How do Presentation exercises work?
During an assessment day, presentation exercises may be used as a selection tool. They are often used for graduate schemes of equivalent level recruitment. They aim to assess a candidate’s ability and public speaking and interpersonal skills – typically useful skills in the workplace. These presentation exercises may be about presenting information around management, finance or sales. Presentation exercises may be taken before a case study or following a case study using the material therein to present. Typically, candidates are given a set amount of time to prepare, around 30 minutes. Some presentation exercises work by given the candidate the topic prior to the assessment day itself and ask them to adequately prepare. These presentations may be done with PowerPoint, KeyNote or other such presentational tools provided by the organisation.
What does a presentation exercise assess?
First and foremost, a presentation exercise assesses a candidate's communication skills. Naturally, initial knowledge and comprehension of the given topic will also be taken into account, but are not the primary skill tested. We list some factors that are typically assessed with a presentation exercise:
- Ability to interpret and relay information
- Ability to structure and design effective presentations
- Clarity of speech and verbal ability
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Confidence and ability to remain calm under pressure
- Persuasion and influence
- Public speaking ability
- Timing and ability to pace
What if I struggle with Presentation exercises?
While group exercises are an important part of the selection process, group exercises are rarely if ever used as assessments by themselves. They will most likely be used in conjunction with other exercises. As such, the decision to recruit the candidate or not will not be done to the group exercise alone. Rather, it is be based on all the abilities assessed from the various exercises, such as case study exercises, role play exercises, etc.
Tips on preparing the presentation
Writing and designing a presentation can be a challenging process, particularly when you have a limited amount of time to do so. We list some useful tips for your presentation exercise here:
1. The rule of three: A good, general principle is to structure your presentation into three sections. An introduction, the middle/main and the conclusion. Equally, think of three key ideas you want people to come away with from your presentation. Use them as focus points and highlight them when appropriate.
2. Less is more: When you have a short time limit, as is typically the case with a presentation exercise, summarizing essential information and making sure you stay on point is a good method to follow. Using bullet points and short sentences can help reduce the length of a presentation and can help avoid the potential of over-complicating a point. Presentations will a lot of talking around an issue can be unnecessary and unpleasant.
3. Be prepared for questions: After the presentation, you will be asked questions on the material you presented. Sometimes it is possible for you to be asked questions not directly on the information in your presentation, but a part of the information you were given to study. This is only the case if you were given a topic prior to the assessment day to study. In this situation, make sure you have familiarized yourself with the material such that you can answer these questions.
Tips on giving the presentation
Giving a presentation can be a challenging thing for many people. We list some useful tips for your presentation exercise here:
1. Confidence: Confidence is one of the most important elements of presenting but can the thing that people find difficult. Remember: when you are presenting, you are in charge of how the discussion is going to take place in the room. Knowing that people are listening to you and that you have the audience must respect your authority of your words can help build confidence and at minimum maintain some control of your presentation.
2. Volume: Ensuring that you are loud enough to get everyone's attention is critical, but being too loud is also as serious an issue. Consider the volume of your voice before the assessment centre to gage how loud you are, and how loud you should be when giving presentations. Obviously the volume needed will depend on the size and acoustics of the room, but with practice you can gage an understanding of the volume needed.
3. Humor: Humor is always a useful tool in presenting. While it is not always appropriate to use humor when presenting, especially in sensitive topics, those situations are unlikely to be a part of your presentation exercise. As such, the occasionally joke or humorous slide in your presentation can be helpful in keeping the audience engaged.