Presentation Tips

How to Do a Class Presentation People Will Actually Retain

Jordan Turner
May 21, 2021
 min read
How to Do a Class Presentation People Will Actually RetainHow to Do a Class Presentation People Will Actually Retain
Table of Contents

Students are no stranger to presentations. Many college professors will use presentations to deliver lessons to the class. Similarly, many students will be required to present as a form of class participation throughout the semester or term. More specifically, higher-education students (graduate students) are often asked to present sections of coursework to the rest of the class as part of the curriculum. It’s safe to say that presentations have their place in the classroom. As a result, public speaking is a skill that students at all levels should learn to love—or at least make an effort to master. If not for their final grade, for their future career.

When it comes to class presentations, we’re going to go out on a limb and say that presenting to graduate students is better than presenting to a room full of tired, uninterested 19 year olds. That said, nailing audience engagement is an obstacle regardless of who you’re presenting to. How can you keep classmates engaged, while ensuring that they are retaining the important points of the presentation?

Consider the following college presentation ideas on how to do a classroom presentation people will actually pay attention to, and retain. 

Lead with an icebreaker

Are you wondering how to start a college presentation? It could be the most interesting topic of all time and most audiences will still check out before you even begin. That’s why your opening line(s) matters. Ditch the stuffy introduction slide and lead with something more unexpected. Start your class presentation with an icebreaker to lighten the mood and grab the attention of your audience from the get go. Some engaging icebreakers might include a good story, a dramatic statistic, a joke, or a heartfelt comparison or analogy. Leading with something more interesting, rather than a mundane “hello, thank you for being here,” will leave your audience on the edge of their seats eager to see where you’ll take the rest of your presentation. 

Don’t be afraid of humor

Sure, upper-education students are more mature than a freshman in college, but that doesn’t mean your presentation has to be frigid and stale. Don’t be afraid to incorporate humor throughout your presentation. Poking fun at pain points, or making light of an otherwise serious (boring) presentation, will command the attention of your classmates and humanize your story. After all, humor is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. You might include humorous images throughout the presentation in unexpected places, tell funny stories, or use sarcasm to emphasize a point or engage the audience. At the end of the day, your classmates are your peers, so you should treat them as such. Have fun with your presentation and they’ll have more fun watching it. 

Make it relatable

It’s not uncommon that you’ll lose your audience to the ramblings of data, industry-specific jargon, or complex slides. Most presenters dread public speaking so much that they tend to stick to a script to help combat nerves. We’re here to tell you not to do that. Of course, practicing your key talking points is important, but you should treat your presentation like a conversation instead of an essay. Pretend you're talking to your best friend, explaining an idea that you’re passionate about. How can you make it relatable and relevant to them so that they understand your point of view? Take your complex content and relate it to everyday events or occurrences, or more relevant examples. If your audience feels connected to your story, they’re a lot more likely to pay attention and remember what you said. 

Engage your audience

Research shows that 4 out of 5 professionals said they shifted their focus away from the presenter during the last presentation they attended. Our point? It’s normal. You shouldn’t feel discouraged if that happens while you’re up at the podium, but it’s something that you can easily avoid. It seems obvious, but by keeping your audience engaged they’re a lot more likely to pay attention and retain the information you’re presenting. You might engage your audience with questions, polls, or games, throughout the presentation to get them more involved with your story. Another easy way to command their attention and keep them engaged is through the use of dynamic animations to help bring your slides to life. 

Keep it short and sweet

Of course, college students are human and even your most studious peer will lose steam (and interest) if your presentation is too long. Yes, even in upper education, fighting a short attention span will be your biggest challenge. Keep your presentation short, sweet, and to the point. By presenting big ideas in small, bite-size chunks you’re significantly increasing the likelihood that your audience will stick with you from beginning to end. In order to create a time-efficient, yet effective deck, you need to structure your story in a more thoughtful way. We can help. helps you craft your story in new ways you might not have thought of with our pre-built presentation templates and AI-powered smart slides so that you can present something brilliant in half the time. 

Jordan Turner

Jordan Turner

Jordan is a Bay Area writer, social media manager, and content strategist.