In my opinion, visiting schools around the world is perhaps one of the most effective ways of recruiting international students. When attending education exhibitions, there are so many universities around that it is a much more difficult task for the prospective student to be persuaded. Every university has a selling point and I believe at some point the prospective student can switch off with so much information fed to them. However, with school presentations, you can catch a large number of students’ attention and have a lasting presence in their minds if you can put on the right performance. Not always will it result in recruiting students, but I’m pretty certain that your performance in your presentation can and will increase your brand recognition in the long run as well. So I have put together 6 points on how to wow your audience and have a lasting effect in their minds for future recruitment with the right presentation.
1) What message do I want to give?
The first thing you must do is think and plan carefully the message that you want to give to prospective students. There is only so much that you can say in a short amount of time without them starting to get distracted. Think about what it actually is that they want to hear from you. You have to give your message in a super clear manner. Think about the most frequent questions that are asked from you. Make sure you put these answers in-between an attention catching intro and an effective finalizing summary and you’re good to go on to the next stage.
2) How long should my presentation be?
Schools are very reluctant to give you much time, but they do normally allow an hour for you to speak with them. Despite this time frame, let’s not forget that an average attention span for students is around 10-18 minutes. Therefore try to keep your presentation between 30-35 minutes at most and allow 15-20 minutes for questions.
3) What presentation tool should I use?
Although many people around the world are still using Microsoft PowerPoint, when giving presentations to students I recommend that either Prezi, PowToon or #Slides is used. The reason is that the slides are just so much more fun to look at than PowerPoint. This means that you will keep the prospective students’ attention much longer than PowerPoint. If anyone is still using PowerPoint to give presentations to young prospective students, then trust me, you must change today!
4) How should I design my presentation?
Always remind yourself about the profile of your audience. Although you may have a lot to say and want to write many points in your slides, don’t forget that you also need to put some visuals to keep your audience’s attention on your presentation. Try and design your presentation in such a way so that an interesting picture will also at the same time describe what you actually trying to say. It will be fun and interesting to look at, and you will keep your audience wondering what will come next.
5) My presentation is complete, now what?
Now it’s time to work on your performance. You may be a quite person in your private time, you may look like the sensible type from outside, you may even get told that you don’t look like you have the profile for the job because of your calmness with others. However, when you get on that stage, when the microphone is handed to you, this is the time when you turn into a star and give that performance that will wow the prospective students when no one expected from you to do so. There are two concrete rules for this; practice and confidence. Practice your presentation over and over again. Learn every bit of it with your eyes closed. This will cut out any pauses in your speech, it will cut out any “errms” and “uuhhs”, it will also speed up your presentation time. When you practice, you also develop a good tone of voice as well. Practice brings you confidence, and having a high level of confidence can actually be felt by your audience, assuring them that you are on the ball and giving them the trust on what you are saying to them. When students feel like they can trust what you’re saying, that is when they start to consider your university as a next potential destination.
6) Should I present alone or with a partner?
If your partner is trained for this presentation as you are, then feel free to present with him/her. However, if you travel with academic faculty members, current students or alumni to intentionally give these presentations, then I’m afraid your presentation will not have the same wow affect as it would have done if you had done it alone. In this case, I would advise you to conduct the presentation yourself and leave your partner for questions. Do not get me wrong, having an academic faculty member, a current student or alumni with you abroad definitely has huge advantages! However, if you want your presentation to stand out, keep them to the side and use them afterwards to bolster and back up your performance.
Start improving tomorrow
With an attractive and to the point presentation along with a powerful delivery, the chances of recruiting students for your institution will significantly increase. Not only that, but your brand awareness will also increase because you will have a lasting effect in the prospective students’ minds. You may not recruit that specific student, but you may recruit a friend or family member of that student when he/she goes home and describes the cool presentation of the university that visited his/her school. So tomorrow, get your team together, go over your current presentation, and start improving it if you haven’t yet done so!