People often tell me they admire what I do. I have received my fair share of flattering comments, appreciating my work when I anchor an event or deliver a presentation. The most common one is, “You make it look easy”. That however, couldn’t be further from the truth. I cannot tell you the countless hours I spend getting ready to climb unto a podium, whenever I am going to address an audience. Everyone knows that the MC (EMCEE aka Master of Ceremonies) can make or break the show, and holding that responsibility, is serious business.
In showbiz, you are only as good as your last performance. If you don’t
attack every performance like it was your last, you would only be doing
yourself a disservice, especially if you talk for a living.
The microphone is a powerful tool and it is unforgiving when mishandled.
You can mess up an event so badly, that no one would want to touch you with a ten-foot pole afterwards, because the
truth is, people don’t forget.
Want to know how you can become an MC in high demand? Learn these tips
on the 5Ps of Presentation and you will be singing or talking your way to the
I cannot overemphasise how important preparation is. You must
research. Do your homework. Find out about your employers, the event, if there
is any social cause to promote, the key message and the audience. Preparing for
the audience is a topic I can talk about for days, but that’s for another
You must prepare for everything to go right and for the possibity that
something might not. Don’t leave things to the last minute, that way, you
forget things and may miss out on very important details. Don’t allow yourself
get blindsided, it’s not a good look to wear.
A few years ago, I was invited to anchor a session at an event with a
lot of dignitaries and international delegates. I was scheduled to handle only
one session on one of the days, as it was a week-long event. My day went on without a
hitch but the following day, I knew there was trouble. Without any prior notice
or warning, I was asked to come up on stage and hold the fort until matters
were resolved and the activities could resume. I could have made a bigger mess
of things but fortunately I was prepared. It was my notes during my research
that helped me. If I had stuck to only what I was contracted to do, it might very well have been a
The lesson? Preparation makes you ready, both for the best and worse
case scenarios. So, be prepared.
Let me tell you, Presentation is an ART. Yes, an ART. It is more than
just holding a microphone. It is showmanship. Every time you are invited and
obligated to give a speech or address an audience, you are required to SHOW UP.
That means stand out and be ready to
function at full capacity. You must have excellent written and oral communication skills. If you are
speaking in English to the audience, then you must speak English that is easily
understood. Don’t just take it for granted that you can dot your I’s and cross
your Ts, constantly practice to become better. Learn new words and expressions
that add colour to your delivery. Learn how to pronounce words properly.
You must communicate not only with your words but with your body as
well. Let your eyes convey a message, let your stance speak volumes. Be
audible, presentable, competent and current. Look the part! You’re there to
present to people not to talk to yourself. Take your responsibility seriously
and make your employers look good.
Here is something that can be tricky because I have seen many MCs and
public speakers get personal at events and embarrass themselves. You should
know that some things are meant to be private. It leaves a bad taste in the
mouth when your audience become uncomfortable or turned off because you have
shared gruesome, gory or inappropriate details about yourself.
When I say personalise, I don’t mean be familiar. You might understand
this better if you know the saying, familiarity breeds contempt.
What I mean is put yourself in the shoes of your audience. How would you want
someone to relate with you? How would you like to be spoken to? You
should make what you’re sharing is relatable. Share a story or experience that
complements what you’re saying and sell the human element so that the audience can connect with it.
If you’re not a comedian, try not to make too many jokes, but rather, be
witty and use clever constructs to convey your message. If you are a comedian,
please remember, it is not appropriate to joke about everything. Like I said it
can be tricky, but once you find a balance and get it right, then you’ve struck
This is the money-pot right here. Every P before this and the last P is
important but they all feed into your performance. If you are prepared, then
you will be confident to present and if you can master how to personalise your
presentation, that adds more depth to your performance.
Remember when I talked about showmanship? This is where it really comes
to play. You are allowed and expected to have a personality, one
that is charming, makes you approachable, captivating and pleaing to be around. Performance is also an
act. Essentially, you are
an actor at that point in time. By that, I don’t mean become someone you are
not, rather, amp it up 100%, two thousand kilowatts, 4k movie-shooting range.
On that stage, you must understand the power you wield. You are a storyteller
and you musn’t take it for granted. Give a performance that you can be proud of
and can keep the cheques coming.
Don’t be loud or obnoxious, overbearing or confrontational, smile, be
thoughtful, polite, take notice of protocol, be conversational and take charge,
be enthusiastic and show that you care about what you are doing. Don’t stop
performing until the curtains close.
This comes really easy when you’ve got your facts right. When you have
all the information you need, can express yourself clearly and concisely and
your message is relatable, your performance will be persuasive. You can go a
step further and learn the art of salesmanship; just know that it is an easier
sell when you combine Preparation, Presentation, Personalisation and
The principle of the 5Ps can be used in any occasion where you have to
address an audience, whether small or large. They work like magic…… every time!
So, the next time someone tells you Talk
is Cheap, tell them it’s a thin line between becoming a star and professional
suicide. Besides, many professional ‘talkers’ are multi-millionaires today and
you are 5 Ps away from becoming one. Let your talk and walk be the same so that
people can also walk up to you and say, “You make it look so easy”.
There are many academic theories about communication but it is the intention of this article isn’t to itemize or discuss them. It is important for us to keep our thoughts about this subject as simple as possible. In broadcast parlance, we say, KISS or keep it short and simple.
communication is actually quite complicated, we need to break it down to its
basics and for our purposes, recognize it as the transfer of information, ideas
or feelings, from one person or sender, to another, in such a way that it is
understandable enough by the receiver, to elicit feedback. The information or
message could be conveyed via several channels including writing, speaking,
signalling or some other technical medium.
article seeks to address the growing communication gaps between just two
critical groups of senders and receivers within the education sector. It is
probable that that these two groups will utilise several channels of
communication during the course of their relationship and that is one reason
why existing critical gaps between teachers and children and teachers and
school authorities is the focus.
TEACHERS AND SCHOOL AUTHORITIES
Teachers are ambassadors of their schools. Everything they do as representatives of their educational establishments, is monitored and measured by various constituencies. It is therefore vital, that they are not only respected but seen to be respected. This will be evident by the way they are spoken to by pupils, colleagues, school management, administrative staff and parents alike.
must establish and maintain communication channels that encourage teachers to
discuss their challenges in the classroom or with difficult parents without
fear of retribution. Assertive communication skills will be useful here. When they
do share, management should provide feedback so that teachers know that their
voice is being heard. It is very important that management does not create an
“us and them” divide. You would be surprised at how easy and common
this scenario is in many schools today, especially when it appears that
management takes sides against them when dealing with parents. The wellbeing
and “happy state” of the teachers directly impact how they relate
with the children and their guardians and their commitment to their job.
“us and them “syndrome also applies to disciplinary measures. I have heard
teachers complain about their efforts to maintain discipline, being undermined
by school authorities who, in their estimation, seem to be more interested in
retaining pupils than maintaining order and equilibrium. The application of
diplomacy and negotiation skills, would be a useful way for management to
retain custom as well as appease teachers. This would undoubtedly bridge the
gap between teachers, management and parents.
Management and administrative staff should equally understand the needs of their
teachers, to ensure that they have all they require at their disposal to carry
out their functions properly. It goes without saying that more than physical
aids, training and capacity building is key, however it is more important to
invest in the right kind of training so that teachers stay relevant and current
to deliver first class learning support to the children.
TEACHERS AND PUPILS/STUDENTS
The family unit has become a multi-dimensional entity which is now open to many different interpretations. New social and cultural constructs have re-defined what the family has become but however it is perceived, it still provides what children refer to as home.’ As educators, we know the importance of communication between children and parents but how many parents understand the need to keep connecting with their children?
often occur when parents rush out in the mornings. While they are mentally
planning their work schedule, they believe that a conversation has taken place,
when they give last minute instructions to their children. Unfortunately, since
there is no time for feedback, they don’t know if there has been any level of
understanding. Furthermore, parents are sometimes deprived of the opportunity
to follow-up, because by the time they return in the evening, they are either
too tired to communicate or their children have already gone to sleep. For
single parent families, the challenges are more evident, especially if the
parent lives some distance from grandparents or other members of the family.
result of these situations is that some children come to school with two major
disadvantages. First they are either unable to express themselves fluently, due
to lack of holding constructive conversations at home and secondly they are
unable to speak correct English, because their scope of conversation is limited
to the ability of those placed at home to look after them. Drivers and house
keepers, are not usually likely to upgrade the communication skills of those in
their care and as such something must be done to bridge the gap.
is now left to teachers to step in to ensure that they compensate for these
anomalies, if children are to receive the right foundation for their growth and
must ask themselves if they have the skills to deal with these changing social
situations so that their primary assignment of facilitating learning is not
compromised. It is not an ideal situation but as we say in broadcasting, if a
presenter wants to be sure of a good performance, in addition to
self-preparation, it is in his or her interest to check that the background
work has been by producers and technical personnel, before going on air.
Likewise, despite current workloads, it is becoming a necessity for teachers to
embrace new communication skills, to enable them achieve the same objective.
From experience garnered over time, three
skills are critical to bridging the communication gap.
The attention spans of children and students have reduced drastically and as such, teachers have to find ways to engage. The truth is that teachers need to learn presentation techniques and elements of public speaking, to enable them break through this existing barrier. Teachers may be gifted to be personable and lively but more is needed to make professional presentations. They may not see themselves as professional presenters but what more needs to be said when the majority of their time is spent presenting various subjects? How much more professional do they have to be?
art of presentation is not inherent knowledge; it is a process that has to be
learned, so that variety is built into the classroom and students consistently
engaged. Visual stimulation in the form of artistic walls with charts, maps,
graphs etc. are all well and good but now the personality of the teacher needs
to be developed to bring children and students out of their shells. Granted, this may not be what teachers
bargained for, neither is it their fault if children are restless or passive
but if young people are not motivated to learn, then their being in school,
becomes a waste of time. These skill sets should be incorporated into the
curriculum of Teachers Training Colleges and where the opportunity has passed,
teachers and school authorities should find ways of ensuring that their
teaching personnel attain such skills.
Parents have complained for some time about the falling standards of their children’s written and spoken English. While some of the causes are not far-fetched (as mentioned in the introduction), the other main reason is that some teachers are not grammatically sound. In addition, their spoken English is also suspect. This of course cannot augur well for children who are relying on teachers for their education.
can no longer say that because English is not our language we don’t have to
conquer it. That excuse is not tenable. Nigeria decided that English would be
its national language and as such our teachers must be well versed in its
usage. Who else will give the children and students the right information?
Again, if teachers miss the boat during their tertiary training, it is never
too late to learn. The point is teachers and school authorities should see it
as a sacred duty to ensure that those for whom they are responsible, are not
only given correct grammatical guidelines but also taught how to pronounce
those who own or work in private schools, it might interest you to know that
some students struggle when they go abroad to further their education at
secondary or tertiary levels. It is not because they are academically weak, it
is because there is a communication gap. They have become so used to poorly
pronounced English words, that they cannot understand the type of English they
hear in other climes. If they have to learn other languages, we expect them to
take the time to adjust, but when it is English, that said period of
adjustment, is unreasonable.
The media is awash with drug abuse and sexual infringements against our children and the ages of victims are becoming younger and younger. These are the children which we sometimes have to teach and these are the same children that might once have been top contributors in class but for some reason, their voices have faded away.
need to become hands-on communicators to help their pupils and students,
weather the socio-economic storms being faced by their parents. As
communication is a two-way process, so is the link between teachers and
parents. There needs to be a unified effort between both entities, to ensure
the well-being of the child. This may not be the brief given to teachers, but
this is the reality of our national existence.
will therefore have to be much more alert and observant about their wards. They
will need to learn to observe body language by being able to decipher
non-verbal communication signals. These could be tell-tale signals that
something is wrong. Teachers will need to learn listening skills because being
able to listen and read between the lines is not the same thing as
will need to learn conversational skills like small talk to determine their
student’s level of comprehension. Current workloads are not likely to give
teachers the time they need to have quality conversations with their pupils,
yet it is crucial to make time when the need arises. The ability to change tone,
is a skill that is also useful in the classroom, when private conversations are
a necessity. Having knowledge of intonation will equally help to avoid
personality clashes and overcome background/cultural differences, with parents.
Finally, we should regard the importance and integrity of feedback, as measurable evidence that our communication has been understood. The utilisation of various types of communication skills will ensure that the circle is complete. A problem between parents and teachers? What is the documented evidence that it has been resolved? An issue between colleagues or administrative staff? Can anyone attest to its amicable solution? A reprimand from management to teachers? Who follows up to ensure that business is no longer as usual?
the onset, we referred to communication as the act of transferring information,
ideas or feelings, from one person to another, so that it is understandable
enough by the receiver, to elicit feedback.
When all categories of stakeholders are actively involved in effective
communication activities and processes, peace, progress and profitability is
the likely outcome for everyone. We believe it is worth the effort. Don’t
We all communicate in different
ways based on our backgrounds, education, beliefs, values, religions, cultures,
physical abilities, gender and ethnicity.
on our circumstances, we also respond to people in a variety of ways. We can
respond in a passive manner, which indicates that we think other people’s
rights and opinions are more important than ours. We can respond in an
aggressive manner, which indicates that we believe our own opinions must be
accepted, no matter the cost. We can respond in a warm and friendly way, which may
depend on the degree of intimacy that exits between us, and the people with
whom we are conversing. Or we can respond in an assertive manner, which
indicates that while we express our needs clearly and respectfully, we still
consider other people’s needs.
communication is a style of communication that we will need to adopt from time
to time in our personal, social and professional lives. While it may be a
normal means of communication for some, for those who naturally shy away from conflict
or confrontation, it is a practical and acceptable way to express your point of
view in an honest, open and direct way, while still respecting others.
we want to consider, is how you can effectively utilize assertive
communication, to add value to your professional existence.
So how do you communicate? Please be honest about placing yourself in any of the stereotypes listed below.
TYPE A: Bossy and Overbearing
That is directly aggressive by bullying others. You are intolerant, self-opinionated and arrogant. You do not give others a chance to express themselves.
TYPE B: Manipulative and Sarcastic
That is indirectly aggressive by making insinuations and making ambiguous statements. You may try to manipulate others by making them feel guilty. `
TYPE C: Submissive and Subservient
That is passive and apologetic by being indecisive and appearing helpless. You complain and moan about various situations but you reluctantly comply because it is your duty to be obedient.
TYPE D: Assertive and Positive
That is direct and honest by being firm and self-confident. You are independent enough to speak out when necessary and you are willing to accept your faults when you are wrong.
belong to any of these groups? Maybe you can see a little of yourself in each
category. Which communication style is going to be most appropriate within your
environment? Or do we need some elements of each type from time to time?
a situation where teachers are gathering to have a meeting in the school hall.
As they are walking in, one teacher pushes her way forward, upsetting those who
are calmly filing in. One aggressive teacher asks “What’s the matter with you
Edith, are you more important than the rest of us who are queuing to attend the
meeting? Edith may give an equally aggressive response and an argument could
ensue. On the other hand, an assertive teacher could say “Edith, we are all
attending this meeting, please join the queue too.” Edith’s response to the
assertive teacher is likely to be more positive. She might apologise and remind
her colleagues that she was the secretary during the last meeting and she needs
to distribute the minutes to each teacher as they take their seats. Her
colleagues would probably ask her to go to the front of the line to enable her
perform her task.
THE COMMUNICATION CHAIN
Within any professional environment, the chain of communication begins with the security personnel and ends with the director or chairman of the organisation. In between, you have a variety of positions including receptionists or front office operatives, managers, heads of units, H.R. and marketing personnel, and administrative staff. You also have the drivers, and cleaners, who are likely to interact with one or more of those within the school premises, at one time or another.
they all engage in a civil, courteous manner, with each person not only upholding
his or her self-respect but also recognizing that others are entitled to
respect? I believe this can largely be achieved through the active adoption of
assertive communication, providing it is used constructively, at the right
instance, within the school environment, we know that there are times when as
teachers, we feel vulnerable or unsure of ourselves, especially when some
parents lash out at us or our superiors speak to us in a threatening or
menacing way. When it happens, we may feel insecure and our self-esteem is
likely to be affected. We may be overwhelmed into submission, which undermines
our integrity as people and our authority as teachers. We may become offensive
and aggressive as an immediate means of defence when we feel we have been
unfairly treated. Either way, internal or external conflict escalates, because
we are likely to resent being bullied. We are also likely to create long term
upsets between those affected as well as within the school environment.
truth is nobody needs to feel helpless in such situations. Learning how to
communicate in an assertive way, is a practical approach to solving these