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It's worth learning the skills of giving a presentation, anyway. They often come in handy.
The selection process can include having to give a short presentation. That's most likely when communication is an important part of a job. But it may also simply be a way of comparing one candidate with another.

To show that you can present in a competent and confident way.
    Doing it  

So what do 'competent' and 'confident' mean in this case? They mean being able to put together a presentation so that it's easy to follow, and to deliver that presentation so that it's easy to listen to.

The key to this is preparation.

^^Back up

Blue line Blue line

Being prepared means thinking about who's going to be listening to your presentation, how it will be structured and what practical considerations there might be.

It's difficult to give a good impression if you're not sure about what you're going to say. And that thinking beforehand includes creating a structure that's logical - especially for the people in front of you, who are hearing what you're saying for the first time.

It's also easier to sound enthusiastic, which suggests confidence, if you're able to put in something from your direct experience. Where you've been, what you've done, how you felt, why you made a certain decision - all of those make straightforward facts more interesting.

Thinking about the audience
In the case of getting a job, the audience is mainly interested in how well you present. But what you say is still important. It's easy when we're talking about a favourite subject to get too involved. Listening is easier if they don't have a struggle understanding what you're talking about.

Thinking about the structure
It may seem obvious that a presentation should have a beginning, a middle and an end. But it's surprising how many presenters ignore that simple rule.

  • The beginning should introduce the subject and give a brief idea of what's to come, like chapter headings.
  • The middle should be those chapter headings in more detail - three will usually be more than enough in a short presentation.
  • The end is what the audience will remember most easily. So it should be a summary, not of everything that's gone before but of the main idea running through it - why you enjoy playing a musical instrument, for example, or the strongest memory you have of the place you visited.

Thinking about practical things
You might believe you're safest with all the words written down. But that's very likely to end up like a reading rather than a presentation. Make a set of notes instead - for a short presentation, one side of paper ought to be enough. Then practise with those as your prompts.


The aim here is to be as natural as possible, rather than to act. But presenting is still an artificial situation, so there are some points you need to be aware of

Speaking softly, particularly at the end of sentences, is seen as a sign of nervousness - and is also irritating if it makes what you say difficult to hear. When you practise, make sure you aren't swallowing any words.

If you're standing up, lots of small movements will make you look nervous. Once you're in a comfortable position, facing the audience, let your head and your hands do the moving.

Difficult though it sounds, the best advice is to forget your hands. (We don't think about them in conversation, after all.) If you ignore them, your hands will do what they normally do - match your voice to provide emphasis for important words.

Eye contact
You're talking to the audience, not to your notes. So you need to look up as much as possible - and look around, so that everyone feels you're speaking to them personally.


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