Interview Presentation Tips
Petrified of your interview presentation? Don’t be. You belong to a bloodline of fabulous storytellers. It’s the whole reason you are here, walking the earth. So while studies show that most people fear public speaking more than death (really), try to stay calm. Remain focused.
Combine your innate storytelling skills with our simple interview presentation tips and you will have a fine chance of nailing your presentation and wowing those prospective employers. Let’s do this.
Public speaking is in your genes. Sort of.
Back in the day, when humans sat around fires and killed things with spears, public speaking was a matter of life and death. Without writing, there was no way to document information. If your tribe was to survive, you had to communicate in a way that made others take note.
Your people either knew how to get to the nearest river or they died of thirst. Your tools were useless unless people knew what they were for. The success of your children as hunters came down to how well you taught them.
Well, guess what? Your tribe survived.
The fact that you are here, reading this blog post means your ancestors were the best communicators of their generation. In an age when the oral transmission of knowledge was everything, they were the ones who nailed it. And that’s because they told their stories more effectively, more emotively and more viscerally than the rest.
If your ancestors could do it, you can too. Here are ten tips.
1. Write for your audience
When you are planning your presentation, keep your audience front and centre. What do you know about the interview panel? What are their career histories? What role do they currently work in? Make like Sherlock and get inside their heads.
Think about what would impress you if you were in their shoes. Keep your language, your structure, your story, your everything tailored to the interview panel. They are the only people that matter.
2. Put some gusto into your opener
You know what they say about first impressions. (Unfortunately) in this game they count for a lot. It’s the same with the first few seconds of your presentation. Your opening lines can either be attention-grabbers or sigh-inducers. Come at your topic from a fresh angle. Be original. Keep your panel on their toes. You’ve got this.
3. Take them on a journey
Your presentation should flow from point to point like a river of liquid gold. It should glide along with finesse and precision. You don’t want to be flapping about from one point to the next (and back again - and again), do you? Nope.
4. Use visceral language
“Read this article”
“Read this article. It’s got 10 great points to help you with that presentation you’ve been working on all week”
Which are you going to pay more attention to? Be imaginative. Paint vivid pictures with your language. Give people a reason to believe you.
5. Keep it simple
Don’t try to cover too much ground. The human brain can only take in so much information at once. It’s better to cover fewer points really well than to try and cram everything in. Again, move logically from one point to the next. It will help the interview panel absorb your ideas.
6. Practice, practice, practice
Your interview panel will be able to smell poor preparation a mile off. Believe us. Besides, practice is a great way to nix your nerves. Now, there’s no need to memorise a script. Break your presentation into bullet points that serve as prompts to guide you through. Oh and don’t be tempted to read off a piece of paper during your interview presentation. It’s a neat safety blanket. But it will kill the connection with your interview panel.
(Pro tip: if you have the guts, get one of your nearest or dearest to grab their smartphone and film your presentation. Sometimes you have no idea about things like how fast you are talking or whether your pitch is varied enough until you see the evidence. Yes, it might induce a few cringes. But who cares? It’s an invaluable way of improving your technique.)
7. Don’t worry!
Nerves are good. It shows you care. Your interview panel probably expect you to be a little uneasy, unless you have promised Obama-levels of oration. In which case, more fool you.
8. Check your tech
Technology. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. If you are incorporating music, video, slides or are reliant on technology in any way for your presentation, make sure you know how it works. And have a contingency plan just in case things go pear shaped. You don’t want to be the person who didn’t get the gig because the projector image was upside down.
9. Don’t get thrown by questions
There you are, in full flow, then one of the interview panel interrupts you with a question. Don’t let it knock you off your stride. The best way to respond is to acknowledge the question, thank the interviewer for it and politely explain that you will take questions at the end of the presentation. This is your time to shine. Don’t let anyone throw your off track.
10. Finish where you started
When it comes to stories, us humans seek some kind of resolution. Closure. A good conclusion. A neat way to sign off your presentation is to bring the panel full circle. Return to your opening point. Because when it comes to the crunch, all anybody wants to hear is a good story that’s well told.
It’s in our genes.