What are the most essential things for a presentation? (1)

This is a big question. Of course, many things. The verbal communication spoken must be good. The non-verbal, so gestures, not being nervous with your hands, looking confident should also be good. Sometimes in the early stage before the first round, one of the biggest problems is that the video quality is terrible. It’s maybe a film with very bad sound. It’s in somebody’s bedroom or on the street, so we’ve seen many things like those. The essential thing is just to quickly go through some points but make sure the contents address the aspect of the themes. It must suit what it says in the theme. Also, facts, statistics and examples should strengthen the point and the idea to be new and original. It shouldn’t copy, or it shouldn’t be too similar to something which is already existing and the specific details of the ideas should be well-explained. For example, last year, there were a lot of people who chose night tours but they didn’t actually explain step by step, what we do by this time and at this time etc. So, you need to make up a kind of plan which follows, time schedules, and things like that. Applicants shouldn’t worry too much about their Japanese pronunciation as long as it’s clear and accurate.

What are the most essential things for a presentation? (2)

However, of course, it might be more impressive if somebody does have a kind of native-speaker accent which might impress the judges. Secondly, make sure grammar is reviewed. Especially, students should be using the presentation helpdesk to have the slides and presentation checked. We even have a writing center here so if it’s just the content of what they want to say, they can also get that checked for written grammar. Furthermore, make sure the voice has energy and varied intonation so when people present, it should be interesting and entertaining. People shouldn’t be comedians though, but they should be interesting and engaging. The key word is engaging. Not reading from a script and the voice showing nervousness. Especially, some Japanese young women can be very quiet and shy with how they present so people don’t need to shout but at least be very clear and easy to hear. Non-verbal communication should not have too many wild gestures. I always say to my students, do not act like an octopus with your hands. No octopus hands! And for the videos, do not look nervous and no shaking whatsoever. Finally, especially with visuals, you should choose something which helps people understand your ideas. Not something which looks pretty exactly.

What are the important elements of using writing on the slides and writing a script?

One of the big problems is the font size is not big enough or too big, so you need a good balance. Don’t include too much writing on the slides because people will want to read a little bit as your presenting. Clear colors, that’s a really big problem sometimes because often applicants might use blue and green or something. It’s not clear. The font style should be kind of blocky, not kind of cursive and pretty like handwriting. Regarding a script, I wouldn’t write one. I’d start with key points and some phrases but if you write the whole script, it’s going to be like a speech so it should be natural, and not always spontaneous, but you should know what you are going to say. When you write a script, you start to make it like a speech, which is dangerous so I think that you can write sentences for each slide but don’t write a script exactly.

What has been the common strengths of past winners?

The main points are that it looks like it’s been practiced many times, it’s very professional and the word “slick”. “Slick” means smooth and the tempo is good and there’s never a problem. There are no pauses or kind of nervous parts. It follows clear structure so it has an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. One of the things which a lot of applicants do is to take too long with the introduction so we suggest that the introduction is important but not the main part of your presentation. Applicants should try to get to the main body and the main content of the idea more quickly, generally from what we have seen. Past winners usually spend more time on the content of the idea and the presenting was good rather than a long introduction about the context of the theme. So, people spend a lot of time on explaining the theme which is not necessary. Basically, get to the main idea as soon as possible.

What are the time constraints of completing the presentation in 10 minutes?

I think a lot of students find it hard to present within ten minutes. I think I said earlier but the main body should be the focus. You should spend more time on that part. Your introduction could be two or three minutes. Your main body is five or six, and the conclusion should be snappy and emphatic which means it has energy and it summarizes the main points of the presentation, and that could then be one or two minutes. You should dedicate the most amount of time to the main ideas of your presentation and of course don’t speak too fast. Don’t try to fit too much content into 10 minutes. You have to edit it. You have to choose things which are not important and throw them away so expand on your best points and if you don’t think it’s impressive or it doesn’t help the judges to understand your idea, don’t use it. Especially with things like photos and videos. Just explaining a picture might take a minute so the less pictures or less points on your slide can make things much quicker to present. Generally, I think that many students are very ambitious. They want to be very impressive but then they put too much into it. Therefore, it’s about choosing the most important points and editing and deleting points which are not relevant or do not help to explain the main ideas of the presentation.

Please give a final word to the students who are considering participating in the contest.

Don’t be scared. Give it a try. They have nothing to lose and there are only positive things that will come out of the process with that being: improving your language ability, your confidence, and your presentation skills. Especially if you are a student who does presentations often, the more comfortable you become, the easier it will become in the future and you will also probably get higher grades. So by practicing presentations, actually it can help you to improve your grades at university.