Tag: business

How to Improve Presentation Skills

Success in business and in our personal lives does not depend solely on our message, but also on how we present the message. It can be the difference between clinching a promotion and being passed over, or between receiving investor funding and refusal. Presentation is an essential skill in business; at some point in our academic or professional lives, we will be expected to make a presentation to our peers, senior managers, or investors.

If the idea of delivering a presentation brings you out in a cold sweat, you are not alone. Somewhere between 20 and 75% of the population suffer from Glossophobia – a fear of public speaking, making this the most common phobia or fear in modern society.

The good news is that no one is born with the ability to present well – and with enough preparation and practice anyone can become a good presenter. It just requires a few simple training techniques and personal adjustments.

What are presentation skills?

Presentation is a soft skill, meaning it is transferable and relevant to any job. Like other soft skills, it has a broad definition with many elements:

  • Content: a speech, a Q&A, an interactive presentation, an informal talk, or PowerPoint presentation, a series of slides or photographs
  • Voice: The ability to speak clearly and with authority on a given subject, at a reasonable pace, and to a tone that engages the audience
  • Body language: How you present yourself during a presentation
  • Verbal language: Your choice of words also matters for audience engagement. Maximum engagement occurs when you reach out to as many participants as possible

Presentation is important as people with good presentation skills come across as reliable and dependable.

Improving your presentation skills

The benefits of being able to present well for career advancement and personal development are clear, so why do so many of us dread the idea of giving a presentation and why are so many presenters unable to captivate their audience? The key to overcoming your fears and delivering engaging presentations lies within two elements: practice and preparation. Mastering these will help to build confidence and skills needed to deliver well.

Here are some practical tips to help you to improve:

Step 1: Learn non-verbal communication

An academic study calculated that over half (55%) of what makes a presentation a good one came from non-verbal communication. Your audience’s attention will depend more on how you make your presentation than its content. Learn the need for a good posture, the right body language for the audience, open expression and an air of confidence. Acting confident, even when nervous inside, presents the air of authority and knowledge that you need to get through the presentation.

Step 2: Know your audience

You can only communicate properly when you know your audience. The content is appropriate, but so is how you communicate that relevant information. An audience of children will have different demands and expectations and require a different tone and body language than a meeting about business development. In turn, this audience will have different expectations from a panel of experts council watching a presentation that seeks to acquire funding for scientific research. Before the presentation, research and understand the expectations of the audience and build an approach with this in mind.

Step 3: Use good structure

The audience will need to know the content of the presentation, so start with an introduction. Divide the content into specific sections and use the introduction to explain how the presentation will be divided. Each attendee may have a different expectation and interest from the person next to them. The presentation should conclude with a summary of the main points acting as a memory aid. This is especially useful if there is a Q+A session.

Step 4: Rehearse

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Rehearsal is not about memorising one’s lines as it with an acting rehearsal, but about knowing the content enough to be able to carry on with the presentation if technology fails. Memorise the structure and the broad points, not the line by line account. It is also about adapting the presentation to the audience – emphasise points when they seem interested and hasten points when they appear bored. Plus, rehearsing improves the confidence in your tone and presentation skills, and helps you work out what does and does not work in the content before the final delivery.

Step 5: Ask for audience feedback

It is normally good policy to have a question and answer session at the end of a presentation. Sometimes it helps to gain feedback during the presentation. A good way to do this is to offer interactive elements such as a show of hands or setting aside time for ideas and suggestions. This will help develop your presentation skills for the future and adapt the current presentation to the audience. This feedback will be positive or negative and help you develop in the right direction.

Step 6: Record your presentation

It is easier to see what went wrong after the fact and from the point of view of an observer. Review the video days or weeks later when the presentation is no longer at the front of your mind. Your errors will be much clearer and you will be able to learn from those mistakes. When the presenter is mindful of what did and did not go well, they can tweak their presentation style and length of each section. They should also adapt and their general skills and the confidence that goes with it.

Presentation is about having a solid foundation in how to communicate the message, whatever that is. Confidence, the ability to present a speech and impress, are all teachable skills through a dedicated short course on presentation skills.

 

 

Getting to know you: Our winter short courses open evening

City, University of London were proud to host our winter Open Evening on Tuesday 10th December 2019.

Our Open Evenings are a great opportunity to visit our campus and meet out tutors – and this December we had a great turnout of guests, looking to find out more about all the evening and weekend courses that we offer at City. We offer light refreshments and some free gifts to take away with you.

City Short Courses also offers a range of taster sessions – 40-minute classes to give you a flavour of what it is like to study at City. We are hosting our next Languages Taster Event on Wednesday 15th January 2020. We will be running taster sessions in seven languages – Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Find out more and book your place on the webpage.

We have over 120 courses across subject areas – business, computing, creative industries, languages, law and writing. Next term starts Monday 20th January 2020, enrol online!

Get ahead with your business writing

By Howard Walwyn

Almost everyone in their daily work needs to write clear, accurate business English, whether that is in the form of emails, letters, reports, minutes, digital copy, marketing materials, technical manuals or other formats. Even tweets are increasingly used as a marketing tool for both Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer communications.

Yet not everyone is confident that their business writing skills are up to the standard they would like. Many people working in communications departments, HR or marketing teams, regardless of their native language, strive to write refined and polished business copy.

Similarly people working in IT or quantitative fields are often less comfortable writing business English than they are dealing with code or numbers and see the need to obtain specific training in business writing skills, to help them reach an even better standard of written English.

City, University of London’s Writing for Business short course gives hands-on practical training in the principles of clear business English and how to write good business copy, whether it’s an article, a press release, a CV, a product review or a letter or email. It also covers some of the wider aspects of being a writer, such as research and planning, interviewing, promotion and marketing; and legal and editorial topics. The course explains how the key principles behind writing clear business English – such as brevity, clarity and consistency – are the same, whatever the length and format of the piece you are writing.

Due to high demand, we are delighted to be offering the course on two nights of the week.

On Tuesday evenings the Writing for Business course is taught by Howard Walwyn who has spent 30 years writing and editing copy in the financial sector, focusing mainly on risk and regulatory content. He now uses that experience, alongside his degrees in English Language & Literature and Economics, to help clients and students write clear business English – both in the financial sector and in other areas of business.

Every Thursday, the course is taught by Maggie Richards, a freelance journalist and copywriter with 20 years’ experience writing for the likes of The Guardian and The Times and working with all kinds of businesses from sole traders to global giants, such as Harrods and Marks & Spencer.

Writing for Business is a 10-week short course starting in October.

Taking a walk on the wild side of business

By Brenna Boyle

Brenna was working as a wildlife ranger in the Scottish Highlands before attending the Starting up in Business course at City, University of London. Brenna’s ambition was to make a successful business showing communities the diverse range of wildlife on their doorsteps.

An average day as a wildlife ranger would involve guiding groups of visitors around stunning scenery and viewing species including Golden Eagles and Bottle-nosed Dolphins. But I left the Highlands and returned to London, driven by a desire to prove that the wildlife of London, whilst perhaps not as iconic or dramatic as that of Scotland, is abundant, diverse and fascinating.

My goal was to set up a business delivering guided wildlife walks and nature discovery activities for groups of adults, families, communities and schools within London. And yes, lots of people thought I was nuts! I knew from previous experience that the wildlife of London really is surprising, rich and interesting, in that I had faith. What I didn’t have so much faith in was my ability to build and run a business. I had so many questions and doubts about everything from protecting my brand to tax, marketing, the law and hiring other people. My new business, Wild Capital, had officially begun before I enrolled on the course; it was very young but the website was operational, I was insured and I’d delivered a few programmes. However, I felt I was holding back on allowing the business to grow through uncertainty about how to proceed. My fear was that I would invest everything into the business and one day some scary bloke in a suit would appear and tell me I’d done something wrong and I owed thousands of pounds in fees or fines!

I chose to undertake an introduction to business course in order to deal with my concerns, and go forwards in business confidently. I did quite a lot of research into different options before settling on the Starting Up in Business course at City. The course was very appealing as it covered a wide array of business topics, but with a total duration of 20 hours over 10 weeks there was time to delve into each topic, rather than just scratch the surface. There was a choice of doing the course on either a Tuesday or a Thursday night, so I was able to select the night that most suited my schedule.

The course itself was a mixture of taught material delivered with PowerPoint presentations (all the slides were uploaded to an accessible website in advance of the class so you could print them and make notes on the hand-outs), class activities such as working in groups to review existing businesses and personal work done in our own time which cumulated in writing a full business plan that was read and reviewed. Kulan Mills, who delivered the course was extremely knowledgeable and helpful; you really felt you could ask him anything. Kulan obviously has a great deal of experience with a wide range of businesses. He would tell us anecdotes from his own experiences, which were insightful and interesting. Kulan took interest in everyone in the class; he made himself available before and after the sessions to answer questions and discuss ideas. He also put students in touch with people from his extensive network of useful contacts; I had a very helpful meeting with the manager of an outdoor activity centre, instigated through Kulan.

Several of the students, myself included, already knew what type of business we wanted to develop. Others knew they wanted to run a business but weren’t yet sure what kind. The course was very suitable for both groups of students, with many ideas thrown up for those looking to create a new service or product. For all these reasons and more, studying at City was a great experience. The nice coffee shop and free WiFi were also very welcome!

Since completing the course at City I have had the confidence to expand my business; I now work with both local councils and London based charities, providing wildlife discovery activities for communities. The numbers of new private bookings for adult wildlife walks and family adventures are increasing all the time, and I’m now looking at rolling out a selection of programmes for schools.

I wouldn’t hesitate to enrol on another course at City. Perhaps further down the line I’ll a need a course to develop my skills as the director of an expanding company!

To find out more about Wild Capital please visit the website www.wildcapital.co.uk, follow on Twitter or like on Facebook.

To find out more and enrol on City’s Starting Up in Business short courses visit the webpage.

A taste of learning with City

City, University of London proudly hosted our first ever open evening and taster sessions event on Thursday 11th July 2019. Thank you to everyone who made the evening such a success and to all of our attendees – we hope that you found it interesting.

Throughout the evening we offered a series of 30-minute taster sessions in a select number of our short course programmes to give students a feel for what it is like to study a short course with us.

We started the evening on a high with a taster session in one of our most popular courses, Introduction to Programming with Python. Lead by programming expert, Philip De Grouchy, this session was packed out with young professionals looking to try their hand at coding.

Our digital guru, Elliott King, ran a parallel session in Strategic Digital Marketing, combining theoretical knowledge with step-by-step guidance on delivering online marketing campaigns.

Katy Darby lead an interactive session in Short Story Writing, for those looking to nurture their creative flare while Marian Wancio delivered a more practical course in Project Management.

Ping Chai, leading a Chinese Mandarin taster session

We also ran sessions in Immigration Law, Adobe InDesign, JavaScript Programming, Writing for Business, Writing for the Web, Curating & Exhibition Management, Japanese; and Chinese Mandarin.

Feedback from our attendees was overwhelming positive, with the vast majority stating that their questions were answered adequately by our staff. Our taster classes were also well received, rating the quality of the sessions highly.

However, there is always room for learning and improvements! As a result of our feedback, we intend to replace the current format with two separate events. In December 2019, we will be hosting a ‘meet our tutors’ open evening, an excellent opportunity to speak to our experts one-to-one about the wide variety of courses we offer at City. In the summer of 2020, we will be continue to run a full evening of taster sessions, offering a glimpse of what is it like to learn at City.

We will also be extending out taster sessions from 30 to 45 minutes to allow more time for learning. See the Visit Us section of our blog to find out more about our visitor events or book your place on our December open evening.

Digital training and the digital skills gap

by Dionisios Dimakopoulos

City Short Courses, part of City, University of London, worked with London digital agency MintTwist to create a study analysing the digital skills gap.

The study surveyed over 100 professionals who studied a digital marketing related short course with a goal to understanding:

  • Why they are seeking additional digital marketing training
  • Issues they are currently facing
  • What they hope to attain from studying a digital marketing short course at City, University of London.

We surveyed City Short Course students from 2007 – 2015. The group consisted of marketing professionals within SEO, content, social, advertising, web design and development.

“The biggest challenge in my industry is hitting the right digital marketing channels and maintaining our individuality against our competitors”

Edward Carter, SEO Manager, industry: Engineering and Manufacturing

The survey identified three key elements professionals listed as instrumental in them completing a digital marketing short course.

  • Digital’s constant state of change and evolution
  • The online competition
  • Training required to upskill internal resource on digital

Biggest issues for your company:

  • 15% – competitors
  • 19% – digital change
  • 26% – training, skills and internal resources

Biggest issues for your industry:

  • 16% – competitors
  • 16% – digital change
  • 6% – training, skills and internal resources

Find out more about short courses in digital marketing at City, University of London.

Getting your book noticed online

by Emily Pedder

Last month short courses took part in a panel event on marketing your book online as part of 2014’s Inside Out Festival. Novel Studio Course Director Emily Pedder chaired a lively panel discussion to a sell out crowd.

The panel experts included Polly Courtney, author of six novels and a regular commentator on TV and radio. Polly is famous for walking out on Harper Collins in protest at the chick lit branding assigned to her books and has been successfully self-publishing ever since.

Also on the panel were Chris McCrudden, Head of Technology and New Media at Midas PR and author of the Guardian book Digital and Social Media for Authors; and City’s very own Novel Studio alumna Justine Solomons, founder of Byte the Book, CCO at Autharium and Publisher in Residence at Kingston University.

Tips for authors trying to market their book online included the following:

  • Make sure your cover design, title and blurb all reflect your book’s genre.
  • Target your readers: find out what readers of your particular kind of book listen to, like, follow online and start communicating with that audience.
  • Develop your author brand – talk about the issues you cover in your book, or whatever it is that makes you unique, and make it newsworthy so that journalists have an angle to write about.
  • Don’t write a press release about your book. The book’s publication is the least interesting thing about your book: find a particular peg to hang it on.
  • Use social media to be a reflection of yourself and your book.
  • Build your platform BEFORE you publish.
  • Set up your own website.
  • Curate yourself – readers don’t need to know everything about you, just the bits that are relevant to your author profile.
  • Write a blog. Keep it current. Follow up quickly and courteously on comments.
  • Keep a database of contacts. Add to it whenever you meet someone new. Follow up within 24 hours.
  • Hand out business cards: professionalize yourself as a writer.
  • Use marketing in its truest and most resonant form, i.e. sharing something you’re passionate about with other people who are passionate about the same thing

Afterwards several members of the audience expressed their gratitude for the event, while one tweeted ‘brilliantly useful panel discussion’. For more events like these don’t forget to follow our updates on twitter.

City hosts inaugural CPD Forum Conference

City, University of London hosted the CPD Forum Conference ‘Professional Best Practice: Past, Present and Future’ on 20th June, in partnership with Central Saint Martins, King’s College London and Imperial College London.

The event was a great success, with an unprecedented attendance rate of 96% and delegates coming from as far afield as Cork to listen to keynote speakers and take part in group workshops.

Speakers included Professor Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Academy; Dr JoEllyn Prouty McLaren, Director of Cass Executive Education; and Professor Yvonne Hillier, Professor of Education at the University of Brighton, covering topics such as development of executive education and the future of lifelong learning.

The afternoon workshops, hosted by the conference organisers, received fantastic delegate participation, and revealed common issues faced with CPD programmes in various institutions, including marketing, administration and international CPD. The workshops aimed to find solutions to challenges highlighted by delegates, but the recurring themes illustrated the need for future CPD conferences.

The conference was “very useful from both a professional knowledge-enhancing perspective, as well as from a networking perspective,” said one delegate.

Bill Richardson, Manager of CPD Programmes at City, University of London, and one of the CPD Forum organisers, said “the forum materialised initially through a need for London higher education institutions (HEIs) to engage and share experiences and best practice for delivering CPD and short course programmes. We are delighted that our mutual interests now extend beyond London and we were extremely please to welcome a wide variety of institutions from across the UK.

“We hope that this is the start of an annual event, bringing all professionals together to transform the future delivery of CPD programmes.”

Former business student opens pet accessories shop in Covent Garden

By Taro Takeuchi

Until June 2013 I had an office job working for a theatre ticketing agency but I always knew that I wanted to start my own business.

I chose City because a friend of mine did a ‘Starting up in Business’ course here a few years ago. Since then she has opened her own cake shop called Cuckoo’s Bakery in Edinburgh and it is doing really well.

So I thought, why not, and got myself onto the same course and I wasn’t disappointed. In ten weeks I learnt a lot. The course is really condensed and focused. There is an understanding that you cannot learn everything about starting up a business in 20 hours but Kulan Mills, the course tutor, gave me the base from which to start thinking seriously about what I wanted to achieve as a business owner.

My original business idea has changed dramatically as a result of attending the course. At first, perhaps naively, I wanted to open an old-fashioned sweet shop but Kulan got me to consider profit margins and helped me realise that my sales volume would have to be huge to make any kind of profit.

So I started thinking what I am passionate about and realised that I love dogs and know a great deal about them, so I decided to open a dogs’ accessories shop.

My store is called Bow Wow London and it’s in the heart of fashionable Covent Garden.

I am still in touch with Kulan and sometime come to speak to his students as a guest lecturer. I always tell them that being a business owner is hard work. It requires bravery, passion, conviction and a lot of investment, both in terms of time and money. But it really pays off when you get it right. For the first time in my life, I feel pride and satisfaction every minute that I am in my shop. I look forward to coming to work and I don’t mind doing my accounts or tweaking the website when I get home at night. It is truly a 24/7 job but I love it.

Was I born an entrepreneur? I guess so. Was I born a successful entrepreneur? Time will tell. I think I have a natural flair for marketing but the Bow Wow London brand is still very young. I’d like to give it a year before I can say that my first business venture has really worked. So far so good though, shop has been doing really well and is certainly going in the right direction!

Starting Up in Business is one of the many business and management short courses we offer at City. For updates on all our courses and events follow us @cityshortcourses.

Business founder credits digital marketing masterclass for improved performance

By Rav Roopra

At City I took the Integrated Digital Marketing masterclass – a three-day intensive course on practical digital marketing.

Customer education is a key part of what we do at Stubble and Strife. We want to ensure that customers get access to the best advice, information and curated products in the UK. To do this we need to be easy to find on the web. I was therefore keen to learn the key components and strategies in digital marketing.

Choosing City, University of London as a short course provider was a natural decision for Stubble and Strife. The company has strong links with City: one of the co-founders is a Cass Business School alumna. We have also had the support of City graduates. We recognise that there’s a large pool of expertise at City, especially in design, marketing and technology, which complement what we are doing at Stubble and Strife.

For the masterclass City teamed up with dynamic digital marketing agency, MintTwist, who delivered the course content. I was very impressed with the expertise of the speakers, as well as the actionable insights designed to deliver results. Victoria Lennon, MintTwist’s marketing director, is an exceptional tutor, very experienced in her subject area and willing to share her up-to-the minute knowledge of digital marketing strategies and technologies.

Our study group was very diverse, with students coming from a large range of disciplines and backgrounds, which helped to bring different perspectives to the course.

I have already implemented a number of strategies we picked up at the masterclass and the business is seeing improvements in results. I have also brought this new knowledge into our technology and marketing roadmap for the future. It might be too early to measure the impact but initial returns look promising.

As a founder, I want to take Stubble and Strife from a start-up venture to a fully-fledged omni-channel retail business, tying the latest bricks and mortar retail technology together with online convenience, data analysis and digital marketing. I believe that the knowledge I gained at City will be a significant aid in this process.

Rav Roopra is the founder of Stubble and Strife, an expert retailer of shave, beard, moustache and skincare products.

For more on our business and management short courses visit our home page. Or follow our twitter updates @cityshortcourses.

 

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