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Why teaching MBA students presentation skills is easier said than done

Blog post   •   Oct 16, 2019 08:36 +08

My clients for media skills and executive presence training are almost exclusively senior business and government leaders. But when National University of Singapore asked me a few years ago to coach their top MBA students, I accepted. The opportunity to contribute to the development of future business and government leaders was too good to pass up.

Fast forward five years, and we have added Nanyang Technological University as a client, coaching the best and brightest in contemporary concepts and offering immediate feedback as they practise.

Moreover, we launched a blended learning course (news release below) that combines targeted course content on the online learning platform Udemy, or through the university's Learning Management System, followed by classroom-based practise.

Here are my learnings from our work with future business leaders so far:

  1. Presentation skills are essential - Asian universities already have academic courses of global standard. The students who attend my courses are super intelligent and clearly have huge potential. But all the knowledge in the world doesn't help if they are not able to communicate it to their audiences. Without the ability to present, they will have a tough time persuading others of their ideas. In the AI world of the future, this skill will mean the difference between a rewarding career, and redundancy. But...
  2. Not enough time - There are simply not enough hours in the day for universities to teach everything students need. Some universities already offer presentation skills courses, but presentation training still requires students to practise. So, the temptation is to move such courses to the weekends. The problem is...
  3. Students are reluctant to commit - And who can blame them. When you've sat in lectures and tutorials all week, and put in additional hours for project work and study, it's no wonder they are reluctant to show up for weekend courses. In addition...
  4. Scalable practise is critical -  There is little point in just teaching the theory, without the chance to practise. But while one student is presenting twenty others are waiting for their turn. On top of that...
  5. Budgets are limited - Most universities want all their students to benefit from a presentation skills course. But the cost-per-student becomes prohibitive because current in-class courses are not scalable. Only so few students can fit into a classroom. This in turn limits the time for students to practise.

Which brings me back to where I started, and why I foresee huge growth and potential in our blended learning course. Universities in Asia are conscious of the need for essential skills coaching in a scalable way that still offers each participant the opportunity to practise and receive immediate feedback from this former TV anchor.

I'm thrilled to contribute to the development of Asia's future leaders.

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