With recent reports from the rumor mill indicating that full time offers for interns are going to be scarce this year, interns hoping to secure an offer need to squeeze as much as they can out of face time with the powers that be. Many times the last chance to make a big impression comes in the form of the end of summer presentations.
I recently had to sit through 2 hours worth of summer intern presentations. Not exactly the way I would have liked to start my morning. During these 2 hours there were a few rookie mistakes that made me laugh with my inside voice, and then there were a few interns that genuinely impressed me. For those of you gearing up to give a presentation this summer, I've listed some basic Dos and Don'ts after the break.
How to crush your internship exit presentation
Do: Dress the part
In a group of 8 interns that were presenting, only 1 was wearing a suit and tie. I understand it's hot as balls out and it's mid-summer, but it won't kill you to actually look professional for 10 minutes. One kid actually showed up wearing a short-sleeve button down. What kind of message are you trying send? That you were dressed by your mom? Listen, a recession in the economy does not mean a recession in fashion.
Do: Present with energy
Act like you actually enjoyed what you spent your summer working on…even if you didn't. If you're bored giving the presentation, imagine how bored everyone who has to listen to it is goign to be.
Do: Be overprepared
It never hurts to have a plan A through D. Have hard copies of your presentation with you and have multiple soft copies in your email and USB. Don't be that kid who couldn't give their presentation because they sent the wrong version. Never expect everything to go as planned
Do: Stand up
This year presentations were held round-table style in a conference room and out of the 8 presenters only 1 thought to stand up. It really makes all the difference. Your voice projects more and demands the attention of the audience.
Do: Be concise
Can you express the main point on any given slide in 20 words or less? If not revise. People these days have the attention span of a gnat hopped up on bath salts.
Do: Leave time for questions
Hopefully, you've made some insightful points during your presentation and your audience has been kept awake long enough to ask questions. If no one asks questions, don't take it personally. If they do and you don't know the answer or are out of time, be sure to follow up after.
Don't: Present as though you're talking with your buddies
Don't pepper your presentation with complaints about working long hours or working on weekends. You had a job for the summer and we expect that you get it done, even if it means *GASP* staying past 6. If you want a 40-hour work week, I think the Gap is still hiring.
Don't: Read directly from the slides
This is presenting 101. I get that you're nervous, but the slides are there for reference not as a script to be read verbatim. Reading from the slides makes it seem like you don't know your stuff and you'll likely sound like you have Voice Immodulation syndrome and that's just no fun for everyone involved.
Don't: Speed through the presentation
We usually give our interns about 10 minutes, so there's a tendency to rush through. Consciously slow down your speech, remember to breathe and pause every now and then to let the audience digest the content.
Don't: Hold unnecessary props
Holding things like pens or extra papers just to have something to do with your hands is distracting. I'd say its better to put your hands in your pockets then waving around your hands like maniac.
At the end of the day it's just a presentation and hopefully the work you've done these past couple of weeks speaks for itself. So wipe down your sweaty palms and just pretend everyone is naked. Good Luck!