Advanced Presentation Techniques for My Final Year Project Students (Part 2: Make the Final Slide a Powerful Conclusion)

Advanced Technique 2: Make the Final Slide a Powerful Conclusion

I always advocate that the final slide should not be called “Thank You” or “Question and Answer”. In fact, these two slides should not appear in the presentation as they do not present any information about the presentation that you are delivering.

If you want to thank the listeners, you can thank them verbally and sincerely.

If you want to invite the audience to ask questions, just say so.

Leave the final slide as a conclusion to leave a lasting impression of what you want to tell them.

~Flex Tio~

If that is the case, what sort of impression will I leave for the assessors if I were a student you might be asking? I will do this:

  1. Reiterate my contributions (aka summarise)
  2. Relate how my contributions impact my project objectives (aka synthesise)
  3. Resist my urge to provide new information (aka sans as in the Latin word “sans” which means without)

1 and 2 helps remind your assessors to give you marks. Help the assessors recall why you deserve that A, or B. It also helps to influence guide them in asking questions that are relevant to your contributions.

That’s one way to prepare for a Question and Answer session.

3 does exactly the opposite. It encourages the assessors not to ask further questions. This is especially so when you seem to have delivered the perfect presentation so far, only to be thwarted by a new piece of (usually controversial) information delivered at the end that does not gel with the rest of your presentation.

In short, we are trying to create a lasting impression that the assessors can remember well long after the assessment is over. We would like them to say “That student is very capable isn’t it? He/She can do this, this, this and that!”

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Advanced Presentation Techniques for My Final Year Project Students (Part 1: Purposeful Chunking)

You can be the most intelligent person in the world. If you can’t communicate what’s in your mind, that wisdom is lost. ~Flex Tio~

This is an advice that I gave to my very first final year project student under me, a brilliant programmer, a hater of presentation.

You know what else is true? Great presentation skills can shift you up by a grade. Terrible presentation skills shifts you down by one. Not all chatty people are great at presentation and not all quiet people are bad at it.

Everyone has it in them to turn their presentation into a great one. These techniques which I’m sharing are not the conventional ones that tells you that you need to organise your presentation into an intro, body and conclusion, focus on eye contact, open up your body language and practice. These are techniques based on how an assessor perceives the quality of your work through your presentation. These are actual techniques you can use for work too.

The One Prerequisite

For these techniques to work, there is only one prerequisite. We need to have produced sufficient work in the first place. No amount of presentation techniques can hide a person’s lack of contribution or lack of know how. However, with some, then there’s something to talk about.

Advanced Technique 1: Purposeful Chunking

Consider the following example:

Before Purposeful Chunking

I’ve done four things for my Final Year Project:

  • Designed a T-Shirt for the Library Community event
  • Designed three posters for the Open House
  • Trained students to use Photoshop to edit pictures for visitors to the Open House
  • Produced a 3D animation video for XYZ Company

After Purposeful Chunking

My contributions for my Final Year Project are:

1. Produced Publicity Material and Delivered a Technical Training to Students for Outreach Effort of the Diploma. This includes the following:

  • Designed a T-Shirt for the Library Community event
  • Designed three posters for the Open House
  • Trained students to use Photoshop to edit pictures for visitors to the Open House

2. Produced a 3D animation video for XYZ Company

Essentially, both content are the same. An additional statement is added to the top of the latter to “purposefully chunk” three different tasks together into one single big task. It should clearly explain your work and link to the objectives of your project.

I used the term “purposeful” to describe the chunking because the main aim in the chunking process is to try to relate all the things you are doing to a central theme, thereby adding more meaning to the small contributions.

Limit your presentation to about 2 to 3 chunks. People seldom remember beyond three points in a presentation and your assessors are human after all. It’s a good way to reduce the number of points you have in a presentation without losing any content too.

In summary, use purposeful chunking when you have many different small and seemingly insignificant things that are unrelated to showcase. The benefits are that:

  1. It makes small separate contributions look and sound big.
  2. It makes the contribution look more meaningful and impactful.
  3. It’s easier for the assessors to remember “that major contribution” and helps you to make a better impression.

Caution: Careful not to oversell such that the group of tasks is not able to match up to the expectation of your chunk.

 

The PROPER Way to Receive Payment from the Customer in FOUR SIMPLE STEPS

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre by Aapo Haapanen

‘Maxwell Road Hawker Centre’ photograph by Aapo Haapanen. It is a different hawker center from the one mentioned in today’s post.

While having lunch at Teck Ghee Hawker Center today, I had an unpleasant experience of dealing with a mistake that a seller made. I was absolutely sure that I paid the seller with a ten-dollar note but he insisted that he received a five-dollar note from me. It was only when my friend stepped in to clarify the situation, did he grudgingly gave me the rest of my change, without even uttering an apology of any sorts.

I was furious! But no point arguing further with that uncle. I’m there to enjoy lunch with my friend, not to pick a fight.

This is not the first time I met with such a situation. I attribute this to the seller not “being present” when receiving payments from a customer. This could be avoided if they can just take a bit of time to follow these four simple steps, inspired by my parents (they worked as Hawker sellers since I was a baby) and the Japanese customer service I received:

  1. Upon receiving money from the customer, count it first and repeat the amount received to the customer for verification.
  2. When giving change, tell the customer the amount of change you will be giving him.
  3. Present the notes first, tell him the amount of notes you are giving him and ask him to keep the notes first.
  4. Present the coins and tell him the amount of coins you are giving him.

When you do that, you do not have to worry about coins dropping all over the place as you hand the change over to the customer too.

BONUS TIP: If steps 2 to 4 seems a hassle, use a Japanese cash tray to hand the change over to the customer. It is also more hygienic to do so.

Do Your Research First: online retail price tag with a pinch of salt

IMPORTANT NOTE (Read Me First!!!): This is an article that recommends for us to do our own research if we intend to look for a real bargain. This is NOT an article trying to expose some dishonest seller (there is none here in my opinion). I have my reasons to believe that this is not the case. Read on carefully to find out more.

*****

Below is a screen grab made on 14 June 2015 from a seller at Qoo10 at this web address: http://list.qoo10.sg/item/LOGITECH-BLUETOOTH-MULTI-DEVICE/421950416

Notice that the original retail price stated for the Logitech K480 keyboard was stated at S$79.90.

Qoo10 retailBelow is a screen grab made on 14 June 2015 from the Logitech Singapore website, at http://www.logitech.com/en-sg/keyboards/keyboards

Notice that the retail price for that very same keyboard stated at S$59.00. That is more than 25% cheaper than the original retail price stated above.

Qoo10 retail2Finally, below is a screen grab made on 14 June 2015 from my Facebook on how it’s advertised on Facebook.

Qoo10 retail3

No doubt, the discounted price offered by the seller on Qoo10 was indeed cheaper than what was offered straight from Logitech could offer. It is still a pretty good offer. However, how was that a 50% discount? Does it still sound worth it to you to want to buy it?

Anyway, before anyone starts doubting the integrity of the seller, I want to give the situation a benefit of a doubt:

  • The seller could have really gotten his goods from a source that sells it at $79.90 originally.
  • The person doing the marketing on behalf of Qoo10 or the seller decided that it was a real good idea to quote it as a 50% discount.

I do not think there is anything wrong with the seller, the marketing, the pricing and the advertisement. It just happens to be what it is.

Morale of the story: Do your research first.

A Tip on Writing an Appeal Letter

Appeal LetterOne of the best things about returning for reservist was that you get to meet people from all walks of life and the stories they tell you.

Well, one of the guys who worked in the HDB shared about how to write an appeal letter that improves your chances in getting your appeal approved. It’s a very simple tip, but like all tips of this nature, easier said then done.

List down justifications that will help us fight for your case.

~A person who works for the HDB~

“I am more than willing to help,” he said. “But don’t just tell me your problems, give me reasons on why the agency should approve so that I can fight the case for you. If not, it’s going to be tough for me to formulate a justification for you as well.” (*Not the exact words he said, but somewhere along this line)

He also quipped with a tongue in cheek that it’s amazing how people can write so well to get their parking summons repealed, but yet when it comes to HDB related matters, well…

 

Help me to help you. Fair enough. That’s what I always tell my students too.

How I Select and Make New Year Resolutions

It is another new year. Another time for me to start anew. I’ve only completed about 65% to 75% of my previous year’s resolutions but hey, at least some things get done and I have no qualms about completing those. And I intend to make it even better this time round.

Making new year resolutions is a habit which I had started about five to seven years ago. Time is limited and I wanted to do everything, learn everything and experience everything if I could but that is not possible. Then there’s also procrastination. Hence, I placed a lot of importance on the selection of the resolutions itself. I turn to Steven R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for inspiration.

Background

7t hHabit

I’ve taken the above diagram from the 7th Habit: Sharpen the Saw from Covey’s book.  In a nutshell, Covey advocates that doing task from all these four areas will help to preserve and enhance the greatest asset we have, which is us!

In Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind, Covey advocates that we should each have a mission statement and this will be used as our guiding principles in all things that we do.

My New Year Resolution Framework

I took Habit 2 and Habit 7, reinterpreted things a bit and came up with this:

New Year Resolution Framework

How do you use this? Well, the idea is to make a set of resolutions from all five categories, namely Financial, Physical, Mental, Social/Emotional and Spiritual. A plan needs to be made for each resolution.  Each resolution needs to be a SMART goal. Finally, share your resolutions with a few people you can trust.

Wait wait… Why go through all that trouble?

Here is where I hope to share some of my thoughts with you. If you can share your views on this, I would really appreciate it too.

The Five Categories

The five categories is a reinterpretation from Covey’s 7th Habit framework.

Spiritual: As Covey aptly puts it in his book, this is highly related to Habit 2. To me spiritual are actions that fulfills your life goals. For instance, if your goal was to set up a business, the main task of setting up the business will fall under the spiritual category. This is different from Covey’s interpretation where spiritual has to do more with self-reflection and meditation. I felt that it could include active pursuits that drives your mission and vision.

Mental: I interpret this as the knowledge required to fund your life dreams. However, not everything in mental supports solely your life goals. It should contain aspects to broaden one’s experience. This is just my way to inject something that can spark creativity and innovation in pursuing my life goals.

Social/Emotional: I must admit that I am still a bit fuzzy about this category but my resolutions in this category comprise actions that are highly people related or community service related. Family and friends always owns a permanent spot in my yearly resolutions. I also have a resolution about expanding my network of people who are willing to exchange views on my dreams with me in here. No man is an island and I don’t own all the knowledge in the world. Many of my success thus far, I owe it to people whom I have met and given me precious advice along the way.

Financial: This is an additional category I’ve added. I found that money is needed to fund for many of the activities that I need to undertake. I probably need some money to go for a course, to buy a book. It is always a nice thought to treat my family and friends to a nice meal one time or another, creating the environment to spend great times together better. Money can buy you happiness. It depends on how to spend it.

Physical: I’ll need all the energy I can get to accomplish my resolutions and here, I make resolutions that helps me improve both my physical and emotional well-being to improve my concentration. For my interpretation, meditation is relocated to this category.

Share with People You Trust

Accomplishing new year resolutions alone is a lonely affair (Captain Obvious strikes again haha). By sharing new year resolutions, I thought it does two things:

Firstly, for accountability, for someone to hold you accountable to what you have promised yourself can be a very powerful factor to push yourself.

Finally, if you are able to meet like-minded people, finding synergy in working out your resolutions together is a simpler task than working it out alone. After all, there are no rules saying that you can’t “copy” responsibly from someone else in life? That’s called collaboration.

Epilogue

Before I end off, I just want to drop a note of thanks to my friends, Kevin, Lences and Ivan for hearing me out that leads to this article. Especially to Kevin who spent three hours with me together working on his resolutions and mine. The gang from LusiGroup! Without them, there won’t be this weblog for me to incubate my ideas. I brought it to a hiatus for the longest time some time ago but I guess that is a story for another time.

Please share your thoughts with me. If you like it or hate it you can tell me too. I believe the comment box is found below~

Writing a (technical) report for management

You have written a report about your work, which you are proud of and you sent this report to your immediate supervisor for vetting. He disagreed with the way you have written your report because his boss would like to read the report in another manner. You made the changes and when the report reached the middle management level, he sent the report back to you and demanded that you make undo some of the changes you did because his boss would like to read this differently.

With the same report going to your boss, the middle management and up to the senior management, it is hard to make the same report suit different taste and even harder to list out your contributions within that report.

However, you will still have to produce this quality report as this affects the impression you are going to give your boss, leading up to your promotion.

Sounds like a life’s playing a joke on you?

I worked in a government agency, writing a report takes up a ridiculous amount of time due to the number of edits required at different stages of the vetting at different management levels. Colloquially, we call this the “ding-dong” process. I can’t avoid this, but understanding how my boss reads my report can reduce the number of editing cycles. Over the years, I think I got the hang of this and I thought, why not share this strategy with everyone, something that’s seldom taught in school?

My strategy is to give my bosses options what to read in my report, much like an adventure game book. Of course, I’m not saying that this is going to work for everyone, but if you can save your boss some time reading through chunks and chunks of details in your report, and save your own time rewriting the report, why not.

Analysing the Audience

So how do bosses read reports? That depends on what they are in charge of in the company. For me, my bosses will be interested in the following:

  • Immediate Supervisor: Everything! Including the technical details on how you got certain things done.
  • Middle Management: A summarised version of your report and maybe a bit of details.
  • Senior Management: An ultra summarised version of your report that talks about the bottom line of the company

Hence, the very first thing to know is at what level is this report pitching at. I ask my boss all the time where he would like to send my report to so I can craft it to the right level of details.

Zoning the Report

To effectively give readers options on what they want to read, I divided my report into four zones:

Appendices: Comprises mostly technical details and sometimes graphs and chart that might interrupt the flow of the main report. This portion of the report is meant for my immediate supervisor.

Main Paper: Comprises mainly business details, marking clearly my contributions. A small amount of technical details might also be placed here only if the details are part of my contributions. The rest are referenced to the appendices of the report. I also try to keep this portion between 2 to 7 pages long. This portion of the report is meant for the middle management and my immediate supervisor.

Executive Summary: Part of the main paper and always written last, the executive summary gives a concise explanation of what this report is for and what the subject described in the report is about. It usually has a statement about the progress made in the subject. This portion is meant for the senior management.

Conclusion: Part of the main paper and also written last, the conclusion is a highly summarised version of the main paper that talks about the accomplishments of the subject matter with a business slant. This portion is meant for the senior management.

I also noticed that by dividing my report as such, I can also allow everyone to choose how much details they want to read into, or whether they would like to read the business or technical portions of the subject.

Writing the Main Paper and the Appendices

I usually begin by writing the main paper, starting out with the objectives of the report and subject as close to what I want in the final report as possible to make sure I know what I am exactly writing about. After that, I’ll fill out major headers, points and keywords that I want to write in point form.

Next, I’ll begin filling up the details to those points, how ever my thought flows. Because of that, I tend to jump around a lot in writing my report but that is fine as I already have the outline in place.

Where I need to move into a segment that explains about a technical detail, I will shift them into a separate appendix and refer to that from my main paper. For technical details requiring only about one to two statements to explain, I’ll use footnotes instead.

I also tend to reread and edit the report after completion of major sections to make sure it flows from section to section.

Writing the Executive Summary and Conclusion

These two portions are written last and I make sure that they must not contain new information that are not found in the report written so far. It has to:

  • Clearly explain the key accomplishments of the subject
  • Be able to stand on its own without the other portions of the report

One Last Read, Get Someone to Read and Ready to Go

Once completed and checked for grammar, I’ll reread the entire main paper and appendices separately to make sure they flow. I’ll also get someone to read if possible and more often than not, my colleagues are able to spot mistakes within my report which I’m unable to spot them.

Once that is done, I take a deep breathe, and it is time to go through the vetting process. I’ve done all that I could~

 

What do you think of this strategy? Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts. I’ll be glad to learn from you too.