How to create a successful interview presentation

How many presentations have you seen in the past that were out of touch with the audience, a bit rambling or just plain boring? Have you ever wondered what message the presenter is actually trying to convey when sitting through yet another powerpoint presentation?

So how do you avoid this happening to you – if you have to give a presentation for your next job interview?

Delivered effectively, an interview presentation can certainly enhance your chances of success.  However, for many it can be the opposite.  When nerves kick in, or lack of preparation or focus become evident.

So when you want to present successfully at an interview it’s vital to prepare a clear message that is:-

  • Easy to memorise;
  • Can be delivered confidently; and will be 
  • Understood by your interviewer

And the best way to achieve that is to take a structured approach to planning and writing it.

(And thanks to Skillstudio – the presentation skills training experts – for the brilliant infographic at the bottom of this post.)

Establish your presentation purpose first

People often start working on their presentation slides before they have even thought about what they actually want to achieve in a presentation.

Has this ever happened to you?

This will almost certainly result in a presentation lacking a clear purpose.  So it’s important to first establish what you want to achieve before you start preparing your material.  There are several different types of presentations.  For example, you might be trying to sell something to your audience, maybe inform them about something or just trying to influence them in some way.

So you first need to decide on the purpose of your presentation.  ie What do you want to achieve?

Once you have established your purpose, distill it into one succinct sentence and write it down.  So that it is clear in your mind whilst you are going through the planning stage.

Build a profile of your interview panel – ie your audience

Think about your audience – the people on the interview panel that you will be presenting to.  It’s vital that you spend some time researching and analyzing your audience to help you make your presentation relevant to them.

Ask yourself the following questions about the likely people on the interview panel:-

  • Who are they?
  • How expert might they be in your presentation topic?
  • What expectations might they have about your presentation topic?

Check out the company website for information and some guide on the company culture.

You might also discover more about the person or people who will be interviewing you from their LinkedIn profiles – assuming you know who the actual people are likely to be.

In building up a profile on the organization and the people you will be presenting to, you’ll be able to make your presentation more relevant to them.

Establish your core message

The next thing to think about is your core (or key) message. Your presentation should ideally have one key message.

That key message should contain some benefit for the audience – ie something that motivates them to listen to you.  So brainstorm a list of the reasons why your audience (from their perspective) should listen to you.  ie What’s in it for them?

From your list choose the strongest and most relevant benefit.  This will form the basis of your key message.  Now write it down – so that you are able to think about it as you continue with your preparation.

Developing and structuring the content of your presentation

Organizing the content into a clear structure is very important for several reasons.  It will help you remember each section better.  It will also help the audience to follow the presentation clearly.

Without a strong structure you might well find yourself starting to go off-topic … And then you’ll lose your audience!

Think in terms of a:-

  1. Beginning
  2. Middle
  3. End

Three is a powerful number that people find easier to remember things in.  By keeping your presentation to three top level sections it will help it maintain a strong focus.

You can then split the middle section into three sub-sections as well.  In each sub-section have 3 additional points you want to make and expand on.

And as you create the content for your presentation its very important that you remember:-

  1. Your purpose – what you want to achieve from it
  2. The key message – what is in it for the audience

Review and edit your content

Once you’ve got a draft, it’s then important to review it and edit it.  You need to think about the type of language you are using, to ensure you keep the audience’s interest.  Think about ways of grabbing their attention at the start such as using a:

  • Controversial statement
  • Intriguing question
  • Relevant quote

This will arouse curiosity at the start and hook them in.

Don’t use long sentences or words that are not relevant to the audience, or that they might not even understand.

You ending should also be memorable.  Use the opportunity to emphasize your key message again and leave a lasting impression.

In conclusion

By spending some initial time on the preparation rather than just ‘jumping’ into your slides, you will find it easier to create and deliver a more successful presentation at your interview.  You will also be able to apply these techniques to any other type of presentation to help you deliver your message with greater confidence and impact.

And our thanks to the folks at Skillstudio for the infographic (below) that they have produced on how to create a clear and compelling presentation.

Presentation Skills Training Infographic from Skillstudio

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