More and more companies are asking candidates to prepare presentations for their interviews. If you want to land that job, apprenticeship, or internship, you need to learn a few presentation skills.
Now that most of these interviews take place online, the list of the skills you need to master in order to give a successful presentation has grown.
Asking the Right Questions Before the Interview
Even if you are the most talented public speaker in the world, your presentation won’t be successful if you play it by ear. You can start preparing for your online presentation by asking the hiring manager a lot of questions about what you can expect.
Many interviewees refrain from asking questions before their interview presentation because they think it will make them look nervous. But, if you ask the right questions, you will look like someone who doesn’t leave anything to chance. In the eyes of most hiring managers, this is a big plus.
Some of the questions you should ask them include:
How long should the presentation be?
What particular skills would you like me to demonstrate?
Should I develop the title of the presentation, or will you give it to me?
How many people will I present to?
To whom will I be presenting? Bosses, coworkers, or potential clients?
What is the expertise level of the audience?
What platform will we use (Zoom, Skype, etc.)?
The answers to such questions will help you determine what focus you should take and how you should pitch your presentation. They will make it easier for you to alter your style of communication to match your audience.
If they ask you to give a 15-minute presentation on how you would plan a communications strategy, that’s exactly what you should give them. Stay on target.
This way, you will demonstrate that you can follow directions and manage your time. It also demonstrates that you have respect for your audience.
Don’t be tempted to go on for 17, 18, or 20 minutes. You’ll cost yourself time to talk about your other skills.
To highlight the key points you want to get across, use presentation tools. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with presentation tools such as Prezi or PowerPoint. Most video conferencing platforms allow you to share your screen, so you can use such tools for remote interviews.
No matter what technology you use, keep things simple. Have you heard about “Death by Powerpoint?” Not only does such a thing exist, but it applies to all presentation software.
If there are some slides you cannot do without, print them. That way, if the software fails, you can still show them on camera.
Don’t invest too much time and effort into your presentation design. The focus should be on what you are saying. Each slide shouldn’t have more than 3 or 4 bullet points. Moreover, each slide should represent just a couple of minutes of material.
Think of a slide as a billboard on the side of a road. Instead of being crammed with too much distracting content, it should contain just enough information to catch someone’s attention. You want them to glance at it quickly, and then shift their focus back to what’s most important—you.
Providing a Handout
Consider preparing a one-page handout for your audience to keep. You can email it to them right after the presentation. Your hiring manager will look at it afterwards to remind themselves of your presentation.
Your one-page handout should list your key points. Each point should include just a few sentences that summarize what you said. Use the handout to demonstrate your ability to explain something in a brief form as well as showcase the content of your presentation.
Having a Clear Structure
It will be easier for you to stay on track if you organise your presentation according to a specific structure.
Let’s say that your presentation will be on a piece of software you have designed. You can divide your presentation into four parts: what purpose is your software supposed to achieve, how it works, why you designed it in a particular way, and what the results were.
Before you kick things off, consider explaining to your audience how your presentation will be structured. It will make it easier for your audience to follow and remember your presentation.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to learn presentation skills is through practice. Start rehearsing your presentation as soon as you are done writing it and structuring it. If you can, record yourself practising.
Even better, practise it in front of friends or family. Then, you can ask them for feedback and adjust your presentation accordingly.
All of us have some nervous habits, such as fidgeting, or saying “um” and “like.” These can make your audience nervous for you.
Practice will allow you to get rid of these habits ahead of time. You don’t necessarily have to memorise your entire presentation. But you should be able to consciously avoid these habits if you run through your online presentation enough times.
Still, for some of us, this is easier said than done. If you are struggling to get rid of these habits, consider undergoing presentation skills training before your remote interview.
Getting and Keeping Your Audience’s Attention
Even though remote interview presentations are relatively short, your audience’s attention can easily lag. To bring distracted minds back to your presentation, you need a plan for re-engaging your audience’s attention. Here are a few ways you can do this:
Tell an anecdote that illustrates your point;
Ask a rhetorical or direct question;
Introduce a metaphor to bring a key point to life;
Provide a couple of examples to explain your point.
Acing the Delivery
Even though your appearance will be reduced to a small window on a computer screen, you still need to focus on the interview basics. These are: wearing a smile, carrying yourself with confidence, and dressing professionally.
Body language and eye contact are still important. To achieve eye contact while you are on a video call, look at the lens of your camera.
Giving a presentation is always nerve-wracking, let alone when it's a part of a remote interview. The key thing is to remember that every member of your audience wants you to succeed.
They know you have something of value to offer to them. That’s why they invited you to give a presentation. Show them exactly what it is by following the steps above.