By Ben Fogler
So you want to learn how to give an iconic, A+ class presentation.
Hi. I’m Ben Fogler. I know, I know, I need no introduction -- the name carries a lot of weight. It echoes through the hallowed halls of institutions of higher learning. It’s whispered with awe and a little bit of fear in the offices of powerful corporate executives. Page 6 can’t help but plaster it all over their headlines, because it’s sure to rake in the big bucks. Indeed, at any event of prestige and importance, from the Met Galas to the inaugurations of presidents, the name on everyone’s lips is “Ben Fogler.” Why? My presentation skills.
Now, you might think that the most important part of presenting is to prepare. Wrong! This is why you haven’t been successful. True, preparation is necessary to a certain degree, but it will only get you so far. No, to give a memorable, brilliant in-class presentation, you have to perform. And when I say perform, I mean your magnum opus of performances. If people aren’t crying, you’re doing it wrong. So how do you do this?
First of all, channel the greats. Take inspiration from things that have moved you deeply, that are truly powerful pieces of media. Call upon such performances as Toni Collette’s monologue in Hereditary, Jack Nicholson’s stellar portrayal of madness in The Shining, or Taylor Swift’s live performance of All Too Well 10 Minute Version on SNL. That last one was truly earth-shattering, a cultural reset, if you will. Bring that energy into your oration. Maybe slam your hand down on your desk, or allow your lip to quiver and your eye to twitch, and speak with growing passion, rage, and despair. Never let your teacher know your next move. Everyone will be on the edges of their seats, because suddenly this Powerpoint on Social Reform in the US in the 1800s has become an Academy-Award Winning portrayal of human anguish. Have the audience quaking. And yes, this applies to any kind of public speaking, in any class. I can tell you from personal experience that pre-calc teachers absolutely love it when you explain what you found for the limit as x approaches -3 as though you’re in a telenovela. Lo siento mi amor, the limit does not exist.
Sometimes doing a character works really well when presenting. It spices up any sort of narration. Now, it’s not just a discussion on the rhetorical choices employed by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, it’s a discussion on those rhetorical choices, led by daytime talk-show host Wendy Williams. “So apparently…Lincoln is appealing to pathos. He is an icon, he’s a legend, and he is the moment. Now come on now.”
But let’s be honest, if you aren’t in the mood to perform, you’re not going to do very well at it. So to hype myself up before a presentation, I like to listen to a little bit of music. As of late, I’ve been evoking Nicki Minaj’s early catalog -- not only do I feel incredibly powerful hearing lyrics like “I hear them mumblin’, I hear the cacklin’, I got ‘em scared, shook panickin,’ overseas, church, Vatican, you at a standstill, mannequin,” and “you’re like slicker than the guy with the thing on his eye, oh!'' Her emotes help me get into the mindset of performing. This is an effective device to use, in fact, if you feel your audience is getting a little bored -- quickly employ a Nicki Minaj-style emote to snap them out of their reverie.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s all well and good for a solo presentation, but I doubt you could get a whole group project to go along with this. To which I say, “yeah, and?” Go rogue. You don’t need to consult them -- it’s likely that you did all the work anyway, and if you’re being graded as a group, well then they’ll thank you later. There is nothing a teacher loves more to see than a non-cohesive group presentation where one member is clearly taking a new, exciting direction. So throw those index cards down, step forward, and speak from the heart, because this is your moment. And yes, you did just interrupt your fellow group member. Oh wait, this isn’t even your group -- you’re actually presenting tomorrow. Well, who cares? They’ll still eat it up.
Anyway, hope this helped. I would highly recommend trying out my strategy. If it works, make sure to give me credit. And if it doesn’t work, I don’t know who told you to do that, but you really should exercise better judgment. Don’t believe everything you read online.