Dear Life Matters,

I am currently exploring new job opportunities and have been invited to interview for one of the positions I have applied for. As part of the recruitment process I have been asked to prepare a 30-minute presentation. I will not bore you with the details of the topic, but I would like your advice about how to prepare for a job presentation.

Signed,

Presenter

Dear Presenter,

Employers will often use a presentation as part of the interview process to get a sense of your communication style and the way you structure your thoughts or ideas. By having a candidate prepare a presentation relevant to the position or industry, the interview committee has the opportunity to learn more about your expertise, presentation abilities, and true desire to pursue the position. In order to prepare effectively, I encourage you to dedicate sufficient time to exploring the topic, conducting research, brainstorming your solution, and practicing the delivery of your presentation.

The most effective presentations or job talks will have the objectives of the committee in mind. There is a specific reason behind selecting a presentation as part of the recruitment process and the particular topic they have requested likely has a value to their recruitment needs. Before you begin researching or preparing for your presentation, reflect on the purpose of the interview and the relevance of the prompt. Consider what the committee will be looking for and how you can deliver on each of those key areas. Starting with a goal in mind will focus your time effectively and your presentation will be much better received.

You may find it useful to review sample presentations for your industry. A simple online search with your industry keywords and the terms “presentation” or “job talk” might generate a few resources to get you started. Even if the presentations are not relevant to your area of expertise, seeing how others structure their materials can give you ideas of how to attack this assignment.

After you assess a few samples, initiate the brainstorming phase. Start by writing the prompt for the assignment at the top of your page. Now write down the topics and terms that come to mind. Once you generate a few ideas about the topic, start to organize your thoughts by creating an outline. If the prompt requires you to develop a strategy, you should first introduce the committee to the background and foundation of the topic, then share the challenges and finish with your recommendations or strategy solution. If the topic is more of an overview of your field or industry, try to highlight interesting facts or future trends so that your presentation will be educational to the committee as well.

Once you have a sense of what you’d like to focus on and the structure of your presentation, begin gathering the facts and information necessary to support your topic. If you will be using PowerPoint or Prezi for your presentation consider adding in facts, charts, and graphics to help enhance the visual appeal. Videos can be a great addition to a job talk presentation, but make sure the videos are short in nature, for a 30-minute presentation a video clip should be no more than 60-90 seconds. If you do choose to use facts or videos make sure to give credit to the appropriate source. Make sure to tailor your presentation to the company you are interviewing with. Consider implementing their colors or logos to show that you’ve taken the time to craft this presentation with their company and mission in mind.

Finally, make sure to schedule time to practice your presentation for content and for timing. You should also dedicate time to consider the types of follow-up questions the committee might ask at the conclusion of your interview. Ask friends or family to review your presentation. They might be able to pick up on missing details or ask basic questions that a committee member who is not in your industry might ask. If you have a colleague who is aware of your job search, ask for their review and content expertise. This reviewer will be able to assess the content of your presentation and highlight more advanced questions. Be sure to bring backup methods for your presentation like having the file available on multiple sources or having printouts for the committee members in the event that you face technical issues. Taking extra efforts to anticipate potential issues will allow you to put your best foot forward.

KATRINA DAVY, M.A., Ed.M, is a professional career counselor who has worked in university and private settings. She holds degrees from Cornell and Columbia universities. Visit her online at www.kdcareer.com. Send your questions to newshrink@gmail.com. All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters!