The Graduate’s Guide to Nailing That Interview Presentation

Lady presenting at an interview using a flip chart

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 enter summer in the UK, 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.

These 7 powerful tips will contribute enormously to relieving your anxiety. They will also help you to give a memorable presentation and really stand out from the crowd in your interview presentation.

1. Play detective

Don’t make the same mistake that so many experienced presenters do. Resist the urge to turn on your laptop and start dumping everything you know on the topic into an uninspiring PowerPoint template.

Find out:

– 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 headline don’t be afraid to ask. Unfortunately, many people are and that only serves to fuel their anxiety.

– 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.

– Exactly what your interviewers are looking for and and will be assessing in your presentation. Get them to be specific. Good communications isn’t enough. If that’s their response, ask them how they assess ‘good communication skills’.

2. Be ARMED

Make sure that your interview presentation focuses on the following key elements

Attention

Make it your absolute first priority to capture your audience’s interest. 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.

– Tell them a short, powerful and relevant story.

– Open with a thought provoking, fact, statement or question.

– Use a prop

Dare to be a little different

Relevance

Make certain that everything you say and share with them is completely relevant to the subject they have asked you to speak on. Don’t pad it out with unnecessary data, jargon and information. If what you have to share isn’t relevant to your message leave it out!

Message

The value in any presentation regardless of the topic lays in the clarity, impact and the memorability of the message. Make sure that yours is crystal clear.

If you can’t write it down in a sentence on a post it note start again and keep writing until you can. Whatever, your thoughts are on social media, Twitter alone has taught us a great deal. If you can’t articulate your message on a post it note in the form of a clear and relevant tweet it suggests that:

– You don’t have a message

– Their may well be one lurking in your mind but you’re not clear on exactly what it is

– Either way, you are likley to use your audience

Think like a ‘tweet’.

Example

Delivering information is relatively easy, anyone can do so with varying levels of confidence. What your audience needs to help bring the information and ideas you are sharing to life, are examples of what you mean. Give them specific examples, analogies, metaphors or similes; something the audience can relate to and picture in their minds.

Do

Now its really important that you tell them exactly what it is you want them to do with the information you’ve just shared. You may say something like:

‘I’m very excited about this opportunity and am confident that I could really excel in this position. I would love to join your team and I believe I can make a great contribution to their continued success. What are the next steps in your selection process?’

3. Don’t be a comedian

In other words, 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

Too many presentations are far too long. It’s often because they contain superfluous content designed to impress the audience and show them how much the presenter knows and how hard they have worked. Don’t be one of those presenters who dumps everything into your audience’s lap and expect them to ‘get it’.

Be ruthless with your content. Just as a good gardener would prune their plants to remove all of the deadwood and to give them shape, be sure to do the same with your presentation.

5. The 2 second start

When you are nervous about presenting, every fibre in you body will be screaming at you to get on with it and get it done.  That means that often presenters begin to speak before their audience is settled and ready to listen.

Before you utter a single word, take 2 seconds to take a couple of deep breaths, pause, smile and make eye contact with your audience. Have the courage to take a moment to centre and calm yourself. When you’ve smiled and made a little eye contact begin speaking.

6. FLIP it

The reality is that speaking in public doesn’t come easily for most people and that is why so many dread the prospect. It’s completely natural to feel some level of anxiety as you prepare to do so. You’ve spent several years working and studying so hard. Now that you find yourself facing a panel of assessors, that sense of foreboding is completely understandable.

An interview is however, a brilliant opportunity to showcase your hard work, commitment and discipline. This is your time to shine and show your audience just how good you really are.

Given that we all feel anxious about presenting our ideas in public to others, the best way to overcome that anxiety is to FLIP it.

Focus

It’s worth knowing that when we place a considerable amount of focus on ourselves it’s inevitable that we may 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?

That’s right and its one of the key drivers of that paralysing anxiety – ME.

We can reduce and control our nervousness greatly by switching our focus to our our audience instead.

‘What do my audience want to hear?’

‘What do my audience need?

‘Who are my audience and what are they really like?’

Language

The words we use when talking to ourselves in our minds can serve as our greatest champion or they can of course cripple us. Everything you say to yourself will determine every aspect of 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. You’ve worked and prepared hard, so change your language to something far more positive: ‘I’m really excited about this opportunity’, ‘It will be great’.

Intention

Most presenters craft their presentation with a clear objective in mind which is of course a great way to start. Your objective is simply what you want your audience to do the moment you have finished speaking. On its own however, it’s never enough. 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. Before you craft your presentation ask yourself this one crucially important question; ‘How do I want my audience to feel?’

It’s highly likely that some of the following words will immediately pop into your mind:

– Informed

– Engaged

– Interested

– Impressed

– Confidence in me

That’s a nice start.

In addition, I would urge you to creating  greater emotional connection, perhaps something like:

– Excited

– Enthused

– Inspired

– Positively curious

– Enjoyment

– Eager

As a graduate your objective may be to get them to offer you that job. Take a step back. Craft your presentation and deliver it with the clear intention of how you want your audience to feel at the end of your interview presentation.

Passion 

You can be certain that as well as assessing the way you communicate and present yourself when under pressure, your audience will be looking for passion.

That can be conveyed through a number of extremely useful gifts you have at your disposal which you may need to practice using and developing.

Verbal – Practice stretching and challenging your voice.  Do some vocal excercises by playing with and changing your volume, tone, pitch, and pace well before your interview presentation. Practice using these vocal excercises in the brilliant Ted Talk, ‘How to speak so that people want to listen’.

Non verbal – Practice making eye contact, using your hands to gesture, smiling and using facial expressions to give meaning and power to your words. Take a few minutes to watch the incredibly helpful Ted Talk, ‘Your body language may shape who you are‘.

Tell yourself that you are passionate about the topic you are presenting on, the job opportunity and let that passion shine through. Don’t restrain it.

7. Change the thermostat

The number one request we hear every day in our presentation training workshops at Mindful Presenter is to help our clients to ‘look and feel more confident whilst presenting’.

I work on the basis that when it comes to confidence we all operate in a similar way to a thermostat. Consider what confidence looks and feels like on a scale of 1 to 10; with 1 meaning you have no confidence and a level 10 meaning you are supremely confident.

I believe we each have our own default ‘thermostatic’ setting’. In other words, we may wake up each morning as a 4, 5 or 6  ( or any number on a scale of 1 to 10). Whatever level of confidence we wake up with, as we go about our day someone says something to us or something happens to us and we move up and down the confidence scale. It’s even more likley that our own thoughts will influence or setting rather than something external.

On the run up to your interview presentation, tune in to what confidence level your thermostat is set to. Oten, the case that the very thought of presenting can switch your confidence thermostat down to a 3 or even lower.

Imagine what an 8 in confidence looks and feels like. It may not be our default setting but we each know exactly what an 8 looks, sounds and feels like.

Hold firmly in your mind the idea that your confidence thermostat has been set to 8 and watch what happens. Even though it may not feel natural to you, step into that level of confidence in your mind. Create an image of what that level of confidence looks, sounds and feels like to you. Hold that image!

To this years hardworking and dedicated graduates we wish you every happiness, harmony and success on the next phase of your journey.

Very best wishes from us all at Mindful Presenter

If you’d like help with an interview presentation:

– 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

Image: Courtesy of Flickr.com

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