Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Presentation skills


In my class I have to do quite some presentation and I observed how very different the way each of us in expressing ourself.

From the Malaysian education system of teacher talking students listening, I was forced to speak up and participate during my studies in the USA. Not everyone is gifted in talking, you would be amazed how many professional went speechless in front of the audience. One of my classmate who was a working professional actually said "gosh, I can't believe this is happening..." in front of us because he was not able to continue what he was saying; another classmate was laughing non stop in the middle of the presentation. It was a very awkward moment for her.

The fact that I lived 5 years in the USA gives me advantage for English presentation. I have feedback from time to time from my French classmates about how they had never thought of presenting something this way or that way. For me, I don't like to listen to theoretical points without a concrete example. To catch the audience attention, a good way is to say something that they can relate. For example, I was presenting a paper about how employees across continent coordinate their work. I gave my personal experience on how I had to coordinate with the offices in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Scotland and USA, and how the French guy was giving me headache as he was on vacation all the times. Suddenly everyone laughed. I caught their attention. From time to time I would make up an example and use my classmate's name. This obliged the classmate who's name got mentioned to listen to what I have to say. Even the professor raised his head (from reading the article instead of paying attention to us)and look enthusiastic and laughed with us.

A presentation without an example is bla blah blah blah for me. :-)

One thing I regret is that I'm a very petite woman so I can't point to the chart or the power point slide like everyone else. We don't have a laser pointer in class. It was a bit hard to explain a diagram or model. I basically have to give very clear indication about which part of the diagram I'm talking about.


  1. Anonymous3:12 AM

    I have been working for 5 years. I used to go to customer site for meeting, give training but I still afraid of presentation.. Maybe because of my weakness on my english.. I cannot do public speaking.. hmmm.. sigh... how can I improve ?

  2. Talk about what you know the best. When you know something, you show confidence. I myself don't like to talk in public, but when I'm forced to do that, I just try to do the best. Maybe you can hung out with people who speak English so you can practice all the times? I understand where you are coming from about the language, when I have to present in French I lost all my confidence. So now I just try to practice with my classmates as much as I can.

  3. BE,

    So backward one eh ? "We don't have a laser pointer in class.".

    I like the way you used life example to bring out the attention of your classmates and professors.

    I like to talk in public so I always tell them to leave me to the last one because if I have the microphone, no one will have the chance to have the mike.

    I think on of the best way to public speak is sing "karoke". Yes, language is one of the barrier but it should not be. I think it is more on culture and the way you are bought up.

    I remembered when I was working in H.K, everyone love to sing "karoke" so much. From clerk to manager, everyone just love to sing. I remembered everyday after work, the people in the office would invite us (Malaysian) to go "karoke" with them. They sing in the wedding, company dinner and they are not afraid to speak in public at all (of course they speak , sing in Cantonese).

    I think it is not very fair if your mother tongue is not English and other people compare you speaking skill based on English. I think if we debate or speak in Chinese, we can do as well as Westerner's in English.

    My sister is a very good public speaker.She used to represent her China partner to speak in her annual conference in America. She said in fact, the Chinese presentation has a lot of substance in it but the Americans are just bs but because English is the mother tongue of Americans, a lot of them the Americans present a nonsense speech without substance. She said once she asked her American partner to give facts and concrete figures, the guy kept quiet. She was trained in Australia in law and economics and coming from a missionary school gave her the advantage with good command in English. She said she always felt unfair for her Chinese partner.


  4. Anonymous2:40 PM

    And you've done a great job at our presentation! :)

  5. Jamy,

    Yeah lah that's why I'm all for the new laws to allow private sector funding the public university. The students thought that the government is selling Unis to the private that was why they went on strike.

    Oh I love karaoke, but how can it helps in public speaking? Everyone can sing but for speaking you need to know what you are talking about.

    Thanks for coming by. Opps I hope I didn't say bad things about our class in the previous posts. :-)

  6. Anonymous7:24 PM

    No! I really like your blog! It's very interesting! I'll stay arround! :p

  7. Bee Ean
    I am encouraged by your perseverence to study French and give a presentation in the language you started learning as an adult. You are to be commended.

    I remember many students were nervous when we had to give a speech presentation in class. We were also timed. Either too long or too short, you will lose your points.

    During the finals, I made a durian and talked about the fruit. Of course, it was supported by research. I practised by facing the mirror to look at myself as I talk. The class video-taped us and we had to comment ourselves after watching the video.

    When I graduated I had to speak in the presence of more than 3000 audience during commencement. I was too short for the podium. I was given a little bench to stand on.

    My in-laws and my husband said I was calm. Nobody believed me when I told them I was so nervous; my knees trembled and I thought I would collapse before I could end my speech! As long as my voice did not show, nobody believed.

    No many people like public speaking.

  8. gosh jesis, you have a hell of training to speak in public, with the video tapping and speak in front of 3000 audience. I have not yet required to present in French as my course now is in English. I will have to for next semester, and we will see how it goes.

  9. Anonymous4:36 AM

    Yeah, examples are essential parts of a presentation. Can I tell you about the Young Entrepreneur Society from the a great resource for would be entrepreneurs.

  10. I am about to take the GMAT too and I know how hard the test can be. I have been preparing myself by taking an online GMAT prep course to help me get ready. It has been very beneficial to me so far, so I am hoping I can pass the real thing. Good luck to you

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