Top Tips for Presentations: Do’s & Don’ts

Interviews can be nerve-wracking enough – thinking about your body language, to thinking and rehearsing questions to ask – there’s a lot to remember and prepare. Then to make matters worse – the employer asks that you do a presentation as part of the process – so even more preparation is involved. See below for our Top Tips for Presentations.

Not only is it daunting to do a presentation in an interview, sometimes you may be required to do a presentation in front of a small team or group of people so it’s a good time to practice public speaking which is a very good skills to have in work.

Get your presentation right and you will come across confident, knowledgeable and a valuable asset to any team – but get it wrong and it could send the wrong message completely.

Here are our top tips for presentations:

DO be prepared – no matter what the occasion, proper presentation preparation is a must! Make sure all your equipment is working properly, that your notes are clear and to the point and set out a rough timescale for each part – this involves rehearsing – but in front of people.

DO introduce yourself – a very important of any presentation – even if they know who you are, a simply “For those of you who don’t know me…” can go a long way to building up your rapport with your audience. But make sure to avoid starting with jokes! Keep it professional.

DO maintain eye contact – this shows you are confident in what you are saying and helps to build rapport with your audience. If you feel uncomfortable or if eye contact generally is an uncomfortable thing for you to do, look away for a few seconds or glance around the room. Around 10 seconds of good eye contact at a time is a good way to do it. Don’t focus on one person though.

DO encourage participation – rather than just talking to the group, try and involve them. Don’t go overboard – but asking something simple to begin with can help to get their attention and aid your presentation. Being visual is always an advantage – so graphs, charts, pictures, etc. are always good to use.

DO have a backup plan – it’s hard to trust technology! So in case something does happen, always make sure to have plan B – whether it be putting a few bullet points down on paper that correspond to each slide, or making sure to have a hard copy of the presentation are always good to do. If nothing goes wrong, you can still give them out as extra visual aids, or allow the interviewer to keep the hard copy of the presentation.

DO have a set structure, project your voice and make sure everyone can hear you. Also a quick recap at the end never goes amiss.

DON’T panic! – Usually easier said than done – but you can learn to control your nerves. It will definitely help in the long run. Not everyone is blessed with full confidence and excellent public speaking skills, but there are a few things you can do to help you relax: avoid any dry mouth moments (always have a drink to hand), take deep breaths, pause (for both dramatic effects and allow you to gather your thoughts) and smiling.

DON’T read from a script – keep your audience engaged by looking engaged yourself. Ensure to maintain eye contact and prepare your presentation as thorough as possible. The best way to keep calm and feel confident is by knowing what you are going to say beforehand. Only use the screen as a point of reference. Also, instead of pulling out an essay to read, use cue cards and jot down any pointers to remind you in case you have a mind blank or get interrupted.

DON’T speak too fast – it can be really hard to follow someone when they speak so fast – so always be aware of your pacing.

DON’T leave it until the last minute – the ‘I work better under pressure’ approach should definitely be avoided! Not only can a lack of preparation make you look unprofessional, but it is also incredibly transparent. PowerPoint slides that are badly put together and sticking a clip art picture on each page will just scream “I didn’t prepare properly for this!” You will come across as being last and not actually bothered about the job.

DON’T beat yourself up – it doesn’t matter how prepared you are or how much experience you’ve had with public speaking, we are all human and we all make mistakes. The important thing is to not let it get the better of you. So whether it’s an embarrassing mispronunciation or a tickly throat, just laugh, accept it, and move on. Sometimes, making a joke of it can be used to your advantage.

Related Dovetail articles:

The Counter Offer
Interview preparation – do your research
How to stand out in an interview
What to wear to an interview
Great interview questions
How to write the perfect CV


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