While you’re presenting, there are a number of things the panel will judge you on, including the quality of your ideas, how clearly you think, and whether you are able to take a strategic perspective. They will assess the level of your verbal communication skills and how well you are able to engage and influence your audience.
They will also evaluate your formal presentation skills, as well as how good your organisational skills are by looking at how well-prepared you are and how you manage your time during the presentation.
How to put together a presentationIf you think about it, that’s quite a lot of things to keep in mind in such a short amount of time. After all, you’ll only have 5-10 minutes to make a good impression and convince the panel that you’re suitable for the job.
So how can you create a presentation that will allow you to do just that? Below are my top 10 tips on how to put together a presentation for a job interview and make a lasting impact on the panel.
1. Create a clear messageBefore you elaborate on your ideas, summarise what you want to say in 2-3 sentences. The easiest way to make an impact with your presentation is to have clear ideas and recommendations and back them up with convincing arguments.
2. Structure your presentationMake sure that your presentation is structured clearly. In order to do that, add a short introduction that explains what it’s going to be about and what topics you are going to cover. Make sure to split your presentation into different sections based on various themes you want to cover. Dedicate one slide for each of these themes - this will ensure that your argument follows a logical structure.
Once you’ve covered everything, summarise your arguments in a concise way and end with a short conclusion. Your conclusion should always include some specific recommendations, which identify the resources that are required to deliver them.
3. Be conciseJust like with many other things in life, less is more. It’s best to be succinct and leave some scope for the audience to ask questions at the end, instead of just rushing through a large amount of information.
Make sure your slides are not endless blocks of text and are visually clear. If you’ve been allocated 5 minutes for the presentation, try to restrict the slides to 3 or 4. For a 10 minute presentation, you can use 6-7 slides.
And always remember that the slides are meant to complement what you are saying, not list your entire speech. Instead of putting the entire text up there, only list the most important facts or ideas.
4. Get your timing rightThe duration of the presentation should not overstep the amount of time you’ve been given. If it’s too short, you may end up appearing as a lightweight candidate. On the other hand, if it’s too long, it might seem like you’re poorly organised and they may decide to cut you off halfway through your presentation. Organising everything in advance and rehearsing your speech will help you get the timing right.
5. Research your topicIt goes without saying, but make sure to research your topic thoroughly. It’s also crucial that you find out how the department or the organisation itself handled similar issues in the past, and what their competitors are doing within the field. Make sure you have some relevant statistics to illustrate certain key trends – this will increase your credibility and indicate how well-prepared you are.
6. Know your audienceBefore you start your presentation, always think about your audience. Understand their position within the company, and think about what their professional backgrounds and interests are. With social networking sites such as LinkedIn at your disposal, it’s not difficult to access information about people at the helm of an organisation.
Although it may be difficult to customise your presentation to match the topics that interest individual panel members, make sure you stay on safe ground and don’t raise any controversial issues during your presentation.
7. Prepare for follow-up questionsAs part of your preparation, try to think about any potential questions the panel may ask and make sure to have some answers ready for them. Some of the questions that could come up are:
- Why do you recommend “A” option instead of “B”?
- Exactly what kind of resources will be required to implement your idea?
- Have you identified what the risks of this particular POA are, and what measures are you suggesting to minimise them?
- How do all these recommendations you have suggested fit into the wider activities and strategies of our organisation?
8. PracticeAgain, this goes without saying but make sure to practice your presentation. The more you practice, the more confident you will be and the clearer your argument will be to your audience.
Rehearsing several times, preferably in front of a mirror will help you improve your body language, as well as your overall presentation skills. It will also help you notice what changes you would like to make in your presentation, and to rule out any ambiguous statements and ideas.
9. Use a sounding boardIf you want to make sure your presentation is top-notch, run it past your colleagues or friends. They can help you identify whether there are things you have forgotten to include.
Another reason why this is a great idea is because there might be times when the things you’re saying or the way you are presenting them seem perfectly logical to you, but other people feel differently. By running your presentation past your colleagues or friends, you can make sure that your material is clear and easy to follow.
10. Always have a back-up planSomething that’s equally important is to always have a back-up plan in case things don’t go the way you’d expected. There could be times when a vital piece of technology isn’t available or stops working in the middle of your presentation. By being prepared for such scenarios, you can eliminate any potential problems down the line.
For example, if you’re delivering a PowerPoint presentation, in addition to taking it on a USB drive, email it to yourself and take some printouts as well, just in case the projector breaks down.
Do you have any other tips on how to put together a presentation for a job interview? Let us know!