As if going for interview wasn’t stressful enough… sometimes we are asked to give a presentation as part of the process! If the thought of this fills you with dread, read our top five tips to help:
Preparation is key!
You will be given a topic and a time limit for your presentation. You should research the topic and how it relates to the company. Be creative about sourcing information. Decide which information is relevant and collate your ideas, grouping them in themes as they emerge. Think about your audience, in order to ensure you pitch your presentation at the right level.
Get the structure right
Developing a clear structure for your presentation will help you stay focused and help your audience follow you. Have a clear message that runs through the presentation.
You should make sure you have a powerful introduction and memorable close, as these are the times when your audience will be most attentive. Ensure that your ideas are clear and come in a logical sequence.
When calculating how much time to spend on each section you should allow 10-15% for your opening, and the same for your conclusion, then the remainder of time should be spent on the main content.
Prepare visual aids
It’s important that you use a mode of presentation that you can operate with ease. There are several alternatives to the traditional PowerPoint presentation that can reflect different skills, however be cautious about being flashy in order to emphasise technical expertise as this can cause problems with audience distraction.
Do not subject your audience to “death by PowerPoint” – keep your visual aids simple and use to emphasise what you are saying rather than taking the focus away from you.
Also consider providing hand-outs for the audience to keep as a reminder of you and your presentation.
Practice, practice, practice
Rehearsing is essential to feeling confident on the day. As well as familiarising yourself with the content, you should check your timings are right.
Find what works best for you: speaking out loud to yourself in the shower, picking up presentation tactics from the Internet (TED talks are a great resource for this), or familiarising yourself with your presentation over and over.
If possible, do a dummy run in front of a friend or family member and ask for constructive feedback. Alternatively, take a video of yourself and observe what worked well and what you need to improve.
The way you deliver your presentation and how you appear to your audience is just as important as what you say. If your message, tone of delivery and body language are consistent, you will present powerfully and with impact. Nerves are natural, but you can channel a feeling of confidence simply by changing your posture. Remember to smile and to have eye contact with your audience.
Finally… remember that the audience wants you to succeed! You were invited to interview because they think you have something to offer and they want to see more. Follow these tips and show them that you are the right candidate for the job.
By Carol Vaughan, Careers & Employability Service Information Services Co-ordinator