1. Organize your story
Remember that your teacher and classmates want you to tell the story of what you have done. Whether it is a report on a book you read, an animal you researched or an experiment in science, organize your story into a logical flow of ideas. If the teacher gave you a list of areas they want you to cover, make sure you have covered all the areas in your presentation. Create an agenda slide that will help your audience know what areas you will be covering (this also helps you organize your information). Plan your slides so you cover one main idea per slide. If one area of your topic has three main ideas, plan to use three slides instead of jamming everything on to one slide.
2. Use a simple slide design
I know that PowerPoint allows you to use thousands of colors, fonts, shapes and animation effects in your presentation and you may think they are “cool” to use. The reality is that all these wild things distract from your message. And your teacher wants you to clearly deliver your message. So use a simple design. Have a solid color as your background and pick one or two fonts that are easy to read (Arial and Calibri are two that are easy to read). If you have a dark color as the background, use white as your text color and if you have a light color as the background, use black as the text color – this make your text easy to read. Keep your text at 24 point or larger so that everyone in the classroom can read it easily.
3. Use lots of pictures
Remember that you are doing a presentation, not reading a report to the class. Your slides shouldn’t be just the text that you are going to say. Use pictures, diagrams, graphs or other visuals to illustrate your ideas. You can have a title for the slide that explains the point you are making and a caption under the visual to explain what the audience is looking at, but try to minimize the text you have on your slides. If you need to list items, you can use a bullet point list on a slide, but try to have the majority of your slides as mainly visuals. It keeps your presentation more interesting.
4. Use cue cards or notes
One fear you may have is that if you don’t have everything you want to say on the slide, how will you remember it? That’s where cue cards or speaking notes come in handy. It is perfectly OK with most teachers if you use 3 x 5 cards or notes written on paper to remind you of what you want to say. Don’t write out everything you are going to say, because reading a script sounds boring. Just write down the important words or phrases that remind you of what you need to say about each slide.
5. Rehearse at home and it will be fun
The only way to get comfortable presenting in front of your class is to rehearse doing it at home. Stand up like you would in class, use your notes as a guide for what you want to say, and use the computer or a printout of your slides to simulate what it will be like in class. If you want to feel what it is like having people watch you present, gather some family members or use some stuffed animals to get comfortable being in front of a group. Presentations can be fun when you have rehearsed and are comfortable with what you are going to say.