We had an interesting session with Steve Knight (formerly from the BBC). There were just 30 of us, so it was cosy. We were divided into 6 groups of 5, with exactly 1 girl per group. Apparently the turnout for females is typically low. Then again, I thought that was the rough proportion of females in INSEAD’s MBA programme.
Why choose a communication elective? Because presentation skills are ranked #2 by employers, after business knowledge. And besides, I love this kind of work. Sure, we have to give up a weekend as the 2-day course runs only on Saturday and Sunday, but that’s 0.5 credits wrapped up.
For day 1, we each had to prepare a 1 minute speech on something not related to work. So I told everyone about the time my hair caught fire - at my best friend’s wedding. I had mostly positive feedback, with Steve asking if I had professional experience. It was nice to hear the word ‘fantastic’ from a guy who’s worked at the Beeb. However after reviewing my video I think there are some areas to improve and I was also grateful to my classmates who gave specific feedback on things I could do more or less of.
- Voice projection was good
- Good use of hand gestures to explain the situation
- I clearly enjoyed myself while speaking
- Interesting and funny topic
- Clear diction
- Good eye contact (feedback from classmate in the middle of the audience)
- Generally the majority of feedback was strongly positive
Areas for improvement:
- I could speak more slowly. My reason for rushing was that I thought I wouldn’t make the 1 minute limit otherwise. We’re supposed to say 150 words per minute only.
- Could have paused after the first sentence for more dramatic effect.
- Could make more eye contact with the audience on the sides (feedback from classmate in the last row). I think I was very camera-oriented (already thinking of how my video would look on Youtube!) and so I focused on the middle. Our professor was sitting there, too
- Apparently I swayed a little bit, but because of my height it wasn’t obvious, compared to taller classmates
- After watching my own video I realise I could’ve removed a few filler words. They occured at points where I had changed the story from what I had memorised. I did this because I noticed most of my classmates’ speeches were LESS than 1 minute, and I knew my original speech would exceed 1 minute. I didn’t want to be the longwinded one, so I cut out a couple of sentences that weren’t essential to the story. At those points my ‘erm’s came in.
But generally, I like presenting and hope to keep getting better at it. My other classmates are not bad at all, either. What amazes me at INSEAD is the generally high standard of performance, considering the relatively little time we have to prepare our work, compared to normal business schools. And remember that most classmates are not even working in their mother tongue.
Day two will be tougher because we’re presenting in a group on a business-related topic. Which means we need coordination, sufficient knowledge and passion for the subject. I’ve had fun designing the slides and we hope to move the audience to action.