The hiring process has a blueprint—submit a resume, go through a couple phone screens, shine during an in-person one-on-one interview and ace the final interview where you meet the team. If all goes well after pay and benefits discussions and referencing checking concludes, a job offer may follow. But there are industries and organizations that demand more from the employee selection process. Certain circumstances require creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to find the right talent for the job. The sporting industry is unique—small businesses making and spending big dollars hire motivated people to work oddball hours and handle high stress situations. Within certain departments of the front office, hiring managers use presentations in addition to standard interviewing methods. The technique—used more-and-more to differentiate prospective employees—demands a different kind of preparation. Be ready to stand out when the time comes.

Speaking well is important. The ability to coherently get your point across and rally a crowd behind your premise will take you far in the sports industry. Employers need a staff that can have productive one-on-one and group discussions but they also want people that can stand in front of a room and sell an idea. Asking potential employees to conduct a mock presentation allows them to judge your preparation methods as well as your ability to engage a crowd. What do you do when you’re asked to prepare and give a presentation? Unless you do a lot of public speaking it might be something you haven’t done in years. Don’t walk into the interview room unprepared.

Understand the rules. Do you have a time limit or other guidelines to consider? Who will you be speaking to? Will you have access to a slide deck with projector or is it just you and some note cards? This information lets you gear your presentation to the right crowd and organize its cadence. Get educated on the subject. You might be given a product to talk about or asked to speak with the sales team about a new sales technique. You may not know much about the exact subject so putting in research time is important, even for a mock presentation. It’s about more than how you speak in front of a crowd. Proper preparation shows employers your willingness to learn new subjects, proves your attention to detail and showcases your self-driven nature. And learning the details will prepare you for questions you may receive after you’re done speaking. If you’re allowed to use PowerPoint (Microsoft) or Keynote (Apple) to guide your talk go light on words and use clean slide transitions. Paragraphs on a presentation slide are a big no-no and dizzying slide transitions are distracting. Use a simple format and add an image and a few words per slide that highlight your points and jog your memory of the talking points. It might seem like overkill but practice your presentation in front of a small group of friends and family to work out the kinks, time yourself and, most importantly, get out the nerves.

When you step in front of the room for the final presentation you’ll likely be nervous but the time you’ve spent getting ready will dull the anxiety. Make eye contact; focus your attention on each person for at least 15 to 30 seconds at a time to keep your eyes from darting around the room. Use some hand gestures which may keep you from swaying or bouncing on your feet. And make sure you speak loud enough for the person in the back of the room to hear you. Voice projection and tone are important, showing prospective employers your level of confidence and clarity in conversation. Cover all your points with a pace that allows the presentation to flow well without giving the perception that you’re in a hurry to finish up. And, as you conclude, make sure to thank everyone for their time and ask what questions you can answer. You treated it like a real presentation and that’s sure to get the attention of your audience, many who have seen more than one person come into their office and “wing it”. Well done.  

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