Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.
The Study Hub Blog is the home for study skills resources and support with student life for all taught students at the University of Edinburgh, from first year Undergraduates to taught Postgraduates.
Tips for confidence in presentations 

Tips for confidence in presentations 

A presentation is not just a talk. It is an interactive performance; there is a real audience, looking at and listening to you, and expecting that you will interact with them. For many, this is the scariest aspect of presenting. The tips below aim to help boost your confidence.     

Before the presentation:   

  1. Prepare well. It can be tempting to think that winging it on the day will be less stressful. Do not. The scariest part about preparing a presentation is starting. You will feel better once that is done.   
  2. Learn and understand your topic, your aim (what do you want your audience to learn about the topic?), and your structure (how will you guide your audience to your aim?). Then, memorising what you want to say will follow naturally.  
  3. Rehearse. As you do, spot points for improvement. Include realistic pauses, both for you and your audience to take in any audio/visual aids you will use (e.g. graphs, a new slide). This way, you can time yourself more accurately and feel in control of the time you have.  
  4. Troubleshoot in advance. Identify any additional comments on your key points, which you could make if you end up having more time than you predicted. Similarly, decide what points you could safely omit if you find yourself running out of time.     
  5. Make prompt cards, like short lists, mind maps or pictures, to joy your memory during the presentation.   
  6. Familiarise yourself with either the classroom or the virtual set-up you will be using (e.g. Collaborate). Know in advance who to contact for technical support should you need it. If you get stressed, it might be a good idea to learn some breathing and stress-management techniques.    

During the presentation:   

  1. Speak slowly and clearly.  
  2. Be mindful of your body language. Try not to cross your arms, for example, as that could make you seem defensive. Instead, try standing in a neutral position with your shoulders down, arms relaxed and looking forward. Even if you are presenting digitally, your posture will affect your voice.  
  3. Make eye-contact with your audience if your presentation is in-person.   
  4. If you get lost, do not panic. Take a moment to breathe. Then, glance at your prompt cards to jog your memory and continue. No-one will notice, and, even if they do, they are unlikely to remember!    
  5. Do not be afraid to seem in control. Greet your audience before you start. Signpost your presentation’s structure (‘we will begin by…’, ‘next we will look at…’, etc.). Signal that your presentation is over (use a good final one-liner to offer food for thought in your conclusion, thank your audience).    

Most importantly, think positive, even if you do not entirely believe it. Just keep thinking “It will be alright. I will do well”.     

Have a look at the Study Hub Presentations and posters page for tips on structuring presentations.    

If you find that anxiety affects you, Student Counselling have a number of Self-help resources that may help.



Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.