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Blended learning

Tips and advice for students for successful studying both online and face to face

Introduction

Presentations are a common way to share your ideas with your peers and tutors.
Learning how to give clear, concise, and engaging talks is not only a key academic skill, it’s also an essential employability and life skill. Presenting helps build your self-confidence and communication skills; and develops your identity by letting your voice be heard.

Expect to deliver and participate in presentations ‘in-person’ and online this year. The core principles of planning, preparing, and presenting are still the same for both modes of delivery but there are also some extra steps you’ll have to take when giving an online presentation. Download and take a look at Study Advice’s comprehensive Libguide on ‘Giving Presentations’. Alongside this Libguide, note the below points to help you prepare and get the most out of your online presentations, which has been compiled with the help of our Open Online Course team.

Plan

Before you begin compiling any slides, it’s important that you plan your presentation, just like you would your essay. It needs an introduction (telling the audience what you will be covering), a clearly structured ‘middle’ and a summary slide at the end.

  • Design your presentation so it can be viewed on any screen size, from a mobile device to a TV monitor.
  • Insert a summary slide recapping on your key points.
  • To keep your audience engaged, consider adding interactive elements to your presentations, such as a quick poll, whiteboard session or a question.

Prepare

You will need to take extra steps to prepare for the online environment, ensuring that it will work as you hoped on the platform you’re being asked to use. So do make sure you plan in time for the following checks:

  • Is your presentation accessible to all? Is there anything you could improve on? Are you a providing handout? What format will this be in?
  • Familiarise yourself with the presentation program and the digital platform you’ll be using and make use of the functions that are available. Using Powerpoint in Teams works well, as it allows links to be clinked which makes presenting easier.
  • If you decide to use any interactive elements, test these out to see how they work and look.
  • Test any equipment you’ll be using, such as microphone, headphones, and computer device.

Practise

As you would with a face to face presentation, do make sure you practise your online presentation, ideally using the tools that will be used in the online environment.

  • When you practise your online presentation, record it with a screen recorder.
  • In an online presentation, your voice will carry more weight to compensate for the lack of physical presence. Practise your delivery - speak clearly and naturally, at a normal volume and steady pace.
  • The more you practise, the more familiar it will all feel when you give the presentation.

Present

When presenting online there are extra considerations, as you’re unable to interact with your audience in the same way. You voice will carry more weight than it would in a face to face presentation, so speak clearly and slowly and do remember to consider the following:

  • Manage everyone’s expectations at the beginning of your presentation. Give clear instructions. For example, explain the chat function, state when you’ll be taking questions and prepare participants for any interactive activity.
  • Make sure everyone can hear you. If you’re presenting online, you can ask participants to confirm by giving a thumbs up in the chat function.
  • The most effective way to engage with your audience is to have visibility, and the simplest way to do is to use your camera. If you are camera shy, build your confidence up step by step. Have your camera switched on at certain points, for example, at the introduction and Q&A portions of your presentation.
  • Give your participants the choice to leave their camera on or off. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to appearing on screen and talking online.
  • Give people time to respond to any questions you give online, as there may be a lag in internet connection.
  • Remember to keep your head up so your audience can hear you, and smile. This applies to an in-person and online presentation. If you look and sound confident, your audience will believe that you are confident.
  • You can mute participants’ microphones before you present, to avoid any feedback or interruptions.
  • Describe what you’re doing and where you’re going next. For example, when you take a look at the chat function, let your participants know so they’re not left wondering why everything has gone silent.

Participating

You can help fellow students by being a ‘model’ participant, and following these tips:

  • Take note of any instructions the presenter gives and aim to follow them.
  • Mute your microphone when you enter the presentation.
  • The etiquette is the same for an in-person presentation as it is online. Wait for the presentation to finish before asking questions.
  • Draft your questions on a notepad before posting in the chat. Keep your questions concise and to the point.
  • If someone has asked a similar question to you in the chat, ‘like’ it, rather than repeat it. The presenter will only have a set amount of time to answer questions and will likely answer one that’s more popular.
  • If you’re not camera shy, keep your camera on. It will be a make a big difference to the presenter.