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I'm Jon, Principal consultant and Career Coach at Affinity. Watch this short message for more information
Increasingly, interviewers are looking for interactive elements to help them identify the right candidate, and presentations are a common way of testing candidates on the vital skills they will need to perform within the role. As with the vast majority of business activities, planning lies at the heart of your presentation success.
Know Your Audience
This is key to pitching your presentation correctly and tailoring your content to match what they want to know. It’s important also to establish how much time you will have to make your presentation and what the format will be – for example, will there be questions at the end or throughout as the audience wishes.
Think of your presentation as a story and structure it accordingly, with a start, middle and finish. Start by giving your listeners a synopsis of what you will cover, elaborate on the detail of your content in the main body and then finish with a conclusion about your key points.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you have perfected the content of your presentation, practise your delivery of it until it becomes completely natural to you and you aren’t reliant on reading from the slides. You can start with a mirror and then progress on to family or friends. Ideally, present to someone objective who will be honest about your performance and offer you constructive criticism.
Check Out the Presentation Room
Make sure you ascertain whether you’ll have equipment in the presentation room such as a laptop, screen and other devices. It’s well worth bringing a printed version of your presentation just in case the tech fails on the day.
Think About Your Own Appearance
Wearing smart professional clothing will give you confidence. However, be comfortable so that you aren’t fidgeting. For example, if your heels are so high that you can’t move freely, you will look constrained. Equally, if your suit is too tight and you start to get hot, you will look nervous. I know this sounds obvious but, make sure your shoes are shined – people will look at them.
Plan Your Materials
Remember that PowerPoint slides are not your presentation crutch. They are there to help guide the listener through the content and provide a visual aid rather than nurse you through each section. It is up to you to be prepared and to know your content. If the presentation topic is complex, use some minimal speaker notes.
Consider On-Screen Content Carefully
Don’t simply read out your presentation. Allow your on-screen slides to ‘breathe’ with bullet points, build on your points with your verbal additions and round out each bullet point with examples, added-value points and anecdotes to bring the content to life as necessary.
Pay Attention to Your Style
Arrive early to show respect and professionalism. Having that preparation time is also great for calming the nerves. When your audience arrives, be warm in your greeting and smile and shake hands. Use ‘flow’ language, such as ‘firstly’, ‘moving on to my next point’, ‘secondly’, ‘lastly’ and so forth.
Breathe, speak slowly and calmly, smile and maintain eye contact. A warm, professional disposition will build engagement and rapport and help you to enjoy success when you next give a presentation.
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