Presentation Skills for College Students: The Beginners Guide

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: nobody likes public speaking. In fact, it’s the thing that people are afraid of more than anything – including death.

But despite that, it’s also a vital skill that every college student should make a point of learning. Presentation and communication skills are useful in all walks of life, but it’s particularly noticeable once you enter the workforce and need to deliver presentations to clients and colleagues.

Believe it or not, college is the best place to learn and to perfect these skills. After all, the stakes are a lot lower and you’re usually presenting to your peers in an environment of constructive criticism, which allows you to learn in a controlled environment so that you’re ready for the future.

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner because everyone has to start somewhere. Instead, teach yourself these key skills to get started.

1. Organize your thoughts

Thought-leader Guy Kawasaki, who’s no stranger to delivering high-profile keynotes and presentations, recommends using the 10-20-30 rule. That means that slideshows should contain no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes and use a font size of no less than 30pt. Organize your thoughts so that they follow a logical order and then use the 10-20-30 rule to communicate them.

2. Manage your time

When you’re delivering a presentation, you only have a certain amount of time to get your point across. In most situations, you’ll be expected to fit within a pre-defined timeframe, so you’ll need to practice the presentation beforehand to get a feel for how long it takes. It’s also a good idea to save some time at the end to answer any questions. There’s nothing worse than giving a presentation and having to rush through the end because you’re running out of time.

3. Believe in yourself

People can tell if you lack self-confidence, and it comes across in the way that you hold yourself and deliver your message. If you’re not self-confident, it’ll be much more difficult to bring people around to your point of view, so practice your delivery beforehand and do as much research as you can so you know your subject in and out. If you have a pair of lucky pants, wear them – do everything you can to feel as comfortable and empowered as possible when you’re delivering your presentation.

4. Learn to manage stress

There’s no question that public speaking is stressful. The key is to know that the stress is inevitable and to do what you can to reduce its impact. It’s difficult to fully prepare yourself for a stressful situation, but you can practice mindfulness techniques and learn to control your breathing if you’re worried about dealing with stress and potential panic attacks.

5. Tell a story

Stories bring people together. I saw a presentation once where the speaker told a story at the beginning and then continued with the rest of his talk for the remaining half hour. At the end, he asked questions like “what was the girl called?” and “what color dress was she wearing?” and everyone in the room could remember. It was a great example of how storytelling can help people to remember details that they’d forget if it was presented as a static piece of information.

6. Use humor

Humor is a great way to attract your audience’s attention, and it helps you to turn a boring presentation into more of a show. You don’t have to be a comedian to make this work, either. Even just a little light humor can make people chuckle, and as soon as they chuckle they’re engaging with your presentation instead of simply listening.

7. Focus on delivery

Your delivery is the way in which you communicate your message. The key here is to know your style, as some people are more reserved than others. This covers everything from your body language to how quickly you talk, and there’s too much to cover in a single post. That said, much of it comes back to self-confidence, and your delivery will be the biggest victim when your self-confidence starts to slip.


As with most things, practice makes perfect. If you want to become a better public speaker then the best thing to do is to practice, practice, practice. College presents the perfect opportunity for you to do that before you head out into the big wide world. Good luck.


Justin is a teacher from Leicester, EnglandUK. When not teaching his little students and rooting for Leicester FC, he loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as an editor at the writing service Essayontime. Follow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.



One Comment on “Presentation Skills for College Students: The Beginners Guide

  1. Hi Justin,
    I’m so excited about the results of your advise. I presented a project for a NASA competition with your advise in mind, and the presentation practice was gradually making a difference in the way I delivery the design concept. I felt very confident during the final presentation. I wanted to share my experience mostly to thank you for your advise and let other listeners that the advise works.
    My name is Ben, I’m 13 YO

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