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Asked to do a presentation? Don’t panic

Woman with both hands to mouth biting nails with a look of shock on her face

Organisations are more frequently asking candidates to make a presentation as part of the interview in the hiring process. The subject of the presentation, its style, length and audience will vary from one situation to another but there are some general rules which you should follow:

General Rules:

  • Stick to the guidelines you have been given, regarding content and timing
  • Use the most professional presentation method you can
  • Make sure the content is appropriate
  • Keep slides/pages short, to the point and easy to understand
  • Practise the presentation before you give it
  • Try to involve the audience

Guidelines:

Find out beforehand what presentation methods you will be able to use eg. PowerPoint (projection/computer screens?), overhead projector (OHP), flipchart, white board etc.

Who will be present (titles, names, importance in the decision-making process):

If you are in any doubt beforehand as to what is expected of you, make sure you ask! If your interview has been arranged through a third party (e.g. a recruitment agency), ask them to find out for you.

Presentation Method:

You’ll have to use whatever means are available to you, but be sure you are familiar with the method (don’t attempt a PowerPoint presentation at a final interview if you’ve never done one before). Prepare everything beforehand, and take a backup (paper copies or memory stick etc). Produce sufficient copies of your presentation on paper in neatly bound files to distribute to all your audience after your presentation so that they can review all your content and all your hard work. This will help to keep you at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind when they are making their final selection.

Keep it Short:

Prepare your presentation to last exactly the required length of time. Each slide/page should have just a few points and each item should be short and to the point.

Get it Checked:

There must be no spelling mistakes. Practise the presentation in front of someone or at least in front of the mirror (better still a video camera if you have one!).

Personal Presentation:

Firstly, bear in mind that all eyes will be on you so look your best. Use cue cards rather than reading from a script and remember that you must look the audience in the eye! Try to involve the audience where appropriate by asking them questions and try to lighten the atmosphere, whilst avoiding jokes. Most importantly be yourself and try to show a bit of your personality and although it is very difficult try to relax… remember it is only one part of the interview process.