(Posted June 2023)

The PEP Capstone 1 module is nearing its end and the time between submitting your final report and preparing your presentation can feel short. Plan ahead to use this time effectively. You do not want to spend all your time designing your presentation and have no time to practice presenting.

Some tips to make your final presentation a success:

  • Set the theme. Download a free Microsoft Office or Google Slide template with themed colours, professional clipart, and smart art and set your team’s font and size before preparing the slides. Creating a cohesive look contributes to professionalism and setting these formatting rules early will avoid time-consuming edits later.
  • Prepare your backup slides. Your presentation should be digestible. Avoid large tables of numbers that are difficult to read and interpret. That said, the extra details may be helpful to support your discussion in the question-and-answer period. Create back-up slides at the end of your presentation and only present them as needed. You can also set up hyperlinks in your presentation to your completed report, supporting calculations or other relevant support. This will allow you to quickly open the relevant backup to support your responses during the question-and-answer period.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Practice alone in front of a mirror, and in front of a friend or family member. Before you practice, ask them to give you constructive feedback. Let them know whether negative comments will increase your stress and to give corrective feedback constructively. Set a time to gather as a group and practice in person. This is important for planning smooth transitions and feeling confident as a team.
  • Prepare to support your team members. Share your notes and presentation outline with one other member of your group. If anything happens, you can support each other as needed. This should not be necessary, but it is wise to be prepared.
  • Get into your role. The Capstone 1 presentation is a simulation, with a mock board of directors reviewing you. Stay in the role given to you in the Capstone 1 case. Get into character and act the part. This is your client. You want to help them and you want to impress them.
  • Present with your hands. Research suggests that presenters are viewed as more effective and knowledgeable when they make hand gestures as compared to speakers who keep their hands still. Avoid keeping your hands in your pockets or your arms crossed. Practice comfortably speaking with your hands to help emphasize points as you speak. Make sure your hand movements are controlled so you do not look like you are taking off in flight!
  • Manage your stress. Are you an individual who dreads presentations? Are public speaking and presentation not your forte and even less so when you are being marked? You are not alone! Many candidates are feeling the same way. It is important to manage that stress before you present. As you are waiting, stay standing, take slow deep breaths and remind yourself that you practiced and are well prepared.

Capstone 1 has a high pass rate and most groups that follow the instructions from CPA Canada are successful. So, while the tips above may not be the difference between passing and failing the Capstone 1 module, it can be the difference between experiencing a lot of stress in the days leading up to your final presentation or feeling confident and being prepared as a team.

For those of you registered in our CFE Prep course, take advantage of the Capstone 1 Best Practices and Presentation Skills session in the Other Resources section of your course.