Assessment Centre > Presentation Exercise

 These presentations need to be kept fairly short as the same assessors will observe all of the candidates to make sure that the assessment is fair. You will be given a topic or possibly a choice of topics in advance and will also be told the duration of the presentation, often around ten minutes with five minutes at the end for questions. You can also expect to receive a list of the presentation equipment that is available, usually an OHP.

Presentation

The assessors are expecting you to demonstrate the following skills:

Quality of Research
You will need to research the topic carefully. Make sure that your sources are all credible and up to date. The internet is probably the easiest way to research a topic but remember to check any information that you want to use for accuracy and currency.

Organization
Having gathered all of the facts you need to make your presentation, you will need to put them into some kind of order. The best way to do this is to use cards, about 3” by 5” is ideal. Write one fact on each card, spread them out and then try to sort them in the most appropriate order. It is best to put the most important facts first and avoid trying to get too much information across in the limited time that you have. If the presentation is scheduled to last for ten minutes then you will need to allow one minute at the beginning to introduce yourself and the topic and one minute at the end to summarize your arguments. This means that you only have 8 minutes to get your points across. You may therefore need to discard some of the less important information.

Persuasiveness
You need to structure your delivery to ensure that your ideas are well organized, logical and convincing. The best way to do this is to support each point that you want to get across with just enough information, before moving on to the next point. Again, you can use cards for this. Write the ‘point’ at the top and summarize the supporting information underneath it. You should end up with between 5 and 10 cards for a ten minute presentation.

Presentation Skills
The only acceptable way to make a presentation is to speak naturally using cue cards to prompt you. You must not simply read a pre-prepared script – this will not be acceptable. In order to be able to present in this way you need to rehearse the whole presentation at least three times. This will enable you to refine your cue cards so that they hold the minimum amount of information needed to prompt you and you will not be tempted to just read out your notes. Remember to speak at a steady pace and with clarity so that you can be heard. Keep eye contact with the observers and try not to refer to your cue cards other than when strictly necessary.

Handling Questions
At the end of your presentation the observers will ask a few questions. Think about the sort of things that might be asked and try to have good answers ready. If you don’t understand the question don’t be afraid to ask for clarification and if you don’t know the answer, then be honest. If the assessor disagrees with one of your points then you will be expected to defend your reasoning but remember to be polite and constructive.

Use of Time
The assessors will also be checking that you stay within the allocated time frame. This is another reason why you must rehearse your delivery. Even experienced presenters cannot make an accurate measurement of how long a presentation will take to deliver just by looking at their notes. There is no excuse for overrunning your time slot or for running out of material when you have been told how long your presentation should take.

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