Classroom Presentation Skills Checklist
A checklist of polished presentation behaviors that will knock the socks off your instructor and classmates, helping you earn a good grade when you present.
by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Are you ready to knock the socks off your instructor and classmates with your presentation? Below is a checklist of polished presentation behaviors. If you can master all these elements, you will deliver a knockout presentation that should earn you a good grade. Since presentations are often given by groups of students, the word "presenter" below can also refer to "presentation team members." As you rehearse your presentation, have a "mock audience," someone who will have the checklist in front of him or her and evaluate your presentation against this list.
General Presentation Checklist
- Presentation appears well-rehearsed; presenter appears to know content well and be comfortable with it. Presentation is smooth and professional.
- Presentation takes the appropriate length of time. (Your instructor has probably assigned minimum and maximum times; be sure your presentation is not longer or significantly shorter.)
- Technical equipment is set up and presenter knows how to work it with ease.
- Presenter has backup plan if something goes wrong with equipment.
- Presenter may refer to notes, but does not read presentation, is not dependent on notes.
- Presenter makes frequent eye contact.
- Presenter makes eye contact with all parts of the room, not just one side.
- Presenter delivers presentation with energy and enthusiasm.
- Presenter moves about the front of the room while speaking, but does not pace.
- Presenter keeps hands out of pockets.
- Presenter projects voice well enough so everyone in the room can hear it.
- Presenter speaks at a normal pace -- not too quickly or too slowly.
- Presenter varies voice pitch and does not speak in a monotone.
- Presenter is dressed nicely enough to seem authoritative and persuasive. Business attire/business-casual attire is always a nice touch.
- Presenter introduces self, especially if giving a team presentation.
- Presenters in a team presentation do not murmur among themselves during the presentation.
- Presenter refrains from wearing distracting headgear, such as a ballcap.
- Presenter appears calm and relaxed. If presenter is nervous, it doesn't show.
- Presenter keeps pause words, such as "ummms" and "uhhs" to a bare minimum.
- Presenter avoids inserting pause words such as "like" and "you know."
- Presenter refrains from distracting behavior, such as chewing gum, while speaking.
- Presenter refrains from rustling papers or fumbling with/dropping notecards while speaking.
- Presenter refrains from making inappropriate gestures involving hands and face, such as scratching or wiping nose.
- Presenter asks audience for questions.
Lectern Body Language Checklist
- Presenter refrains from hugging or leaning too heavily on lectern.
- Presenter refrains from pushing lectern away from self or tipping it forward.
- Presenter refrains from rocking back and forth at lectern.
- Presenter refrains from swaying from side to side at lectern.
- Presenter refrains from tapping or drumming on lectern.
Presentation Visual Aids Checklist
- Slides have just a few key words or phrases; they are not overly text-heavy.
- Type on slides is mostly in caps and lower-case instead of all caps.
- Fonts on slides are easy to read and transparencies don't contain an excessive number of fonts.
- Type on slides is large enough to be read in all parts of the room.
- Slides are simple in design without too many colors or hard-to-follow graphics.
- Slides are free from typos.
- Presenter refrains from turning back to audience while reading transparencies/PowerPoint slides.
This article is also available in an easily printed PDF version.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key academic terms by going to our College Success Glossary.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for EmpoweringSites.com, including MyCollegeSuccessStory.com. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). She curates, crafts, and delivers compelling content online, in print, on stage, and in the classroom. Visit her personal Website KatharineHansenPhD.com or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)astoriedcareer.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.