Most people have a fear of public speaking and find making a presentation the hardest part of any selection process. Thorough preparation and practice is the key to success.
PRIOR TO THE PRESENTATION
- Find out the presentation topic, what will be expected of you, how long the presentation will last, who will be in the audience and what visual aids will be available for you to use on the day (PowerPoint, overhead projector, flip chart).
- Decide what message you want to get across and what conclusion you want your target audience to reach. Work backwards from this to create a presentation that has a start, middle and ending.
- Introduction – welcome the audience and say what your presentation will be about. Give the aims and objectives.
- Middle – outline your argument or develop your story. • Conclusion – summarise your main points, answer any questions and thank the audience.
- Use everyday language rather than complex technical jargon.
- Decide which visual aid you are going to use. Slides should be clean and simple. Do not use too many slides or a lot of text – try to have only 4/5 key points on each slide and use charts, diagrams and pictures to add variety. Use note form and bullet points to covey the information. Remember that slides can contain prompts to remind you of what to say next.
- Prepare hand outs for the audience members if you think this would be beneficial.
- Do not just read out your talk – memorise it and have brief notes on small postcard sized cards to use as a memory aid.
- Practice delivering your presentation within the given timeframe. Do this in front of the mirror, with family and friends or an even better idea is to video yourself and then play it back. Make sure that the content is suitable for the timescale – you don’t want to finish too early and you also don’t want to be rushed or the audience will not be able to digest what you are saying. Adjust your presentation as necessary.
- Consider what questions the audience may ask you at the end of the presentation and how you would answer these.
DAY OF THE PRESENTATION
- Dress smartly – do not let your appearance distract from what you are saying.
- Take a hard copy of your presentation just in case the laptop crashes.
- Check that the laptop or overhead projector is working and the lighting is suitable.
- Take some slow deep breaths before you start to calm any nerves.
- Do not hold anything in your hands that you may subconsciously fidget with during the presentation.
- Make sure that you stand to the side of your visual aid and that everyone in the audience can see clearly.
- Smile when you greet the audience.
- Speak clearly, firmly and confidently.
- Vary your volume and tone to keep the audience interested.
- Do not speak too quickly – give the audience time to absorb each point.
- Use silence to emphasise points – a short silence before you make a key point tells the audience that something important is coming and is a sign of a confident speaker.
- Maintain a good upright posture and do not put your hands in your pockets.
- Make eye contact with everyone in the audience from time to time – don’t just look at your notes or visual aid.
- Remember not to just read out your talk. Refer to your notes if required.
- If you make a mistake don’t worry, your audience probably will not have noticed it. Just acknowledge it and move on.
- Remember to keep within the allocated timescale.
- Involve your audience by allowing them to ask questions.
- If you require any further guidance on preparing for a presentation, please do not hesitate to contact us.