You will go far without the PowerPoint crutch

Q: I’m going for a job next week where they have asked me to make a 15-minute presentation on my plans for the position – but they have specifically said it must be done without the use of technology. I’m not a huge PowerPoint person, but I’d like the crutch of something on the wall. What do you advise? (IK, email).

A: PowerPoint can be both a buttress and an obstacle, writes Deirdre May, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers, Limerick

Deirdre May,
Sli Nua Careers,
Limerick office.

It can get you out of a tight corner, right enough, if you want to maintain your train of thought over 15 minutes. But all too often the PowerPoint becomes the presentation – it takes over, assumes far too much importance – with the result that the presenter fails to impress.  

In your case, I would get working on it now. Get your thoughts down on paper, maybe even write out the bones of what you want to say – and then move towards cue cards with bullet points on them. Just as you shouldn’t spend an entire presentation reading from a PowerPoint, neither should you bury your head in your notes.

Know what you want to say. Have real ideas for the position – and evidence from your past of you executing these or similar ideas. Practise extensively to the point that you’re comfortable with how it sounds and how long it lasts – for a 15-minute presentation, aim for about 13 minutes. Avoid feeling the pressure to rush.

Be bright and breezy. Be real. Don’t be a cardboard cut-out reading from notes. Sometimes candidates hand over their notes to the interview panel after their presentation – personally, I wouldn’t bother. Let the presentation stand alone and focus on giving them something to remember.

 

For more tips on how to excel in delivering a technology-free presentation, see this video by Career Coach Liam Horan.