MBA Friday – Communication Workshop Day!

Hi everyone! So last weekend I went to a workshop held by my MBA program, which was a mandatory Professional Development Workshop on Communications. I have to say that one thing I don’t like about my program is that they really don’t give you a great heads up about when they have stuff planned. For example, they only gave us the date of the workshop maybe a month before. And there are two Saturdays that we have workshops on Excel, which I know will be very, very helpful at work, but we have no idea when they are until close to the workshop.

Not to brag but I have my schedule planned out months in advance, especially when it comes to Saturdays, because of my Broadway in Chicago Subscriptions. So I’m stuck hoping they don’t clash with those days. The first one is on a day when I have a musical, so I’m trying to plan to make sure I can still go to both. Otherwise, they did say there were adding a day so I’m hoping I can switch to the new day. However if the second one is November they definitely will conflict because I have the first three Saturdays already booked with tickets for musicals and the last one is Thanksgiving. Plus I have one in December so… keep your fingers crossed for me!

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Anyway, I headed down to school a little early as I wanted to stop by Starbucks before the day started. I stopped at Starbucks in downtown Elmhurst really quickly before heading over to campus. I noticed that the street beyond the Starbucks was closed off for the town’s “block party” and set up had started already. I figured I might be able to go a bit after if I didn’t go to the Oakbrook Mall close by or just head home.

I got to the campus about 10 minutes before the official start time and parked behind the chapel, where it was being held. Well, it was in one of the rooms in the basement of the chapel. I’ve had many a class in that building so I knew exactly which one it was already!

When I arrived the front half of room was already full so I grabbed a chair in the middle of the room. I was soon joined by one of my classmates, who is actually one of my group members in class. Our professor finally assigned the people in the group and I have a good impression of him already since he seems to be dedicated to his studies and pretty nice. I spotted the other woman in my group, who also seems nice but I don’t know too much about her. Unfortunately I didn’t recall the other person in my group and I still don’t know if he was there or not since I really couldn’t put a face to the name at the time. Now that we know him, we haven’t had the courage to ask if he was there or not. (Lols.)

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So everyone really got started to get settled pretty quickly after that. The program director greeted me and took some time to ask about how class was going and everything, which I appreciated. I’ve mentioned this before, but he was actually one of my professors in undergrad and remembers me from class. I noticed that he seemed to know each student by name already, although he hasn’t taught any of us yet in the grad program. Many of us are EC alum though, so that could be why!

So at 8am the director of the program welcomed everyone and joked about how nice the day was and how he felt bad that he kept asking us to come in on beautiful Saturdays. Then he quickly went over a few things, such as how we should get the dates for the Excel courses soon, and then turned it over to the first presenter.

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Presentations

I was surprised when I realized that I knew this professor. I can’t recall if I just did a workshop with her as well or a full class with her as it was in my freshman year but I want to say it was a full class now that I think about it. I’ll call her Dr. Presentation as she has a Ph.D. and did a presentation about presentations.

That’s right, I sat through a two hour presentation about presentations.

It was actually quite good. Here’s a summary of what I took away from it:

  • When working on a presentation ask two questions. So what? and Why? as that is what your audience will be asking themselves.
  • Know your audience
  • Put conclusions in the heading
  • Many awesome formatting tips
  • Keep the presentation well organized – no “plug and play” (where each person works on something and then the group just copies them into one presentation, there is no flow and a lot of repetition)
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Rule of three (beginning, middle, end)
  • If you’re soft spoken it’s okay to say this at the beginning of a presentation “I tend to speak softly. If you can’t hear me please raise your hand and let me know.” I think I will likely use this because I get this ALL THE TIME. I’m a soft spoken lady people!

It was very interesting although there was a lot that she said to do but didn’t do herself. Of course, it was a three hour presentation that she shortened to two, so that might be why but it was stuff such as colors that were difficult to read, smaller font on the slide where she gave a minimum font size, and stuff like that. She did do some of it on purpose to show us what not to do but some of it was accidental. Still, it was very informative and I took a lot away from it.

Break

We had a short break before the next presentation. During this time I caught up with the people I’d met from the Thursday classes at the reception the day I was accepted and the orientation last month. I also grabbed a water and headed off towards my seat again.

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Business Writing

I have to admit here. It’s been my dream to study business since I was 15, and that’s precisely what I did, but I still need to think of it as busi-ness to spell it right. That’s so embarrassing!

After Dr. Presentation handed over the floor to the next presenter I mentioned to my teammate that I was excited to tell everyone how I spent my Saturday morning sitting through a presentation about presentations. He wholeheartedly agreed.

Our second presenter came up and I’ll call her Professor Passion. Because she was very, very passionate. And by passionate I mean she yelled her way through her presentation. My first thought about her presentation was “oh goodness, is she going to scream at us for a full two hours?” Yes is the answer.

This was my least favorite presentation, I have to say, although I did learn quite a bit. I’m just very sound sensitive and didn’t appreciate her loudness so much. And I was in the back. Here’s a summary on what I took away from it:

  • Use spell check
  • Turn on grammar check and use it
  • Keep it brief, don’t ramble
  • There are three audiences
    • Those who can’t read well
    • Those who can read okay but prefer not to
    • Those who love to read but don’t have time to
  • Everyone will skim the material – because they are one of the three abovementioned people
  • 1 key point per email/memo
  • The most important stuff goes first – only jokes leave the most important part until the end
  • Subject lines should be so descriptive that no one should have to open your email

I found it a bit strange that she said “keep it brief” was so important but she really didn’t apply this to her presentation. She repeated it a lot actually. However I agree with what she said in her presentation. I love short, to the point emails, conversations, etc. I tell my coworkers (John) when they ramble because it annoys me. I skim all emails and know everyone else does to.

I plan to use her tip on subject lines though. That’s pretty good.

Unfortunately her volume was very detracting for me, I really found it hard to concentrate after some time so I would often listen when she changed topics and then had to focus on something else to keep from getting a headache. (I may or may not have written a draft of last Monday’s post in my notebook rather than taking notes.) Her passion for business writing was admirable, but her volume was not.

Lunch

Finally, we took a break for lunch. They had brought in pizza so I ate quite a bit of that since I was super hungry (a chai tea latte can only fill me up for so long) and chatted with a few more people. My group, well the three people that we had of the four, talked a bit and agreed to exchange emails/numbers before we left. (Spoiler, we forgot. We had to do that at class last week.) The break was maybe half hour long but we had a great time.

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Personality

Our last presentation was my favorite, and probably for everyone else as well. We had been asked to take an online personality test that would give us a set of four letters that would describe us. You may know of this exam already, the Myers Briggs or MBTI. We took a free version which you can find here. You can take a different version of the test for free here, or learn more about the official test (and pay to take it if you want) here.

I’ve gotten the same type every time I’ve taken this test, INTJ. I won’t go into the test itself too much as I have talked a bit about it, and my type, in a previous post so feel free to read it here.

Our presenter, Presenter Personality, was amazing. She was a very hyped up woman who knew her subject well and could explain it well. There are many benefits to knowing your type and the types of the people around you,Β  especially for communication purposes.

Presenter Personality had us do a few exercises to make sure we understood who we were. First we moved to one half of the room, depending on our Extrovert/Introvert tendencies. Her question to us was “Your good friend invites you to a party, when do you show up, who do you talk to, and when do you leave?” Our responses:

Extroverts:

  • We show up early to help set up!
  • The party doesn’t start until we arrive!
  • We might even stay the night after helping clean up!

Introverts (me):

  • Ummm, once we know our friend is there we’ll show up.
  • We talk to our friend, of course.
  • Leave as early as possible.
  • Wait, there was an option not to go???

Spot on. Also Extroverts are delusional. (And I say that in the most loving way.)

Then we took our seats again and talked about our Intuitive/Sensing tendencies. We didn’t do an activity for this one but she did tell a story about her friend learning to drive. Her friend’s instructor tried to tell her how to get somewhere by telling her the next step. The intuitive young driver said, “well, where are we going?” Her instructor told her and she said “I know a better way to get there” and even took a highway in her first lesson to get them there faster. She was highly intuitive. That’s like me. I want to get there the most efficient way possible.

The next letter group we did do another activity. This time we split by our Thinking/Feeling tendencies. This time the question was “if you were the coach of a baseball team of 30 players but could only take 20 of them to compete, how do you decide?”

Thinking (me):

  • Top 20
  • My kid and then the top 19
  • Top 20

Feeling:

  • Draw straws
  • Ask who wants to go
  • Hold a fundraiser so they can all go

Anyway, a lot of people in the Thinking category can come across as “cold-hearted” but we were all okay with that. We want to win this fictional baseball game!! All the Feeling people wanted to be fair though, and I mean, I guess that’s fair.

At this point it was getting really fun. We were all having a great time, finding people just like us and embracing these traits about ourselves.

Finally we got to the Judging/Perceiving trait. The question was “you just won tickets to a Cubs game tomorrow! What are you doing with the tickets?” We eventually got her to tell us that it was actually Tuesday night in this scenario and the game was the next day at 1pm.

Judging (me):

  • Ummm, no, we have tomorrow planned already – with work!
  • I’d sell them and make a profit.
  • I don’t know what I’d do with the tickets but I’m not going.
  • What are the Cubs? (This one was a joke, we all know the Chicago Cubs, last year’s major league baseball Champion. My coworker Erin is fond of trying to force me to be a Cubs fan.)

Perceiving:

  • If my boss says it’s okay yeah I’ll go.
  • I’m calling in sick to work.
  • I’m 100% there!
  • Well if it was a White Sox game… (Rival Chicago baseball team.)
  • I don’t like the Cubs… Oh it can be any event we want? YEAH I’M THERE!

They sound so chaotic. Anyway, clearly I like my schedule and keeping it. (Remember how I am stressing about those Excel dates?) I mean, there was the day that I did two musicals in one day randomly but I think that’s more because of my Introverted personality where going all the way downtown again on another day just seemed so exhausting.

Anyway, at the end we all started heading out. I actually stayed behind a bit to talk with a classmate, and we got along quite well. She’s the extroverted version of me (ENTJ). Presenter Personality eventually joined our conversation and we had a great chat. She’s also ENTJ so the three of us had a lot in common. Afterwards I dropped my classmate at the train station just outside of campus and headed on my way.

Like I mentioned earlier, I had thought that I would go to the mall or perhaps the block party, but I decided to just go home. Unfortunately…

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This happened! Something hit my windshield on the way home, so I then had to spend the next two and a half days trying to get it fixed.

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And now I have a new windshield! It’s all shiny and new, and it was quite expensive but at least now it’s safe and I can see without impairment. It involved many phone calls but it was replaced in the end!


So that was my day at my Professional Development Workshop! I quite enjoy workshops actually, I wish I could do more of them. Overall the day was great and I learned a lot (except from the windshield, that was not great). Have you done any workshops lately, and if so, what did you learn? Or if your windshield got an owie, let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Pamela

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18 comments

  1. Right after we talked about your windshield debacle, I spilled water on to my macbook. As a result the next two days was spent running around NYC trying to get it repaired. And like you, I had to shell out a few hundred dollars which really hurt. I was thinking of all the goodies that I could have bought with the same sum, but no I had to pay up because owning a mac is apparently akin to owning a piece of gold. Gah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A presentation on presentations, love it. I think it’s a lost art, glad you learned a lot. I used to get harassed for being soft-spoken when I was on the debate team – I told people to listen better πŸ˜‚ Probably not helpful. Looks like a fun day!!

    Liked by 1 person

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