How should I handle a public speaking component of a job interview?
October 3, 2008 6:00 AM   Subscribe

I have an job interview in three days at a large public university medical center in the U.S. As the job has a public speaking component, they are asking all the candidates to give a 3-5 minute presentation on a technology or academia topic. How should I handle this?

The position is in a department that helps the medical center implement technology and communication tools. For example, if a department needed a medical illustration, a brochure or a video produced, they would use this particular department's resources. They have rolled out a web-based system that allows the medical center employees—and eventually the entire university—to put their resumes/curriculum vitae's online. I am pretty sure this position involves conducting classes on how to use the system.

The position is not a management position and the pay is not great but it seems like it would be a great place to work and I think I would really enjoy being there. My background most recently has been in computer desktop support. I have a Master's degree and have taught graduate-level classes about 15 years ago as well as classes to employees looking for tips on how to use Microsoft Outlook.

I have been on recent interviews and am comfortable with my interview skills but this little talk has thrown me for a loop. I am looking for advice on how I should best handle this public speaking component. I know it's for a really short amount of time but I am having difficulty trying to come up with a decent topic on technology or academia that I can discuss in 3-5 minutes. There will apparently only be about 5 people there to hear it. I think I am simply over-thinking things but I am not sure.

Do you have experience in this area? How do you think I should handle this?
posted by playmobil to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh man, there are so many interesting topics in healthcare IT right now. For a position like this, I'd hit some of the Big Ideas just to show you're jazzed up about all the cool stuff coming down the pipeline. Research university people LOVE Big Ideas.

Big things to read about:

Collaboration and distance learning programs. These are huge because it lets a medical school train doctors ANYWHERE. In other words, Stanford could be training doctors in the third world.

Digital hospitals and remote monitoring that will some day let people stay at home rather than the ICU, hopefully lowering costs and freeing up valuable hospital rooms.

Interoperability of data. Right now, all the machines that go "ping!" spit out data that is often in proprietary formats. I know there are projects to open it up in order to make digital medical records more.

posted by paanta at 6:22 AM on October 3, 2008

here's my two cents worth on this,

Pick a simple topic that could be a relevant "How to" - you already have some idea of the types of things that you would be expected to 'teach'

See if it is one that you can break down into not more than 5 easy steps or a few more, the goal being to not use more than 5 slides since your time is limited

Limit text on each slide to one single clear instruction, and have an accompanying image or two, i.e. visuals work better than words

There's some websites or two around with a collation of quick and easy "how to" guides, you may be able to get inspiration there

Practice this in front of people who don't have a clue about what you are talking about and have them give you feedback on the clarity of your instructions, the way you broke them down into 'easy steps' and the content of your talk

Hope this helps and good luck!
posted by infini at 6:25 AM on October 3, 2008

Seconding pick a topic, like how to use some cool resource, like Elluminate(they have a free 3-person on-line conference capability), Moodle online course management, or a cool, business-related Firefox add-on. You want to show your technical capability, as well as training/presentation skills.

You'll probably use a powerpoint. Bleahhhh, but it's de rigeur. Make it a good, and give it a theme that uses their logo and colors.

Practice the presentation several times. In fact, practicing, ideally with an audience, is the most important part.

Be prepared for questions you can't answer. If you get a question you can't answer, make note of it. Ask the questioner for their email address, and email them the answer that day.
posted by theora55 at 12:09 PM on October 3, 2008

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