The Graduate’s Guide to Nailing That Interview Presentation
An interview presentation isn’t something that most of us look forward to giving. In fact, I don’t believe I know anyone who actually enjoys being interviewed.
Each year as we approach summer, universities up and down the entire country prepare to say congratulations and farewell to the class of that year.
After years of intense study, young people everywhere, are sighing breaths of enormous relief as they finally get to shutdown their laptops.
Or do they?
Perhaps not. For those who haven’t yet had the good fortune of securing a job, the journey isn’t quite over; in fact, for many, its just beginning.
It’s highly likely that the interview and selection process for many jobs will require you to make some form of presentation to your prospective employers. This summer, just to add to the challenge, it could also be a virtual experience.
The interview presentation is a major cause of anxiety for many candidates.
These 7 powerful tips will contribute to relieving your interview presentation anxiety. They will also help you to give an unforgettable presentation and really stand out from the crowd.
1. Play detective
Don’t make the mistake that so many experienced presenters do. Turning on your laptop and dumping everything you know on the topic into an uninspiring PowerPoint template is a recipe for mediocrity.
– The exact nature of the topic you will be speaking on; the headline, the objective and your brief. If you are in any doubt about any aspect of the brief or need clarity about the topic don’t be afraid to ask. Many people are and that’s often not only a significant source of their anxiety but why they extemporize.
– How long you have to present and whether that allows time for questions.
– What you can and cannot use and the facilities available to you, i.e. presentation software, flip-charts, laptops with internet access, props, etc.
– Aside from your level of knowledge, what exactly are they looking for. What will be you be assesed on, for example:
The effective use of visual aids
Clarity of your message
Attention to details and evidence of planning and research
Confidence and persuasion skills
How well you managed and answered questions
Just how articulate, fluent and engaging you were
How you structure your approach and how creative you are
If for some reason you are unable to establish exactly what it is they are looking for, be sure to give them everything.
2. Be ARMED
Despite what you may be feeling in the run up to your presentation, remember that you already have a great deal in common with your interviewers.
– You are all someones son or daughter.
– They are emotional beings too.
– Once upon a time, they sat where you are sitting; they know how it feels.
– They want you to succeed as much as you do.
Using the following creative, robust and compelling approach will serve you extremely well.
Attention — Make it your absolute first priority to capture your audience’s attention, interest and curiosity.
Don’t start by introducing yourself and thanking them for the opportunity. They already know who you are and will assume your gratitude as a given. Here are a few effective alternatives:
Start with a short, powerful and relevant story.
Open with something thought provoking; a compelling fact, statistic, bold statement or question.
Share a powerful quotation
Use a prop
Ask them to imagine something…
Whatever you do, dare to be different.
Relevance — Ensure that everything you share with them is completely relevant to the subject they have asked you to speak on. If it doesnt support or add value to your message leave it out of your interview presentation.
Message — Craft a message which is clear, impactful and the memorable. If you can’t write it down in the form a ‘tweet’, it means you don’t have one.
Example — Bring the information and ideas you are sharing to life by using examples. Give them specific examples, analogies, metaphors or similes; something the audience can relate to.
Do — Tell them exactly what it is you want them to do with the information you’ve just shared.
3. Don’t be a comedian
Firstly, don’t go out of your way to try to be funny and make them laugh, it generally doesn’t work.
More importantly, don’t save the ‘punchline’ for the very end of your presentation. The one thing that most audiences are short on is time. If you have something important to say, don’t wait until the end of your presentation to say it, do so early.
4. Be a gardener instead
Many presentations are far too long. Don’t be one of those presenters who insist on sharing absolutely everything they know on the topic.
Be ruthless with your content. Just as a good gardener will prune their plants to remove all of the deadwood and to give them shape, be sure to do the same with your presentation. Content is king; make yours rich and compelling.
5. Take a moment
Before you utter a word, take a few moments to breathe. Take the time to pause, breathe, smile and make eye contact with your audience. Have the courage to take a moment to centre and calm yourself. Don’t be in a rush to speak.
6. FLIP it
It’s completely natural to feel some level of anxiety as you prepare to give your interview presentation. When you feel nervous, try to FLIP it:
When we place a considerable amount of focus on ourselves it’s inevitable that we will feel excessively nervous.
‘Will they like me?’
‘What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?’
‘What if I freeze?’
Notice the pattern?
One of the key drivers of excessive presentation nerves is focusing too much on ourselves.
We can reduce and control our nervousness greatly by switching our focus to our our audience instead.
‘What do my audience want to hear?’
‘How do they want to feel?’
‘What do they really need ?
‘Who are they and what are they really like?’
‘What do they care about the most?’
The words we use when talking to ourselves in our minds can serve as our greatest champion or critic. Everything you say to yourself will determine the way you craft and deliver your presentation.
Instead of repeatedly asking yourself, ‘what if I mess up?’, tell yourself that this is your opportunity to really shine. Remind yourself that you’ve worked and prepared hard. Change your language and make it far more positive: ‘I’m really excited about this opportunity’, ‘It will be great’.
Speak nicely to yourself!
Most presenters craft their presentation with a clear objective in mind, which is of course a great way to start. The highly effective presenter sets a very clear intention too.
In other words, they know that the only way they will achieve their objective is by getting their audience to feel something. Be very clear at the outset exactly how you want your audience to feel.
As well as assessing the way you communicate and present yourself when under pressure, they will also be evaluating your passion.
Practice how you express yourself:
Verbally — Practice stretching and challenging your voice by playing with and changing your volume, tone, pitch, and pace well before your interview presentation.
Non verbally — Practice making eye contact, using your hands to gesture, smiling and using facial expressions to give meaning and power to your words.
Tell yourself that you are passionate about the topic you are presenting on. Express your excitement at the job opportunity and let your passion shine through.
7. Change the thermostat
In an interview presentation, you will of course, want to look, sound and feel confident.
Imagine that you have your very own internal confidence thermostat.
Consider what confidence looks, sounds and feels like on a scale of 1 to 10 on your personal thermostat. A setting of 1 represents having absolutely no confidence at all. If you turn your confidence setting up to its maximum of 10 you are extremely confident in every sense of the word.
Now imagine that you have your own default setting’. In other words, you may wake up each morning as a 4, 5 or 6 in terms of how confident you feel. Your default setting could of course be higher or lower than this. The fact is, whatever you begin each day as you can be certain your confidence level will change.
As you go about your day someone may say something to you or something may happen to you which affects your confidence. Most of us find ourseslves moving up and down the the confidence scale many times during the course of a day.
On the run up to your interview presentation notice where your confidence thermostat is set. The very thought of presenting can switch your confidence thermostat down to a 3 or even lower.
Imagine what an 8 as a level of confidence looks, sounds and feels like. It may not be your natural setting but you know exactly what an 8 looks, sounds and feels like when it comes to confidence.
Hold firmly in your mind the idea that your personal confidence thermostat has been set to 8 and watch what happens.
Remember though, repetition together with reflection is the mother of learning.
To this years hardworking and dedicated graduates we wish you every happiness, harmony and success on the next phase of your journey.
Best wishes from us all at Mindful Presenter
If you need help with your interview presentation skills:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training