Designing and delivering a presentation may be part of the selection process. You may be told the topic in advance, be asked to select your own or be given a topic on the day and a little time to prepare it.
Preparation and research
Find out what format the presentation may take, what technology and materials will be available to you and how long you will have.
Establish who the audience will be - if it will just be the selectors or if other candidates will also attend.
Unless instructed to use PowerPoint or other visual aids consider the strength of a verbal-only presentation.
Practise your presentation - ideally in front of a careers adviser or just someone who can offer constructive criticism and help you to sharpen your performance.
Try to become comfortable with whatever visual aids you are using.
If you have a free choice of topic, choose a subject you know well - you will be asked questions about your presentation.
Think about what you will do to keep the audience’s attention. Pitch the content at a level appropriate to them.
What core concept/concepts do want the audience to leave with? It is better to expand on two or three memorable points than to have a long rambling narrative.
Think about the purpose - whether want to persuade/educate/inspire/inform/influence or all of these.
Your presentation should have a clear introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Assessors will be looking for something well-structured with a logical flow.
Be brief with PowerPoint slides or transparencies: only use bullet points and key words or phrases.
Enhance any slides used with pictures, photos, graphs and screenshots as appropriate.
Avoid too much detail. Be clear and concise and build your presentation to a strict time frame.
If you are thinking of having some audience participation, remember to prepare and bring any materials that you will need to use.
Think about any supplementary information: do you want to give out notes to the audience? When will you distribute them?
Be conscious of your body language - how you deliver your presentation is as important as what you say. Smile, maintain good posture, act confidently, speak clearly, keep good eye contact and try to relate to each person individually. If you tend to fidget, try and control this, staying natural and composed.
Pace yourself. Introduce yourself and your presentation confidently.
Do not read from a prepared script - bring notes or prompt cards with bullet pointed headings to glance at if needed.
Have a few relaxation techniques to use should you find yourself getting anxious. If you find that nerves overcome you just say so. Ask to stop for a few moments whilst you gather your thoughts.
Wind down your presentation confidently, rather than stopping suddenly when you run out of things to say. Even if you are nervous and glad that it is over, make a brief and clear conclusion.
Written by Jill Barrett, Dublin Institute of Technology
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