Buy practice assessment centre exercises
- Group Exercise
- Presentation Exercise
- Analysis Exercise
- Role Play Exercise
- Case Study Exercise
- Assigned Role Exercise
Presentation exercises and how they work
Presentation exercises are a selection tool, often utilised for graduate level recruitment and for graduate schemes. These exercises are often used for positions requiring high levels of customer facing work and/or presenting information such as sales, finance and management consulting. How candidates are provided with a topic for their presentation will vary depending on the format. Candidates may be asked to give a presentation based on a prior case study exercise, or on a group/role play exercise they had previously undertaken. Similarly candidates may be given information regarding a topic, and given a set amount of time (usually about 30 minutes) to prepare, or candidates may be given a topic in advance of the assessment centre date. These presentations will typically last 10-20 minutes and may be allowed to use PowerPoint, flip charts or other presentational tools provided by the organisation.
What does a presentation exercise assess?
Presentation exercises primarily test a candidates communication skills, knowledge and understanding of the topic will also be taken into account, but are not the primary skill tested. Typical factors assessed in presentation exercises include:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Public speaking ability
- Persuasion and influence
- Confidence and ability to remain calm under pressure
- Clarity of speech and verbal ability
- Ability to interpret and relay information
- Ability to structure and design effective presentations
- Timing and ability to pace
What should you know before a presentation exercise
Presentation exercises are almost always used in conjunction with other exercises, such as group exercises, case study exercises, interviews and role play exercises, and therefore a decision will be made based on all these abilities, not just the presentation. If you are required to give a presentation based on a topic in advance of your assessment centre day, you will be told the topic in sufficient time to design a presentation, rather than the night before. If you are not told beforehand the topic of the presentation, you will not be expected to use prior knowledge when preparing and presenting your presentation.
General presentation exercise advice
Here are some tops and recommendations to help you design and present your presentation and help ensure you are ready:
1. Remain calm: Presentations are notorious for inducing performance anxiety and stage fright, therefore staying as calm is possible is a necessity. It is important to remember that recruiters know just how nerve racking presentations will be, and will give leeway to candidates who seem nervous, but not at the expense of performance. If presentations are a serious issue for you and arouse serious anxiety then anxiety reducing techniques such as breathing techniques, progressive relation and taking your time when presenting can help boost your nerves, and help you perform to your maximal ability.
2. Discussion: You may be asked to perform a group leaderless discussion, in which candidates will be presented with work place relevant scenario or problem. The group then must address this issue and find a logical conclusion, for example identifying a problem with an organisation/department and agreeing on steps to resolve this issue.
3. Role-play exercise: Candidates may be asked to undergo a group role-play exercise. In this exercise candidates will be provided with a particular role, background information on the situation and full briefing. An example of a group role-play exercise is a mock meeting, in which each candidate assumes a specific role, and must fulfil their respective objectives and the group objective.
General group exercise advice
These recommendations can help you succeed during your group exercise, and ensure that you impress recruiters and stand out from the crowd.
1. Stay as calm as possible: Composure, ability to work under pressure and confidence are highly prized competencies which recruiters look for. Performance anxiety can be a mixed blessing as too much of it can hinder performance, but a moderate amount may sharpen focus and keep you on track. Just remember that the other candidates will be just as nervous as you are, and recruiters are fully aware of how nerve racking assessment centres can be. So remember that no one is expecting you to be totally laid back (recruiters would not think you are taking it seriously if you were) but do your best to keep your composure and focus during the exercise.
2. Using correct presentation format: Ensuring that you presentation has a clear introduction and conclusion can help structure your presentation effectively. Introducing yourself and the topic helps set the scene and sets up the presentation for a good pace. The middle of the presentation should naturally be interesting and varied, presenting as much information as possible while providing enough depth and focus as necessary. Use of graphs, figures and animations may be used depending on the format, and may be helpful in relaying information in a concise and summary way. The conclusion should summarise the key points of the presentation, aswell as a snappy final thought to help leave your mark.
3. Time limits and pace: Ensuring a good pace is essential, as an overly quick pace will be rated as badly as an overly long presentation. If you are given time before the assessment centre to design a presentation then do a few practice presentations to ensure correct pace. If you have a limited amount of time before the presentation then try and present it in your head while watching the time and assuming the correct pace. Time limits will not be to the second, and you will be provided with a rough estimate of how long it will take early on.
4. Body language: Incorporating an open stance, hand signals/gestures and eye contact will ensure that your presentation flows more smoothly, and helps to build rapport with your audience. Similarly avoid fidgeting, keeping hands in pockets and looking away from, or above your audience to avoid eye contact. These factors highlight discomfort and nervousness in a presentation and hinder performance, and should be avoided at all costs.
5. Don't read from a script: Script reading, particularly word for word prevents the natural flow of information, and makes the presentation seem dull and robotic. This will also have a negative effect on your audience you will be less able to make eye contact or express positive body language. Instead general cue cards with generic and summary information should be used to reminding yourself of the topic being discussed.
Tips on writing the presentation
Writing and designing a presentation can be a difficult process, particularly when you have a limited amount of time to do so. here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when writing and structuring a presentation:
1. The rule of three: As a well known rule of thumb, audiences of presentations will remember three important topics from your presentation. As a result it is important to decide which three important messages you want to convey to your audience, and highlight them. Similarly it is important to structure your presentation into three distinct parts, an introduction, the middle and the conclusion.
2. Less is more: Particularly when giving presentations which short time limits, condensing information and summarizing can be an essential method of saving time without sacrificing content. The use of bullet points, short snappy sentences and figures can trim down the length of a presentation, helping the audience remember the key issues presented. Long and nebulous presentations with large amounts of unnecessary waffle are sure to be rated badly by recruiters.
3. Be prepared for questions: As part of the exercise you may be expected to be asked questions based on the material presented. If there is information which could not be fitted into the presentation, then familiarise yourself with it and be ready to answer questions on it at the end, or even during the presentation by fellow candidates or recruiters. This will show the recruiters that you have made yourself familiar with the information, and have shown prioritisation when it comes to the content of the presentation.
4. Never give negative feedback to other candidates: If a candidate generates an idea which you do not agree, do not criticise them, even after the exercise has finished. Not only will this put the team on edge and make them feel less comfortable around you, but you will seem less diplomatic and less patient, putting off recruiters.
5. Co workers not competitors: Do not think of your peers as your competitors for the position you want. Similarly do not try and show up, or outcompete your peers, it's a group exercise and facilitating team work will impress recruiters. Aggressive individualism, over competitiveness and not supporting team members is a serious put off for recruiters and will be noted as poor performance.
Tips on giving the presentation
Once you have designed your presentation, giving it is a whole different experience, and can be very hit or miss. Here are some helpful tips to remember when presenting your presentation:
1. When you are presenting, you are in charge: It is an important point to remember, that when you are giving a presentation, you are and must be in charge of the room. You are in the position of power as the audience has to respect your authority on the subject and pay attention. realising this fact will help build confidence, and help the candidate keep in control of the presentation, and keep the audience under their control.
2. Volume: Ensuring that you are loud enough to get everyone's attention is critical, but being too loud is also as serious an issue. Practice your voice volume before the assessment centre to gage how loud you are, and how loud you should be when giving presentations. Obviously the volume needed will depend on the size and acoustics of the room, but with practice you can gage an understanding of the volume needed.
3. Use of humour: Fitting humour into a presentation can be a useful exercise, but it is not always appropriate or necessary. If the topic is one that allows the use of humour, then the occupational joke or humours illustration can be warranted, and can express interpersonal skills.
How AssessmentDay can help
AssessmentDay offers a specialised, assessment centre pack offering a myriad of practice assessment centre exercises, along with guidance on exercise performance. Our pack contains a presentation exercise, which can be used to form the basis of a mock presentation and/or provide individual insight into the structure, format and scoring of a presentation exercises. Similarly, our assessment centre pack provides candidates with examples, and recommendations, for the other top assessment centre exercises, including group exercises, analysis exercises, role-play exercises etc. We are also more than happy to answer any questions you have, so please, feel free to drop us an email for some advice.
Along with interviews, presentations are some of the more nerve racking and anxiety provoking assessment tools. However if done well, presentations can be a really good method of impressing recruiters.
Having reached the assessment centre stage of the process, recruiters must consider you a strong and viable candidate for the role, and therefore have confidence in your ability. As with all assessment exercises, practice is extremely valuable and successful or not, the experience of these procedures will improve your performance next time round.
Experts Reveal All
Psychometric tests: Most candidates come out of their first psychometric test thinking "I wish I had known that before". Our series of tests pass on all of our hard-learned knowledge to you.