Wednesday, March 07, 2012

What makes a good presenter

Most articles and blog entries provide us tips to make a good presentation. However, very few of the experts focus on the idea of being a good presenter. How much ever good your presentation, it will serve no purpose if you are not a good presenter. Here are some ideas that might help everyone to become a good presenter. To become a good presenter, you need to be focus on all these areas.

First, you must be an expert in your field. Alright, you must at least be an expert in the topic. You must be able to face any questions related to the topic. A certain amount of research should help you gain the required expertise. Why should people attend your presentation? Why cannot they get this information from some book or some website? Your preparation should answer these questions. It means that you need to refer to a good amount of literature, statistics, and websites to gain the required expertise. While it may sound silly to do this for every small presentation, it helps you in the long run by increasing your overall knowledge.

It is good to be an expert in the field of your operation. However, you need to have more knowledge. You can add more value to your presentation if you have knowledge on diverse topics. All you need to do is understand the importance of all related fields and gather as much information as possible. In fact, knowing bits and pieces about other fields also helps you when you are on the stage. Using such knowledge, you can draw parallels and explain concepts to people in the way they can immediately relate. Having knowledge in wide and varied fields helps in boosting your communication skills and confidence levels.

You are an expert in your field and you are knowledgeable in wide and varied fields. Does this help in making you the best presenter. The answer is no. You need to have good communication skills. While most people say that you need to possess great communication skills to steal the show in every presentation, it is always advisable to begin focusing on simple communication skills and brushing up your skills from one presentation to the next. The other important thing is being able to communicate with the audience in their language. A little amount of audience analysis before every presentation will help you gain some insight into this and help you in gearing up for the presentation. If you find it difficult to know more about the audience, you need to stick the basic rule of "keeping it simple." You can avoid including any statements and ideas that might hurt the sentiments of any group or category of people.

Confidence comes from knowledge, sound communication skills, and the ability to understand the audience. Rehearsals also help you in gaining confidence before the actual presentation. In fact, it is always helpful to program your presentations with a similar routine that include some amount of rehearsals. Some experts suggest going to the place a few hours before the presentation and examining the hall to gain some confidence with regard to the space and also helps in planning your act.

Adding a tinge of creative ideas to the serious presentation on financial statistics, will help you in driving home the message. This applies to any kind of presentation. You can document the ideas as you get them and use them while you are planning for the presentation or preparing your slides. You can gain a good number of ideas from the people around you and anywhere and everywhere. You need to keep your eyes and ears wide open for ideas. Your research on the subject will also help in gaining some new insights. In fact, you need to understand that new ideas can come in many ways - a sudden spark, a combination of existing ideas, modification to an existing idea, and so on so forth. It is all left to your imagination abilities to utilize these ideas for your presentation.

Finally, the single characteristic that differentiates great speakers from others is Charisma. In fact, even marketers have started appreciating the importance of charisma and are coming up with new brand charisma concepts. Charismatic speakers and sought after repeatedly and gain from each presentation. You need to build a charisma for the brand "You." According to Wikipedia, Charisma is a trait found in persons whose personalities are characterized by a personal charm and magnetism (attractiveness), along with innate and powerfully sophisticated abilities of interpersonal communication and persuasion. And, it is not built or gained in one day. You need to strategize and plan in building and maintaining your charisma.

Let your actions do the talking

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Gain the competitive edge at work

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Mistakes are good, too!

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Wading through testing times

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Understanding the importance of Ethics

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do what you love to do

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Monday, November 29, 2010

To change or not to change

While most of us are able to recognize the right time to quit our jobs and move on to a new job, there are many questions that disturb us and keep haunting even after we start working in the new job. People often wish there was a checklist that will help them or a quitto-meter that tells that time is ripe to make the next move. While we leave these new gadgets to be developed by psychological experts, here are some pointers that will help you find out if you made the right decision.

Identify your state of mind. You think that it is clear in your mind that you are not happy with your current job or that you are too happy with your current job. But, there is something more that you need to do to know your state of mind. Indeed, there are some subtractions that you need to make to your inference.

First, subtract the industry trend from your state of mind. Even if there is recession and your industry is likely to collapse, you might survive if you are happy with your job and you do well as an expert. Or, things might pick up. Understand that it would be more difficult to establish yourself in a new industry.

Second, remove inferences and others' opinions. An uncle from England might suddenly criticize your choice of job or the company. Or, a friend might brag about his company and extra perks it offers. While some of them do it with a very good intention, it might not always be to your advantage if you base your decision on their expertise. Take into consideration all the factors that make up your current job - your comfort zone, your skill set, and your personal and financial status and requirements. Assess your happiness with respect to all these factors and estimate the impact of change on all these factors. Thus, you will be able to appreciate your current situation and the opportunities available to you in a fair manner.

Then, remove other people's feelings. Now that most of your colleagues want to quit the job should not necessarily motivate you also to do so. Analyze the various factors at your current job such as performance, pay, team dynamics, and growth prospects for your role to identify if it is time fo you to explore other opportunities.

Finally, never lose an opportunity because of just people. If you have a wonderful team at your present company, while all other factors are not promising, you might as well decide to move on. Remember that you can remain friends with the people despite the changes. Likewise, you can always come across good people and build new relationships. Hence, you need to focus on your needs and wants while taking the decision.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Work Out of the Box

Manage. Prioritize. Strategize. Plan. Execute. If you find these words troublesome, it is time to rethink the way you look at work. It is not just enough to think out of the box. You need to work out of the box. You need to realign your view of work and life. Here are some interesting ideas that help you do this. Well, you can manage your work on the basis of time, urgency, or magnitude of work. However, this article focuses on other ideas that help you in managing and does not describe any of the above methods of time and work management.

Break your work into sub-tasks. You must have heard it umpteen times already to break your tasks into sub-tasks. However, the catch here is that you must also classify the sub-tasks into two categories - tasks that you like to do immediately, and tasks that you prefer to delay.

Do what you like, first. This might not always be feasible to do. If you begin doing things that you like, you tend to get into the working and accomplishment mode and start completing things. Hence, it is always better to start your day or your session with tasks that you like to do.

Like whatever you do, next. The idea stated before does not necessarily mean that you should keep delaying the other tasks that you dislike. You must, instead, develop a knack for liking all tasks that yield good results for you. There are different reasons for disliking tasks - they might be tedious, boring, or associated with uninteresting people. Sometimes, you might not be in the right frame of mind to do certain tasks. You need to identify the reason as to why you dislike each task and work upon it individually. Avoid mixing tasks and your impressions regarding the tasks. This is similar to the way in which people mix different events and start blaming their lives and get into depression cycles. Hence, it is always better to single out tasks that you do not like and deal with each one individually.

Focus on the results. If there are tasks that do not yield favorable results, identify the reasons for the failure. Either you are not well-equipped to handle them or you not inclined to handle such tasks. You have to train yourself well for the former situation. In the case of latter situation, you must find better ways to execute the task or find ways to delegate it to others. You might also need to work with better associations in some cases. More often, we dislike tasks when we need to interact with unpleasant people. The significant reason behind such a dislike is the ignorance towards developing better relations with people. If you master that art, there is no looking back in the execution of people-dependant tasks.

Do things differently. Break the regular pattern. Experiment. It is easier to change the steps in a process when you have the time. Thus, you might come up with better ideas. Discuss with team mates. Brainstorm. Share new ideas. Conduct further research. Dig deeper into the process cycles. Spend some amount of time everyday to identify ways to do things differently. You will be surprised at the outcome. Well, it is not just about top management and leaders to come up with ideas. Most ideas come from the frontline staff who work day in and day out.

Do different things. Break the monotony. If you have been doing the same job for a long time, take a break. Do something else that interests you. Do some new tasks. Meet new people. Develop new ideas. It does not mean that you start singing loud at work. It means that you do something very different from your regular routine. It gives you the necessary respite. If your job is to write code for software every day, try painting or photography for a day. Today, make a list of all interesting things that you have not done in your life. Start doing these things once in a while and remove items from the list. Such a list will also broaden your perspective. You will also appreciate the importance of taking vacation frequently to rejuvenate your spirits and keep your creative juices flowing.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Big picture or finer aspects

Managers often confuse us by asking us to look at the bigger picture when we want to focus on the finer aspects of a task. At other times, when we try to look at the bigger picture, these managers focus on some trivial task. How to identify the situation and have the right perspective of your work?

Look at the bigger picture and work on the finer aspects. Learn to master the art of having a helicopter view of your work before you begin it and then break it into tasks and work upon each task seamlessly. The real trick lies in having the right perspective of your work at the right time. Too many tasks left unfinished might indicate that nothing is going as planned. However, a little bit of analysis will let you realize that all the tasks are going ahead in full swing and you need the right time to complete them effectively. In fact, you will also appreciate the importance of dependencies and other constraints and work toward handling them effectively. Here are some situations in which you need to carefully choose between the two approaches.
  • Executing the project - Get an overall view of all the activities, regardless of your role. Find out about the sequence of activities and the different people assigned to the different tasks. Collect their contact information and keep it handy as it may help during the course of execution. While gathering all these details, focus on the nitty-gritty of all relevant information and not on the depth of the individual tasks.
  • Executing the tasks - If you are assigned a single task, you should be able to know everything about your task and its relationship to the total project. Learn to identify similar tasks in your projects and keenly observe the progress even if it is beyond your responsibilities. This gives you a chance to collaborate with your team members and leverage on their experience when you encounter a new problem. As noted earlier, understand the interdependence between the various elements and realign your tasks accordingly.
  • Dealing with issues - Identify if the issue is for an isolated event or related to other events and evaluate the impact of the issue on the various events. If there is considerable effect on a good number of events, you might seek the help of your manager to take a look at the bigger picture of the problem and take steps, as necessary.
  • Tracking the status - You must know and track the status of the entire project if you are leading the project. However, you are required to know the status of other tasks and get regular updates even if you are responsible for a few tasks. As you do not work in isolation and realize the fact that your work is dependent on others' tasks, tracking plays a significant role. Here again, depending on your role, you need to be continuously updated about the progress.
  • Assessing project efficiency - You can determine the efficiency of a project by considering the time and efforts you saved from being wasted. When you track the progress on a timeline, it is considered efficient if all the tasks are completed in time. More often than not, projects get delayed and deadlines get postponed. Break down the tasks into sub-tasks and track the progress. Thus, digging deeper for the finer aspects will help identify the root causes and mend them in the right time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mark your digital presence

Did you ever Google your own name? Did you get any results that directly relate to you? Did you ever try to search for your name in any of the search engines? If your answer is no, mark your presence on the Internet even before others do it for you. Use the Internet as a platform to showcase your expertise and skills and learn more from other experts at the same time. It is not only programmers, designers and journalists who can place their portfolio online. There are many ways in which you can comfortably showcase your expertise and mark your presence online.

Blogs - This can be a good place to begin. You can write anything about everything that you want to share with others. A new mother in California became famous overnight after she began sharing her experiences about bringing up a naughty child from the day one. Use your blog as a personal diary to let the world know more about you. Or try to include some tips about how to perform effectively in your job as a technical writer. Try or to begin with a page of your own thoughts and experiences. You can later enhance it to build your own website. Try podcasting. A podcast is an audio file publicly available on the Internet. You can either use the existing podcasts to broaden your knowledge on a particular topic or make a podcast of your own if you have the skills and expertise. Yet, you need not rock your brains on how to make your own podcast. The search engines have many solutions here also. It is just the content that you should own.

Forums and communities – There are innumerable forums and communities relating to almost all job areas – programming, software testing, designing, writing, recruiting, Human Resource management, and even sports communities. Join these forums and you will be surprised at the help that you can get and benefit. People benefit in many ways by sharing their knowledge – they get exposure primarily and get to learn more by listening to the varied doubts of others. Information hoarding is a thing of the past. The netizens are more than willing to cooperate and collaborate. Wikipedia defines a Netizen as a person who actively involves in online communities. You can also enroll into a mailing list that is dedicated to your sphere of work. Search for your particular group on any of the hosting sites and join the group.

Online bookstores – You read enormous literature related to your area of business or operation. Spare a few minutes to comment on a popular book to help others choose the book. You gain advantage by being listed in the search engines thus automatically.

Articles and Contributions - Highly experienced employees can also contribute articles and advice to some websites. There are a host of websites that solicit your articles and advice on various issues. It all depends on your perseverance to find the sites that require your advice. Indeed, there are many sites that have enormous requirement for mentors in many fields. Grab the opportunity to make the best use of your experience.

Advice – There are many places on the Internet where you can give advice to people who have specific doubts in your area of work. Browse through the articles that appear on blogs of reputed people in your area and add your own comments. Share your experiences in your comments and try to solicit responses to your comments. Thus, you get a chance to enlarge your network. Finally, refrain from commenting without any knowledge.

The other side of the coin

There are many people out there waiting for an opportunity to play foul. The danger may come from anywhere - your colleague who is your competitor or a complete stranger playing with your words just for the heck of it. Here are some precautions that you need to take while blogging or writing anywhere on the Internet.
  • Refer to your company policies before you actively participate online.
  • Refrain from speaking negatively about your company or working atmosphere at your company while you are a part of forums and communities.
  • Do not use offensive language while speaking about others. Even though you have the right to criticize others, refrain from blatant criticism.
  • Avoid using derogatory language against any group of people. Little statements have the chances to trigger crises.
  • Never copy content from another blog or website without specifying the source. Beware of copyrights before you try the copy-paste routine.

To communicate assertively or aggressively

Certain people rule the roost at work with their assertive communication. The submissive ones are contented with every little chance they get to speak. If you are submissive and often feel helpless and cannot represent yourself strongly while communicating, it is necessary for you to re-evaluate your communication style. Your communication style will certainly belong to one of the four common types. You are aggressive where you win and make everyone else lose. You are passive when everyone else wins. The assertive attitude represents a win-win situation. Your communication style automatically becomes effective when other's needs are also met. Most people who are passive blame it on their lack of confidence to confront people. You need to understand that it is like the story of "chicken and egg." Your confidence levels will be boosted only when you become more assertive; yet you need to be confident to try to be assertive in the first place. Here are some steps through which you can make it happen.

1. Make the right move at the right time. Depending on the situation, you should choose between being passive, aggressive, or assertive. If you lack the confidence to deal with a coworker or manager for the first time, you can simulate these situations in a comfortable place and practice regularly until you master the right style.

2. Take charge of the situation by retrieving your positive image. Imagine that things are well under your control and project a positive image about yourself. Recollect the moments in your life when you have excelled and recapture the moments to gain control of yourself and obtain a positive image. Recall the powerful image of the successful you when you are disheartened. This technique keeps you back on track and boosts your confidence level to a great extent.

3. Project the retrieved positive impression. Take responsibility for your communication while creating a positive impression. Put across your views in a polite manner and let others take note of you. Non-verbal communication signals also play a significant role in creating better impressions. Make the best use of the words "I" and “we” while addressing people. With a right mix of non-verbal communication cues, you can easily create a positive impression.

4. Interlace your message with facts. You cannot drive home any point through mere positive interaction. Prepare well and gather all the required facts and present them politely. If you don’t have the sufficient time or if all the facts are not readily available, try to recollect and list out similar situations. Thus, you get an edge in the true sense.

5. Apt body language is a must. Look straight into the eyes when you speak to someone and expect positive interaction. Listen attentively, actively and put yourself in the shoes and seek a solution that benefits both. Try to get detailed answers from others rather than single words such as "yes" and "no." This will facilitate an easy solution within a short period of time. Prepare open questions even before you are ready for the interaction.

Assertive people can interact effectively with people of different styles of communication. Even though aggressive communicators need confronting, take some time to gather thoughts that allows even the other person to calm down. In most of the situations, choose to respond, not react. However, remember the fact that you have the right to speak up and be heard.