We’ve found that these five things are key to a great presentation:

  1. Practice, practice, practice. The better the preparation, the better the pitch. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel. Practice in front of a mirror or, better still, in front of some other people. Ask your guinea pigs for constructive feedback and let them know how you’d like to receive it.
  2. Play to your strengths. You’re a part of a team. You all have different strengths and every team has a different dynamic. Think about who is going to do what and how you can support each other. What will work best for the group and how can you make the most of each others’ skills? In a band the lead singer, guitarist, bass player and drummer play different, but complementary roles. Your team is the same: you’ll sound best if you identify your strengths and take on roles you feel comfortable in.
  3. Know your audience. How you pitch and present depends on your audience; think about who they are, what they want to know and what their values are. Consider their level of knowledge and be inclusive. Use your time wisely to convey the most important and relevant elements of your design. Tailor your message to the people in the room.
  4. Know your design. This might seem obvious, but it is essential. Take the time to really understand every aspect of your design: How much does it cost? What makes it unique? What are the weaknesses and what could be improved? The more you understand your design, the easier you’ll find it to present and answer questions.
  5. Smile and relax. This is easier said than done! Pitches are stressful, but evidence suggests that your body language can influence your emotions. When you smile, you can trigger your brain to relax and when you’re more relaxed your pitch will be more natural.

Good luck, and don’t forget to have fun. Remember: it’s better to laugh at your own mistake on stage than panic and freeze! If you’re having fun and enjoying yourself, this will show the judges your passion for the project.

Find out more about the Engineering for People Design Challenge and our work in universities.