Be an impressive presenter

The month of October is almost ending and one can feel the nip in the air. My fast paced mornings are gradually slowing, I owe it to the balmy winter sun. The days are lazy and sun sets earlier paving way for longer nights. One such evening I shuffled my movie playlist and watched Rocket Singh-Salesman of the year.

There is a particular scene in the movie where the protagonist is asked to sell a ball point pen and he convinces the consumer to buy the lid of the pen, ultimately making the consumer realize the indispensable need to buy a pen. No, this is not a movie review!

I am going to discuss the power of effective salesmanship.

Salesmanship that I discuss with you in this write up is about selling ideas. As an engineering student both at the undergraduate and post graduate level, I have observed that presentations are a pivotal part of the degree.

The curriculum begins by introducing professional communication in the first year. Several parts of the coursework like seminar labs focus on improving the speaking skills of the students. In the final year, students appear for more than one project presentations. In the Masters, a student has to submit a minor project in the first year and in the final year an elaborate sessions of presentations are lined up right from the selection of the dissertation topic to the final result demonstration culminating into a power-point presentation on the submission day. This process of project justification before a panel of teachers becomes arduous and meticulous if one plans to apply for a PhD (A doctorate). I will however limit my experience sharing until M.Tech.

It is therefore obvious that possessing decent presentation skills by any student is indispensable. However, this skill is never taught religiously and it is assumed that a student who has knowledge will be able to defend the topic he / she presents.

One can blame it on the lack of individual attention given by the teachers or a weak foundation laid from school, owing to which many students develop a cold feet when it comes to standing and speaking confidently in front of a bunch of teachers.

I will agree that public speaking is an art and not everyone likes to be in the limelight. However, if you are lucky and evade opportunities to present in college, based on any of your own reasons, the workplace you will still demand you to display this skill set.

Let me throw some light on the usefulness of this trait at my workplace. As a lecturer and Asst. Professor in an academic institute, it is imperative to be a good presenter, after all it is you who signed up to stand in front of at-least 40 students every day. The teachers are often appointed to host any college level event and participating in training sessions or FDPs is mostly compulsory.

My husband as a speaker- Family that speaks well stays well

I spoke to few of my industry friends to know more about this and how a student with polished presentation skills always has an edge. I was told, in the corporate, initially the team-leads and managers conduct training but as time progresses newbies are expected to share and present ideas pertaining to their assigned projects. Sooner or later even the ones with inhibitions learn and work on themselves to survive in the job.

I would like to mention some of the basic points to give a good first impression before the presentation even begins:

  1. Dress up well and according to the event.
  2. Smile because it emanates cordial vibes.
  3. Keep notes handy to avoid fumbling midway.
  4. Prepare slides with pointers rather than long paras.
  5. Practice thoroughly preferably in front of a mirror.
My sister as a stand up comic-Not all presentations have to be serious

Let us discuss how to deliver a great presentation:

  1. Confidence: This is one of the most sought after trait for public speaking. I have attended so many sessions where a confident speaker is taken more seriously by the audience.
  2. Tune in your jitters: It is completely okay to be nervous when one is addressing to a large audience. The best way to get over it, is to channelize it into enthusiasm and assume that the audience does not know much about the topic. Trust me, it has worked for me many a times.
  3. Engage the audience: it is a good practice to prepare presentation slides with images and graphs. The pictorial representation is easier to build on as a speaker and it grabs more attention of the audience.
  4. Alter voice modulation: I know we are talking about academic presentation skills but it is important to change the tone and pitch in between. The monotony of a power-point presentation can be done away by pausing and putting out questions midway. For example, during one of my research paper submissions which talked about fingerprint and biometrics, I asked my audience if they had ever paid attention to the patterns on their fingers. Instantly most of them started looking at their fingers and compared it with the diagrams I had described in a slide.
  5. Give relevant updated information: The academic topics during presentations appear too technical and most of the time the panelist lose interest. It also happens when the speaker tries to cover too much material especially in a technical jargon. A good approach is to research current news around your topic and include it in your delivery to get more validation.
Yours truly in her elements

The internet is at our feet today, use it to your advantage. Participate through events like toast-masters, watch chat shows, read good books. Keep hustling.

It does not matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, when your job demands you will eventually learn what is needed because that is exactly how everyone grows professionally.

And lastly, get over your inhibitions and take risks, as Rocket Singh says, “Risk toh Spiderman ko bhi lena padta hai, main toh phir bhi salesman hoon” (Even Spiderman has to take risks whereas I am just a salesman)

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