Presentation skills are everything in an oral interview. Speaking to a group is one of the top fears. Most candidates panic.

“Everyone has butterflies; the trick is to get them to all fly in the same formation.”

Your test might include making a 5 to 15-minute presentation to a panel. The topic can be assigned or you can select one from a list. You might have 15+ minutes to prepare the presentation.

“The toughest thing to do in making a speaking presentation, or an interview, is to be yourself on purpose.” Patricia Fripp, National Speakers Association.

If you can’t give a talk or go to an oral board and be conversational and yourself on purpose, you are sending someone else to do the job. According to a study done by Stanford University, 85% of getting the job is your enthusiasm. If you will light yourself on fire with enthusiasm in an interview or speaking presentation, the panel will stand up, applaud, and watch you butt burn.

This simple formula from the book “Inspire Any Audience,” by Tony Jeary can help you through the process:

1. Introduction
2. Three major points (and examples to support major points)
3. Questions & Answers
4. Summary
5. Closing

The “Nugget” here is to use K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetie). Most candidates complicate the presentation. They try to intellectualize the process and pack too much into their presentation. They waste time by trying to give a blue print, when all that is needed is a sketch. The I.Q. of an audience drops when a presentation is given. Stick to the formula . . . Nothing more . . . Nothing less.

Five minutes will fly by and you won't have enough time to deliver a stand up dog and pony show. Too many candidates will try to pull something off, get delayed and get time called on them just as they were getting to their best stuff.

I personally wouldn’t use more than a flip chart for a presentation of less than 15-minutes. You just don’t have enough time. Remember, nothing can replace the power of your words. You can use an easel with your major points with color marking pens. You can use a pencil to write your notes lightly in the margin that the panel will not see. This is all about presentation skills! Try not to stand behind a lectern. Be out in front with the panel.

Don’t have your presentation set in cement. If something unexpected happens during your presentation . . . use improv and go for it. It’s not what happens in the front of the room. The real action takes place in the audience.