In today’s blog, LLM student Imogen Todd talks about an all-important topic… presentation skills! Whether you’re doing a presentation for your course, or for a group of managers at work, there are at least ten things you can learn to enhance your skills… take it away, Imogen!
Apparently, the second most common fear in the world is the fear of death. What could be more feared than death? The answer is public speaking. It has been estimated that around 75% of the population face some level of anxiety at the idea of public speaking, even including Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. Although this piece is not exclusively about addressing public speaking anxiety, the proceeding steps are aimed at boosting your confidence in upcoming interviews and assessment centres. I have developed these tips through my training to become a barrister and will be sharing this advice with future King’s students as the new KCL Willem C. Vis Moot Team Head Coach.
1) Say what you’re going to say, say it, then say it again.
Road-mapping involves explaining the structure of your answer before attempting to answer a question, e.g.: ‘I am applying for this job for three reasons…’; ‘There are two key problems with the suggested plan of action’ etc. This roadmap should be included once at the start of your answer and repeated at the end of your answer. This will help your interviewer to take effective notes of your answer and demonstrates an ability to communicate your ideas clearly.
2) In general, people speak too quickly.
Take a beat before answering questions. Again, your assessor will appreciate being given time to take notes and will also make you seem more articulate.
3) Keep both feet on the ground.
Do not fidget. It is distracting and does not give a professional impression.
4) Warm up your voice.
Try to make sure that you use your voice before the interview by speaking to friends, family or even your reflection. This will help to warm up your vocal cords. A lot of actors do vocal exercises before performing on stage as demonstrated by Sharpay Evans in High School Musical.
Practising your presentational skills will enable you to understand and develop your personal style of speaking. There are many methods of perfecting speech; Demosthenes, a famous Greek orator, would rehearse his speeches with stones in his mouth [see picture on the right]. You can practise by signing up to one of the moots or debates offered through the KCL Mooting Society or the KCL Debating Society.
6) Know your audience.
Ultimately your aim should be to impress your assessor. Different styles of speaking tend to sit well with different audiences. It is usually possible to discern the ‘style’ of an assessor by the way they advertise on their website.
It is also worth noting that some ‘virtual interviews’ are screened by AI for marking. This AI marking will award points for looking into the camera and using trigger words.
If you’re looking to sharpen up your skills for interviews or practice case studies or presentations (these are common assesment tasks during recruitment), have a look at our advice and e-learning resources on King’s Careers & Employability KEATS pages!
7) Do not be afraid of silence.
It is ok to pause between points. In fact, pauses in your presentation give an impression of thoughtfulness and can allow you to punctuate your points.
8) Glass of water.
If you find you are asked a particularly difficult question, you can buy yourself extra time by taking a sip of water. This will give you an excuse to pause for thought and will save you discomfort if you develop cottonmouth. If you are still unable to come up with a good answer, explain your thoughts to the interviewer and why you are not satisfied with your answer; this tends to be a better response than confidently giving a bad answer or no answer at all.
9) Be polite.
NEVER interrupt or become aggressive with your assessor. If the assessor is asking incisive questions, it is usually because you are doing well and are being tested. Your interaction with other candidates will vary in different tests. Generally, in an assessment centre, you will be scored on the basis of your interactions with other candidates and so treat them as you would an assessor (top tip: call other candidates by their name to score extra points).
There is a reason this Tip is in most presentational skills guides. The best way to feel confident before any assessment is to be familiar with the process. The KCL Career Service is fantastic in this regard as they offer mock assessment centres and case studies (both of which I have attended and found very useful).
Hopefully, these tips will assist in your future applications. Ultimately, it is a matter of understanding your personal presentational style. This will be achieved by putting your voice out there and embracing feedback. The beauty of mastering your presentational skills is that even if you are entirely wrong on the substance of what you have said, at least it sounded good.
Written by Imogen Todd
Edited by Laura Patari