We’ve all had to present at some time in our lives, whether for a class project or at an interview yet are we ever sure how to improve? How to adapt it for each situation? How exactly do you keep eye-contact when you’re sweating up a storm of nerves?
I’ve put together some great advice on presenting to make your lives a bit easier.
Top Tip #1: Prepare Your Information
This is the research stage. You’ve just been given your assignment, or just been told you need to speak for five minutes about why the company you’re interviewing for should hire you.
Get all that core information together, keeping it short or tidy doesn’t matter at this stage. If you’re talking about a case, gather all the main ratio and dicta, journals, where it’s been followed or overruled, find out which court it was heard in etc. Keep all of your references somewhere!
If you’re presenting for interview, research the company thoroughly. You’re not going to be saying very much about them, but you need to know the company’s aims and how they’re set to achieve them.
You need to know who their customers/clients and competitors are.
You need to know their main practice areas, if they promote diversity, do they care about the environment? What charitable efforts have they made? Why do you want to work for them?
Collect everything that you would put on your CV relevant to the position you’ve applied for. Gather any pictures you have of volunteering, society events, etc, because as mentioned later, pictures make a world of difference.
Top Tip #2: Bullet Points
Now you’ve got all of your information, it’s time to pick out what is core. From there, you need to put the very key points on the slide and nothing else.
You don’t want to overwhelm your tutor/interviewer or take their attention away from you when you’re speaking, which will happen if they are reading paragraphs of info on your slides.
Top Tip #3: Pictures
Pictures, Pictures, Pictures. They create interest in your audience, especially if they don’t seem to link to your topic at first. For example, if you’re telling a company why they should hire you, stick a big photo of you and your teams/achievements in there. If you’re at university and your case involves theft, put a big picture of a duck dressed as a prisoner on your slide! It’ll give life to your slides, keeping the audience interested.
In my recent interview for my placement, I ONLY used pictures.
Top Tip #4: Tell Them Something New
This one applies more to interviews.
As I said, interviewers already know about their own companies. Don’t go on about it. Make your point, and then link it into why you’d fit in well there.
For example: “I can see that you have great pro bono schemes to increase accessibility; I volunteer in the local mediation service because I too care very much about equal access, so I’m very glad to see this company has similar values”. Do this for every point!
Top Tip #5: Do Not Script it
The temptation to write down what you want to say line-by-line is strong, but it comes across as droll and boring. Have you ever had a lecture where it seems the lecturer is reading word-for-word off their slides? It’s annoying and hard to listen to.
It’s the same for an interviewer, if you are standing and read out your achievements from a sheet of paper. The same for a tutor. If you really know your subject, then you don’t need a script. Use your bullet points as a guide, and let it flow.
Perhaps keep some key facts on a prompt card if it’s an assignment, or some directional info for an interview, but nothing more.
Top Tip #6: Practice
Scripting and practicing are different.
Have your bullet points and time yourself speaking so that you know you’re keeping to good time. Honestly, it’s unlikely the company will tell you how long you have been speaking for or stop you if you speak for too long, so try and get a feel for your own pace.
Otherwise, get someone to listen to you! You just might find you have an annoying verbal habit, such using like or um whenever you can’t remember what you’re saying, or licking your lips a lot because you have a dry mouth. If this is the case, your friend can tell you.
You can fix this by learning to pause where you can’t remember what you’re saying, or sipping at a cup of water whilst you think.
Top Tip #7: Make Eye Contact
This one is tricky, I know, but I’ve picked up some great tricks.
Make it a conversation. If you speak like you are explaining it to any of your friends, you will find eye contact much easier.
Sweep your eyes across the room as you talk, you don’t need to make direct eye contact with your audience at all if you feel you cannot. Looking just above their heads can give the illusion of eye contact.
Make eye contact in breaks when you are not speaking if it is easier for you.
Top Tip #8: Relax
Don’t work yourself up too much. You got this far, you’ve practised, you know what you need to say. Your job now is to take a few deep breaths and tell yourself that nothing bad is happening, I find this helps keep my heart beat down and my stomach calm. Take a moment to look around you. If it is a class presentation, then you already know everyone there. It’s just like any day!
If it’s an interview, make sure you try and talk to everyone before your presentation. They are often done in front of other candidates, and only halfway through the day, so try and get comfortable with them.
You’re there, and there isn’t any more you can do, so try and enjoy yourself.