Often when called for interview, part of the brief is to make a presentation to the interview panel.
Following on from our successful Return to Work event, we thought we’d share some presentation skills tips from our fantastic presenter, Gill Siebert.
Making a presentation – What to remember and plan for
Do not panic – regard this as an opportunity to shine, not a forum for failure.
Very little (outside of the potential for technical wizardry) will have changed since you left the workplace; almost nothing beats good planning and straightforward communication. These are the cornerstones of good presentation skills.
- Gather all the information you can prior to writing your presentation
- Spend a lot of time thinking about your presentation before you commit anything to paper
- Write in a way that flows like a story
Find out about the scale of the venue : is it large, small, intimate, or vast? This will affect not only how you present but way in which your message is received. Remember its actually easier to present to a large audience (remember the IMAX example) than a small room of people whose expressions you can read.
Will there be a stage, a lectern? The latter makes for a very formal tone to the presentation; think about that before you agree to stand behind one. If there’s a stage, how are you going to change your slides? Can you move about easily or will you have to keep coming back to one side?
If you can, avoid being seated – to stand up in front of an audience gives you authority, and opportunity to be expressive with your body language, not just your voice.
This affects not only where you stand but how your text will be displayed on screen – remember the charity event I told you about where no one could read the message?
Find out about all these things – and get a ‘feel’ for the room. Avoid surprises on the day.
- Make friends with the tech person.
- Get your head around potentially temperamental stuff like Wi-Fi and internet connection, and find out about possible glitches.
- Will you have to face a skype/satellite-linked presentation format?
- Will there be anyone translating what you say? These affect your pace and your rhythm of speaking.
- Take a back-up copy of your presentation!!
- Find out about the ‘tone’ of the event – will it be relaxed, formal, what should you wear, who are the guests / attendees?
- When in the day (if it’s a conference) are you speaking? Remember its best to get the ‘am’ slot.
- Find out what the other speakers are going to talk about – this allows you to reference them, build on what they are saying possibly. It makes it all feel ‘joined-up’ and makes you look fully part of the event.
2. PLANNING AND WRITING
- Go ‘old school’ – and write on paper first – no one plans in PowerPoint!
- Plan lots – think lots – before you write. You are planning a narrative, not a series of unrelated slides.
- Use a 3-act structure – a beginning, middle and end – its familiar, easy to follow and has its own rhythm.
- Aim for ‘ahhh’ from your slides – you want people to agree with you – especially at the beginning when you are nervous. It’s good to have heads nodding in agreement, early on.
- Think in pictures, images – and use them when you can – the mental processing is 60,000x faster than words.
- Use metaphor to reinforce a point (remember “a computer is…..a bicycle for your mind”)
- Use straight talk, no jargon!
- People will remember how you made them feel, probably not exactly what you said.
- If you can, try and avoid too many bullet points – they are for things like this document, not really for a visual presentation with impact.
- Keep everything as simple as possible.
- Practise more than you think is necessary.
3. PREPARING TO SPEAK
- Get to the venue early, and walk the stage / room – feel comfortable in the environment
- Test the sound system, run through your presentation (with your new pal, the ‘tech guy’)
- Your goal is to make your audience comfortable, to sit there and relax, knowing you know what you’re talking about – so….smile! It will make you feel better immediately.
- Remember that no one wants to be up on stage, so you are already ahead of the game by being there.
- Breathe – SLOWLY before starting to speak (count 7 in: 11 out) – and stay low and slow. If you breathe quickly, it will make you rush your speech.
- Remember to pause – it’s an opportunity to mentally re-group, and it will get the audience’s attention too.
- Engage with the audience – that’s eye contact, smiling, using positive body language, appearing ‘open’ and moving around the stage to include everyone.
- It’s OK to be nervous – everyone is when speaking in public.
- It’s an opportunity you’ve been given above others in the company – grab the chance and use it to your advantage
Let me know if I can help – do please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviews can be daunting – we’re here to help. Visit our page for candidate tips and advice on every aspect of job searching.