Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I am always selling something...

I have never really been afraid of talking in front of people-especially if it's an informal setting. The only time I am nervous though is in a formal or academic environment and if I am unprepared or not passionate about what I am saying. The last presentation I gave was two weeks ago at the Wits Graduate School for a conference hosted by the Language School. I was presenting a shorter version to my research report I submitted in February this year.

Now I am passionate about what my research was on: news media's coverage of women's health in the realm of HIV/AIDS and broadly about media's imperative function in (social and human) development. Still during the writing process (editing and revising) this enthusiasm was almost drained out. Presenting the paper helped me realise why I chose to write on the topic in the first place. I genuinely believed in what I was saying and qualified my ideas with my own research, background studies and literature.

That experience told me that passion is so vital to being persuasive and to be an effective presenter. Nevertheless without being thoroughly prepared (knowing the topic and being ready for critical questions) the passion can come across as being simply fanatical without any merit.

In the Wow session yesterday- we discussed the importance of presenting in the world of work. If there was one thing that stuck with me, it would be the idea that we are always presenting. We are presenting by the way we walk into a room, by the things we say in casual conversations, even by the way we dress. I am always selling something. Presentations are all about persuading others to buy into what you are selling: whether it be ideas and opinions (as in my presentation of my research), or actions and decisions (maybe in a board meeting) or my skills (as in an interview).

Presenting involves making a deliberate decision to be persuasive. This entails being “presentation-fit” as the presenters from Connemara put it.

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