Having to make a presentation may seem daunting but you should view it as a great chance to dictate how you come across, away from the more formal question and answer process of an interview.
You may be given a topic to present or you may have to pick one yourself but either way, think hard about what your audience will want to hear and how you want to be perceived.
How do I prepare?
No matter how confident you are in your presentation skills, one thing you’re in complete control of is how well you prepare.
Do your research and make plenty of notes before you start writing your presentation.
You should know as much as possible around your presentation topic because you will need to be ready to answer questions about your presentation after it has finished.
If you're confident that you know your subject, this will come across in your presentation and should help relax you.
How should I structure my presentation?
A clear structure to your presentation is important if you want to keep your audience’s attention.
A basic template to follow which is simple and easy-to-follow is a three-stage structure of an introduction, an explanation and a summary or conclusion.
While you should by no means ignore the middle part, it is worthwhile remembering that the beginning and end of a presentation are when an audience are at their most receptive and your most important points should be made during these sections.
Think about ending with a call to action. Your aim should be to leave your audience inspired, wanting to take action and wanting to employ you to help them do it.
Do I have to use a PowerPoint?
Don't feel that you have to use a slideshow to accompany your presentation. Too many slides can be boring, confusing or take attention away from you and what you're saying.
However, some visual aspect to your presentation can help capture your audience's attention.
Consider using a brief PowerPoint presentation or printed handouts to emphasise your points. If you're using a slideshow, pause briefly after switching slides so the audience can take in the visual material before you continue talking again.
I'm worried about my delivery
It can be quite nerve-wracking being the centre of attention, especially when you're feeling under pressure to perform at your best but there are a number of things you can do to make your presentation engaging.
- Rehearse. By the time you present at interview, you should be in double figures for the number of times you have performed your presentation. Practise in the mirror, then in front of family and friends. Ask for their feedback and take it on board.
- Learn it by heart. There are no scripts or cues in the workplace and it will impress your audience if you can deliver your presentation without either. Practise and practise until you know your presentation word-perfectly.
- Don't rush. If you want your audience to remember what you're saying, pronounce words properly and go at a slow pace. The slower you talk, the less likely you are to make mistakes.
- Emphasise with eye contact. While you should present to everyone in the room by moving your body to face different people in the audience, eye contact at the end of sentences will help emphasise what you are saying. Looking away at the end of sentences will have the opposite effect. You should also try and avoid looking down at your feet or above your audience's head.
- Smile like you mean it. Be confident and try and enjoy your chance to prove yourself to a potential employer. The more you smile and are enthusiastic, the more likable you come across.