7 tips for a stand-out interview presentation

Lady at table on computer

It’s second-interview time, and they’ve asked you to present - but how do you show what you know without sending people to sleep with your slides? We asked a presentation expert, David Bliss, to reveal his top tips.

The phenomenon of ‘death by PowerPoint’ is one of those things that we all agree is a bad thing – but, when interview nerves strike, it can be all too easy to hide behind our decks. The result is usually some unpalatable combination of too many slides, tiny fonts and unimaginative imagery.

In the course of our daily work, where decks are produced often and on the fly, some of these excesses may be forgivable. But at an important job interview, where you need to perform at your very best, your presentation needs to be up to the mark too. We asked David Bliss, presentation guru and director of training company Edison Red, for his top tips on slide design and presenting at interview… 

Keep the interviewer engaged, make them think and question.

This is as much about how you fit with them as them fitting with you. Think of your presentation as one half of a conversation that you will lead, rather than a monologue where you will bludgeon them with facts and statistics. You need to take your listener(s) with you, get them participating in the argument or story you are developing.

Always consider the 80/20 rule of engagement.

Of course, you want to create some impact and gain attention, but that needs to be backed up by substance. So, aim for 20% of your slides and talk to be thought-provoking and challenging, and the remaining 80% to be insightful or informative. Keep this balance all the way through so your audience keeps listening and is then rewarded for their attention with new knowledge. Remember that only when people are listening are they able to gain any understanding.

When you’re building slides, think simplicity.

You only have to look at Apple to see that true simplicity comes from real intelligence. It takes a lot of work to craft a simple idea – a lot of time thinking about what to leave out, and how to distil everything down to one great point or example rather than an under-confident handful. Use your imagination - no one wants to see another light bulb representing creative thinking!

Get them glancing.

A good slide should work on the principle of ‘glance technology’, just like a billboard. Essentially, you want your listener to glance, get interested, and then move to you, the speaker, for greater depth.

Less is more.

When it comes to slides, think ‘1 slide = 1 message’. This will give you greater control over the subject, and you can stay on each as little or as long as you like. Remember, too, that not every point needs to be backed up with a slide.

Never give away the story.

You’d be annoyed if the last chapter of the book you were reading was revealed on page three. This is why bullet points often hinder rather than help – your audience reads on and gets to the punchline ahead of you. Your slides should leave your listener wanting more.

Morph for impact.

Microsoft’s recent PowerPoint addition of the new transition tool Morph is a game changer. Morph allows you to move and enlarge, shapes, pictures and text with one simple movement. What used to take hours now takes minutes, making your slides look like the work of the marketing team - but take care not to overdo it.

Now that you’ve got your presentation sorted, find out how to maximise the first five minutes of your interview.