Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM


Programme in Development Management

“I Have to Say Something”

One of the courses that Academy students have to take is “Managerial Oral Communication.” I rarely (almost never, actually) use PowerPoint in my classes, but for a change, I decided to deliver this presentation to them. (I’ve included notes below so you can have an idea of what was discussed in the class itself.)

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Even the best of us runs into problems when communicating. This presentation tries to share some ideas to help minimize these problems and help you make your words come out right.

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Your mission and message are important, both for you and for your audience. You can make your mission “personal.” For example, you can make your mission about improving your posture, or about trying to project your voice more clearly, or about practicing to move or smile more.

Your message is also, obviously, very important. Without first establishing what your message is, your presentation or speech can quickly turn into a rambling mess where you are trying to organize your ideas in a public forum….

Objectives can come after you’ve thought about your message. What do you hope your audience will have or do at the end of your speech or presentation? By “tangible” objectives, I mean objectives that you can measure or quantify in some way. This will help you decide during your presentation whether you are meeting these objectives.

You don’t always know your audience as well as you would like, but the idea is that you can have a single message and a single set of objectives which are “constant” but the way in which you present or speak will adjust according to the level of your audience.

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PREP 1 (Position, Reason, Example, Position) is good for presenting a strong argument and trying to convince someone of your perspective.

PREP 2 (Proposition, Reason, Example, Proposition) is good for presenting a new idea or product.

The Past, Present, Future structure is also a good way to convince someone of your position or to present a new idea.

The Problem, Cause, Solution structure is the typical structure taught in academic circles and is good for problem-solving meetings. One idea is to leave the solution slides blank or with minimum solutions if your objective is to get the audience to brainstorm some better solutions with you.

Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them. This is good for making a point in a short time—sort of like a mini advertisement for yourself or your idea. The idea here is that by repeating yourself, you’re increasing the chance of your listener remembering what you said.

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Try and get a voice recorder and listen to yourself. Record people you like to listen to. What is it about their way of speaking that makes it so you enjoy listening to them? Pay attention to volume, pitch/tone/scale, variations, pronunciation, emphasis…. See the next slide for an example of why emphasis is important.

Remember to slow down and take breaks. We speak at about 120-160 words a minute and we think at about 500 words a minute. The “buffer” is where, as the speaker, we can think about what we want to say and where, as the listener, we get to process what was said. Adding extra breaks is like punctuation for your listener. It gives them more time to process the ideas you’re presenting.

For most presentations or speeches, don’t fall into an information overload scenario. Remember the saying that “Facts tell, stories sell.” If you tell a story, it is more likely that your audience will remember that story than they will remember the statistics you shared. Stories help internalize experiences.

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“I was born in Madurai” is the answer to all these questions. However, if you answer the questions correctly, you should notice that the words you emphasize is different in each.

For the first, emphasize “IN”; the second, “I”; the third, “BORN”; fourth, “WAS”; and fifth, “MADURAI.”

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You probably won’t sing or dance, but sometimes, being “extreme” can help, if only because it immediately grabs the audience’s attention and might serve as an ice-breaker.

Remember that one of the most important part of body language is eye contact. Eye contact shows the listener that you are really interested in them—you are presenting to them.

Show your confidence in your body language too. Stand tall. Don’t hunch your shoulders. Don’t fidget. Don’t wear a nervous face. Try to enjoy yourself. Remember, you’re the expert—the person they have come to listen to. Don’t make them regret it.

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I can’t answer that for you!

But I can say, don’t expect changes overnight. Gradually revise your mission and be honest (but not overly negative) when critiquing yourself. Find someone you trust, someone who will be both honest and encouraging, and see if they are willing to give you comments on your rehearsals.



Khan-Panni, P. (2001). 2-4-6-8 How do you communicate? How to make your point in just a minute. Oxford: How to Books Ltd.

The Managerial Oral Communication course was completed just a few weeks ago, and it was a pretty great experience. Students showed a lot of creativity in their presentations, using skits, questions, audience interaction, videos, and other features that help create a powerful memorable presentation experience. Although the course is in English, a lot of what the students learned in the course applies any time you are presenting, even when communicating with communities.

I’ll be sure to share some student PowerPoint presentations at this site from time to time.


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