Tag: presentation

How I learned to embrace fear

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I believe that fear is not something we are born with, it’s a feeling that’s developed over time. It could be due to a bad experience or just a lack of self-confidence. But, at times we don’t recognise what we fear until we face it head on.

Of course, it’s hard to do things we’re afraid to, but it’s always worth a try. After all, there’s nothing to lose by trying, right?

From personal experience, overcoming some of my fears has brought me immense joy, and has given me the perspective to see things in a different way. I won’t lie, doing something new for the first time is hard, but I’m so glad I can say that I have put myself out there.

Here are some challenges I faced during the year I worked at NOW Money, and how some wonderful people around me made it easy to overcome them.

Blogging

I still remember the first time I was asked to write an article for the company blog, I was shivering! It’s something I’ve always thought I couldn’t do.  I resisted it for a long time, until I was told to just do it, so begrudgingly, I did. I will be honest, it was hard but wasn’t impossible. I learnt a lot about the art of creative writing including how to structure a blog, the importance of adding personal experience to your writing and how to make it engaging for the reader.

I still have a long way to go before I write what I think is a brilliant blog, but I’m so grateful to my colleagues who encouraged me to try blogging, and to the readers who have appreciated my work and have given me such positive feedback.

Multi-lingual presenting

In early 2017, I was given a task to train some users of the NOW Money app. They were mainly native Urdu and Hindi speakers, so I had to present in multiple languages. Although I was usually quite confident presenting to a large audience, this time I was nervous. It was important that the transition between languages was smooth so the training session would be understood by the audience. I had no option but to do it as I was the only Hindi speaker in the company!

I remember very clearly, just before I was about to start my presentation, my boss Katharine (Kat) said, ‘You can do it V!’. And that was all I needed to hear. The presentation went really well and became interactive, which was a sure sign that they were listening and were interested in what I had to say.

I was so lucky to have such an amazing mentor who pushed me beyond the limits I set for myself. Thanks Kat.

Presenting to the UAE government

As part of my role at NOW Money, I used to enter the company into start-up competitions. In one particular competition we reached the final, which involved presenting to senior managers in the UAE government.

Kat and Ian, NOW Money’s other co-founder, asked me to present the company as I had taken ownership of the project from the start. I was reluctant when asked, as it was quite frightening for me to present to such senior people.

Ian motivated me to seize the wonderful opportunity in front of me, and not to worry about anything else. The whole team helped me perfect my script, listened to me present couple of times and asked me potential questions from the judges. The learning experience was fantastic. On the day of the competition, when I was on stage, Kat was seated in the audience. After my presentation all she said was ‘I’m proud of you, V’.

Honestly, I’m so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organisation where we encourage each other to grow each and every day. We meet very few people in our professional lives who want others to grow with them instead of leaving them behind in the ‘professional race to save their jobs’. It’s much more productive to create healthy competition rather than being too competitive, and by doing this we could make a massive change in our professional lives.

Let’s be open to growing individually and together!

V’s quick tips for presenting to a diverse audience

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As a kid I enjoyed being on the stage because I felt like I belonged there. Be it inter-school elocution competitions, dance competitions, class presentations, or the university theatre production, you would always know where to find me. To me, it was an extracurricular activity, until I realised that it actually had more of a significance than simply fun and learning.

These childhood activities have made me who I am today – they’ve played a tremendous part in shaping my extrovert personality.

As a result, I have never been afraid to speak in front of anyone; to me, presenting to a group seems effortless. This is because I always present with one goal in mind – to be myself! I believe it is important, as this way, it comes out much smoother as opposed to stiff and monotonous. Also, I always give it 100 per cent, as I want to leave a lasting impression on the crowd.

Alongside these, I have learned many other small tips along the way – which I thought I’d share with you; ones I try to keep in mind before any presentation:

Start it simple

It’s like when you walk into a cinema ahead of the crowd, keen to get to your seat so that you don’t miss the start of the movie, and the first thought that pops into your mind is, “this movie better be good”!

This is pretty much what your audience is thinking when they walk into the room, as they’re taking time out of their busy schedule to listen to your presentation. In order to engage people and clear their thoughts from day-to-day work, I always start with an ice breaker.

It’s the best way to create a comfortable environment for your diverse audience and lead a two-way interaction, making it an exciting corporate session for both.

I do this by starting with a quick quiz, which relates to my topic of presentation. This helps me to know more about them – facts that I can then use as impromptu examples during my talk. On the other hand, they get an idea of what the talk is going to be about and it draws their attention. My icebreakers usually don’t last for more than five to seven minutes, as I like to keep them short and fun. I then always reward the audience with a few goodies for being good sports, which never fails to win them over!

Communicating at the right level for your audience

Every individual absolutely loves their language and speaking to their own people comes with such ease. Is it a fact – being from the same country or speaking the same language as someone, makes you feel comfortable with them.

Therefore, when approaching a diverse audience, such as one that is a mix of people from India, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Africa and a few others, it is difficult to know what one might find offensive. As I mentioned above, it is crucial to know your audience before presenting. With the help of your ice breaker you will know which buttons to press, making them more likely to listen and engage with you. Once they know what you have to deliver is beneficial to them, the ball is in your court!

However, with different languages, comes another barrier, and that is being understood. My message may be great and my presentation might be spectacular, but if my audience don’t understand me, then there’s no point.

Today, the kind of audience I present to, varies from low-literates to tech-savvy people, and balancing between them is the challenge. Therefore, I’ve learnt that it’s better to stick to using simple language that everyone can understand, which keeps them involved and gives them the liberty to ask questions when needed.

The way you communicate with them is therefore key – they will understand you, if you understand them.

Impactful Pictures

Those who know me, will know that I love pictures. I truly believe in the proverb, “a picture speaks a thousand words“

Therefore, I like to use powerful images with a few words to support my presentation.

Nevertheless, it is always important to remember these quick pointers:

  • Graphs and statistics that are simple work best
  • Related icons are Interesting and catchy
  • Using icons for a multi-lingual crowd is a safe play

Be YOU

My last tip, is to be yourself, as no one can do it better than you! Being an energetic individual, I have always been told that there is a different vibe in the room when I present. I believe that we all have this – it’s an aura that comes within each and every one of us and creates a vibe around us. We all have our own – it’s the way we talk, our body language, and our communication manner which can be our biggest strength, if we use them correctly.

My style is to present like I’m narrating a story, starting with a fun element, moving to some serious facts, adding a slight emotion and finally, some curiosity using animations to conclude.

When we stay true to ourselves, it is easier to believe in the message that we’re trying to get across. It is important to believe in every word you’re saying, because, it’s hard to convince an audience, if you don’t believe in the topic yourself. The audience will believe in you if you believe in yourself!