For many of us, the challenge of applying for a new job or promotion can sometimes be overshadowed by the prospect of having to perform an observed exercise. Often this is set as delivering a presentation, for example to highlight your industry skills and achievements. If you plan to create a presentation in PowerPoint, then you already have the medium to help you deliver a professional presentation. Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 has an array of tools including SmartArt and a host of Themes which guarantee that you will create a winning slide show.

But if you are worried about how you deliver your PowerPoint presentation, help is at hand: the following offers a guide on how to prepare, present and pass an observed exercise. You can then concentrate on the content of the presentation and show how well you know your subject. Very often the panel observing your exercise will not be looking for an in-depth lecture on the topic, but they will want to learn more about you and your expertise. Armed with the knowledge about what your assessors are going to look for when you deliver your presentation, equips you with the expertise and understanding needed to get you through the delivery.

Observed exercises, such as a presentation, are difficult to assess consistently and fairly unless the assessors use a set of predetermined assessment guidelines. In order to give each candidate a fair assessment, the assessors will refer to set procedures and scoring systems. This also has the advantage of ensuring that there is recorded evidence to back up the recruitment decisions in the case of a dispute. An assessor will have guidance in what and how to assess the presentation. Thinking about these guidelines, helps you better understand what might be going on during your presentation.

Throughout your presentation, the assessors will be looking for areas of competency. By observing your performance in skills such as communication and persuasion, will give the assessors an idea of positive and negative indicators (observable behaviours) of each competency. For example, asking for the opinion of others is a positive indicator of team working, whereas talking over others is a negative indicator.

You will probably be given an idea of how many people the interview panel will be made up of. This will help you adapt your delivery. For example, you can think about how much eye contact you can feasibly make depending on whether you are presenting to one person or ten people.

While you are delivering your presentation, the assessors are likely to be watching your actions and behaviour, looking especially at non-verbal communication. It's your chance to shine, not shrivel, so make the most of your time by appearing confident and friendly.

Don't be put off if the assessors constantly take notes while you are talking. It's part of their remit to remember details of body language, intonation, quotes, etc as a way of remembering what you say and how you say it. Some presentations may also be recorded by video for evidence and scoring later.

When your presentation has come to an end, the assessors might take time to apply what has happened on an observation sheet. Don't be alarmed, as they will do this for each candidate individually by picking out positive and negative indicators of each competency; it could, perhaps, be a sentence, an action, or certain body language.

For example, a negative indicator of empathy may be if the candidate demonstrates closed body language such as crossing their arms and leaning away from their audience. The positive and negative indicators of competencies will be noted on a specially-designed ratings form.

Remember, if your assessment is as formal as this it does mean that the observation will be both thorough and fair. Your prospective employers will be professionally evaluating your competencies against other candidates on a scoring system and not just on a notion of whether they like or dislike you.

For every candidate, assessors will look at the positive and negative indicators for each competency and assign a score. This score is based on an agreed scoring system, which usually works on a scale. For example, five is a score for a very high level of ability and one is the score to indicate poor level of ability.

The scale will include descriptors of what each score means. Acceptable level of ability means that a candidate shows a good level of ability for this competency although is inconsistent with some responses. The score for each competency will be marked on the ratings form.

Assessors will then assign candidates an overall score for each competency by looking at the trend of scores and discussing the results with the other assessors. While averaging the scores for each competency is the most objective method of gaining an overall score, there will be discussion between all the assessors to ensure a fair result. For example, a candidate may have achieved the top score in all but one activity due to factors beyond their control. An average would, in this case, bring down their score unfairly. The assessors will then pool judgements and reach a consensus over the performance of each candidate, taking into account the different weightings of each competency.

And remember, using PowerPoint will help you through the assessment - safe in the knowledge that you have created a professional, quality presentation. It might just give you that extra sparkle to help you to shine and not shrivel.