From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

June 2020
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Presentations. What do they seek in an interview presentation?
Filed under: Interviewing, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 4:42 pm

We all work feverishly hard on the oral parts of what
we say and how we say it, whether at a school or
technical meeting presentation.  Nonetheless, nine-
tenths of how we assimilate information is on the
other aspects…visual, pacing, identifying what the audience
seeks and meeting it in an agreeable manner.

How well we are received depends on how well we
understand our audience.  For it is the audience that
matters the most.  My colleague, S. Sobolov, uses the
Myers-Briggs TI 16 preferences to describe all the
different audience member types.  In a class of 18
students, 9 different types are found as an example. 

When we give a presentation in a job interview, the
presentation is about you.  Everything else supports
your candidacy.   So, in a way, there is a role reversal.
Your candidacy will be enhanced by how clearly you
connect with your audience and communicate ideas,
relevance and show how you achieve results.

Do you relish the thought of being on the spot, having
a time limit, and responding to thoughtful questions?
Sometimes, it is not so much the problem but how
you make progress in a way consistent with how the
organization functions.

Academic institutions like fluency to speak to many
audiences and effectiveness in soliciting grants.
They will also assess your motivation, creativity, and
Industrial organizations stress the ‘likeability’ factor
and examples of relating stories about teamwork and
decisive action yielding results.  While it is nice to
be comprehensive and know all there is about a subject,
the speed and efficiency to get a result may be more
highly regarded. 

This post offers suggestions and observations for
industrial and business interview presentations.

In some fields there is a 45 minute limit with questions.
In others 10 minutes are given for presentations.  The time
frame makes a difference.  I have heard one commentator
mention that if she has  to give a 3 hour presentation, she
could give it now.  If she had a 50 minute presentation
slot, she could do it tomorrow.  For a 10 minute slot, please
give her a week.  It needs to be polished and refined.

Not long ago, a capable scientist who had done fine work was
invited to present at an start-up biotech firm.  The talk moved
well in describing the science.  Then, he was asked to indicate
how it shows he would be good for the position, he stumbled.
He had not prepared to sell himself and why he was well prepared
to do a great job.

He failed in his presentation to link the value of his neat
science to getting results for the audience.  While in academic
circles good science may be enough to convince an organization
of technical prowess, it must be marketed and tailored to
the audience with persuasiveness and skill.

1.  Learn who is in your audience from your host and discuss
what would most be interesting to them.
2.  Have a chance to set up your computer and visuals so
everyone can view them without waiting. 
3.  Edit wording down, simplify figures to their essence.
S. Sobolov  offers the 1-7-7 rule: 
       1 point per slide
        7 lines text per slide, max
        7 words per line, max
4.  Incorporate stories to relate impact on people, propose
possibilities, and engage the audience to relate with you.
5.  Speak to one person in the audience at a time.
6.  Rehearse so that you can carry on if interrupted and
edit based on comments. 
7.  Jerry Weissman’s Presenting to Win Flow structures
add real value.

3 Responses to “Presentations. What do they seek in an interview presentation?”

  1. site admin Says:

    See Michael Ernst for tips for academic presentations:
  2. site admin Says:

    Several have asked me: Should we have an agenda slide
    in a 10 minute talk?

    Only if it is up permanently throughout the talk and you
    refer to it to keep on track. 10 minute talks might have
    a different flow. “the rule of three” is suggested for a
    workable structure.
  3. site admin Says:

    In addition to the academic research talk and possible
    class presentation, Stan Wong shared that a “chalk talk”
    is often asked for where a person presents their ideas
    for future research.

    This is something academic applicants should plan to do.
    I am told this can be a free format with questions,
    comments and interruptions in a collegial manner.

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