What to expect for college presentations/ Advice?

I’m a high school senior and still haven’t decided on a college just yet, but wanted some advice. I’ve been in online school throughout all of my middle and high school years. I think I’m a pretty decent student and I feel like I can survive college if I apply myself enough. One problem I am a little concerned about is presentations. I do have bad anxiety and I’ve never even gave a presentation before. Would my professors be more understanding if I mentioned this to them before I started the year? I understand that public speaking is an important skill, but I have no idea how presentations even work in a classroom. I don’t plan on avoiding it throughout the entire school year, but I’m also really afraid of having to give one. Overall, I’m mainly just wondering if there are any accommodations towards my situation that my college may allow or not. It’s just a little concerning that I have no experience in this field and I’m afraid I’ll mess up badly. Thanks!

Many people have anxiety around public speaking, you’re not alone. I don’t know of any specific accommodations related to presentations. The best thing you can do is to try to get some experience before starting college. Look for Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie clubs/classes in your area. If you can practice in a lower risk environment, you will be better prepared when you’re in class.

Also, something to note, many times class presentations will be based on a group project. This allows you to practice in front of your group prior to having to give the presentation to the class. Plus, your group will be up in front, supporting you, which may help.


Many schools have oral communications classes that can help you with presentation skills. If you have room in your schedule, that would be a great elective to take first semester of your freshman year. You could also see about doing one over the summer at a community college near you if you wanted to get a head start on practicing.

Agreed that it’s a tough thing for a lot of people so you aren’t alone.

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Everyone is quite nervous at first when they start making presentations. After you do a few, you’ll start to relax a bit but that nervousness will never go away completely.

A few words of advice:

  1. Know you subject as well as you can. The better you know it, the less nervous you will be. If you don’t know it, you have reason to be nervous.
  2. Read your presentation and think about what questions may come up. Either add the answers to the presentation or have an answer ready.
  3. Don’t look down, don’t put your hands in your pocket. Take anything out of your pockets that you could play with, such as change, as to not provide a temptation to play with it.
  4. Project confidence and your audience will pick up on that.
  5. Instead of talking to the WHOLE audience, pick out one person to look at and pretend to be addressing only them. Switch persons as you progress thru your presentation.
  6. If you can, video you giving your presentation so you can see any flaws in your body language, your voice projection, your phrasing or repeating small words like “um” that make you sound less confident.

And after a while, you may end up finding giving presentations fun. I did after being extremely nervous at first.


Practice by recording yourself first, or present to a friend or relative. Do it a few times.

I was a tour guide at a historic site and I had to learn a lot of information from scratch. I needed to be able to answer questions too, in addition to knowing the material. The first tour I ever did was a trial run with a couple of friends, who then gave me feedback on what worked and what needed improving.

At the historic site, I had to go from room to room and give various details about the significance of each room. That allowed me to develop my presentation in sections, rather than trying to do the whole thing all at once. I suggest you practice section by section. It’s much less daunting than trying the whole thing all in one go.

As far as special circumstances, no, professors won’t care that you’re nervous or haven’t presented before. Not their problem. There’s no hand holding once you get to college. Don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to adjust, but understand you need to persevere. Good luck.