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How to Teach Presentation Skills

Most of us have been nervous, scared, or maybe even terrified about giving a presentation. Surveys of our fears continually show that people fear public speaking more than death.

For our students, giving presentations is even more intimidating. They have to stand in front of a group and speak in their second, or even third language.

It’s a daunting task many of our students need help with. Here are 10 steps you can follow to teach your students presentation skills.


1. Have students generate a list of presentation tips

This is better than simply giving students a list of tips because:

  • It makes for an interactive lesson.
  • Students will contribute valuable tips you haven’t thought of.
  • Students will contribute tips specific to their industries and corporate cultures.

Have students come up with tips for these elements of a presentation: preparation, structure, visuals, language, and body language. 


2. Add to your students’ tips

Go over the tips in this document. Add your students’ tips, and email the updated document to everyone in your class.

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3. Assign a relevant presentation topic and give students several days to prepare for it

Assign something similar to what students may have to present about in the future. If you’re stuck, you can assign something like the following:

Give a 15-minute presentation about a current trend in your industry or field. Why is this trend important? How is this trend changing your industry? What should we be doing in response to this trend? 


4. Videotape your students’ presentations

If you can’t videotape your students, you can use Audacity and record the audio. Video is better as it allows students to see their body language.


5. Have students self-evaluate

Share the recordings with your students (Dropbox or Google Drive work well for this). Have students self-evaluate by completing the questionnaire below. If you only recorded the audio in step 4, have students skip the last section on body language.

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6. Meet with students individually and give your feedback

If a student disagrees with your feedback, you can watch the video together and both re-evaluate.


7. Have students give their presentation again in the next class (and videotape it again)

Tell students to use their self-evaluation questionnaire and your feedback to prepare for their second presentation.


8. Have students self-evaluate

Share the new recordings with your students and have students write responses to the questions below.

What did I improve upon in the second presentation?

What could still be improved?


9. Meet with students individually and give your feedback

Share your feedback from the second presentation.


10. Periodically assign additional presentations

To truly improve, student must continue practicing their presentation skills. You can follow the steps above for future presentations.



If students give this an honest effort, they will almost certainly see an improvement in their second presentation. This raises their confidence and sends them on their way to becoming better presenters.

In addition to the steps above, here are some other ideas for teaching  presentation skills:

  • Have students give a presentation with only pictures on their slides (no text). This makes it impossible for students to read to their audience.
  • Have students give a presentation with no visual aids whatsoever (a more difficult version of the first bullet point).
  • Teach this lesson on using signposts in a presentation.
  • Periodically have students give impromptu presentations in class.
  • Have students watch effective presentations and try to emulate the speakers (TED talks, presentations by Steve Jobs, speeches by politicians, etc.).
  • Occasionally combine classes to give students practice speaking in front of larger groups and unfamiliar people.

What about you? Do you have any additional tips on how to teach presentation skills? If so, please leave a comment below.