Business
10.5.16

Ten Ways to Create a Killer Powerpoint Presentation and Ace Your Interview

Photo by Paul Hudson Posted on www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/

Over the past few years, I have seen a huge change in interview processes, and for the main part almost all companies will now require a PowerPoint presentation for a second or final stage interview.

This is no longer just for the highest paid jobs; from entry level to C Level across sales, marketing and technical roles, the likelihood is if you’re looking for your next role, you’re going to have to do one at some point.

This can be quite daunting, especially if you do not have to do them in your day job. Some people may not have put together a PowerPoint presentation for years, others not at all. So it’s understandable that this can be overwhelming and there’s a lot to consider: where do you start, how long do you spend on it, what should it look like, how many slides should you use, how long will it take?

The pressure in getting your presentation right is definitely on. In most instances, your presentation could be the difference in you being offered the job of your dreams or not!

Over the years, I have seen thousands of presentations and received lots of feedback from my clients across all industries, for roles at different levels across sales, marketing and technical support. So it’s fair to say that I have a good idea what an employer is looking for when it comes to a PowerPoint presentation. I wanted to use my knowledge to put together a simple guide that will be beneficial to anyone looking for their next role.

1) The presentation should be no longer than 10-15 slides unless the client or agency states otherwise. Most presentations last for 15-30 minutes, so that works out roughly at 1-2 minutes per slide. Anything over that will just end up looking like a flashing screen and the employer will struggle to take it all in.

2) The first page of the presentation should include your name, date, the company name and the names and titles of those you are going to be presenting to. This looks slick and professional.

3) Include an agenda page – here you can bullet point everything that you are going to discuss; ideally this would be reiterating the brief that the employer/recruitment agency has given you (broken down into ‘bite size’ parts). From the offset, the employer will know that you have listened and will be eager to see the rest of the presentation. Sticking to the brief is imperative – the employer will be marking you throughout on this, so ensure you cover every element of the brief in your presentation.

4) Do not make the slides too wordy, but think of them more of a visual prop – they should be bullet points. You do not want the employer squinting over your shoulder reading lots of text when they should be looking at how well you present!

5) Make it look visually stimulating – copy and paste the company logo onto each page. With regards to the font, use the same font and ideally the same font size (you can use a larger font for the titles on each slide to make them stand out). Take inspiration from the employer’s logo and website to make it look slick. For instance if the employer’s logo is white and red, use these colours in your font, on the slide backgrounds in your PowerPoint, etc.

6) Be careful of grammatical errors as these are a cardinal sin and stand out a mile to employers. Random capital letters are the most common mistake I see in presentations.

7) Use imagery where possible – graphs, charts, infographics and images all go down well in presentations. If, for example, you are speaking about your clients, copy and paste the logo, as opposed to typing out the names.

8) Allow for questions during the presentation and try to make it as interactive as possible. Tip – be on top of any numbers, be it your achievement against targets, deal sizes or dates of employment. Being inconsistent with these will make an employer question how honest you are being and could end up being a major reservation which could end up costing you the job.

9) Have a Q&A page at the end of the presentation. You do not want the interviewer staring past you blankly at the lovely infographic on your last page. During your Q&A, all eyes should be on you – here is your chance to show off your closing skills and ‘own’ the room!

10) During the presentation, the most important thing the client is going to be looking for is how you present. This is their way of seeing how you would be in front of their customers, representing them. They will be measuring how engaging you are, how confident your body language is, the level of gravitas you have, etc. Big no no’s are waffling, mumbling, not making eye contact and staring constantly at the screen as opposed to the interviewer!

All of the above are not set in stone and every employer is different. However, for anyone having to do a PowerPoint presentation for an interview, the above should stand you in good stead.

With regards to time, I would allocate 1-2 hours to research and put the presentation together, a further hour to proofread and finalise, and 30-40 minutes to practice (even if this means presenting in front of the mirror to yourself). I would definitely have a ‘dry run’ as you do not want to find out in the actual presentation that you have overrun; I know of instances where the employer has stopped a presentation half way though because of time, so don’t let this happen to you!

Often I am asked if there will be facilities on the client’s site, laptops, etc. My advice is always the same – have a contingency. I would take a laptop, take the presentation on a USB and also take a few hard copies, just in case!

Best of Luck with your interview and I hope you find this article helpful.

Read more of my LinkedIn Publisher posts.

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Sarah Socha

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