Opinion: Fear not, eighth graders

As eighth grade project presentations inch closer and closer to the class of 2018, everyone on Seabury Hall’s campus can feel the tension and stress radiating from the middle school. As former sixth and seventh graders, most of us can remember promising ourselves that we will have the best project ever and that everything will go perfectly. However, once we hit eighth grade, those promises started to diminish.

I can remember the weeks before presenting my year-long project, trying to finish my slideshows and getting angry over that one picture that just would not move where it needed to go. Now, I realize how much pressure I put on myself over the project that was challenging, but definitely not worth stressing over.

As a freshman who went through the grueling process of writing an essay, completing a physical project, and finally presenting a slideshow after months of studying one project just a year ago, I have some tips for the eighth graders now.

1. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!!!

I know you hear this from your parents, friends, teachers, everyone, but listen to us. Almost every single person will mention in their presentation that they wished they had better time management.

It is so much more relaxing to get everything done ahead of time and have a few weeks to practice rather than having just a few days because you didn’t finish your presentation in time. You will kick yourself a week before your presentation if you do not get everything done sooner.

2. Practice, practice, practice your presentation.

You may think that practicing your presentation two or three times is enough. I promise you it is not. Practice with your advisor, parents, friends, and siblings, or by yourself. Just keep practicing. Having it as memorized as possible is the best way to go because when presenters keeps looking back at their slides, it comes across as though they do not know their project very well. Start practicing now, even if your slides are not completely done. The more you prepare, the better it will be.

3. The teachers are there to help you.

If you have a question about anything, ask. Whether it be about your actual project or your presentation, ask them. I know all teachers say, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions!” and that’s kind of intimidating, but trust me, ask questions even if you think they are dumb. Also, schedule times to practice with your advisor. They will give you great tips to make it better. The teachers want you to succeed.

4. Dress professionally, not for prom.

When you watched presentations in sixth and seventh grade, you saw that everyone was dressed nicely, which was good. But the thing is, some people dress too nicely with fancy dresses and expensive suits.

Imagine that you are giving a lecture on your subject to a group of other professionals. Dress according to what your subject is, too. People would not take you seriously in a floor-length gown.

Wear something that you will be comfortable in. Girls, do not wear super short and tight dresses that you will be fidgeting with throughout your presentation, or heels that you know you would not be able to stand in. You also do not have to wear a dress. Wearing slacks with a nice top is just as fine as dresses and skirts. Boys, wear nice dress shirts that you will not have to continue fixing and that isn’t too baggy or tight. Simple is best.

5. Try not to be too nervous.

Hearing “Don’t be nervous! You’ll be fine!” can actually stress a person out more. Instead, just try to relax. Nerves are good; they help you focus. But too many will cause you to tense up. Remember, everyone is rooting for you. When you get up there, take a deep breath, and just talk. You know your subject backwards and forwards, so you have no reason to be afraid.

6. Slow. Down.

You get eight minutes. Use every second. Eight minutes may seem like a lot now, but it will feel like you only have ten seconds once you are up there actually presenting. But you don’t need to rush through anything. Just speak clearly and slowly and much slower and louder than you think is necessary. Remember that your audience only gets eight minutes to understand everything that you have studied for months, so explain it slowly and clearly so they can absorb every ounce of information you have to offer.

7. Keep presenting all the way through.

Do not give up on your presentation when you get to your last few slides. Many people seem to lose sight of the importance of their presentation when they know they are near the ending. Treat the end with the same energy as the beginning. You will get more comfortable onstage as you get into your presentation, but this does not mean you get to be any less professional than in the beginning. You can leave your professionalism as soon as you step off that stage, but not a second before. Once you sit down, you can take off your heels or loosen your tie. You did it.

Good luck!