forget we sit in a sea of scores of students doing the same thing as we do.

How about, instead of waiting to be noticed, get noticed. Imagine this scenario: You’ve been waiting to give your presentation in class for two hours. Everyone else in the class has been dull and droning, leaving the assessors tired and fidgety. Then it’s your turn. What can you do to enliven up the situation and draw attention to your work? It boils down, quite a lot, to how well you have prepared your content, and how you present it.

Quite often we swot over getting the information we need, but pay little attention to how we present it. You could have the best data, research, results, but if you don’t present your findings well, well then, what is the point?

Think about how you can better present your work.

If it’s the assignment, are your sentences too long? Are your paragraphs long-winded? Have you proof-read the content? Is the case structured in a convincing, well-thought out manner? Is it easy for the reader to understand?

If it’s the lab report, have you used the right tone for sentences? Do your tables and figures summarize your paragraphed content concisely, or are they just stand-alone tables and figures? Are the results convincing?

If it’s the presentation, is it just another boring power-point presentation where you talk with monotonous tones? Or is it one that you have carefully crafted to intrigue the audience about your work?

Perhaps if we spent a little more time on how we present, rather than just the 'what', we would get more attention and deliver more meaning.

In addition to the preparatory thought you put into designing how you present, here are some tools you may consider:


We can certainly come up with better ways to craft our powerpoint slides. How many times have we put people to sleep with our dull slides? Alexei Kapterev actually came up with a humorous slide titled 'Death by PowerPoint.'

Death by PowerPoint from Alexei Kapterev

LifeHacker has brilliant tips in this article.


If you find PowerPoint boring or would like a different way to present your work, you could try this presentation tool. It uses the concept of a story board that you zoom in and out to tell ‘your story,’ instead of the usual slide format. Its main advantage is its ability to show the link of ideas. According to Prezi, “Teachers have the task of conveying complex ideas in a short amount of time, struggling to fit enough detail into each slide. Often, teachers are forced to fragment data, charts, and diagrams by breaking them up over several slides, where the connection between them is lost.”

A well designed Prezi can capture the audience’s attention instantly. You can get a student license for free by using your student webmail to apply for one.


If you must use pictures and diagrams, make sure they get the point across.
Here's some examples of great graphics: Six Revisions

If we put a little more thought into how we present our work to others, perhaps there would be better sharing of ideas and findings in university.

Esther Ling
Esther Ling is a final year electrical power engineering student at Curtin Sarawak. When not immersed in solving equations and completing lab reports, she writes for The Pencil Box, a student initiative she founded in 2013. The Pencil Box helps students accelerate their learning curve at university, by providing articles on self-development, leadership and creative learning. The Pencil Box website: www.jclathepencilbox.org
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  1. Good points, though actual practice would be the most important factor to a successful presentation. No one wants to hear from someone who's unsure of what he/she's suppose to be presenting. #practice makes perfect :)

  2. 10q 4 the help tools i hope that i can do a better presentation in my class next time...................


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