12 Tips to Avoid Failing Your Presentations This Year

12 Tips To Nail, Not Fail, Your Presentations From Now On

Doing a good job on a presentation can be hard. Not anymore!

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Class presentations can be nerve-wracking. There's a lot of pressure on you to do well, and you feel judged by both the professor and your classmates. Not to mention, you have to prepare a PowerPoint presentation that's being graded on top of whatever you actually say.

NO MORE. Follow these tips, and you'll be well-prepared with near-perfect slides!

1. Keep the text to a minimum.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make, even when the professor emphasizes that you shouldn't do this. You really don't need to put every single thing you're going to say on the slides--and shouldn't! Only put on the main points, because that's the important stuff you're expanding on as you speak. If you have sub-points, bullet them under the main point--but only use key words and short sentences. Keep all the smaller things in your notes.No one wants to read your slide, they want to hear you talk about it! (Plus your professors will probably take points off if you do this.)

2. Follow the 7 by 7 rule.

My co-leader of my Odyssey chapter told me about this rule. Essentially, you should have a maximum of 7 bullet points per slide with 7 words per bullet point. Full sentences aren't required. This can be a really handy way to cut down on the amount of text you have on your slides, and figure out exactly which information is the most important and should be up there.

3. Please don't read off your slides...

There is nothing more irritating--and boring--than when someone just reads what's on the screen. Doing this is a surefire way to make sure everyone in the class is bored and not listening. And why should they bother to listen if they can just read all the information? Your slides are meant to be a visual aid that highlight your main points, not give your presentation for you! Show you know what you're talking about and look at the audience, not the slides.

4. ...and please look up from your notes!

If you look down the whole time at your notes, it'll be harder for everyone to hear you. Besides, you should be familiar with the information you're presenting by this point. If you're still reliant on your notes, try to look down sporadically rather than keeping them down the whole time. It's not the end of the world if you miss a couple of minor details.

5. You don't need images or GIFs on every slide.

This is one I learned the long way. I got so used to teachers and professors stressing visually interesting slides, that I thought I needed at least one image or graphic on each slide. DEFINITELY not the case. Doing this just creates distracting clutter on your slides. Keep it simple, and only add images when they'll emphasize what you're talking about. For example, if you're presenting on a person, include pictures of them.

6. Actually, just avoid GIFs altogether.

For one, it's hard to be taken seriously when you have something as casual as a GIF on your presentation. They can also be a distracting from what you're saying and the onscreen text. If you're going to use a GIF, either put it on a slide that you'll be going through quickly or make sure it's absolutely relevant to the content. For example, if you're doing a presentation on a TV show or movie, then it's acceptable. Just don't overdo it!

7. Stick to clean themes.

PowerPoint and Google Slides both offer different themes for the slides' backgrounds. Be sure you're choosing one that still leaves room for your text, and won't make the text seem crowded! And definitely don't use a picture as the background, especially if you're going to put text over it. Text over an image will be unreadable and create too busy a scene.

8. Keep the fonts simple.

If the fonts you're using aren't easy to read, then it won't matter what you put up there. Stick to simple fonts like Calibri, Ariel, Montserrat, and anything else that doesn't involve looping or script. This goes for header text as well -- otherwise, how will anyone know what you're talking about?

9. Keep away from bright colors and remember, less color is more. 

Please don't use bright colors against a white screen. No one will be able to read it, including you! Stick with black or darker colors against lighter backgrounds and white or lighter colors against darker backgrounds. Also, stick to about 2 colors for fonts throughout the slides. Keep it consistent, rather than changing it up for each slide!

10. PRACTICE.

This sounds obvious, but I've sat through many a presentation where it was clear the person hadn't practiced beforehand. Practicing your presentation can help you memorize the information so you're not looking down at your notes every few seconds. It'll also help you feel more confident once you get up there, because the words are familiar by now.

11. Time yourself while you practice.

There is not a single class where your presentation won't have a time limit. I've seen people who clearly didn't do this and either went below or way over the time limits. Timing your presentation can help you figure out if you need to include more or less information, and ensure you don't lose precious points for timing!

12. HAVE GOOD NOTES!

This one is important. You can have perfect-looking slides, but if you don't have notes to go with it, you're kind of screwed. Having everything you plan to say in the presentation written down not only makes you look more prepared, but ensures you don't forget anything important! Additionally, the act of writing it down is a great memorization technique.

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Being Home From School, As Told By Rachel Green

You never know how good you have it on campus until it's 9pm and all the stores at home are closed.
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Oh, look, another Odyssey Article about the struggles of being a college student home for summer break. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Our lives aren't actually that difficult, but it is definitely weird being home. If you know a college student, chances are that despite the workload, the late nights and the sub-par dining commons food, they wish they were back on campus. That's how magical college life can be. And being home isn't bad, per se, it's just... not campus.

1. You miss your friends. Like crazy.

It's not that your family isn't great company, or your high school friends aren't really your friends anymore. They are, and you love them! It's just that you don't bond with anyone quite like you do with the people you're at the library with until four o'clock in the morning, working on an essay you realize is due in two days and not the next one.

2. You realize just how good you had it at the dining commons.

Who knew you could miss mystery meat and pre-packaged sandwiches? College students who realize that cooking is not their thing, and the easiest snacks are the sugary ones you buy for a dollar at the gas station.

3. You have to get a summer job, and it's not the cushy three-hour gig you had at school.

The first two weeks after you get home are so full of hope. You run around to twelve different stores, picking up applications, flashing that college-counselor certified resume. And it almost feels as though you've got it together. Until week three hits and you're still jobless and still not unpacked.

4. You finally get to see your college friends, and leaving them feels like ripping an arm off.

I mean you miss them for a reason. What, did I expect saying goodbye a second time would be easier? Of course not. And the amount of planning that had to go into getting together with them was sort of absurd.

5. In your unemployment, your parents give you some chores to do... and then they ask if you finished them.

Where do the days go? You have maybe a few babysitting jobs, minimal errands to run and still there doesn't seem to be enough time to vacuum and do the dishes. Maybe the twenty minutes before your mom gets home from work is enough time to give the illusion of cleanliness.

6. Your siblings are always in your room. Always.

You love your family. Really truly. But it's easier to love them if you don't spend every second sitting right next to them, picking up on all the annoying little habits they have. Pro tip; a good relationship with a sibling means never, ever eating popcorn near each other.

7. You've caught up on sleep, organized your room, done your chores and ran out of Netflix shows. What now.

There are very few things worse than knowing it's summer vacation, knowing you should be out having fun before another school year begins... and still being bored out of your mind.

8. In the end, though, you'll be okay

There's only so much summer to go around. Get done what you've been meaning to, talk to your friends frequently and get ready for another fun-filled school year in the coming fall. You'll need all the rest you can get.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros. TV

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5 Reasons Why Staying At College For The Summer Is The Ultimate Power Move

No school, no rules, summer vacation at the best place on Earth, also known as college.

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As summer begins, it brings in the joy of no more school but for most what summer really brings is the sad realization that we have to leave our favorite place and go back to our boring home town with none of our new best friends. Although some have decided to stay at college for the summer and they will soon realize why this will be the best choice that they will be making all summer.

1. NO PARENTS 

What's better than no school, warm weather, and most importantly no one to say, "Are you just going to sleep till 2:30 p.m. every day this summer?"

1. It's like the weekend, but every day

Do you know what weekends felt like during the school year when you didn't have anything to do? No? You never had any free weekends? Wow, I'm so sorry. Well, imagine a weekend that you didn't have to do anything. Now multiply that one weekend by seven and you get seven Saturday like days where you do not have a single care in the world.

3. No "Go cut the grass!"

For the sons, you know that annoying time every week when your dad is going to say, "Go cut the grass." There is nothing you can do to get out of it. Well, staying at school for the summer means no more nagging. You get to choose what you do now.

4. The bond of friendship

The friends you make when you stay at college for the summer are different than any other bond. Mostly because you all don't have a care in the world since it's summer in your favorite place. It's a right of passage to call someone your summer college best friends. These are best friends that words wouldn't do justice.

5. The townies

Everybody always wonders what happens to a college town when all the college kids go home. Well, the townies come back in full swing and take their town back. If you stay at your college, you get to experience what most can't even describe in words. To the one mid-40s guy trying to relive his glory days. To the old men hitting on the college girls at the local pub. To the weird towny creatures that make you shiver with fright as you drive past them. Have fun townies, you only have three months.

That dream of "I wish I could just stay here at college with all these people but have no responsibilities" is finally coming true.

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