Liam Havard, Student Intern tells us more about ACCA’s session on Presentation Skills and the advice they shared with students …
Cardiff University had the pleasure of having Kylie from ACCA visit us to offer advice on presentation skills, as part of Careers & Employability’s Internship Bootcamp.
If you think you’re a bit rusty when it comes to presentations, read on!
Why are presentation skills so important?
Presentation skills are highly sought after in today’s market, with it becoming increasingly common to have to give a presentation when applying for internships and graduate positions. They are a basic employability skill, so get ahead of the game by developing this skill. Keep in mind that this can take time. You may feel uncomfortable at presenting, nervous even – this is natural, however it does get easier the more you do it.
Kylie’s tips to get you started:
- Dress smartly. A casual appearance can distract from what you are saying and presenting.
- Smile throughout.
- Say hello and greet your audience before you begin.
- Speak clearly and do not mumble.
- Use silence for effect when presenting some of your information.
- Keep within your allotted time (a watch might be useful to keep an eye on your time).
- Interaction is important to build a rapport with your audience, as they do not want to feel as if they are being talked at or to.
- Practice, practice, practice!
A few tips from me:
- Keep eye contact with your audience and try to engage them all.
- Be enthusiastic, because if you are, your audience will be too.
- Take deep breaths and keep an eye on how fast you speak. Try to slow down your words.
- Bring in cue cards with your main points on. They will keep your arguments and information coherent.
- If you use PowerPoint to guide your presentation, utilise images and graphics to break up your content and make it easier for audiences to read (but do not overdo it).
- Prepare as much as possible.
- Who are your audience? Focus your presentation with this in mind.
- What points do you want to get across?
- How much time have you got to do this?
- What visual aids are available?
As part of this session delivered by Kylie, Kylie showed us a clip of a ‘bad’ presentation a woman gave (actor), which proved very useful at emphasising some of her points. Everyone in the classroom, including myself, had to spot out some of the errors this woman made. We found that the actor in the clip:
- Was very quiet when she spoke, mumbled her words and was not very articulate.
- She did not smile.
- She interrupted her audience when she gave them questions to answer aloud.
- In the PowerPoint presentation which she utilised, there were blurry and unprofessional fonts, as well as many unprofessional animations.
- She had poor body language and eye contact (she looked at the floor and away from her audience).
- She had her back to the audience, with her arms crossed.
How might you structure your next presentation?
Kylie offered us an example of how one might structure a presentation. Here are her ideas:
- Introduction: Welcome your audience, explain what your presentation is about, and if you’re using a PowerPoint, make your opening titles catchy. Essentially: Tell them what you are going to tell them.
- Body: Elicit key points which directly answer your question/point of argument (keep this to a minimum though – it is too easy to overfill your presentation with lots of content and this is dangerous if you are on a time limit). Essentially: Tell them what you said you were going to tell them.
- Conclusion: Summarise main points, thank your audience, and end on a strong and positive note. Don’t add in new information. Essentially: Tell them what you told them.
On a time limit?
A basic example Kylie offered was of a 15 minute presentation a graduate might give when applying for a graduate role:
- 1 minute introduction.
- 2 minute discussion on challenges facing an organisation, taking a look at the current market, showing a commercial awareness.
- 4 minutes on the skills an organisation is seeking out for the graduate position.
- 6 minutes on the skills the graduate (presenter) has, giving evidence of them (check out this STAR format for guidance on this – bottom of page).
- 1 minute summary of key points.
- 1 minute to answer any questions asked by the audience.
Just like any other sought-after skill, a skill in presenting immediately makes one more employable. Be sure to stay calm and absorb all the information in this post, and give a presentation at every opportunity given to you. As they say, practice makes perfect!
Good luck, and keep an eye on what is happening with Cardiff University Careers for more invaluable employability and careers sessions such as this one.
What are your top tips on presenting?
With special thanks to Kylie, ACCA and Cardiff University Careers for providing an invaluable session on presentation skills.
BA Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (final year), Marketing and Events Insight Student for Cardiff University Careers Department.
Your Student Life, Supported.
Advice & Money I Careers & Employability I Counseling, Health & Wellbeing I Disability & Dyslexia