Presentation tips from a ‘Young and Savvy’ panelist

By Chew Shan An, SMU School of Accountancy

Jointly organised by the Singapore Press Holdings, OCBC (Frank), and supported by SMU EYE Investment Club, the Young and Savvy Investor Forum was held in several tertiary institutions in Singapore as a part of a campaign to promote financial literacy in young adults. The SMU run of the forum was held and attended by hundreds of students on 2 September 2014 at the Mochtar Riady Auditorium.

young n savvy

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited.  Permission required for reproduction.

As a guest student speaker and panelist for the event, the experience was certainly a humbling one for me, to think I had the chance to share the stage with industry heavyweights.  I was also thrilled to be able to share my personal experiences with my fellow peers.

How to manage – practice, experience, structure  

Given a once of a lifetime opportunity such as this, I was naturally overwhelmed with excitement when I first accepted the offer to be a guest speaker. However, as soon as the excitement went away, anxiety began to set in as I contemplated the prospect of public speaking, and worried about my ability to hold my own on a stage in front of such a huge audience.

shan an

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

Thankfully, given the countless opportunities to hone our public speaking skills in SMU, I believed I was already given a head start in this area. From our in-class presentations to case competitions, and our Finishing Touch workshops, these events allowed me to discover my forte with presentations, and ultimately increased my confidence. In this post, I would like to share three simple presentation tips that I keep close to me.



Practice, practice, practice

Behind every blockbuster lies a pool of sweat and blood. Similarly, behind every good presenter lies years of practice and learning (fortunately tinged with just a little sweat and no blood). I strongly recommend all students to grab fully all the opportunities SMU provides us with – seek constructive criticism from your peers, go for various student interviews, rehearse multiple times before every presentation or even join Toastmasters.

Know your materials

I cannot keep track of the number of times that I found a presenter – myself included – being caught unawares, by an unexpected question from the audience or by jumbled up slides. It is extremely important to have the presentation materials at your fingertips. This can be usually achieved through adequate preparation, doing research or any experience you have with the presentation topic.

A common mistake committed by a knowledgeable presenter is to explain using too much jargon. In this case the presenter runs the risk of losing the audience’s attention – especially if they are not familiar with those terminologies. As such, it is important to remember that a good presenter is able to explain his or her materials in simple and understandable terms.

Adopt a structure

Every seasoned speaker experiences nervousness in his/her first moment of each presentation. However, every one of them has their own structure – be it in presentations or answering questions. With a structure, not only is the speaker able to communicate clearly, it also helps in establishing the thought process. Below is an example of structure:

O – Opening

T – Thesis

E – Examples and Explanations

C – Conclusion (Remember to draw the link back to the question!)


You don’t transform into a seasoned speaker overnight;  it takes years of practice. Most importantly, discover your own individual style complete with its strengths and weaknesses and keep seeking feedback and learn from your peers.