Oh, I didn’t tell you that on Wednesday, some teams came out quite late so we reached Unilever Office quite behind schedule. Kelechi was really angry. In her characteristic way, she scolded us and switched to smiling mode immediately after the scolding. But I got the point.
So on Thursday, I didn’t make the mistake of coming out late. In fact, Team Aspire was one of the first to be ready. Kelechi had threatened to lock out any body who came late for the morning session at 8:30. And she did just that. Though her good nature led her to have mercy and let the rest in after a few minutes.
The title of her presentation was “Presentation Skills – Do It like a Pro”. She started with this striking quote: “Excuses are tools of incompetence, monuments of nothingness. Those who use them are unwise.” In essence, we must take responsibility for all that we do.
She went ahead to explain that in making presentations, we must find a balance between audio-visual mix. Too much words means no one would remember what was said, too many pictures and the meaning is lost. So, perception is important. So a better presentation brings about a better perception.
We learnt that everything was important. How we begin, how we present, the quality of content, how we handle questions, how we tackle objections and how we close. When answering questions, it is important to say when we don’t know something instead of rambling on and on. More importantly, it is important to back up statistics.
We learnt more about how to treat the audience. We ought not to have fear of the audience but to fear for them, whether they can grasp what they are about to hear. We ought not to manipulate but cooperate, not to present but to converse, not to make the presentation about us but about the. For persuasion is not convincing and selling, but learning and negotiation.
Another quote that I liked is “change the way you look at things and things you look at change” – Sun Tzu. Also, you can’t sail anywhere until you learn which way the winds wants to blow.
We also learnt of the four things audiences want: affability, authenticity, authority and ardour. In ending a presentation, we must tie up loose ends. We must clarify our intention: what beliefs should linger? What’s in it for them? And finish with a call to action.
Now that I think about it, it was a simple presentation but it had a lot of content. I wonder how I can get the presentation slides…
The next session we had was with Dr. Dele Makanjuola, MD, Vitafoam. He talked about Building a Sustainable Business.
He started by saying that to build a sustainable business, we must give up stubborn though limitations, and never forget to think outside the box. In describing most businesses, he said there are three basic qualities: GOOD, CHEAP, FAST, and a business can generally be qualified by only two of those qualities.
He talked about the mind set of an entrepreneur as one which is prepared for uncertainties such as irregular income, who is not driven by money as he understands that greed is not the same as passion, who is good at making social connections, who enjoys his business and who learns from his mistakes.
According to him, successful entrepreneurship has two basic routes: do something innovative or tweak something that already exists. Also, what makes a business succeed are divine blessing, passion and determination, relationship building skills, hard work, focus, discipline and constantly looking for opportunities. On a smaller scale, there is also the need to understand business tools such as accounting basics, and to get ideas from other places, which he calls “benchmarking”.
In describing the mind sets of both owners and employees, he said that owners think of profit, cash flow, risk, competition, employees and cost control. On the other hand, employees think of “my paycheck”, benefits and health care, “getting my work done”, job security, recognition, Friday (time offs, holidays), the work environment (“do I like it here?”), and opportunities for progress/promotion.
And then, there are the platinum questions: How am I doing? How can I get better?
We didn’t have a lot of time so we had to skim through the rest of the session. But seriously, employees think plenty things oh!
Next, we had a session with Bukunmi Akinseye, Unilever Internal Communications Manager. This was where we were dropped a bomb shell. His presentation was about Crafting Communication and he showed us that most teams had been developing campaigns without even understanding what was expected of them. Teams had been developing bulky presentations which did not really answer the questions the judges were expecting. He advised that we reduce our slides to 15. Hmm….i don’t think any team had less than 40 slides. Some had up to 60. And here, we learn that for a 20 minute presentation, you better have about 15 slides or you may overshoot your time and possibly lose points for bad time management. Wahala come start. Just about everybody was uneasy. Kelechi was visibly upset that we were being given this “expo”. Ajoke, one of last year’s Ideatrophy winners was even more upset, seeing that they didn’t get all the expo during their own time.
And what about us? My head was already racing. I was thinking of what to cut out. What about the budget? How do they know the details? What about the pictures we wanted to use as illustrations? Deluxe Brains were uneasy. Lifebuoy Musketeers were asking questions. Peace (Team Achievers, Unilag) didn’t want to leave Kelechi and Bukunmi alone. People were shifting and I was smiling one kind uneasy smile. I was just praying behind the scenes. Let this be my luck! I was still making notes at the back of my notebook in French. The French notes were the secret notes that I wanted to include in my presentation. No need for overconfidence though, I just had to trust in God because e be like say no be by book because all the teams were now almost at square 1, since a lot of preparations had been shattered.
Bukunmi went ahead to give huge expos. He talked about linking the whole presentation together even though the final brief was a little confusing. I got a huge boost from that session oh. Even if I wasn’t smiling too much at the end.
He gave more tips on communicaitons.
- Understand the task
- Understand the context
- Set your goals (SMART-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound)
- Set your objectives
- Choose your channels (speaking, writing, body language)
- Develop your messages (style, imagery, tone)
He talked about inference which could come from channels and our emotions and advised that we learn “active listening”, so that we get deeper meanings out of what people are saying while doing what we are doing.
The next session was by Tolulope Agiri, Unilever Human Resources Director. She was actually one of our judges during the regional competition and she made a presentation on Gaining the Edge – Ensuring You Stand Out. She used real life stories to illustrate that small things matter, that it was essential to make a good first impression, to be authentic, passionate about what we do, to focus on the bigger picture to be able to duplicate ourselves by grooming others and to know that even the most difficult bosses can be effectively managed.
I’m looking for a way to get her presentation. I’ll love to go through those stories from time to time.
Finally, we had a session with Mrs. Bukyy Sowunmi, Consumer Insight Manager. She was also one of our judges at the regionals. We learnt about the consumer (the final user), the shopper (not necessary the final user but buys for the consumer), the customer (wholesalers/retailers) and the market (the competition).
She gave us evaluating insights:
- Does it ring true?
- Does it change the way you see things?
- Is the expression clear and understandable?
- Could it lead to business opportunities?
We understood more about consumers and markets. All of Day 3’s sessions really prepped us up for the final presentation the next day. And there was a lot of work to now do.