Today's headline is a little strange, and not for a blog that concentrates on CPD, you might think, but nothing can be further from the truth. From the start of your interview and or presentation technique in getting that first job, or pitching for work, your presentation technique will make or brake.
In the beginning, I had no formal training, I was put in front of an out of the way Architects practice, and told to give a presentation on my companies insulation, it was horrendous, I was nervous, and made all the classic mistakes of mumbling, not making contact and reading from a paper.
But, it's that word again, but I learned with practice and by watching seasoned performers just how and why a presentation was successful. It does not always work, but mostly it does. Confidence in both your self and your subject matter comes first, then the equipment, and finally in preparation.
Confidence comes with practice, both with your self and your subject matter, in which you should be widely read, believe me, some one in your audience might know a title more than you, and just one might enjoy tripping you up, so first rule, it's nice to be able to answer a question, but if you don't know, admit it, and offer to check.
Next, I count preparation as both the slides and visual material I intend to use, and in my arrival at the venue to check both the room and the equipment, with a practice run if I am giving a presentation, or early enough to sit, chill, and check my bag and run through the things I want to say if it's an interview.
For presentations I always carry at least two copies of my slides, in both PowerPoint and of course Apples keynote, but I always have a PDF backup.
Next I carry all the possible connectors I might need to connect my mac to any projector, if in doubt I carry my own projector with me in the car, although I have only once had to fall back on it, most times, I, or the local tech man seem to have got it sorted. Top of my box of bits and bobs is my trusty electric lead.
The room I have to use is also a means to failure, I have arrived only to find the acoustics are just awful, or their are no visible plugs, anywhere near to the stage, I even found an old 3 pin round plug on one stage. No means of blackout, and light pouring onto the screen.
For many years I worked for the Dow Chemical Company, who were and I presume still are, very keen on presentations, so I learned very quickly from some great people how to present, I basically found someone I both liked and found interesting and copied him.
As far as venue is concerned, it happens so often, you will have no control over it. In one case, I was in a room so far from the main entrance I needed a map to find the room, so went back over the route and left large arrows on A4 paper pointing the way, with Dow,s logo on it and my name and telephone number.
Which brings me to the inevitable mobile phone, switch it of, ask your audience to switch of, but if one does ring, and there is inevitably one, ignore it, the poor audience member is already embarist enough.
If I have one thing to give any new presenter, student or otherwise, it's practice, don't go in cold, run through your slides a dozen times, know your subject, and be prepared for the calamity. I once had to give a slide presentation with 35mm slides on a very new projector, I did not realise that it needed the slides turned round, so was unpleasantly shocked when the first slide came up, thankfully and friend in the audience came up and did a manual turn of the slides whilst I talked, phew !!.
Next it's questions, there are three schools of thought :
Take your pick, I prefer during, they are hot, relevant to that part of the talk, but require some control, otherwise your talk can easily over run, or put you off track.
Do you need to give out handouts, I personally think not, I used to do it, but saw so many in the bin or left on tables, so now I tend to hand out cards or put up a link as one of my last slides.
I have attended so many interview schools, all offering something different, and garenteed interview success, happily I did not pay for any of them, companies sent me. But I learned one common theme, Preparation, Presentation, Politeness.
Preparation is as before, only this time it's a CV, and game plan, what do I say. Be prepaired to present your self, practice.
Presentation is smart, clean, conservative dress, clean suite, tie for the chaps or smart neckline for the girls, and that does not mean low, overpowering perfume is also a no no.
Politeness is just good manners, a “good morning or afternoon”, and a thank you at the end, and speak when appropriate. Do not take command and do not interrupt.
Always have a small briefcase, with just what you need, walking in with a flight bag, is not required. If you have a presentation on PowerPoint put it on a memory stick, you just might be happy you did, but don't push it,
A small notepad is ok, don't spend all the interview bent over it, but use it to make short notes on a point, a telephone number or a name.
Do not put your CV on an iPad and hand it over.
- You don't want a stranger having the opportunity of trawling through your machine,
- You might just embaris the interviewer because he does not know how to use it.
I always take a sample of my drawings, if I am trying to get work for my practice, with the latest first, I don't want to fumble about looking deep into the pile for a section, it needs to be on top.
Be prepared to leave a paper sample of work, and your CV, plus a card, even if you do not work for anyone, a card is a quick easy contact method, offering to bump your phone is not. But making your own is easy, several machines are usually dotted about airports, the tv has some great adverts for making cards or try one of the many online program's.
Today's photo is a screen grab I took off the history channel re the area of land associated with the Catholic Church, vs the Orthodox church Vs the Muslim faith in about 1090 ish, or about the time of the crusades, I am preparing a presentation on the rise of the crusades, and this map is part of it, I will make my own map for the presentation as I want to show the routes travelled though Europe, plus the position of some of the early major battles.
Which brings me to my repository of photos I use for slides, I nearly always include a photo, it takes the eye away from the often boring text and offers an alternative focus point.
In all, presenting or attending an interview are much the same, you can win or loose loads just by not paying attention to the small points, and in preparation, so take time, practice and prepair, and just be polite, it's wins every time.