Express Yourself !

Today’s session : “Express Yourself!” was presented to us by a special guest – Janelle M. Brewster.

Janelle M. Brewster has been active in the field of telecoms for the past 15 years with specific focus on process development and risk -controls management.  She is a graduate of the University of Surrey with a Masters in Business Administration and is also a qualified Assessor for the NVQ/CVQ qualifications in the functional area of ICTs. Janelle is a member of NXT Generation Toatmasters Club and past Area Governor for District 81 Caribbean Toastmasters.  She is the club Counselor for NXT Generation Gavel Club which caters to children between the ages of 11 – 17.


Janelle began with stating her agenda and immediately delved into her presentation. The agenda was as follows:

  1. Self Assessment
  2. Steps in giving presentations
  3. Purpose of Presentations 
  4. Class presentation exercise

Self Assessment
Janelle wasted no time getting into the action…she kick started the session by asking us about our experiences giving presentations,our likes and dislikes and if we believe we will need to present in the future.

Volunteers to answer these questions were abundant and set the mood for what was to be a fast paced and exciting session.

Steps in giving presentations ?
Janelle made reference to the four Ps ( a business tool commonly seen in marketing) but with her spin on it. The four Ps, in this context, represented the steps involved in presentation building. The four Ps :

  • Plan
  • Prepare
  • Practice
  • Present

Janelle incorporated a balanced mixture of open and close ended questions wrapped in her genuinely sarcastic personality to engage us in her fast paced and informative session. The question she aimed at us in this instance was :

What is the purpose of presentations ?
A few of the responses given were :

  • For added persuasiveness
  • Information sharing
  • Communication
  • For training persons
  • For explanatory purposes

After which, she moved onto the first P – Planning.

1)What makes up the Planning phase:
During this phase it is important to think about:

  1. The audience and who the presentation is being directed to and what they need to take away from the presentation.
  2. The environment and the length of the presentation. Where is the presentation taking place (e.g. outdoors, or  in an A.C room).
  3. How you should dress ( shorts/suits,formal, informal)
  4. Your goal(s) for the presentation

Tools involved in planning:
Pencil and paper to capture your thoughts and to assist with organizing your information to better its flow and last but not least, make use of key points/notes to aid you.

Structuring the presentation

Introduction – Serves the purpose of gaining the attention of the audience

Body – Where the meat of the presentation’s content lies

Conclusion – Use your key points to reiterate what was said during the body

PowerPoint Etiquette

With power points being one of the most popular mediums used for presentations, Janelle stressed on the importance of power point etiquette. Below are some of the areas to consider when designing your power point.


The type of font used is very important, ensure that it is legible and easy on the eyes.

Font size ( same as above )

  • Title text should be noticeably larger than content or sub heading text (32pt font size)
  • Text in bulleted lists (20pt font size)
  • Font sizes should be consistent

Be wary of contrasting colors or lack thereof (example : black background with blue text )

  • high contrast
  • dark background with light letters
  • light background

Use of animations
Content should speak for itself, so be generous with the use of animations. Be mindful of the context ( if you’re presenting to people with low attention spans (such as children), then include them.However, if the animations aren’t adding to your presentation leave them out.

Illustrate concepts with the use of diagrams and figures.

A few other areas to consider were mentioned. They are pretty self explanatory so they’ll just be listed.

  • Outline of discussion
  • Never use sentences

2) Preparation Phase
Take into account personal notes and personal preferences. Will you need visuals? Is it a presentation where handouts are needed?

3) Practice Phase
Practice makes perfect. Use a mirror and present to yourself, speak to someone else if you must but practice, practice and practice some more ! It’ll help you strengthen the areas you’re possibly weak in or that need strengthening.

Practice to gain:

  • More experience
  • More enthusiasm
  • More preparation
  • More positiveness
  • More confidence
  • Better state of relaxation

Becoming confident
Know your material! This ensures that your message is clear during your practice and rehearsal sessions as this will overflow into the final stage -THE PRESENTATION. When it’s show time, find your inner place of relaxation and above all , remain positive until the end.

4) Presentation Phase

Remember the presentation is all about YOU!

Be mindful of vocal variety which involves you(the presenter) changing your tone and pitch to avoid monotony. The right words need to be selected and again, you must be wary of the audience as this will determine the complexity and level of sophistication of your language.

Remember that first impressions count and may very well determine how easily your message is received. Being mindful of your body language and the level of enthusiasm you’re projecting is vital to leaving a good first impression. You may need to be cautious of the pace at which you speak and be aware of the culture of the audience (Janelle made a comparison between the fast paced speech of Barbadians and the slower styled speech evident in the U.S.A to illustrate this point).

Delivery is vital and thus it is important that you carry yourself in a professional manner (e.g in your dress and speech). Take advantage of your surroundings, if they are no restrictions( e.g a cramped room)then, move around as you present, engage the audience, make eye contact and don’t forget to smile!

Throughout your presentation, underpin persons’ knowledge and gauge if they are really listening by asking questions and providing scenarios to generate feedback to keep their attention on you.

In a situation where there is a Q&A segment, Janelle made mention and encouraged the use of TRACT:

  1. Thank the questioner
  2. Repeat the questions
  3. Answer the question (or attempt to answer )
  4. Check with the questioner if they are satisfied
  5. Thank the questioner again

Class Exercise

The students were given 15 minutes to research and prepare a presentation on an area of interest to them. The purpose of this exercise was to assess the students to see if they took anything away from her presentation. The second purpose was to help us understand how to critique by stating what was heard, what was seen and areas for improvement.

They had the option of  presenting in a group or solo.

First up was Rashawn ,Devon and Kevin speaking about ” What gaming has become..”

One of our affiliate members, Michael Mayers was next with his presentation “My loves”. Kelsie,our timid and affable member, contributed with her piece on ” Natural Hair”. Jerad closed the session with “Piracy among students”.

We hope to make those presentations available for your viewing shortly !


In closing,  Ms.Brewster has made her presentation available and it can be viewed in its entirety here .


1 thought on “Express Yourself !

  • Yet another interactive session.The presenter reinforced many things we are taught throughout our Computer Science degree. She made it clear there are many elements ran in the background to produce a presentation with some degree of quality and professionalism .

    CSS is always a good experience!!

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