Mr. Bouchard’s guide to superb class presentations

Hello my fellow Vassarions! Today’s guide has its origins in a request made by a loyal reader. I was pouring through your hundreds of fan letters these past few weeks, sitting in an oversized leather arm chair with my falcon Maximilian resting on my shoulder, when I came across this message from a poor, lost soul:


Dear Mr. Bouchard,

Please…please help me. I’ve accidently been caught in a teleportation machine with a cockroach. My DNA has been spliced. I’m…I’m BECOMING something…SOMETHING HORRIBLE. I don’t want to die a monster. What should I do?




Well Rick, I don’t know how to solve your problem, but it does remind me of something equally as painful as turning into a horrendous cockroach man: class presentations! So today’s guide to class presentations is dedicated to you, Rick—we’re all rooting for you! Keep that chin up. And read on, fellow Vassarions, to find out how to turn that Powerpoint sleeper into a hundred-point keeper!


1. Your voice is weird, so change it.

You may not have ever noticed how awful your own voice is, but it’s…well, it’s terrible. It sounds like a seagull who’s trying to learn to yodel and then gets hit by a truck carrying a shipment of bullhorns. As soon as you start your presentation about postmodern clowns or marine biology or whatever, no one is going to pay attention to what you have to say because how you’re saying it is so lolzy. OK, stop crying—you can fix it. Right now, your voice produces tears of laughter; it should elicit tears of FEAR and RESPECT. Next time you give a presentation, scream. Scream every word as loud as you can and as angrily as you can at the class. Cover them with spittle. Watch your grade majestically soar into the high A’s as your professor shields his or her face and cries “Please God, stop!” before throwing up.


2. Dress for success (for once in your life).

It’s a well-known fact that 30% of your grade is based on shoes alone (slightly less if you’re a comp sci major). If you give a presentation in a sweatshirt and Spongebob pajama pants, you can expect a sweatshirt and Spongebob pajama pants grade. Take the time to dress properly next time you present to your class—put on a full tuxedo. No exceptions. Top hat, cane, the works. A manservant if you can get one. Go “Downton Abbey” all over that Freshman Writing Seminar.


3. Embrace technology.

We’re all familiar with Powerpoint, but so few students take advantage of all the other incredible technological opportunities available to us via the information superhighway. Specifically, they are unaware that you can go into the dark side of the internet and pay an almost-fluent-in-English Bulgarian man named Aleksi to make your presentation for you. For only “thirteen and a half of your American dollars,” you can have a near-flawless presentation about particle physics entitled, “Space: It is dark and science habits it. USA Presentation by Jimmy.” For an extra two dollars, he’ll remove the viruses before he sends it to your computer. Most of the viruses.


4. Get a hold of your audience.

The professor will base his or her grade off of the class’s reception to your presentation, so it’s essential to play the crowd like a fiddle. If possible, do some investigating into certain classmates’ private lives beforehand and blackmail them into clapping and cheering for you during class. Plant some stooges into the crowd with some easy questions, like: “Did you handsomeness get in the way of your research?” or “How many books did you have to take out of the library?” If possible, ask someone in class to suddenly grab his or her head halfway through your presentation and yell, “Oh my God! It suddenly makes sense now! It all finally makes sense! The clarity, OH THE GLORIOUS CLARITY.” (It also never hurts to bring a t-shirt cannon and piñata, just in case you run out of slides early.)


5. Choose a more interesting topic.

You know what kind of person sticks with a presentation topic that is relevant to the class they’re in? A nerd, my friends. A nerd. Sure, nerds may “technically” get good grades, but do you really want a good grade or DO YOU WANT TO CAPTURE THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS? Screw cookie-cutter topics like “Milton’s Poetry” and “Experiment Results” and “This Thing from the Syllabus”—go for the razzle-dazzle! Dance your way into the classroom wearing a purple suit, singing old German folk tunes and twirling a baton. Set off a bunch of fireworks that spell out the name of your presentation into the sky: “Fire Juggling and Orgasms: A Critical Study.” Just make sure you cite your sources.


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