Many people are understandably nervous when asked to deliver a presentation. After all, interviews alone are stressful enough without having to stand up and address a room of people as well. But delivering a presentation is actually a great way for you to get across different skills and attributes your potential employer may not otherwise get to see. Treat the presentation as an opportunity to lead the discussion, follow our advice below and you’ll feel confident and prepared.
Before the presentation
The employer will usually set the topic for your presentation so make sure you read carefully through any information they send to you. If unsure, ask the company to clarify what facilities will be available on the day i.e. laptop, OHP etc, exactly who you will be presenting to and how long your presentation should last. It’s especially important to research the roles of those you’ll be presenting to as this will help you to structure your presentation effectively.
Try to structure your presentation so it has a clear introduction the topic & issues and a concise conclusion. The main part of your presentation should display and analyse all the relevant facts and information on the topic.
If you elect to use MS PowerPoint, make sure your slides are interesting and innovative but are also clear and easy to understand. Use the slides to display relevant data such as graphs, charts and pictures but don’t add images just for the sake of it. Use bullet points on the slides to emphasise your main points but don’t simply read from the text on the slide. Use animations sparingly if at all; these can sometimes distract the audience and detract from your words, so think carefully before using them.
Make sure you have the opportunity to practice your presentation in front of an audience of friends or family before the big day. You should read it through and practice until you’re able to deliver the presentation without the aid of a script.
Decide whether you will distribute notes to the audience. If you plan to, print these out in colour on good quality paper. It’s also very important that you have back up copies of your presentation in case anything goes wrong on the day. Cover all bases by storing the presentation on a USB or flash drive, saving a copy of it in your personal email and printing out a copy to bring along as well.
During the presentation
Appear confident and self-assured at all times – even if you don’t feel it! Smile, try to relax and maintain eye contact with your audience at all times. Make sure you speak clearly rather than rushing to get to the end of the presentation. If you get lost or overcome by nerves, it’s okay to pause and collect your thoughts before you move on to the next point.
Although it’s tempting to have your whole speech written out in your hand, this will hinder you as you’ll be looking down at the paper rather than at your audience. Instead, have prompt cards with bullet points or key details which you can quickly glance at.
The end of your presentation should sum up your findings and argument succinctly. At this point, you may want to interject a little humour to leave your audience with a smile on their faces. Pitch this carefully and make sure it’s a joke which everyone will get and won’t offend on any level. If you’re unsure how best to end your presentation once you have delivered your conclusion, it’s a good idea to open up the floor to questions.
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