[Job Applications] [My CV] [Covering Letters] [[Interview Techniques] [Oral Presentations] [Psychometric Tests]

Oral Presentations ::

You may be asked to prepare, and deliver, a presentation as part of the interview process. The employer will want to assess your oral communication skills. Can you present your case in a way that your audience will understand and find interesting?

Setting the scene

The employer may ask you to prepare your speech before the day of your interview, or you may be given a limited time for preparation once you have arrived at the interviewer's premises. Sometimes you can choose the subject of your talk, possibly from a list of suggested titles. Otherwise, you will be given the topic. You will normally be told the maximum time for the duration of your presentation, for example three minutes or fifteen minutes. Audio-visual equipment such as a whiteboard, overhead projector or flipchart may be available. Your audience will consist of your interviewers and possibly the other candidates. Expect the interviewers to make notes as they assess your performance.

Examples of presentations requested by employers

  • Tell us about yourself and what you can offer this organisation (5 minutes, a very open subject!)

  • Why I enjoy Latin-American dancing (10 minutes, chosen by the employer. The candidate mentioned this hobby on their application form)

  • Choose a science topic, currently in the news, of interest to pupils aged 11 years (15 minutes, interview for teacher training course)

Tips to improve your performance

  • Choose a subject about which you feel confident to speak.

  • Who is your audience? Pitch your message to their level of understanding.

  • Do not overwhelm with too many details and figures.

  • Be explicit about the outline of your content. State what you are going to talk about, outline your main points and summarise your conclusions. This is known as signposting.

  • Personal stories, anecdotes and examples are often interesting and memorable. However, telling jokes can be risky. The audience may not share your sense of humour.

  • Practise delivering your talk in front of a trusted friend or the mirror.

  • Ensure that the audience at the back of the room can see and hear you.

  • Remember that the audience wants you to succeed. They also want you to recover from any disaster.

Your notes

Reading your speech aloud can sound stilted and you will not be able to look at your audience. Use brief notes consisting of key words on note cards. Make sure you number the cards and use large writing and a highlighter pen so that you can follow them when under pressure.

Your body language

Be aware of your body language:

  • Smile, show enthusiasm and the audience should respond more enthusiastically

  • Maintain a relaxed but confident posture

  • Make eye contact with individuals in the audience, they will feel more involved

  • Avoid talking too fast or too slow, try not to talk in a monotone

  • Don't fidget, the audience may find this distracting and irritating.

Using visual aids

Visual aids should be used to help the audience to understand the point you wish to make. They can make your presentation more effective. People retain 10% of what they hear, but retain 50% of what they hear and see.

  • Keep it short and simple, bullet points not sentences - too many words become a jumble

  • Use large print and bold images

  • If possible, use a variety of colours

  • It is harder to spell and write neatly - check what you have written

  • Don't block the audience's view by standing between them and your visual aid

  • Don't talk to the screen, talk to the group.

What can you do now?

Many people are afraid of speaking publicly, but, the more you practise the more your performance will improve. Learn to use an overhead projector. There is a knack to using them confidently. Take opportunities to give presentations to your fellow students.

Further information

  • 'Two Whole Days!', AGCAS video

  • Communicating with Impact, Atenar Publishing Ltd


Follow GraLife on Twitter
discount codes
special offers

NEW :: Get our Graduate Life toolbar for up-to-date discounted services.

It's completely free, with no spyware or viruses, does not open pop-ups or hijack your searches, and no personal information is required.