A: Body language and visuals.
If you have the time, watch this clip. Not just because Amy Cuddy is a terrific speaker and someone you can emulate but also for the message that your body language is critical to how you are perceived by others and how you are perceived by yourself.
Her advice? Strike a powerful pose for a couple of minutes before you do your presentation.
While you’re at it, TED have a whole playlist dedicated to public speaking here (Sebastian Wanicke suggests letting your hair grow out a little, wearing glasses and dressing up slightly more than your classmates, which, since talks are next week and you’ll all be in uniform, will be a bit challenging but I guess you could try tucking in your shirt).
It is all an act
Silliness aside, presentations are, in essence, a performance – so try to pretend that your talk is being delivered by a super-confident expert to a bunch of enthralled fans. Stand up straight, make eye-contact with your audience, smile, speak clearly and vary your tone to match what you’re saying and maintain interest.
While we’re talking about your audience, make sure that you have them in mind when you write it. Think about what they would like to know about your subject and how you can inform, persuade or surprise them.
What’s that behind you?
Your talk should be accompanied by a presentation that contains enough information that your audience can predict what is coming next (and foresee an ending) and get back into it if their attention drifts. Fifty words per slide is about right.
If your talk is accompanied by visuals, make sure that they are high enough quality that they won’t look blurred or pixelated when projected onto a screen; free from watermarks; and, accompanied by a caption describing what they are and where you got them from. Even better, make them yourself.
Practice, practice, practice
Last of all, make sure you practice your talk heaps of times before giving it.