Job Applications – The Content of Your Presentation

The content of your presentation will be based on a simple formula, one I’m sure you’ve come across in many contexts. The basic format is simple and is always the same:

Tell them what you’re going to tell them

Make your points

Tell them what you’ve just told them

In other words, an introduction which gives an overview of the presentation, followed by a short talk based on the points listed in the overview and to finish, a summary of the points you have just covered.

How you present the material will depend on the audio visual aids available and which you feel most comfortable with. Let’s say you choose Overhead Transparencies (OHTs).

Your overview will be an OHT with a list of topics to be covered.
Then you will have one or two OHTs to illustrate each point.
You can use the first OHT again to summarise, or if you feel it is more appropriate, a new one which sums up the conclusions you have come to in the talk.

Some Tips for using OHTs

Make sure you use the right sort of OHT – there are different OHTs for use with laser and inkjet printers and so be sure to get the type which matches the printer you’ll be using. Otherwise the result could be smudged or blurred.

Font size – don’t use anything under 24 points as this will be difficult to read.

Don’t put too much information on each OHT. About 6 well spaced out lines of text is enough.

Check the Overhead Projector before you begin and make sure you know how it works.

Use a pen or pencil and point to the actual OHT and not the screen onto which it has been projected.

Leave each transparency up long enough for everyone to read it, but if you are talking quite a bit in between OHTs, switch the projector off. This may not be necessary in a very short presentation. Use common sense.

Using Notes

If you have practised in advance and are familiar with your subject, notes should not be necessary. Use the OHTs or other visual aids to prompt you. If you are asked to do a longer presentation and feel you can’t do without notes, keep them brief and leave them on the table for emergencies. Remember, your presentation should never be a reading of your notes. You can read a quotation or figures which you might not be expected to remember, but never, ever simply stand there and read your notes from start to finish. Notes should be a prompt, used only if nerves get the better of you and cause you to dry up.

Prepare to do without Audio Visual Aids

The more technical the aids you use, the more likely they are to go wrong. So always be prepared to do the presentation without them. If you are using PowerPoint, print out your slides and make sure you have a copy for each member of the panel. If using OHTs, a whiteboard or a flipchart make some sort of handout to illustrate your points. It’s not only technology which can go wrong – interviews can be moved to a room without a whiteboard and people can forget to provide a flipchart.


A professionally produced handout is a good way to round off a presentation. It gives you a chance to show that you know your subject or have done your homework on the company. Don’t make it too long or use dense text. A short, illustrated and relevant handout will make a good impression and if it’s touch and go between you and one other candidate, might just tip the balance in your favour.

© Waller Jamison 2005