Interview Presentations: our Top 10 Tips on how to prepare

Asking candidates to give a presentation is becoming increasingly popular at second interview stage. Presentations are less about content and more about how well you can perform, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with minimum preparation – particularly if you really want the job!

Follow our top 10 tips to make sure you are well prepared and ready to shine...

1. See the presentation as an opportunity

Think about why you are being asked to give a presentation in the first place. If you're in sales your prospective employers may want to see how you perform and how well you present yourself and your ideas. They will want to see if you are likely to impress customers (or colleagues) and be convincing about your subject. Get it right at this stage, and it won’t be difficult for your interviewers to see you working well within a specific job role.

2. Know your audience

Find out who will be at your presentation so that you know how to pitch it – how many people and their position/seniority in the company. The more information you have about your audience the better you will be able to prepare and make your presentation relevant. If you are presenting to an HR Manager then a highly technical presentation may not be appropriate.

3. Organise your thoughts

Think carefully about the structure of your presentation and ensure you have a clear message to convey. Your presentation should comprise three main sections: introduction, development of your argument/theory/viewpoint, and a summary. Make sure your ideas are clear and in a logical order.

Draft your presentation and then go through it with a fine tooth comb, editing out anything that sounds like you’re rambling. Think also about the possibility that all the shortlisted candidates have been given the same subject; how can you differentiate yours, have you tackled it from the most interesting angle?

4. Don’t rely on PowerPoint

We’ve all suffered yawn-inducing PowerPoint presentations – slide after slide of turgid information. And it only gets worse when the presenter reads out each slide word for word. Avoid this at all cost – you will lose your audience if you don’t. Slides are there to support what you are saying, auto cues they are not!

5. Practice, practice, practice!

Once you’re happy with your presentation give yourself plenty of time to become familiar with it. Learn it by heart if you can – it’s far better if you can avoid using prompt cards and will help to show that you know your stuff. Practice in front of friends and family too. This will also give you chance to practice how you deliver your presentation.

Practice makes perfect and is also a good opportunity to make final editorial decisions. What looks great on paper may sound very different when you actually say it – you may need to make long sentences shorter just so that you can take a breath.

Think about how you project your voice, the speed of delivery and how you use your voice to maintain interest. Aim to speak as naturally as possible and don’t fall into the trap of reciting your presentation parrot-fashion in a droning voice. And remember that you need to make eye contact with everyone in your audience.

6. Timing is everything

You will probably have been given a specific time in which to give your presentation. Make sure that you won’t go over your allotted time – which also means making sure you say everything you need to say in good time. Time yourself during your practice sessions and make any necessary adjustments. And in the presentation itself a wristwatch placed on the table in front of you will help you keep on track.

7. Think about what questions you may be asked

You won’t be able to pre-empt all questions, but you may be able to identify some of the more likely ones. Think about how you might answer them and then be prepared for how you might tackle any other questions. Take your time when answering, don’t argue and keep to the point. If you’re not sure what a question means ask for it to be expanded.

8. Be confident

Part of the purpose of these tips is to ensure that you go into your presentation feeling confident and behaving confidently, looking every inch the right person for the job. If you believe in yourself and what you’re saying, so will your audience and your ability to perform well under pressure will quickly become very apparent.

9. Look the part

A simple point, but important all the same, is to make sure you look smart and professional, so do think about the outfit you’ll wear. First impressions count and how you look will have an impact on how you are perceived by the presentation panel.

10. Relax and smile

If you’ve done all the above this shouldn’t be too tricky, but nerves will inevitably play a part on the day itself. Try to slow your breathing down, don’t rush your words, look at people and smile. You need to be engaging in order to be convincing.

All that’s left to be said is good luck and enjoy the challenge!

Why not watch our Interview Advice video?

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