Know your audience
Researching who you will be presenting in front of is one of the best ways you could possibly be prepared for a presentation. How many people will be there? Who are they going to be? What is their position in the company? Who do I need to impress the most? And finally, what are they looking to get out of my presentation?
Knowing who you’ll be dealing with can be a comfort as well as an edge.
Make your visual presentation stand out
But not in a gaudy, "I let my pre-teen niece design this" way. Nobody likes a dull presentation, infographics,video clips, solid, bright colours and clean modern typography are the way to go. Leave the animation buttons alone.
If you are bored with the standard, antiquated Times New Roman and Arial fonts, try Garamond Pro, Book Antiqua, Cakkuman and Palatino Pro as stylish professional alternatives.
Don’t forget to check for typos and grammatical mistakes. Save yourself the embarrassment of having a fabulous looking presentation with a glaringly obvious typo on the title screen which you would only have just noticed as it goes live in front of your potential employer.
The fewer the bullet points the better
Visual presentations are five times more likely to be remembered after three days then a presentation heavily weighted in bullet points, according to market research. Three days can easily become the time in which a decision is made as to who gets the position.
Ensure that your presentation is remembered by sticking to the rule of three.
Start strong, end strong
Lead with a strong introduction, keep a tight and concise middle and end with a strong conclusion. Don’t waffle. Waffling makes you seem unrehearsed, unprepared and unconfident. This way you are more likely to keep the focus of the room. This is your ten minutes of their attention, don’t waste it.
Practice makes perfect
Try to learn as much of your presentation off by heart as possible. Looking at flash cards or worse, reading off of your power-point makes you, again, come across as unprepared and unconfident in your abilities.
Rehearse in front of family, friends and anyone who will listen.
Anticipate follow up questions
Try to exhaust any and every possible question that you can think of. Chances are, they’ll ask the more obvious ones but on the off chance that they ask a question that didn’t even cross your mind, say so. "That’s a good question; I hadn’t looked at it from that point of view. Could you tell me a little more about your view point?" Then try to answer their question after they’ve given you a little explanation. This will show that you are able to accept and interpret differing views, adapt towards them and formulate an intelligible answer.
Check the resources available
Most offices have power-points, especially if they are expecting you to bring your own laptop. If you are using their equipment, it’s important to check the software and resources available in case your brilliant presentation with the equally brilliant custom software patches are incompatible with the employers’ software, leaving you with an ill-formatted mess.
Watch your body language
As nerve wracking as presentations are, it is important to appear as comfortable and as confident as possible. Take a deep breath and try to slow your heart beat down. Maintain eye contact with the people in the room. If you are uncomfortable with holding eye contact, try looking slightly below their eye level. Don’t stare, break eye contact every five seconds and relax your gaze. It helps to smile a little but not manically. Try half a smile to help relax your stare.
If you are unsure of whether to sit or to stand, always stand as it exudes more confidence.
Dress for the job you want
Not only are you presenting your ideas, you are presenting yourself. Dress for the position you want, but make sure you are comfortable in the clothes you are wearing. If you feel like a monkey shoved in a suit, change and find something with a little more breathing room
Don’t forget to bring hard copies
Some employers may want one so that they can easily refer back to slides in order to base questions off of it. It can also be a way for you to add some additional notes that would have made your presentation to bulky.
Remember that your visual slides will need additional commentary when printed out as the reader may not remember exactly what you said regarding the slide. If you are using power-point the easiest way to do this is to utilise the notes feature on the programme.
So there you go - ten tips on how to prepare for your final presentation. Just remember that your potential employers will not ask you anything that they do not think you can answer or that you are not qualified to answer. Take a deep breath, relax, smile and exude confidence.
Tor Clausen is a consultant, agency account handling, at Direct Recruitment