Life after Warwick :first blog after entering into the world of work
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.
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.
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.
MSc Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management (2011-2012) University of Warwick
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.
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.”
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.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
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:) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Follow-up to P7 Follow–Up 3: Have you changed? Is TIME your friend now? from Melvin's blog
WHATS YOU THINKING??????
I 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.
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.
Overall 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.
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.
Additionally 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.
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.
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.
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 .
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
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
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”.
Nevertheless, 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.
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. I 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
“Presentations done! Whats to come?”
Now 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:
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.
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.
Ever 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.
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.
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.
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.
Being 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?
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.
Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: From A way of Growing to My choosing to Learn from Melvin's blog
After 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.
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.
The 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).
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
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.
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.
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.