The penultimate mentoring session! Today would be sort of a test for the mentees (and mentors) to see whether they had developed and retained any of the skills we had hoped they would learn over the course of the 6 weeks!
Last week we briefly discussed presentations and the techniques that the mentees would need when making a presentation. So this week we devoted the entire session to preparing a presentation and then presenting it to the whole group.
In session 4 the mentees were asked to present their ideas on what is a role model and take part in a role play exercise based on the wallet scenario. After the mentees made their presentations, we discussed what makes a good presenter and what things help to keep the audience’s attention.
From our discussions it was decided the following should be noted:
- Do your research accurately!
- Make regular eye contact with your audience
- Look and sound confident and sure of what you are saying
- Don’t mumble when speaking
- Don’t hide behind your notes when presenting
- Be succinct and precise
- Plan what you want to say but allow room for flexibility
- Smile and DO NOT PANIC!
- Stay positive 🙂
- You don’t have to stand in one spot, but always ensure that you are facing your audience.
It was clear to us mentors that the mentees had a good grasp of the theory behind presentations and presenting successfully. Now it was time to put theory into practice!
I divided the mentees into 3 groups and gave each group a topic. They would have to present their work to the rest of the group using a brainstorm diagram with each mentee explaining different points from the brainstorm, or they could do a presentation by way of outlining the pros and cons of their given topic.
The three topics were:
- Further education
- Social networking
We left it up to the mentees to decide in what format they would present their work to the rest of the group.
My co-mentors and I spent the next 25 minutes with each of the groups, going around and helping them formulate ideas as well as the techniques they could utilise to present their ideas.
We reminded the mentees, that in any situation and especially where you are working as team, it is important to keep in mind the following:
- Formulate a plan/structure
- Delegate each task identified at the planning stage to a team member
- Confirm thetask each person will carry out
- Discuss what will be required from each team member in the preparation and presenting stage
- Agree the final presentation structure and draw up a rough cue sheet
- And the most important tool…COMMUNICATION!!
The planning stage was the most difficult part of this task for the mentees. The mentees found it difficult to do the groundwork before jumping in feet first! After giving some advice to each of the groups, we left them to it. We would check on them again in about 10 minutes.
As we walked between the groups, listening to their conversations, it was apparent that the mentees hadn’t taken heed of our advice and had jumped in feet first. Each member of the team was confused about what they were meant to be doing and some of them were working on the same part of the presentation, for example, 3 members working on the cons of the topic, only one member working on the pros and no one working on the structure and how the work would be presented. Then there was confusion about what exactly they were supposed to be doing with the topic we had given them!
Oh dear me…not going so well. However, we decided that the mentees needed to learn these skills by themselves. If we kept going to help them, they wouldn’t be compelled to use their minds and try to understand the topic and form their own opinions as to the pros and cons.
The main aims were too enable the mentees to think independently, communicate effectively, plan before proceeding, share ideas, ask questions, believe in themselves and their knowledge… and acknowledge that if they lack the know-how about something, then it is up to themselves to ensure that they make an effort to learn more about it. The mentees needed to realise that they can only be taught a certain amount and only if they have the desire to learn and progress. Learning comes from an internal desire to know more, to broaden your horizons and it helps if you actually enjoy learning rather than viewing it as a chore.
It was time now to regroup and listen to the presentations. I was keen to see what the mentees had achieved in the last 25 minutes, so I called the group to order.
We then had a few minutes of drama when deciding who would go first. No group wanted to be the first up. They had a fear of being laughed at and feeling stupid and ridiculous. After allaying their fears, I managed to get the group presenting on further education to show us their presentation.
There were some teething problems, as the mentees were confused as to which member of the group was presenting what aspect. I was dismayed to see that they had neither discussed this aspect, nor had they planned or organized. Disorganization really lets down your work, your group and your achievement.
Apart from the teething problems, each group gave really strong presentations. The groups had come up with some really strong valid pros and cons for their topics. What was clear to me was that the mentees had the knowledge and could think independently for themselves and try to envisage the pros and cons for any given topic. It was all about putting their mind to the task at hand and having the correct support. However, it should be noted that this is a two way street. Learning is a give and take process. It doesn’t work if only one side is making all the effort.
When making the presentations, the mentees were shy at first and then grew in confidence. The mentees realised that they had the attention of the rest of the group. Their confidence levels increased and they were happier presenting their ideas, answering questions and making eye contact with the group. All the groups had a produced a brainstorming sheet with trigger words and phrases, which they then explained to the rest of the group in greater detail. It was really encouraging to see that the mentees had remembered one of our discussions on trigger words as an aid to remembering important information or just as a prompt to remind you of the things you would like to include in your work.
All the mentees stood at the front with their group and made an effort to say at least one item from their presentation. We were so pleased. It just goes to show how far the student’s have come, from our first session, where the girls sat apart from the boys, where some of the mentees didn’t want to draw attention to them selves and when it was difficult to get the mentees to sit quietly and listen to each other, rather than shouting over each other.
The aspects which the mentees still need to work on are planning, structure and delegating. The mentees will require some guidance and support, but I know they definitely have the ability to grasp these concepts and use them effectively to better their educational achievements! All it takes is a little push in the right direction 🙂