You have made it through the first and possibly even the second round of interviews for a job or internship. Congrats! Now you are asked to give a presentation in front of your possible future employers and colleagues. Regardless of your comfort-level speaking in front of groups, here are some important tips to a smooth, professional, and confident presentation.
1) Know yourself. You are going to be standing in front of a group of people, so all eyes will be on you. To be your most professional self, it is key to understand how you react to this sort of attention. Do you get very flushed? Wear a shirt with a high neck or collar. You will most likely already be wearing a jacket or blazer, so not to worry about getting warm, the extra layer should cover that. If you tend to fidget during a presentation, make sure you are not wearing rings or a watch/bracelet. Plan to keep you hair away from your face if you have a habit of touching it when nervous. Understanding yourself and how you react will allow you to plan ahead of time to make sure you look smooth and confident. That way you will have an easier time forgetting your nervous habits.
2) Know your topic. You will get questions after your presentation. Be prepared to answer them by understanding what you chose as a topic and why. The presentation is an opportunity for the employer to get to know you and how you prepare for assignments, so make sure you have spent enough time picking a great topic and creating a clear presentation with a beginning, middle, and conclusion.
3) Practice. Index cards or notes should contain only the briefest outline of your presentation, the rest should be memorized. You are telling the story, making your case, or sharing the facts, the slide is just a visual aid for the information you are providing. Practice the presentation as you will give it, so if you intend to move around and use hand gestures, rehearse them. If you tend to pace or shift, practice standing in one spot.
4) Have a backup plan. Technology is notorious for failing at the last minute. So bring at least one backup copy of your presentation on a USB, even if you sent the employer a copy ahead of time. In case of total technology meltdowns, bring paper copies of your notes or index cards.
5) Visit the Career Center. From discussing possible topics to practicing in front of others, the Career Center advisors are here to help. You can also reserve a room in the Career Center to record yourself giving the presentation so that you can watch and improve your speed, gestures, and content.
Each interview and presentation is another opportunity to improve your speaking skills and will help you get one step closer to the right job or internship.