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September 17, 2013

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May 21, 2013

Stepping into the world : From Student to Alumni

Life after Warwick :first blog after entering into the world of work

Coming soon


August 12, 2012

Final entry for Warwick Skills Portfolio Award

REFLECTION: From the beginning to the endlmaskot, great achievements

So this is the final entry to piece together all the different bits that have come together at different times of the year, all aiding in my personal development in different avenues. Looking back I have completely changed in the way I act, communicate , handle myself, interact with others as well as they way I think and assess situations. It has provided me with a plethora of skills. So in this final entry bringing together all the portfolios, I will reflect back on each workshop and experiences that I have been through on this road of assessing and developing oneself.

My personal development has been in two facades, academia and personal growth. In this modern world establishing mastering in both aspects sets you apart as an individual in personal and work life.

Even though I am completing a masters degree at the moment improving on both levels were of utmost importance, as each had far reaching implications. Thus all of the skills modules I undertook were centred around those specific skills that would have the most impact.

Before I attended any workshops, I was quite unorganised with quite a number of all nighters. Thus this aspect of time management was met through me taking the workshop on ‘Organising myself and my time’. I consistently established all taught aspects from this workshop into improving my organisation as it had a considerable effect on my performance during my course.

Additionally, I needed improvements in delivering presentations, which were a significant part of the assessments for the course. Having a very bad experience with this aspect last year, it was the area I was most frustrated with and always dreamt of being able to speak/present with confidence. So I actively participated in any presentational workshops and resources to master the different attributes that make up the perfect presentation. Even though I was not perfect to get 100% , I did ensure all the aspects of were covered and presented clearly as well as attractively following the workshop.

Furthermore I took the workshop of 'Speedy Reading', a valuable tool especially in a masters degree with a multitude of reading materials with so little time to complete. I learned a more effective and systematic method of reading especially establishing the use of the well known GUIDE. It really benefited me a lot from then on, because I no longer worried about running through the materials for the course and was faster with better comprehension. Rather I made it a personalised style of reading, recording my instant thoughts together with the original text when reading that paragraph, and also highlighting parts to split the different parts so that I can refer back to them easily. This saved my time dramatically because I didn't need to read the original text again, but directly use my own ideas in writing my essay. And through the daily practice for speedy reading, I could read much more books than before in very limited time.

On a personal level I always saw myself as passive in my approach and thus posing obstacles in oral communication, I never dared to talk initiatively. When I saw the workshop 'becoming more assertive', I made up my mind to change my timid personality and to perform more actively in making friends with university students and participating in university activities. From this workshop I learned how to stand firm and neutrally as an open body language, defined the features of passive, assertive and aggressive behaviour and understood being assertive is not simply in the middle of the axis but a completely independent construct.

As an aspect of personal development ‘The Organising yourself and your time workshop’ was truly vital. Whilst forcing me to assess myself, I was able to get a true insight into what were my time stealers. During the workshop I was also introduced to a useful planning tool recommended by the tutor, called 'SMART' plan. This in specific I found was very pragmatic for self management of any step carried forward and the following self reflection process. Later the 'SMART' method was employed in my making plans for each Warwick Skills workshop. And the communication tips both from the ‘Delivering effective presentations and the being assertive workshops’, were adopted in my solving problems in a range of situations during group session, talking with friends and family, and even during basketball games. I practiced how to state my own needs and to stand up for my own rights appropriately, so that my reasonable benefit would not be damaged. In specific these were implemented alongside techniques and effective team role assessment from the ‘Working in a team workshop’ during group projects, which were numerous on this course.

Finally the “An Introduction to Skills Development” workshop stands on its own. I feel that the things I learnt about skills development as opposed to actual skills were merely side-effects of the process - for example, setting goals that actually have benchmarks with which they can be measured (a goal that I learnt several times over across all the workshops and may even only now be beginning to stick). In short, I feel this was more… solid than the meta-skills workshop I was expecting. Then again, the best way to learn the meta-skills is through experience, and you can’t really make action points about something theoretical - “I will make an action point that is measurable” doesn’t really work. I don’t recall SMART goals being emphasized here, though (I believe they were in P7) and it does seem like a rather good place for them. This workshop on the other hand picked up on personal attributes to build general confidence through action points that force me to be more pragmatic and active. As well as doing this it also helped in personal assessment of learning styles through the VARK questionnaire, all helping me pick up areas to tackle as well as areas I am naturally good at and prefer, thus ensuring I use these to the fullest. I found out I am naturally a visual and read/write learner. Once conscious of this fact I ensured I used these aspects to get the best out of anything I do, especially in the dissertational work. final

Key Aspects


Reflecting on all of the workshops there were two specific ones which I found very enjoyable, P4 and A7

Delivering effective presentations, P4, was the most enjoyable workshop, and the first I was willing to actively recommend attending (truely valuable in practicality and effectiveness)! More like active training than a seminar (in concordance with the subject matter). I rather liked and instinctively feared the “Did you think you’d be sitting at a desk while I lectured you on presentation techniques?”, as well as the HUMMING ON THE BRIDGE. Bev was very professional and authoritarian from the outset; this alongside the Becoming more assertive felt like ones you’d actually pay to attend. I attended this one just when the most of the presentations had to be given. Thus the bulk of the improvement came from the workshop itself and directly implementing in the plethora of presentations faced. Additionally the practice was done in little conversations with friends, family or even whilst talking to the bank manager about why I should be allowed to increase my overdraft. Thus the progress I obtained was comparable to nearly a year’s worth of practice, reflection and application; very concentrated times for implementation meant a much more thorough and focussed approach with immediate results, improving my results from late 50%s to high 70’s%.

Warwick Skills Workshops provided a good platform for us to actively inspect ourselves, to motive the improvement of our flaws, and to guide our actions using a variety of useful approaches. In fact, successful achievements are usually made through the combination of all the possible resources. The most significant consequence of the workshops is that we understand where we can find these resources and how we can take advantage of them effectively. Attending the regular workshops constantly promotes my high inspiration in putting the plans into practice.

FINAL WORDS..............................


finaaalll

So finally I would say these workshops have taken me far and completely changed me, instilling a range of skills that I continue to better every day. Overall I must say this was a thoroughly thrilling and exhilarating time with a range of experiences, good and bad, all teaching and helping me to develop. There is no better way I could have used my time, and believe the WARWICK SKILLS PORTFOLIO AWARD was an investment in my future maximising the perception of self/esteem and confidence. All of these established in the way I communicate and in body language. A Heartfelt thank you to the University of Warwick and the Warwick Skills Team.

A thoroughly fitting and memorable way to end this journey of personal development and achievement along with the LONDON Olympics 2012.

KIND REGARDS

Melvin Jose


MSc Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management (2011-2012) University of Warwick


A7 Follow–Up 4: The Final Review: See the words WHIZZING PAST!!!

Follow-up to Follow Up 3: Jumping the hurdles, glimpsing the light at the end of the page ! from Melvin's blog

“The early development of speed reading can be traced to the beginning of the (20th) century, when the publication explosion swamped readers with more than they could possibly handle at normal reading rates.” - Tony Buzan

speed_reading_1.jpg

I can’t believe how fast the time has gone…. One moment I was worrying about reading for the dissertation and another I am coasting through them without worry. I really does make me realise how effective using the different techniques have been. The initial boost in speed from 180 to 410 wpm was the biggest of motivators in my endeavour to achieve the result and reading skill.

Over the weeks and months my practice framework for reading included everything from little articles to paper to long journals. For the last month it has included a plethora of journals and articles for the dissertation. THE ABILITY TO READ FAST is made up of lots of little skills. You can use as many or as few of those skills as you want. The more of those individual skills you use, the faster you’ll be able to read. Add all the skills together, and sure, it’s dramatic. But who needs dramatics? A small improvement is cool enough, paving the way for a bigger feat of achievement.

Of course, when you learn to read faster, you can read more. But there’s another benefit that’s not so obvious: Reading will become more interesting. Same thing I found with listening to a lecturer who speaks too slowly versus one who speaks at a comfortable but lively pace. It’s more interesting. It’s more fun. It keeps you awake. And by reading faster, you’re making the process more challenging in a controlled way. And a challenge that is under your control is enjoyable. Making reading interesting adds to the amount you retain and thus is a win win situation.sr1

Some key avenues that I ventured other than the well known and personally valued ‘GREEN POINTER’ are as follows.

DON’T LET YOUR EYES REGRESS, keep them moving forward. They will have a tendency to go back a few words occasionally. That continual little movement backwards adds up. I realised that if I stopped doing it, both my speed and comprehension increased.

Additionally I ensured a state of ‘Constant Practice Of Picking Up Speed’ as you read. Reading is a skill, and like any other skill, the constant effort to do it a little better keeps you getting better and better at it as time goes on.

Another area I established was to ‘TAKE IN MORE WORDS AT A TIME’. If you normally see two words at a time when you read, your eyes look at two words, move to the next two and stop to look at those, move to the next two, etc. I began taking in two words at a time so my eyes make fewer stops, increasing your speed.

A main point I focused on whilst reading development and one which I would share with every one attempting to develop their reading is :

“Increase Your Challenge Only As Your Skill Increases. Keep It Fun. Don’t Push Yourself So Hard It Becomes Stressful!”

Another pointer for anyone hoping to improve their reading with techniques is one I would add from personal experience :

“WHEN YOU FIRST practice a technique, you’ll be conscious of using it and that may very well distract you a little from comprehending what you’re reading. But keep practicing and the technique will become automatic, no longer requiring your conscious attention, allowing you to put your full attention on the content of the written material. At that point, you will have gained an increase in reading skill to enjoy for the rest of your life.”

An Update on Dissertation method:

My personalised technique for dissertational reading proved to be a success overall . Although trying out the technique initially proved to have flaws.reading_fast.jpg

The first few points seemed to fit well with efficient reading for the dissertation. However, the fifth point seemed to pose significant issues.

5. After reading the whole article, ask myself what did I get from it, does it meet my expectation, which part should be useful for my study, etc. “Question understanding to analyse how effectively you have read!”

After trying out this a few times I become conscious of the time consuming aspect it harboured. After reading the whole article and then assessing it proved to inefficient as on numerous occasions after spending time reading an article, then assessing it and realising it didn’t meet my expectations seemed to be a waste of time. Realigning it with my initial target of speeding and effective reading as well as with time management, I modified it to be an ever running process, regardless of where I am in the article. After finding strategic points in the article I went about assessing it, thus establishing whether the article is worth reading and is it useful for the dissertation.

It also helped with the other important factor of assessing whether my reading was effective. The article could have been very useful for the dissertation, but if I had not read effectively I would have initially taken too long to read and if the comprehension was not up to scratch will have to spend more time re-reading it. This is a very costly aspect with respect to the dissertation ( SO little TIME, so Much WORK!). Always keeping in mind what I hoping to gain or which bits will be useful to add to the dissertation really helped me to add signposts throughout the articles. Some areas I have highlighted and left notes on the side giving overview of the paragraph and which part of the dissertation it could be useful for.

Overall I would say my improved and realigned process of speeding reading for dissertation has been working really well and will be something I will utilising for the next 20 days J. However, this style/methodology of reading is universal as it could be implemented into anything . But in some cases it is not as useful, such as reading a novel. Always assess what your going to read and why before establishing your personalised technique, as something that works for someone in one situation might not work in another, or as a matter of fact for another person.

All in all “WHERE I AM NOW?

A question I can proudly answer. I have gone from being fearful of the number of words to read, to seeing it as something interesting , something I can sink into without worry how long I take. Nevertheless, I do believe making this perfect is something of a long term goal and will require a lot of practice, something I will be ensuring to do. But for now I am happy with the little habits I have formed and the success, little in the eyes of some but highly significant in the eyes of others.

Moreover the fun is about to begin in about 20days, once I finish this dissertation. I have already built a stack of interesting novels to read. Nonetheless, the interesting factor is in everything you read whether it be fantasy book or a cutting edge paper on the development of stem cells into an off the shelf therapy. Always personal interest could state something to be more interesting to read in comparison to another, but it is our reading styles that could make even an interesting article boring, by the way we read it.

For now this is it the FINAL REVIEW for the Speeding reading Portfolio, however the future is still full of surprises and something I hope to blog about in the future, once I graduate J

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.” - Anthony Trollope

“I can read a book twice as fast as anybody else. First I read the beginning, and then I read the ending, and then I start in the middle and read toward whichever end I like best.” - Gracie Allen

A big thank You to Han-Na for all your support and words of wisdom.

Before I finish this post here is a challege...... CAN YOU READ this post in 1minute????

Dare to take the challenge:) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>sr34

Kind Regards

Melvin


P7 Follow–Up 4: The Final Review: Assessing today, tomorrow and forever

Follow-up to P7 Follow–Up 3: Have you changed? Is TIME your friend now? from Melvin's blog

TIME, TIME, TIME Handline Leaping Seconds with Grace and STYLE?

OR

Tracking Your Time, a limited resource. How are you using yours?

WHATS YOU THINKING??????

tm6I always previously felt I was too busy to assess how I’m managing my time. Wouldn't time spent planning be better spent on assignments, studying, games or catching up on lost sleep? In fact, like spending money on advertising to grow a business, assessing your use of time now will pay off in greater efficiency and achievement later. I have realised that from the worrying person I was to the calm and collected person I have become, all thanks to better time management. My journey began with me being overwhelmed with the amount of assignments and work I had to do for my course, always stressing I had to do this……and that!! The times were riddled with a number of all nighters, poor eating habits, missing breakfast/lunches, sacrificing a lot of pleasures to get work done at university. Additionally, the prospect giving time for family and friends was starting to strain me considerably. I used to see myself sometimes overly spending time with family and friends or hardly any time at all and getting annoyed. In the midst of all this, deep within me I knew something was not set right as I was trying to do everything but nothing was working….I wasn’t happy….others weren’t happy etc.124408671777sfn0.jpg

Thus came the time I actively took the step to understand time completely. Clear my mind of any personal methods to sort this mess out and take a tour of my day, my priorities, my time and the importance of balance… was the initial gain from the workshop. Currently I have come a long way from what I used to be all with successes and failures, but trying to get consistency was all that mattered. The main aspect of the workshop that has been etched in me is the SMART method of time management. I automatically seem to assess every piece of work or situation. It has gone from being a technique to use to becoming a habit, which has really helped me. It always helps me arrange my time with priorities whilst giving deadlines. Making all my targets SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT and TIME BOUND.

Especially for my action point it worked beautifully. My last two modules being riddled with work was the time to implement it, especially using it on presentations we had to make. The different parts of the presentations had different priorities and thus SMART helped complete the whole task effortlessly. Every time there was something incomplete or over ran the designated time, SMART was used and everything was reassessed.

As I had previously mentioned SMART has helped me achieve the complete CV and vacancy applications. GANT on the other had was used a little before, but has be truly valuable in determining the work regime for my dissertation. I had used the link given in the workshop to prepare an assignment planner, always trying to ensure the deadlines are met. It also helps ease the stress and thought of a huge thesis with so many chapters. Dividing it chapter by chapter has been the key in ensuring I am on target. As of present I have been on target though slow, but having set the deadline for binding and printing 4 days prior to the hand in date I have established a broken down view of what I need to complete and when rather than looking at it as one whole thing, which is a very daunting aspect. For each stage I have ascertained certain targets, how it looks , reads, how many words etc. Thus allowing me to assess the completion and progression onto the next stage.

The biggest success I am proud of is the aspect of lifetime planning. One of main action points was a success. This in the sense that I was able to understand the importance and implications it has. I have succeeded in planning for CVs, vacancies etc , but only when I actually got it done did I realise how I was changing. It was then I realised the control I had on my life. And most of all it personifies my quote from the last post “WHAT WE DO TODAY, CAN IMPROVE ALL OUR TOMORROWS!!!” I truly felt I was no longer a student and am ready to step into the busy world of work. It also gave me the sense of value and confidence that anything is achievable it tackled well and in an organised manner.

tm2Overall from this workshop, I have gained the skills to manage my time more effectively and achieve my objectives more efficiently, e.g. using To-Do List, setting objectives and prioritise tasks. These have been absolutely useful and valuable in obtaining achievements this year, and hopefully brings new achievements in the days to come. Additionally, by determining action points, I have pushed myself to apply the time management techniques I learned into my day-to-day life in order to use those techniques more effectively and maximise the benefits from using those techniques. By carrying out those actions points, I use the To-Do List every day, I always prioritise my tasks whenever I feel I am short in time and I set out my three main objectives of this year which give me guidance on allocating time appropriately this year. I find these exercises gradually improve my time management and give me more free time for other tasks.

Every effective professional works from a daily list. It is the most powerful time management technique ever discovered to increase productivity and improve your organizational skills. Ineffective people, those who are overwhelmed with too many things to do and too little time, either do not use a list or do not refer to a list if they have one in the first place(THE PAST ME). They often resist the idea of writing everything down. As a result, they find themselves continually distracted by ringing phones, interruptions, unexpected emergencies, and e-mail requests.

During my baby steps in time management, when I created my daily list, I began by writing down every single task that I intended to complete over the course of the day. The rule I followed was that I will increase productivity by 25 percent the very first day that I start using a list. This means that I will get two extra hours of productive time in an eight hour day from the simple act of making a list of everything i have to do before I start work. I finally saw how I can bring order out of chaos faster with a list than with any other time management tool over the course of last 3 months. What I realised was that once I had written up my daily lists and begun work, new tasks and responsibilities will come up. Telephone calls will have to be returned. Emails will have to be dealt with etc. But I ensured in every case, write it down on the list before you do it!!!!!!!!!!!

Sometimes a task or demand on your time will seem urgent when it comes up. But something that might distract you from your other work regains its true importance when you write it down. An item that is written down on the list next to all your other tasks and responsibilities often doesn’t seem so important after all.tm3

During the weeks after my workshop, I have seen myself often using the To-Do list and the this techniques often prevent me from forgetting important tasks which I always did before. Also, I find myself having clear targets to achieve and knowing how to achieve them, and hence spending my time accordingly. Comparing to before, I did not use to have any objectives and just do whatever came up in my mind and get distracted easily by smalls tasks, I feel I have improve significantly. Finally, being able to prioritise tasks according to my objectives, I have find myself not missing the important deadlines or working non stop at the last minute which I often fail to do before. Although there are still room for improvement, I am impressed by my progress.

Another key aspect I have come to notice and implement in my time management strategy was “Increasing productivity with prime time”. Organize your life so that you are doing creative work during your internal ‘‘prime time.’’ The internal prime time is the time of day, according to your body clock, when you are the most alert and productive. For most people, this is in the morning. For some people, however, it is in the evening. I used to have a prime time of late nights, well technically looking at the clock now it backs my point J. But with respect to my thesis I have come to realise my time is better during the day and by evening I start to wander with other things. Being important that I am aware of my internal prime time, I schedule my most important projects accordingly to increase productivity. My most important work requires that me be at my very best, rested, alert, and creative. What time of the day do you most feel this way? For me the most important work being the THESIS and thus best use of the day from 9 to 4pm.

tm5Additionally I am also aware of external prime time. This is the time when your friends or in this case my supervisor are most readily available. Thus, those days I give some thought to structuring my day for both my external and internal prime times. Finally with my current thesis, I have implemented another feature to my time management portfolio, “LIMITING OF THE READING TIME”. It easy to get immersed into an article and just keep jumping from one to another, and then looking up at the clock it shows 2 hours have gone past. So I dictate how much time to read and so ensure I am writing consistently rather than leaving a mountain to write closer to the date. I also use the speedy reading techniques learnt to improve the time management.

So to finish I also ensure I reward Efficiency With Downtime. I realised that my daily to do list shouldn’t be a list of things I HOPE to get done (if the stars align just right). It should be a realistic list of things I WILL get done. And if I get them all done with time to spare, take time off. Reward myself for good work ethic.

Thus to sum up, a lot has been learnt and a lot of progress has been made. But as always consistency is the issue to work on and in the coming future, I will definitely keep applying the skills I learned from the workshop whilst seeking new methods which might further improve my time management, All together could enable me to achieve my long term objectives more efficiently.

In conclusion this workshop has been a game changer for me this year, proving me useful insight into techniques and issue as well as forcing me to look within and how I might be KILLING MY TIME or JUST NOW GETTING THE MOST OUT OF IT. This workshop has been a time of reflection, assessing what was going wrong in my life, why and how I can improve it. An integral part of it was getting myself organised and understanding the prospect of time as well as also finding the balance that currently I enjoy.tm4

Every day you have 24 hours but what you make of those 24 hours is what defines you!! Hence I can say this workshop has helped me organise myself and my time. I will ensure I practice and develop all the skills and techniques learnt and thus mould a bright future.

Thank you very much Beverley for your insightful workshop and guidance.

Time is the wisest counsellor of all.~ Pericles

Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn. ~ Delmore Schwartz

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.~ Rodin

Time as he grows old teaches many lessons ~ Aeschylus


Kind Regards

Melvin


August 03, 2012

P2 Follow–Up 4:The Final Review of "Becoming Assertive"– Achieving the needed change!

Follow-up to Follow–Up 3: What next after Making the Choice to learn? from Melvin's blog

So “becoming more assertive” was and still one of the most challenging aspects of my new life, I know it is a continuous effort, and this is reflective piece is about what I learnt so far.

HBat

A recap of my action points is as follows:

Ensuring maintenance of an assertive posture, whilst also exuding vitality in introducing/networking with others, as well as voice my opinions freely.

Understanding that the maintenance of my self-esteem is a personal endeavour and it not dependent on other, thus grab every opportunity to take initiative and build confidence

Improve on verbal communication via use of the tools stated .

  • Make the steps of an assertive behaviour a habit:

i) State the problem ii) Explain how it affects you iii) Listen to the other person’s point of view and respect it iv) Be prepared to negotiate v) Leave old grievances out of the conservation

simba

Over the months I have stated and implemented a number of action points that has thoroughly developed me and given me insight into being assertive. Assertiveness as a behavioural type which entwines non-verbal communication (body language), (intonation) as well as verbal communication. It is the mastery of these aspect s that define you as assertive. Such as with intonation, that is neutral and soothing with a dip at the end, reminiscing the ubiquitous "mind the gap" we hear on public transport. Adding to this a key revelation was that self-esteem and confidence are not mutually exclusive. One can radiate confidence and have very little self-esteem, but having high self-esteem gives you a state of contempt. In succession, my experience also helped me realise that aggressiveness, passiveness and assertiveness are not on a spectrum but separate characteristics. Assertiveness borrows the characteristics that the other two lack.

My practice frame

I think we have chances to practice being assertiveness all the time, my experiences to develop this skill included implementing it with friends, family as well as during academia; projects , group works(THIS WAS THE MAIN AREA FOR IMPLEMENTATION).As group leader in one project was a key place to being an ASSERTIVE LEADER, bringing together authority and assertiveness, an area with the risk to appear “AGGRESSIVE”. Another occasion presented me with a group with extremely strong personalities where getting heard and expressing my ideas/feelings was very tough. Additionally the third occasion brings together a group of a mix of people with ones who want me to be a leader and others who what to control the group. Here I experienced both the occasion where I seemed to be “PASSIVE” being over spoken by some members and another where whilst trying to be assertive the person just was not ready to listen, making me realise I was slowly starting to be “AGGRESSIVE”. So through the months I have tuned myself into being assertive most of the time, however it is still a challenge as these behavioural traits are very circumstantial.

Overall all the practice I had implementing the different techniques allowed me to see all the aspects of the techniques, when they are good when they are bad etc. A lot of the occasions I have been quite effective as I have stated in previous posts, with respect to conflict resolution etc.

What worked and what didn’t

assertive balance

As with every development process, I tried out most of the techniques taught. A lot of them really helped me develop this state of mind, keeping emotion away and becoming assertive. Posture being a cruicial factor is something I have always started to implement, something like a second nature. Ensuring that my posture, stance etc is neutral and doesn't suggest submissiveness or arrogance is key to emanating confidence. It is the initial aspect of yourself that determines your image even before you have spoken to someone. This is something that I have found very easy to implement especially thanks to presentations, projecting a professional image of oneself. Another aspect is voice intonation, that was easy to implement when I was not emotional. It was this aspect that kept making me stray from Assertiveness.


During group work session, especially whilst being the group leader I wrestled with getting my emotions involved. Mainly due to the fact that being the leader, I tried to exude some authority emphasising the need for everyone’s opinions, principally in a group consisting of very strong personalities . I finally found the main reason why I was getting so worked up; predominantly because having worked for longer than others, when other members decided that rather than them writing up the report, I do (as I’d be more aesthetically pleasing), and me being myself was finidng it hard to “SAY NO”.

rlsNevertheless, with a lot of effort I finally was able to ‘SAY NO’, something I always had a problem to do. Previously being a YES person to everyone, thus not looking out for myself, this was a big change. It felt very different, as if I was in control and thus building my confidence. Understanding the aspect of assertiveness I measured my saying NO was not rude but diplomatic by persuading everyone to input their bits into a document, whilst I take a well deserved break, after which I will compile it. Explaining to them what I can do for them and cannot do right now, as well as emphasising that we discussed who will take responsibility on each task. If they have problems we discuss and solve the issues as a group rather than me being the only problem solver.

One key area I’ve thoroughly improved which was hard once again was, ‘Leaving previous grievances out of the conversation’. This has improved my psychological mindset in being more emotionally stable and thus being focussed in generating an Assertive and critical argument or on the other hand having a thoroughly stimulating conversation with someone and generating the correct impression. The benefits of something I have seen during my interactions with people and with the increased interactions people have had with me compared to before I protruded an ASSERTIVE NATURE. I must say this “I have not completely mastered but am continually improving on it”. Being something I did a lot of previously, it is hard to get rid of completely. However, assessing my conversation( WHAT I AM GOING TO SAY) has really helped me stop myself, or in the case I have slipped up before it gets worse get back to the assertive nature and provide a non-emotional outlook. I have come to look back and see how vulnerable and miserable person this would have made to look like, whilst also removing a part of my credibility in formulation of a sound argument. It is definitely not what I want myself to be seen as, and am consistently trying to change the person I am, by streamlining my behavioural aspects.


On a different note, the BIRD appraisal measure is a valuable tool, however at first, it wasn’t easy to apply since at times I forgot what each letter stood for. As I used it more and more during practise, especially by keeping the sheet in my bag at first whilst going to each group work session, it started to become easier to implement as it became second nature, thus giving me the confidence and ease of mind that I have the power to tackle such situations. I found that it taught me how to take my time and think before engaging in a conflict (or even being part of a situation). The most important thing about the BIRD method -to me- is the fact that it is about me, my time, schedule or a agenda, I don’t have to answer to anyone just because he/she wants me to, as how they chose the time and setting of their answer, I get to choose the time and setting of my answer.

The best aspect was that I am able to consistently use the steps in making behaviour more assertive. Using the the stated procedure has really helped especially in tackling really intense situations, where I have tried to handle group members with really strong or hostilitic personalities.


Where Am I now

So the main question of “What is next? Where do I go from here?.

Following my journey on this path of assertiveness, I genuinely believe that I have changed considerably, I actually feel that I’m not always standing in my own way. Rather I have become the person pushing myself into the future without staying in the past. I have improved my self confidence considerable and is something I always hold on to dearly, being so proud J. I think being assertive and having a good self-esteem is all about how we feel about ourselves. balanceI have also realised the importance of self assessment at every situation, as what each person has to implement is a balance. Depending on what sort of person you are initially the extent of implementation varies, as for a passive person they will have to be more outwardly active (extroversive behaviour) to get them initially out of the strong passive mindset. As will a naturally strong personality, aggressive person, they will have to push them to the extent of forcing them to listen (which would be hard). With each person to reach assertiveness and becoming more assertiveness the balance lies at different positions. I found that out with myself during my voyage on “Becoming more assertive”. I also learnt the centre for the balance keeps changing based on experiences, because if by trying to be more extroversive you could have over shot the mid-point and currently are dangerously near becoming aggressive in your quest of being less passive. Thus it is thoroughly important in self assessment, one which I will be forever implementing.

This journey on self assessment, reflection and development has done just that, making me more assertive and boosting my self-esteem. Most important of all I don’t think this journey is over here, as the world out there is a place full of surprises. Life with throws ups and downs constantly at you and forgetting about what I have learnt here would mean going back to that ME that I so dislike. I absolutely love the person I have become and aim to constantly practise the art of assertiveness, especially not forgetting NON-Verbal communication as well as verbal communication aspect. The one FUNDAMENTAL thing these sessions of personal development have taught me is,

“Always remember self-confidence is not something that once lost is gone forever, But it is something that when rebuilt will be stronger than ever!!”

“WHAT BREAKS US ONCE, HELPS US TO BE STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE!” – Me


Regards

Melvin


P4 Follow–up 4: The Final review of “Delivering effective presentations”

Follow-up to Follow–up 3: The final academic presentation and nearing to career presentations from Melvin's blog


“Presentations done! Whats to come?”

“Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future” - Steve Jobs

cpskNow that all the academic presentations are done, it is the perfect time to reflect on and assess the steps I took, hurdles faced and most of all the results I achieved. It would pave the way for me to develop the optimal strategy for the surprises the future might harbour.

So first things first, my action points formulated subsequent to the workshop are as follows:

  • Tackling initial nervousness with concentrated and calm breathing
  • Ensuring a thorough filter of all the research available to ensure a flowing story with correct and only enough information to match the time available.(MUST, COULD & SHOULD know technique).
  • Obtain correct preparation: with a systematic personalised but flowing structure alongside other tools.
  • Practise is also another point ( few sessions with loud presentations in front of the mirror or other people, as similar conditions as possible to the real thing)

Nerves are my biggest downfall. Correction they were my biggest downfall, however with different techniques I have found my own way to handle it. Definitely breathing has always helped, but ensuring all of the action points are handled built the overall picture which helped handle the nerves, and in one way helping me use the nervousness to my advantage.

Refraining from being too conscious of my speaking has really helped. Rather than worrying about how I will speak, keeping focus on the information and knowledge as well as my image, hand gestures all helped in being less self conscious. Additionally, it was then I would give little focus to how I am speaking with respect to changes in tone, intonation etc. As I am generally a good speaker with respect to clarity, power and emphasizing ( tone), however it is when I get nervous that all of this goes down the drain. Probably resultant of a bad experience I once had, where I was so nervous that I felt my knees wobbling and in turn being conscious the visous cycle of self-conscious negative feedback started.

I must say at the start of the year, I was trying to make my own methodology to tackle presentations. It did help me progress a little but I still had issues. This was reflected in the marks that I got as initially at the start of the year I obtained a mark in the late 50s, which was poor considering the amount of work I had put in.cwajdf

Following the workshops I was able to develop significantly to the point now looking back I myself can’t believe the person I have become. The workshop on “Assertiveness” did significantly support my development with presentations .

Following the procedure of assessing the content “MUST, COULD & SHOULD” has helped me in regulating the amount of information I put into the presentation, thus helping me get a thorough understanding of the topic and not being overwhelmed with the information. To add to this was the highly important issue of script. At the start of the year when I did not modulate the amount of information properly I always had 3-4 pages full of text ( what I was going to speak during my presentations). I had never realised having a script really did add to issue of nervousness, as I was always worried “ DID I SAY EVERYTHING?”. This always mean I looked at the script, lost my flow, poor eye contact and pitch, all leading to increased nervousness. I soon started to use small flash cards, particularly ever since a particular presentation I had.

There was a specific occasion whilst in a group when we tried to come up with the slides. However, due to language barriers and other issues a number of members didn’t contribute enough hence I had to stay up the whole night without any sleep. THe next morning the 2nd presenter had intense stage fright and wouldn’t go on for the “BUSINESS PLAN” presentation asking me to play the role of the second presenter. On the spot last minute without any preparation I went on with my colleague. Luckily as I had made the presentation I had a thorough understanding of the topic. At first I was nervous but because I was sleep deprived and annoyed at the other person for pulling out at the last minute, I somehow did not come across nervous at all. This was the first time I actually implemented the 5 Ps of presentation without realising. It was only after the PPT, that I realised I spoke well covered all aspect and spoke only what was needed, without the need of a script.

pwrEver since I was exuberant at the prospect of presentations, thanks to that one success. Using these action points and the techniques taught, especially the two finger rule, I have ever since only improved on my presentational styles. Most of all, it has changed me into a presenter that can talk without a script with confidence. One significant feat was the presentation I gave in the workshop as it was then I was taking my baby steps into becoming a good presenter. Using the nervousness energy/power to do anything, rather than for worry has helped me with confidence and my ability.

The basics of getting ready for a presentation are etched into me, as I want to excel and obtain something once I was so worried was my biggest weakness. These techniques and steps are becoming a habit in preparing for a ppt. Specifically ensuring the structure is interesting and logical for not only myself but others helped me in getting my points across well. Always making sure the structure is different and creative has helped me see presentations as a performance, my unique performance. I have always seen if I am not happy and santisfied with the structure it affect how I actually relate it to the audience, as a doubt in my mind creates a doubt in my tone and speaking while relating it the audience. Thus always during preparation the “STRUCTURE” comes first, and only when I am happy with that will I go forwards. Kind of to the point, I am slightly fussy about it. However you have to fussy about something that will affect your delivery. As previously mentioned “FILTERING OF THE INFORMATION” is another key aspect, as you can always overload the information. Especially being a masters student, a critical approach is looked for by others. It is also key for me to keep a track of time. On the occasions , where I used long scripts I always had issues with time or whilst trying to keep in time I would be speaking at the speed of a train. All of these have affected my prior presentations negatively. However throwing the script aside and keeping only key words as reminders has helped significantly. Particularly being a part of group presentations where I opted to take the second half of the presentation and finish it, meant I had to be critical with the information I provide. Having done this a number of time, especially the first time I tried it by keep a eye on a friends IPAD, I have the learnt the art of assessing the amount of time left, amount of information left to talk about and thus formulate best means of keeping on track with time whilst exuding the optimal amount of data. The first time I tried this I came down to the last few seconds where I gave my final concluding remark and finishing statement.

Practice is another key feature for delivering effective presentations, however the technicality of how you practise comes down to each person. As I mentioned in my previous post (follow up 4) practice in front of a mirror does not work for me, but is after getting into the right mid-set for the presentation, going through the whole presentation whilst doing other things really takes the daunting factor away whilst also being a practise session. Personally, I would practise anywhere except in front of people and/or mirrors J. Common places for me would be in the shower, whilst working out or even whilst listening to music.

On the whole these aspect of presentations are key into effective delivery, it is always breaking the ice and tackling the first ppt with focus and direction that helps you develop and pave the path for success in all others. Other important areas I had not mentioned are confidence, Props and the SLIDEs.Presentation_Skills by Melvin Jose Alumni University of Warwick

A key feature of all successful presentations are confidence. I have come to learn that the single most important criteria for delivering effective presentations- can be faked! Because it’s all about the body language; stand straight, shoulders up, own your grounds by positioning your legs parallel and a bit away from each other, and speak in a strong tone. However, I also have seen the effect of true confidence, which you can obtain if you see a presentation as a performance, where you are educating someone on a particular topic. Confidence can also be true if you are truly proud of your slide design or content use etc. Points which you know will set you apart from others. Also if you truly see the topic from a “Curiosity and interest” point of view, your enthusiasm and confidence can be passed to the audience. This is what sets you apart as an interactive and confident speaker. This was something I realised during the business plan presentation (mentioned earlier) where I was asked to present at the last minute (10minutes before the seminars started). After giving the PPT, the professor did mention my enthusiasm and trust in the product I pitched was a singular factor that changed their minds on whether to invest in this product or not, it showed my confidence in myself and my product.

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Moreover, using props are a good way of interacting with the audience, making your ppt stand out and memorable. This woks like magic. I remember myself implementing this into the paper plane I made for the ppt during the workshop, as well as using the highlighter as a flower to say 5 traits like the 5 petals of a flower make Coventry truly the place to be J.

I know for a fact presentations are not only formal for academia, but is an aspect of yourself everything you do, conversation or meeting someone for the first time and most important of all at interviews. The techniques I have learnt will play a key role in the areas stated above. Not always feasible, as you won’t implement all at all times, but with practice this is becoming a part of me, my personality, a habit.

Delivering effective presentations are not only useful for presentations you give but helps you to be the free and confident public speaker you always dreamt of being.

A very big thank you to Bev for this immensely insightful, helpful and personal character developing workshops. It has played a very very big role for the change I wanted, from the person I was to who I am now.



Kind Regards

Melvin


August 02, 2012

P1 Follow Up 4:The Final Review "Introduction to skills development & the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to P1 Follow–Up 3: An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio from Melvin's blog

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement” -C. S. Lewis

Looking back on the path that I treaded on since the workshop, a lot of hurdles, falls and successes can be seen. All of these together played a critical role into changing my mindset and the person I am with the way I do things.

So firstly, my action point encompass the following:

1. Taking actions towards becoming more active and pragmatic; I chose the following actions from the Learning Styles Questionnaire (Honey, P., 2008)

O Backing a hunch once in a while, rather than over analysing. Allowing myself to trust my feelings more.

O Take a challenge and try the different ways of doing things rather than being set in tried and tested ways all the time.

O Reflect on pieces of work prior to submission by having a few rough drafts .

2. Take the complete Vark questionnaire from vark-learn.com; this will hopefully help me fully understand my favoured learning styles, along with providing methods to develop my less favoured one.

3. Develop my under-developed skills; namely assertiveness, presentational and organisational, with the help of the Warwick Master Skills Programme and some practice.

ladBeing more active and pragmatic was an initial goal. This included a number of occasion where I trusted my feelings backing my hunches with a number of situations. It was particularly hard to let loose as I generally tend to analyse a situation from every possible angle before jumping in with both feet. However, I did succeed in implementing that action potential with cooking, as well as with work at times ( there were moments where other colleagues would mention the structure for the essay had to be in the style stated; however I believed my structuring was more suited to my piece of work). In the latter case, it did prove to be useful as my style stood out, however because I worked hard and ensured the contents were good the marks were good. Nevertheless, my main point of development from this A.P. would be the fact that it built trust of oneself and your judgement. It also allows you let your hair down and add some surprise to things ( however be careful where you chose to implement hunches rather than common sense :P).

Additionally, these events have been challenges which I tackled in other ways than the tried and tested ways. Slightly daunting with the risk of messing up the occasions we definitely character building experiences. However, it has really helped me with creativity and expand on my problem solving skills. As in the case of the basketball society scenario I mentioned in my 4th follow up for team working, using the library as an advertising location to recruit a videographer was an exemplar situation tackled in this way. Actually also developing on my work ethic and management I found time to review and reflect on work I had done prior to submitting it as well as being creative with it. It truly has enlightened me to the importance and benefits it harbours in giving your best as well as the factor that reflection on something helps you pick out its good and bad points and also improve it. Reflection however doesn’t stop there. It helps with future organisation and reflection on past successes and failures to hone the results of the future in your favour.

The VARK questionnaire results for the questionnaire I did, showed that I am the kind of person who likes lists, definitions and quotations as well an unmistakeable knack for visual representations. I used this in my current lectures as well as project work, and plan to continue doing so for note taking in the corporate world outside. Also, the VARK introduced me to ways in which I can improve my intake of information, which helps in both attending seminars/talks as well as doing research and assignments.

Foremost skill areas for improvement, I mainly named assertiveness, presentational and organisational. As my personal goals, and then attending a workshop, followed by personal efforts, I am making improvements with personal triumphs that really motivate me to keep at it.

Where do I go from here?asdfw

I am intended on continuing with my new found personal traits, being more active and pragmatic certainly works for me and improving my output from the day, both work wise and emotionally. Backing my hunches was one of the reason I did the workshop to input into ‘Warwick’s online resource for presentations’, as overanalysing it would mean looking at the time it took and if I could use the time elsewhere. I just had a feeling it would be good to give back something to Warwick, as their workshops on presentations had really improved me. Backing my hunch meant I trusted my feelings more, but also that I felt personal satisfaction and good because I had helped give my bit into a resource that would help students who were in the same bad position I was initially in with presentations. It proved to be a delight on a personal. Additionally the unexpected voucher was nice too J.


Best Regards

Melvin


August 01, 2012

P7 Follow–Up 3: Have you changed? Is TIME your friend now?

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: From A way of Growing to My choosing to Learn from Melvin's blog


“There is time for everything” - Thomas Edison

“A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life” - Charles Darwin

1086886229_6ca5f10cff.jpgAfter a month’s worth of practices and implementation chances it is about time I write an update on my progress. This time I bring good news for a lot of avenues I was working on. I must say I finally completed my CV and have applied to nearly 3 positions already. Not only the CV but covering letters as well. I was so proud of myself when I finished all of those amongst my other pieces I had to finish and the assignments as well as lectures I had to attend, without forgetting the supervisory meetings and dissertational reading.


I think it just my initial fear of all that work that was overshadowing my ideal of managing time effectively. Currently my values and personality has changed a lot, “I CAN SIT NO LONGER IDEALLY” J Before I could sit for hours just watching TV show episodes one after another following the submission of an assignment. In the last month I have gotten all my work done on time. Ensure they are not just finished but also the reports are designed well. I have also started with a new fitness regime, found time to link up with old friends, making extra time for a close friend and family as well as having a good amount of fun. tm


I think it is all finally coming together and am thoroughly exuberant at the prospect.

After finishing my essays I took an hour to actually set up a timeline and put up a new “Disseration calendar” to make sure I get the most of the month left for the dissertation. I have also established a new goal of getting fit alongside the work over the coming months. I must add I have made a really good start to it.

One issue I still notice is that I still can and have a tendency to actually go on a stretch watching TV shows after the completion of big piece of work. However the good aspect of that is that after an hour and a half soon my mind starting assessing what is to come. I think the idea of balance and utilising time to the best is slowly becoming a habitual aspect of me.

to-do-list2.jpgThe aspect of keeping a ‘To do list’ is a mental list at times, but I am starting to write it down on the calendar I have put up. Even the exercise sessions I undertake mark it once complete to stay on track for my goal.



Using my Smartphone to the fullest, also sees me setting reminders for important event each day or even for deadlines that are far away. Recently I have been making time to talk to a new person who was not a part of the time calculation previously. I must say after the first few occasions it has become a very time consuming thing, as on occasion I would see messages throughout the day and calls lasting a good while J ( I can’t complain J but as I realised previously if I need to get all my work and decided goals for the day, I just will have to modulate the time spent talking J).

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Personally handling my time, I have become better at accommodating other around my time and work, redefined myself.Previously, I was prioritising others before my time and work. This has however changed with me work and time at the centre and others around it.


Writing this blog post can illustrate poor time management, however it is quite the opposite and mainly because I was laying awake and thought of the best way to use the time I have until I feel sleepy againJ . Losing sleep for the last 4 days with about 4-5 hour each day, I just decided to take some “Re-BOOT” sleep time. Considering I had church, handing in of an essay, Basketball society and a family get together for my niece last night I slept in quite a lot today nearly 14 hours of sleep…. A crazy duration but it helped me catch up on some well deserved lost sleep and reboot after all the craziness as now begins the one and only task of writing my ‘Thesis”. So just a one off…….. sleeping that much is no good for any person and I make a loss on fitness as well loose so much time, MY TIME , THAT I DEFINITELY CAN’T SPEND DOING NOTHING J


whs

“Your greatest resource is your time”

- Brian Tracy


Best Regards

Melvin Jose


P1 Follow–Up 3: An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2:An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio from Melvin's blog


“Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.”

- Elbert Hubbard

The last number of days have been perfect settings for the implementation of my methodology for the dissertational reading. After a thorough meeting with my supervisor came the occasions to actually print off a whole wad of journals and starting the actual and dreaded task of reading them.I must say though the methodology I initially thought about trying to get the whole picture is rather useful, especially initially starting the reading process. After reading a few pages I would try to create a mind map. I did help me start until the point I found it to be taking up time and feeling guilty thinking “Rather than wasting time creating diagrams, I could actually read up on much more!”

I still think it is a good tool to start me off at the beginning of every morning prior to starting my reading sessions; recapping the material from previous day. Adding to this I also thought after reading through all the material from an article or journal making a mind map consolidates all the read material while also keeping a more personalised overview of the text read for future reference, rather than going to the whole paper again (which would be daunting :O ). So, final views on the making the dissertational reading more visual, I believe I was over stepping the line by actually doing each page as a spider diagram. However, summarising a 15 page article into a summary diagram is very useful and helps me to retain material a lot. The best factor is the future reference one, where I will have to only read through 50 spider diagrams rather than 50 articles with 15 pages each!!!

On another interesting note, I have made progress with my action points in being more pragmatic and active. These I try to apply to everyday, especially if I’m feeling lazy or down as forcing myself to act on things with those points in mind always changes improves my mood.

My initial action point was “Backing a hunch once in a while, rather than over analysing. Allowing myself to trust my feelings more.” Even though I don’t always do things blindly without analysing it completely, following the workshop I have tried to apply it. Having the sense of uncertainty every now an then, based on hunches was quite thrilling and satisfying, the latter being true as it had made me trust my feelings a more. Just over a week ago, I was actually looking to get back in shape with fitness and health wise.

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After getting back on my fitness regime, I came across a tv show during which they talked about having a health drink in the morning would be really good. They mentioned “Dr.Oz green drink” which contained fruit and veg blended together. Initial idea was appealing but looking at what it looked like it was different story, but I still believed it might be good and an interesting change.

 wsaSo rather than following the one they mentioned I thought I’d alter it with different ingredients. Adding honey and mint to flavour it, and kind of basing the contents on what was on the fridge contents :D .


I just followed a hunch and this was the result >>>>>>>>>>>>.

A glass of health and flavour and a very questionable shade of green. However, following my instinct during the ingredients choice process whilst making the drink, the result was surprising. “IT ACTUALLY TASTED PRETTYY GOOD” , especially my thought of adding ‘MINT and HONEY’.Adding to it, I’ve been taking it for about a week now, and it is actually helped with my general stamina and becoming leaner as well as toning up. I have seen a significant physical difference, considering I haven’t been working out crazily. I might have come with a new entrepreneural product :P

Another feat of achievement was that at one instance I tackled both the first action point of backing hunches and the second one “Take a challenge and try the different ways of doing things rather than being set in tried and tested ways all the time”. This time was it was quite a risky situation considering at 4/5 pm I was asked to handle the family dinner for than day, as my mum would be late.

Well, rather than panicking I was in quite a jolly mood, considering I had won at basketball few hours back. I set about the task of assessing of what to make, something different and came across some packs of noodles. Not knowing any specific recipe or dish, I was an amateur with no idea as to go about it. It was a challenge as I had no idea what I was making and still had no idea as to what I made at the end of it J I just kept backing my hunches, tasting it every now and then, being dangerously creative. It was a challenge all I had in front of me before I started was only a pack of noodles with no recipe. Additionally I also had some chicken drumstick which I had no idea what to do with :O (at one point I was tempted to deep fry it J ) I blindly let me tongue decided the spices or ingredient choice and marched on. Now for the surprise, the result was astonishing and apparently got compliments, with my brother requesting me to make it again, two time since then.

 qsa



ndle<<BEFORE AFTER>>>

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Now for the last action point “Reflect on pieces of work prior to submission by having a few rough drafts”. This was one I implemented especially in my last assignment I handed in yesterday. I made sure I finished it 2 days before and spent the time to alter parts. The time for reflection helped me find a lot of errors in grammars, as well as helped me come up with better ways of expressing my ideas rather than half a page of text. It also helped me realise that there were parts which could be developed better and critically helping me come up with a better positioning for my report. Even though finishing a report once and for all is good , and doing it one stretch and never looking back at it is good, reflection did really help me in making sure I was giving me best for the assessment.
Reflection also followed after handing in of the report, however not on improving the report but on the fact “Now I have finished my report, what should I do? How to go about getting on the dissertation or take a break”. Just a reflection on what I have achieved, what is left and where to progress from here .

Overall these tools are really shaping day to day life making them interesting and increasing the value of my inputs every day.


Best Regards

Melvin


July 27, 2012

Follow Up 5: Final Review Part 2

Follow-up to Follow Up 4: Final Review Part 1 from Melvin's blog

kas2Subsequently through this workshop I have learnt that when a team is performing at its best, you'll usually find that each team member has clear responsibilities. Also that every role needed to achieve the team's goal is being performed fully and well. But often, despite clear roles and responsibilities, a team will fall short of its full potential. Over the range of experiences I have experienced the different issues with conflict or incorrect delegation or absence of certain role inflicting damage, ie. In the absence of co-ordinator everyone did little bits without thinking of the work need to be completed; resultant of this absence the work was rushed at the end forgetting some parts and in turn getting a low grade for the presentation.

Perhaps some team members don't complete the things you expect them to do. Perhaps others are not quite flexible enough, so things "fall between the cracks." Maybe someone who is valued for their expert input fails to see the wider picture, and so misses out tasks or steps that others would expect. Or perhaps one team member becomes frustrated because he disagrees with the approach of other team members.

1sdOn the whole I have come to learn, that the team roles each person plays is a inclination to behave, contribute and interconnect with others in a specific way. Teams can become unbalanced if all team members have similar styles of behaviour or team roles. If team members have similar weakness, the team as a whole may tend to have that weakness. If team members have similar team-work strengths, they may tend to compete (rather than co-operate) for the team tasks and responsibilities that best suit their natural styles.

Thus for an effective team these nine roles are key. It is vital to identify the team roles in each team so each member can play at their strengths as well as clarifying any missing team roles.

Each team harbours the different players. As in the case stated above of the basketball committee, it is vital to determine the team roles as it would help prevent conflicts, establish correct delegation of tasks (each person can work at their strengths)

Action Oriented Roles

Shaper

Challenges the team to improve.

Implementer

Puts ideas into action.

Completer Finisher

Ensures thorough, timely completion.

People Oriented Roles

Coordinator

Acts as a chairperson.

Team Worker

Encourages cooperation.

Resource Investigator

Explores outside opportunities.

Thought Oriented Roles

Plant

Presents new ideas and approaches.

Monitor-Evaluator

Analyzes the options.

Specialist

Provides specialized skills.


Knowing this, you can use the model with your team to help ensure that necessary team roles are covered, and that potential behavioral tensions or weaknesses among the team member are addressed. Also, by understanding your role within a the team, you can develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses as a team member, and so improve how you contribute to the team.

The main point I have learnt is that Belbin's "team roles" are based on observed behavior and interpersonal styles. However it is always susceptible to situational changes; your behavior and interpersonal style within a team is to some extent dependent on the situation. This is because it relates not only to your own natural working style, but also to your interrelationships with others, and the work being done. Among teams of people that do the same job, a small number of team roles may prevail. For example, within a research department, the team roles of Specialist and Plant may be filled by several people. A team of business consultants may mainly comprise Team Workers and Shapers. Such teams may be unbalanced, in that they may be missing key approaches and outlooks. If the team is unbalanced, first identify any team weakness that is not naturally covered by any of the team members. Then identify any potential areas of conflict. For example, too many Shapers can weaken a team if each Shaper wants to pull the team in a different direction.

If I had to give five tips based on what I have learnt and experienced, to someone who will be working in a group, I would suggest the following:

First of all, spend enough time to introduce yourselves so as to develop confidence, respect and trust towards the other team members;

Secondly, organise the roles and tasks in accordance to skills, capabilities and desires, in order to make everyone happy and satisfied with their work;

Thirdly, promote a healthy and effective working environment, where flexibility and discussions are two main pillars;

Fourthly, constantly check on the progress of all members, remind the team of the goal you are aiming towards and make sure that the group is following the timeline initially set up;

Finally, reflect on the outcome and the process of the teamwork, so that mistakes can be corrected and the team learns through these.

image6.gifThus in conclusion, this workshop has truly given me the understanding of how to put together an effective team, work together as an effective team and succeed as a effective team. Team working has really opened my eyes to the team dynamics which I had no knowledge about previously, and one which I just left to a person being good or bad, quite a childlike methodology. I really hope I can develop the skill I learnt in identifying the different roles, building on my strengths which also being flexible for the betterment of the team. My real team experiences where I have implemented the learnt theory has beyond doubt opened my eyes to the reality of team working and how you can use the belbin’s profile to attain the most out of the team, even if you feel the people who you are in a team with are not work focussed. Everyone works differently in a team and it is playing at each person’s strengths that attains the stunning results. Create the ‘PERFECT CIRCLE


Best Regards

Melvin Jose


Follow Up 4: Final Review Part 1

Follow-up to P3 Follow Up 3: Tackling issues, not as one but in a group! from Melvin's blog

“Understanding and analysing the traits of each of the group members”

team.gifIndividual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, acivilization work.” Vince Lombardi
Adding to the previous post on my roles in the basketball committee, I would like to add that there were occasions where I adorned the different roles.

As the president of the basketball committee has been ill as of late, I became the link between the committee and him. As I have previously have performed event organisation roles during my undergraduate years, I decided to take charge bringing to light the situation to committee. Illustrating the need to starting fixing venue, date and organising teams. With numerous tasks, I firstly brainstormed with the committee all the requirements, following which delegated the work and divided it appointing the correct team player for the task at hand. Having a really good public speaker amongst us, I was quick to pick him out as the resource investigator to talk to possible venue personnel etc . Thus in this way I delegated the work amongst us, based on team profiles.

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An issue arose with this person during the brainstorm. During the session, another member came up with the idea of obtaining a venue with an electronic score board, as well as having a professional videographer tape the whole match. Clearly this person was the plant. However the issue arose, when the other person (supposed to be the resource investigator), disagreed the idea straight away saying it was slightly unrealistic. Only when he spoke about the monetary aspects and the difficulty in finding a cheap professional videographer, did I realise he also had a secondary role as an implementer. This was the area where I stepped in as a team player and tried to lighten the mood by bringing to light the grandness and beauty in having a professional video taken, which could also be a good video for the website and thus attracting more future members. I also added that a cheaper option could be found suggesting I would help the resource investigator to find an alternative. This was a key area where actually determining the tendency of each person towards a team role. As in this case determining the qualities and tendencies(My first action point) illustrated the pros and cons of each team role. As with the case of the resource investigator being quite extrovert and enthusiastic, it really helped the tasks. However also being an implementer meant inflexible, which in the case with the plant meant a conflict situation. Thus this identification was vital based on individual traits, shown in the table. It is also key to understand each role comes with an allowable weakness, but if the team is balanced a weakness of one will be counteracted by the strength of another.


cqjvsdWith the lack of time we decided the venue and video amongst us. While he handled the venue I along with 2 other members scoured the internet and their own contacts for a cheaper option. It was then I decided to post some flyers in the library at Warwick and in school of Life sciences, thus playing the role of implementer to get the video organised for the match. Following this I got contacted by students who are good with video editing. Free lancing the video was the best option as we got a cheap deal, and upon asking them for previously done videos chose one for the video.

My ME role is one that I naturally perform. Throughout the whole process I kept an eye on the time line and how far the tasks have been completed. At time criticising ideas and keeping a track of who does what, whilst pushing members to get work completed (SHAPER).

Another example where ‘Understanding and analysis of the traits’ was crucial was at the organising for the end of term meal for our course. A group of us decided to set up a meal two of the members were given the job of deciding on the place, whilst the remaining 3 including myself focussed on letting people know through the intranet, inviting our tutors as well as organising a trip to Alton towers. So as initially the venue was not fixed everyone was notified that the location would be fixed in a day or two. We met up to get their ideas on location , however they were ready with a grand location already. So we told everyone of the location, but about a week away from the set date for the meal none of us were told about the cost etc. Thinking they must have already sorted and booked it we left it and didn’t confirm with them. About 4 days before the set date, I was a little worried and went to find out about the cost of the venue they had booked. It was only then I came to know they hadn’t booked the place. They just kept re thinking of the venues, without notifying us and without even keeping in mind the gravity of the situation. It was then I realised that they were PLANTS coming up with brilliant locations, but not effectively communicating with the group about their idea as well as failing to state the cost that was going to be charged (£40 per head). This was clearly not suitable and panicking I took charge of splitting the group up to assess the situation, together discussing possible venues but always criticising on how good the venue looked and the price they charged. It hadn’t realised that the individuals were not implementers or for that matter resource investigators. Therefore the team struggled and nearly messed up the last meal of the year for degree colleagues to come together before going our separate ways at the end of this month. I am happy to say the ‘Meal Was Saved’ and we came up with better location at the ‘Tarsus Hotel’.


Part 2 to follow

Best Regards


Melvin Jose



July 26, 2012

Follow–up 3: The final academic presentation and nearing to career presentations

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: Presenting With Confidence from Melvin's blog

This update focuses on my last action point; accommodating it in preparation and the pros and cons faced. My last and final action point to tackle was as follows:

Practise is also another point ( few sessions with loud presentations in front of the mirror or other people, as similar conditions as possible to the real thing)

Today was my final presentation for this MSc at Warwick, my final opportunity to implement everything I learnt, whilst also tackling my last and most ignored action point ‘PRACTICE IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR’. For this preparation was focussed on a lot, as the professor was quite specific about the way he approached presentations. This presentation was a confidence filled one, thanks to previous ones where being assertive whilst presenting produced good results. I must say all of the approaches and techniques I have learnt are beginning to become a second nature to me whilst presenting.

All the aspects of VOICE, ITONATION and PHYSICAL STANCE were all implemented smoothly. There was however a point where my throat ran dry. However, I was ready for this as I had a glass of water at hand. So, as I realised my throat was running dry a slight nervousness did set in. Seeing that this was occurring I used ‘ITONATION’ to set apart an important aspect of the pace ‘ The biggest advantage is there is complete collaboration without any conflicts’. Following emphasis on this aspect I created a pause to let the point to be emphasised, whilst also taking a quick sip of water. Thus tackling the issue smoothly.

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Now specifically talking about the last action point of ‘PRACTICING IN FRONT OF MIRROR’, I realise that more I did that more I became nervous. I tried standing in front of the mirror and presenting, however somehow it made me more self conscious. I tried practicing with a group of friends and the result was the same. What I realised was, more I did an official practise session, ie. By standing up in front of everyone, more I became nervous. However, by doing a less official practise runs, that is when music running in the background or even talking whilst in the shower works better J.

Personally I thought this was strange, but is something that works for me. When I think of a presentation in a more relaxed setting, as a performance rather than an serious assessment, I perform much better. So, in the case of this presentation I practised thoroughly, however with music playing or whilst working out in the gym. One thing I definitely do is make sure I see and know the place where I am presenting beforehand. Additionally, whilst practicing I do picture myself there, though only once or twice. Another excellent lesson I learnt is the art of making nervousness a weapon in my arsenal. By seeing the nervousness as a precursor to success ( I’m not sure how to put this into words, but seeing the nervousness as an energy to perform well; as in the case of a boxing match seeing nervousness as a feeling that you can do anything). It is a sort of self motivational technique to put myself in the mindset to perform to the best. Overall the presentation turned out to be really good with the professor actually telling us in person that he loved out presentation and also hinted at a possible ‘Distinction’.
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I must say even though the last action point was not literally suited to me and probably might be suitable for others, modifying and still suiting the practice session for individual needs and situation is vital. Thus is the end of academic presentations and begins the wait for corporate presentations to come.

My drive to presentation is seeing it as a performance, not an aural communication of words but an art in teaching, entertaining and interactively involving the audience. The famous words of John McTiernan (American film director & Producer) “The entertainment is in the presentation” is a view I implement to present with drive and confidence.


Kind regards

Melvin

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July 25, 2012

P3 Follow Up 3: Tackling issues, not as one but in a group!

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: Action point implementation from Melvin's blog


“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

This week’s blog entry concentrates on the position that I currently hold in the Basketball Society, a society of approximately 25 members. The main tasks that I have been in charge as social secretary are: sending emails to the members of the society when necessary, , preparing several socials, taking part in the organisation of team barbeques and attending numerous executive committee meetings.
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Being part of the executive committee of the Society involves making most of the decisions together, which usually includes discussions and the obtainment of common agreements, and also requires supporting team members in the fulfilment of their role. I enjoy working in a team and I consider this to be one of my key strengths; I have been able to use this skill in my position of responsibility and it has proven to be very useful. Finally, if I had to put my behaviour among Belbin’s team roles I would say that I have been mostly a co-ordinator, monitor evaluator, implementer and a team worker, although at times I have also proven to have the qualities of a shaper.

Over the last few weeks the particular task has been to arrange the annual tournament alongside the committee, this has seen truly the use of a number of different roles to suit the different occasions. When the team lacked organisers, I adorned that role in the same way I did with the other team roles. However, the particular issue I had was in the absence of ‘Socialisers’ trying to play my least preferred roles.

Nevertheless, I have had opportunities to build on this role over the weeks with the range of group work and presentations I have had. Specifically, whilst part of a 2 member team I played the role of ‘resource investigator’ and ‘team worker’ at time, as it was vital when there was the risk of becoming isolated and inwardly-focused. Even at times when getting to work effectively was not possible considering it was nearly the end of degree and the summer, I tried to motivate the other member with inside knowledge on the opposition, illustrated the absolute need to work as the professor had a personal interest in our topic and also brought to light the need to perform the best to maintain module averages. Hence, made sure that the team’s idea would carry to the world outside the team through effective communication with different people in the course and professors.

Overall, I am making the art of judging clearly the different role players in the team and thus assess the absent roles. I have also come to play my preferred roles effectively whilst also being flexible to taken on other ones to prevent the occurrence of a dysfunctional team.
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Best Regards

Melvin Jose


Follow–Up 3: What next after Making the Choice to learn?

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: From ‘knowing the way to learn’ to ‘Making the Choice to learn’ from Melvin's blog

The last few weeks having been filled with a number of group projects were the longest most tiring two weeks of my life. Anyway, in that time I had the opportunity of working with different people on many projects, leading sometimes and following in others, a key place where I used my learned skills in ‘ASSERTIVENESS’ and ‘TEAM WORKING’ simultaneously. For this post I’m focusing only on ‘ASSERTIVENESS’ as the team working blog post will follow soon J.

These projects provided a great environment for me since I tried to be as assertive as I can be, without sounding aggressive -hopefully-, and almost all of my team members described me as a 'natural leader' something I never knew I could achieve in such a short time.

To be fair, some of these projects also allowed me to develop a holistically assertive in different situations. To be fair, I have participated in many workshops and I believe almost all of them helped me become more assertive, an example is the workshop on "delivering effective presentations" which taught me that assertiveness and confidence can be faked, then built from the effect of the fake in the eyes of the audience,. This, I tried to implement in my approach and can be seen in the way I interacted in the various workshops, specifically during my input for developing the presentational resource with Han-Na Cha, alongside others J. Assertiveness is a skill that I am liberally using these days especially with my dissertation supervisor, to attain his views on my structure and course of action, as well as to develop a close and effective supervisor- supervisee relationship.

Nonetheless, presentational approaches with assertiveness implemented were the best at helping me develop confident communication, one of my main action points. Towards the end of the last 2 modules we were tasked with preparing a presentation that required about at the very least 2 days of solid preparation before, as it involved coming up with a new business strategy (including a lot of variables to look at ).

Considering it was the summer and nearly end of the course, I realized that not everyone in my team was willing to participate fully. So I took it as my responsibility to motivate them by reminding them of how well we had done so far, bringing up the enthusiasm and interest that the professor projected on our topic. Adding to this I used the power of positive thinking to self motivate each individual, by reminding them how great it would feel if we stood out as the best. I also instilled a need to deliver the importance of giving the best, telling them the professor kept a keen interest in the way we tackled this issue and coming up a new strategy for the company ‘APPLE’. Come the day of the presentation; three of my team presented, two colleagues and myself, I closed specifically inviting the whole team to the floor to take questions for the discussion. I tried to lead the discussion by encouraging my team to through ideas and thoughts, without myself jumping into the answer myself. I also ensured I summarised what they had said, and adding final comments on their contributions.


Thus, via using presentations I have built my confidence in verbal communication, always taking a second before answering, having a smile and engaging in non-threatening eye contact J. Every success at these occasions has built my assertive skills, giving myself a confidence boost which can be seen in the interactive debates in I engage in, voicing my views on a topic through questions I ask the tutor. The success at presentations were easily one of the most confident moments I had in my life, and I absolutely enjoyed it, what's more I intend on reliving it again and again.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have realised that in quite stressful situations where I have been trying to be assertive, I could come off as aggressive. A situation comes to mind where I tried my best to try and illustrate that the professor was looking for a specific case to explain his topic. But, this individual was reluctant to see my point of view, rather criticising my views (which are fine) and getting quite personal about the comments.

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I did realise at these moment my assertive behaviour started to take a more aggressive approach( probably because I started getting annoyed; EMOTION DRIVEN COMMUNICATION), however I am very quick to assess what I say and realise how I might sound. Thus, tried to ease the situation by illustrating I am a student just as the other individual and probably lack knowledge in certain parts, following which direct them to the tutor. Always after such a situation, I try to direct the attention to more social or out of context situations ( such as did you see the football match last night?). Thus ensuring the small strife filled situation we could have had was avoided and making sure our relationship was not affected. FINISH ON A GOOD NOTE J Always keeping in mind ‘Never fear to show your feeling and opinions’ as it just feels too good to pass on. However, keep in mind the image of yourself you are projecting, the effect on the other person and the effect on relationships. Tailor your communication in an Assertive manner, getting rid of passiveness or aggressiveness and exuding yourself as a confident and professional individual.


Regards

Melvin


Follow–Up 2:An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to P1 Introduction to skills develpment and WSPA from Melvin's blog


This is a long overdue post, for an update on my progress. Last few weeks being riddled with work and other commitments restrained me from writing this up. So taking the complete VARK questionnaire, my results are as follows:

Visual: 13
Aural: 9
Read/Write: 10
Kinaesthetic:8
Following an inner look into my preferences of working and relating to the results, seems to be a perfect fit. My visual style of working suits me very well and I realise it is one that I work best at. Looking back at times when I have incorporated this specific style, the results speak for themselves; as I have done well 95% of the times. I believe it is during these occasions, when I use the visual models that I actually enjoy the work the most and am thoroughly soaked in it.
Overall the results illustrated that I had a ‘MULTIMODAL’ Learning Preference, which suits perfectly with my knack for adaptability to any situation, suiting my learning style to the surrounding environment and people. Putting basis on selected style on how others also would prefer it, such as change styles based on how the person marking the assignment would prefer. This is something I have been doing without thinking and only now has come to my knowledge. My last presentation was a reflection of this when I tailored my presentation based on how the professor gave his lectures. Putting more text in, simple layout etc.
However, I still have a strong preference for ‘VISUAL’, and this was clear in my presentation, as I still wanted to make sure the ppt looked really good in the colours and smart art used.

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However I do believe that reading and writing styles are vital part in successful every day workings regardless of subject or career path. The biggest issue I have with this model is the need to use for more than more than 1 style to understand . Thus it is clear that I emphasise my visual and write/read styles. And is something I should build on for anything I work on, particularly coming to mind using this style for my dissertational reading.
So something I could implement would be the following procedure, when thorough reading is not helping me ( this is the case once I have been reading for a while). Hence these steps could work together with the Speedy reading techniques to achieve my common goal of ‘Understanding all the text well to compile an effect thesis’.

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Techniques suggested by VARK:
INTAKE:





SWOT PACKAGE: Restructuring the text to support understanding and retention. Thus obtaining a more holistic picture.

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Finally, to assess your comprehension or to help with learning:

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“You want the whole picture so you are probably holistic rather than reductionist in your approach. You are often swayed by the way something looks. You are interested in colour and layout and design and you know where you are in your environment. You are probably going to draw something.”
THAT was the final statement given about my particular style and it is a clear reflection of myself, in specific about my top most style ‘VISUAL and WRITE/READ’. Both of which are truly reflected in everything I do; Look at the all my blog posts for instance J
I truly believe that these are the smallest but life changing discoveries about oneself in the present that could really affect and mould the person you become in the years to come.


Regards

Melvin


July 17, 2012

Follow Up 3: Jumping the hurdles, glimpsing the light at the end of the page !

Follow-up to Follow–up 2 : Speedy Reading from Melvin's blog


Following my last posts and updates, I have started the dreaded task of ‘Reading for the Dissertation’.10860-a-scared-young-shaking-male-bookworm-reading-a-book-about-fishing-hooks-clipart-illustration.jpg
Having a huge number of articles to read from has, and is a daunting task for me. Even though I have been improving my technique with the plethora of assignments the last 4 weeks were littered with, just the thought of reading at least a minimum of 30 articles/journals alongside other still worries me.

This update will illustrate my findings from the last 4 weeks as well as my progress on dissertational reading. Emphasising some effective techniques that I have instilled include ‘Guide: Green Pointer’, ‘Reading in smaller chunks’, ‘Supporting reading with key note taking’ as well as the ‘10 Second Gap between pages’(Allowing all the read information to sink in as well as giving a small breaking between sections).

Following the practice and use of these key techniques over the last few months, I feel I read significantly faster. This progress however was riddled with issues I have highlighted in my previous posts, the prominent of which was comprehension.

“HOW MUCH OF THE TEXT DID I UNDERSTAND AND RETAIN ! ”

This was one of my biggest areas of concern as it is vital to be able to read fast as well as understand the text enough to make a good stab at explaining about it correctly. Adding to this was the task of E-Reading. Having to read numerous journals online is an issue, as I found that I lost focus very easily whilst reading electronic material compared to using hard copy. Specifically for the electronic copy I have resorted to changing background colours to help reading, highlighting a paragraph at a time to read to avoid being overwhelmed as well as concentrate on the text, and finally using an electronic pointer.

As always I have focused on the use of instrumental music, in specific music by “Ludovico einaudi” really helps to maintain focus and elevate the effects of extended sub-vocalisation, which I have noticed I tend to do at times, when I’m tired or have been working/reading for some time. The other tools in my arsenal have included occasional use of ‘Spreeder’. However seeing that the music seems to work better I have reduced its use.

A key area that I have tried to work on over the weeks is “Peripheral Vision”. Improving in this particular area poses great benefits as using peripheral vision to the fullest would mean faster reading, which has proved useful when searching for journals and quick reading the abstracts to see how good they are. Considering I am having to reading at the very least 30 abstracts for the assignments I have had to write, the numbers for a 15,000 word dissertation would be prominently higher. Thus I extended using an online tool called “Shultz tables” to improve my peripheral vision, as it provides exercises.

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Thus to summarise, my experiences can be characterised into effective and ineffective segments, some work and some don’t. It is the effective ones I will thoroughly pursue to develop and implement to establish this invaluable skill to speed read. I know that the techniques are numerous so we can choose what fits us. Hence the techniques that didn't work for me might work for others, moreover, they might work for me sometime in the future, who knows!

In the interim, I have found my own approach to reading effectively with the help from the Speedy Reading workshop. I hope to thoroughly develop these and continually improve my speedy reading ability, by making some of these a daily practice (using guides, focus key words, no back-skipping, and review after reading)

Hence current dissertation reading strategy, especially for the journals and articles, I follow a framework as shown below.

1. Analyse the title to pick out key words and consider the subject of the paper, as well as what it is going to say. “Set a frame of mind for the topic”

2. Read the abstract/introduction and conclusion first. Underline the key words. At this stage, I can grasp the whole structure of the article, therefore having a clear guideline for reading the whole paper. “Critique article with an overview”

3. Reading the subtitle, to find my reading target, or what I am expecting from reading this article. With a clear goal, concentration and effectiveness will guide me to read with efficiency. “Find out what I need the most from the paper”

4. Make a few notes if necessary. “Support reading and comprehension at each stage”

5. After reading the whole article, ask myself what did I get from it, does it meet my expectation, which part should be useful for my study, etc. “Question understanding to analyse how effectively you have read!”

6. Give a brief summary of this article: citation information, key summary of this article, and categorize it into different subject (e.g. this paper is about leadership, I will market it and add it into the leadership category list, which is easy to find it and useful for collecting resources for a specific area study in the future). “Summarise”

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Finally, I believe “Speedy Reading” is not only a useful tool for academia, but a tool with a substantial impact on life itself, particularly in the years to come that will see a new job as well as substantially higher corporate responsibility. Therefore continuous improvement is of highest priority to continue improving my reading skills, with my long term goal to include practicing once or twice a day. All in all why wouldn't I?, I'm sure to achieve improvements, although not as dramatic as how they have been so far, but an improvement nonetheless. It was a journey in the unknown before the workshop but now I have the feeling I travel not alone and have the means to tackle the issues.


"These learning skills from the workshop are just the “STARTER”, practice is the “MAIN COURSE” and only if you can complete those two can you have the “DESERT”, the uplifting results of your hard work. ”

To me this is not the end, but the beginning of honing my reading skills with continuous leaning practice to develop myself, truly for the better. Although this will be my last blog post for this workshop, I will keep you up to date on my progress through my other blogs and hopefully if I’m allowed access to Warwick blogs after graduation too. A sincere thank you to you Han-Na for the workshop, an priceless opportunity to be missed, something I was lucky to attend during my year at Warwick.


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Best Regards

Melvin



July 04, 2012

P1 Introduction to skills develpment and WSPA



Follow-Up 1: An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Workshop Tutor: Han-Na Cha

Introduction

I wanted to attend this workshop for a long time now; I had already participated in five different workshop from the Master Skills Programme, and I thought that I have to attend the “Introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio” just because it’s a requirement for the Award, I was wrong! As it turned out to be a most informing experience, in which I was presented with various tools and techniques to gauge my skills, determine what had room for improvement and recognize my learning style. I found it very important, because up till that moment I was only deciding what workshop to attend based on intuition, now I have a scientific method.

An example, the learning styles questionnaire which reflected my learning preferences as follows (learning style followed by score):

  • Activist: 4
  • Theorist: 8
  • Reflector: 5
  • Pragmatist: 6

This showed me what areas could be improved; activism and reflections. In the action plans I shall address these.tlswheelfull_clickable.gif
However, these did not reflect perfectly my styles as I tend to be a mix of the different ones giving preference varying on situations. Considering the questionnaire gave me a low preference for the majority and only one moderate preference, is an incorrect representation of my styles. But observing the different questions I was able to pick up points to improve on, my action points.

But the workshop wasn’t all about information and work, it was fun as well, and I had the chance to connect on a much personal level than usual with other participant, because the number of students was low, which also meant that each one had the enough time to express what was on their mind, besides the Han-Na was very friendly and lively, contributing hugely to the success of this friendly workshop.

In the following part I will make my action points as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) as possible.

Action Points

1. Taking actions towards becoming more active and pragmatic; I chose the following actions from the Learning Styles Questionnaire (Honey, P., 2008)

o Backing a hunch once in a while, rather than over analysing. Allowing myself to trust my feelings more.

o Take a challenge and try the different ways of doing things rather than being set in tried and tested ways all the time.

o Reflect on pieces of work prior to submition by having a few rough drafts .

2. Take the complete Vark questionnaire from vark-learn.com; this will hopefully help me fully understand my favoured learning styles, along with providing methods to develop my less favoured one.

3. Develop my under-developed skills; namely assertiveness, presentational and organisational, with the help of the Warwick Master Skills Programme and some practice.

Best Regards

Melvin Jose


Follow–Up 2: Presenting With Confidence

Follow-up to P4 Delivering Effective Presentations from Melvin's blog


Follow-up 2: “There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” ~ Dale Carnegie


The past weeks being quite busy led to my late update on my progress. However, these 4 weeks provided me 2 great opportunities to practise and hence subsequently improve my technique and presentational skills. During the time following my last blog, I tackled my action points in two distinct scenarios. Through the 2 presentations I worked on the 2 initial actions points:

  • Tackling initial nervousness with concentrated and calm breathing
  • Ensuring a thorough filter of all the research available to ensure a flowing story with correct and only enough information to match the time available.(MUST, COULD & SHOULD know technique).
  • Obtain correct preparation: with a systematic personalised but flowing structure alongside other tools.

Subsequently, over the weeks I was exuberant at grabbing every opportunity to apply the principles in everyday life, conversing in a presentational manner with friends and family at times. Thus enabled me to work on my other action points:

  • ‘Practise is also another point ( few sessions with loud presentations in front of the mirror or other people, as similar conditions as possible to the real thing)’

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Firstly, during conversations with friends and family, I ensured the full use of my mouth ( as you had taught the two finger approach). This helped me focus on my voice and understand the stability and power it gave to the words I spoke. Adding on to this I also added intonation and tone modulation to emphasise my point or add feeling to it, thus make my point of view more understandable. Building on this I ensured eye contact with an ‘ASSERTIVE POSTURE’ and smile, all valuable reflected in the way the audience responded positively by listening meticulously and giving their full attention Hence by using friends and family as the primary stage for practise I was able to prepare myself even before being presented with a need for a formal presentation. Nevertheless, being fortunate to have 2 presentations over these weeks allowed me to develop and actively implement these skills.

Secondly, preparing for the presentations was something I ensured I gave ample time to ( every time remembering the on the spot presentation on ‘Coventry’ I had to give during the workshop). The need for preparation was vital and so I ensured I was at least 60% ready 2 days before the presentation. Something that I have always found useful every time I become nervous was thinking back to when I had to stand on the bridge in front of the library and hum aloud. Always when I go on to present I remember the words ‘ Relax, Breathe and Smile’ prior to speaking. I must add it really has helped me to gain composure when I am very nervous. The presentations have also provides the perfect platform to use the voice intonations and modulation. Putting the experience into words is a little tough, thus I would like to share my words from a presentation, one opportunity where I spoke in the following manner:

 I understand to make our strategy a reality a lot of hurdles have to be overcome’…..PAUSE….EYE- CONTACT…….POSTURE …..’But we believe in it and we urge you to share the dream we believe in.’…..BRIEF PAUSE…..‘Thank you’ .

The presentations also gave me an opportunity to ensure a flowing story with correct and only enough information to match the time available. Whilst in a group presentation (30 minutes, 3 people) I used this tool thoroughly to ensure time keeping(as the markers were strict) and getting across the message well. As I was presentation the latter half of the presentation and thus finishing I had to reassess and filter the information needed to be conveyed without going over time.

The effect of the usage of all the tools POSTURE,PERFORMACE, PITCH, POWER and PACE etc was clearly visible as other students on numerous occasions chose me as a speaker for the group, as well as achieving a distinction for my presentation from the professors. Thus since the workshop I have put in hard work and effort into presenting with confidence. The results has changed my attitude and confidence considerably as following the workshop, over the weeks, I have become exuberant about the prospect of presenting. It has changed me as a person, making a significant difference to my life

Finally, I do believe the results are not limited to presentations, as in the case of standing up and talking, and believe these tools as well as measures will be very handy in personal branding at interviews as well as trying to convey ideas (Important as in the case of meetings with the supervisor for my thesis) something which I will be doing a lot of in the next two weeks. Even though I have downs every now and then I strive to practice, bettering myself at every chance I get because…………

“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first’’~Ralph W. Emerson

Regards

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June 28, 2012

Follow–Up 2: Action point implementation

Follow-up to P3 Working In A Team from Melvin's blog

Follow-Up 2: Action point implementation

Here's a summary of how I'm getting on with my action points

  • Work at my strengths, however in times of clashes (2 shapers/both co-ordinator and shaper being present) be ready to accommodate and implement my other manageable roles.
  • Ensure I apply my preferred roles thoroughly to ensure project completion and avoidance of conflicts, whilst also making sure all the roles in the team are filled, which would give a well balanced team of ‘Thinkers, Doers, Co-ordinators and Socialisers’

During the group work sessions on my course, the neglected role that is mainly noticed is the monitor evaluator. Everyone is ready to go forward with one idea and try and finish it, but no one is ready to take a step back and see the whole picture. Luckily it is one my favoured roles and one that I implement in every group work I partake in. However, following the workshop on one of the occasions I was in a group which had 3 M.E.’s including myself. Thus at every few hours all the work done was assessed, however I realised there were clearly members missing to co-ordinate the work to be done for the presentation. We had also missing enough plants, considering this presentation was leveraged on the need for new ideas as the presentation needed ‘INNOVATION’.

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Hence I took a step back and filled in the roles, my manageable roles of ‘Co-ordinator and Plant’. This meant we were able to work much more effectively using all the personnel resources. Hence we were able to come up with an effective and innovative approach, by dividing the work amongst all of us based on our own strengths. Specifically using one of the members who is good with technology, we were able to create a unique video adding an experience to our presentation.

Thus, by formulating each person’s strengths and preferred roles as well as filling up any empty roles we ensured the presentation was completed on time, innovative ideas were formed and all the market data was evaluated effectively. Using members who were really good resource investigators and team workers to direct debates I ensured we prevented any conflicts as there were strong personalities which clashed when the ideas were critiqued. Myself being a strong shaper, I ensured I used the guidance of the socialisers (team workers and resource implementer) to ensure I didn’t offend others with my opinions/points.

Tackling the effect of the deadly 3 is still a big task to me, as at time I still end up preferring to work independently. However, as I have realised teamwork yields better results and has more benefits, I strive to tackle my instinctual nature of being a Shaper, Monitor Evaluator and Completer Finisher all the time.

Best Regards

Melvin Jose