How to Pass a Presentation Exercise at an Assessment Center

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Understanding Presentation Exercises

Presentation exercises are employed to assess the presentation skills of individuals being interviewed either for a job or admission to a graduate or post-graduate course. The candidate may be given a topic beforehand and be asked to come prepared to give a presentation, or they may be provided with an existing presentation at the interview and asked to present it. They may also be given a topic on the spot to make a presentation in an allotted time. Multiple tools may be employed for these presentations, including digital tools like PowerPoint and physical tools, like flip charts.

Usually, there is a fixed time allotted to each candidate during which they have to complete the presentation exercise. It may be followed up by a round of questioning to further evaluate the abilities of the candidate based on their responses to the queries.

The Need of Presentation Exercise

Presentations are often used in professional sectors. For example, they may be utilized for presenting sales reports, proposing a project, analyzing information or pitching a prospective client. The success of a presentation usually depends on the skills and knowledge of the presenter. As presentations are usually involved in the day-to-day tasks in today’s corporate world, having these skills is necessary for individuals to excel at their jobs. Hence, depending on the job position, potential employees may be assessed for these skills via the use of presentation exercises while applying for an interview.

The skills generally measured in this regard include a candidate’s ability to speak, present and communicate information comprehensively, their confidence, their body-language, and their persuasion skills. Their time management and decision making abilities on the spot are also reflected in the exercise. Information structuring, prioritizing and comprehending capabilities may be evaluated as well.

The common job positions where presentation skills are usually required include sales and marketing. There is a high probability of interaction with potential customers and target audiences, financial advisories who present the annual reports of companies analyzing profits, and losses and management consulting positions that are involved in making decisions.

Mastering the Presentation Exercises

Some candidates may not have complete control over the aspects of the presentation exercise, but they can master it by being knowledgeable of a few tips and strategies as mentioned below:

Making the Presentation

While making the presentation and selecting its content, a few key points should be considered.

  • Relevant information should be included in the presentation with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
  • The presentation should be well structured with the information categorized and divided properly.
  • Concise text points and graphs and charts should be used wherever possible.
  • If using digital media, the font and text should be clearly visible.
  • A probable list of questions should be prepared beforehand based on the content of the presentation.

Presenting Effectively

While participating in the presentation exercise, a candidate can excel keeping in mind a few points as mentioned below:

  • Maintaining Composure

The primary quality that a candidate should exhibit is composure. The main purpose of the presentation exercise is to test the ability of the presenter to cope with stress, repeated questioning and time management. Focusing on the task at hand, breathing deeply and going through the prepared notes regarding the presentation can help the candidate remain calm and composed.

  • Effective Communication

The presenter usually has the full attention of the audience in the presentation room and so they can assert their control and authority to define the way the audience perceives them. Presenting, interacting with the assessors and trying to get them involved may consider the candidate as an initiative taker which is a leadership quality. These will highlight the confidence of the candidate as well as their ability to communicate effectively. The pitch of their voice should be audible and their language should be formal. The presenter should pause for a couple of seconds especially if they want to emphasize a point or if they change the point or topic in the context of the presentation content.

  • Using the Time at Hand

The presentation exercise is not always about the end result but about taking part in it and learning something new. Instead of focusing on going through the motions and finishing it fast, the candidate should try to evaluate the points to demonstrate their communicating abilities. The pace of the presentation should conform to the time allotted. Every second is an opportunity for candidates to exhibit their skills and abilities.

  • Regular Practice

The best way to master something is practicing it regularly. Candidates who have upcoming interviews with the probability of presentation exercises may practice mock presentations regularly with their peers or others so as to be aware of what to expect. If a list of probable presentation exercise topics has already been delivered beforehand by the interviewers, a presentation on every single item on the list should be made after research and should also be rehearsed. Question sessions may be practiced beforehand so that the candidate gets used to them.

  • Body Language

Body language usually has a vital impact on the outcome of the presentation exercise. Eye contact should be made, especially with the assessors in the room. Using a moderate amount of hand gestures can be effective in grabbing the attention of the audience and conveying a point to the attendees. Fidgeting or unnecessary movements should be avoided by the presenter. A mirror may be used to improve one’s body language via regular practice.

  • The Questioning Round

There will often be a questioning round at the end of the presentation. The presenter should end his presentation by welcoming any queries from the attendees. They should be knowledgeable of any information included in the presentation that may lead to questioning.  A calm yet firm pitch may be used to emphasize one’s point if there is a disagreement while answering. Every question should be heard completely and the questioner should not be cut off in between.

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