Nine tips for a better presentation

Q: They’ve asked me to do a 12-minute presentation at a job interview next week. The presentation will focus on the challenges I see for the sector (car sales) in the years ahead. I have very little experience of this kind of thing – the interview is for the position of financial controller. Where would I even begin to start with the likes of this? (AH, email).

A: You start by appreciating the opportunity that a presentation offers – it is a chance for you to control a big chunk of the interview and to set the tone for the remainder of the interview. Get the presentation right and everything else will be easier. Resolve to capitalise on this opportunity. Here are some tips:

  1. In your mind, tell yourself that the allotted time is eleven minutes. Prepare for that – that will take pressure off you and ensure you have breathing space on the day in case anything goes awry.
  2. Figure out how many words you will deliver in eleven minutes. Find some random text on the internet and read it for one minute. Multiply by eleven. That’ll give you the word count for your speech.
  3. Write your ‘speech’. You could proceed using headings such as these: 5 key challenges facing the sector (e.g., cost of living crisis, Brexit, access to finance, access to supply of cars – your research and existing knowledge will help you with these); how the company can deal with those challenges; why you are the person to play a leading role in helping them through the challenges; and what it will all look like on your watch in, say, two years’ time.
  4. Practice saying that speech out loud until you are happy with it. Do not try to learn it off.
  5. Now, design the slideshow. Personally, I’d hand the speech over at this stage to someone who is good at creating slideshows. I’d give them some ideas on the slides you want them to create from the speech. I’d tell them I want the slides to be pointers rather than fully formed paragraphs. About seven slides should be enough, and they should follow the key headings you create at step No. 3 above.
  6. Now you’ve got the slideshow and the speech you want to give. Practise, practise and practise. Get used to delivering it within eleven minutes. Become comfortable with the slides complementing what you’re saying.
  7. As the day comes closer, reduce the speech to bullet points. Trust that the bullet points will guide you. Each slide could have about four or five matching bullet points. Get practising again, this time referring to just the bullet points.
  8. Reach the point where you don’t need the bullet points on a piece of paper at all. Practice it enough and you’ll hit all the key points. Get used to clicking onto the next slide just as you’re coming to the finish of the current slide – make that transition seamless, not clunky.
  9. On the day, you can then deliver your presentation with confidence. And that’ll set you for a great interview.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.


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