Ponder BEFORE Responding

A knee jerk response to an offending statement has been the source of many a leader’s downfall. It can label you as emotional and shows lack of good judgement. If you are responding to an offensive statement or challenging email: DON’T, at least until you have some time to ponder the offensive challenge. Simply saying, “ “I need some time to consider what you’ve said,” will give you the time to make a more considered response.   Check out the video below:


Presentation Tips, pt. 2

Last time I shared with you some tips about speaking in public which should help as you make your presentations in class, and throughout the rest of your life. I know from personal experience that the more presentations you make, the more confident you will feel. There are a couple of specifics I want to mention in this post.

First, there is a presentation rubric, found in Student Live/Services – Adult and Graduate under forms. I am including it below. The reason I include it is because if you study the rubric before you even start building your presentation, you are more likely to hit the target points, which will give you a better presentation overall, and a better grade.  Keep in mind your Instructor may be using a different rubric, SO ALWAYS ASK  about how you will be graded as soon as the assignment is made:

Second, your presentation aid, probably Powerpoint or Google slides, does make a difference.  In the last post, there was a point which shared the 10/20/30 rule.  This rule of thumb indicates that you should try to use no more than 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation with a font size of 30. This is a good practice to follow. Always try to use images instead of words on your slide so your audience won’t spend their time reading the slide. Also, NEVER just read your slides. Yes, you will read some SHORT bulleted points, but by and large, your comments should augment the slide, not parrot it.  Remember, if printing handouts from your powerpoint, choose the option from the print screen to print “handouts” three to a page with a space for taking notes. This is faster and uses less paper.

Hope you find this useful.


Dr. Upchurch


When communicating by email

When communicating by email to anyone (work, family, friends, colleagues, etc.), ALWAYS re-read the email at least once before you sent it.  If it is particularly important or going to a supervisor or a large group, read it over several times, at least one of which is out loud. When you read your email out loud you will get a better sense of the tone of voice and more easily catch grammatical errors.  Check out the video below:

Presentation Tips – pt. 1

OK, you’ve been assigned to make a presentation in class. It might be a solo presentation or as part of a group, either way, it still means standing up in front of your classmates and the Instructor and talking. I’m going to make this post in two parts. The first part, which I will cover below will discuss the speaking part.

Fear of public speaking is one of the most universal fears that we have.  There are a few things you can do to make your presentation a success, regardless of your experience.

  1.  Almost everyone feels nervous just before starting – this is normal, you won’t die and the nervous feeling usually fades within 60 seconds of starting.  Don’t let the butterflies get the better of you.
  2.  Take some deep breaths just before starting your presentation, this oxygenates your blood and helps your brain, which hopefully will help you get focused and get through those first 60 seconds.
  3.  Know your material.  This can’t be emphasized enough.  Winging it will almost always allow for distractions and usually, it is obvious to your audience that you aren’t prepared.  You can only blow smoke for so long before it becomes apparent that you don’t know what you are talking about.  Know your material THOROUGHLY.  Go over it repeatedly until you can deliver the information from a knowledge base, then if you get distracted it will be easier to get back on track.
  4.  Rotate your eye contact every 2-7 seconds and look people directly in the eyes.  You will find this is a powerful method to build audience engagement.  It also lowers your own anxiety as you will be directing your comments at one person instead of thinking about the larger audience.  Pay special attention to your supervisor if there is one present.  Don’t forget the back of the room or the wings.
  5.  If you are using technology have a plan B in mind if it were to fail.  I have seen this happen all too often and when it does it often throws the speaker completely off track.  Think about it ahead of time and be able to move forward in spite of these difficulties.  This builds your credibility and enhances your image in the eyes of your supervisors, which is a nice benefit of something that could be a disaster.
  6. If you are using PowerPoint or something similar, follow the 10-20-30 rule. 10 slides, 20 minutes in length, 30 point font.  Only use text where necessary, otherwise, use graphics to communicate.
  7.  “Leave them longing rather than loathing.”  Keep track of your time and make sure you stay within the allotted time frame for your presentation.  Going over your time is one of the most frustrating things you can do both for audiences and event organizers.  You may feel like your content is worth it, but likely there are many others who won’t agree.  Leave them longing rather than loathing.
  8.  Be organized.  Make sure your material is presented in a sequence which is easy for an audience to grasp.  This is why so many people use points, e.g. point 1, point 2, etc.  People like to see patterns and understand the sequence at an emotional level.  Your organization can contribute to their understanding of your material or being so confused that they go away empty.
  9.  Jokes are good, especially at the start, to ease everyone into the presentation.  However, if the joke is off-color or offensive in any way it will overshadow anything else you say and damage your credibility.  Make sure you look at the joke from the receiving end and consider whether it could be offensive.  Better no joke, than an offensive joke, this goes double for off-color jokes.
  10.  Examples and illustrations spread throughout the presentation help communicate with the audience and lets them identify with you or the material.  It helps make sense of large amounts of data.  You can overdo this, refer to point 6 above.
  11. Those new to speaking in public often fall into the trap of using filler words or expressions such as “uh.” This is always annoying and in extreme cases can completely derail communication of your subject. Practice your speech/presentation before a mirror and record it. Afterward, count the number of filler words used and work on reducing the number.  This comes with practice and intentionally working to overcome this habit.
  12. Use pauses in place of filler words to give yourself time to think and to allow your message to connect. Usually no more than a few seconds, pauses placed strategically throughout the presentation can greatly enhance communication.  As with filler words, practice in front of a mirror and record, then review and think about where a pause would have the best impact.


Watch the Eyes

I’m not talking about eye contact, although that is important. What I’m talking about is being aware of who has influence and where the lines of power within a meeting/organization fall.  There is no way to escape politics; wherever two or more people are gathered together, politics is also present.  Leadership is about influence and while title figures into the equation, it is by no means the whole story.   Check out the video below:


Using the Belhaven Library

You may have run across this information, but it is always good to have a reminder. The Belhaven Library has a wealth of information that is as easy to access as Google (well, almost) and more reliable (Definitely!). There is an link below to a library assistant who will respond to your question as well as a video describing how to access the library.

I encourage you to practice looking up some material related to your course and incorporating it into your papers.

Reference Questions Ask a Librarian Form (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Provocation and Response

Imagine your boss comes to you and is irate over something you have done or not done.  From your perspective the issue didn’t seem to be significant enough to warrant the boss’ tone of voice, or choice of words. Which takes me to my point: If the response seems out of proportion to the provocation, then you should strongly suspect there are other factors contributing to the response.  Check out the video below:

Handshake – Career Search Tool – free to Belhaven Students

How can students benefit from Handshake?
by Dr. Mark Hunter

All Belhaven students, traditional, adult, and online, can benefit from Handshake because it provides jobs and internships for every student, regardless of major. Based upon your student profile, Handshake provides customized recommendations of jobs and internships based on your interests. Handshake has access to over 326.000 employers, including all of the Fortune 500 companies. A great feature of Handshake is employers can directly contact students who want to have their profile available to employers. Students who complete their profile are five times more likely to be messaged by employers interested in hiring them. Handshake also connects Belhaven students with over 14 million other Handshake users across the country to ask career-related questions about job searches and specific employers. Handshake is also the one-stop shop to connect all Belhaven students with the Center for Career and Calling for a list of upcoming events, resume evaluation, and mock interviews. Our online and adult students can access the Career and Calling staff through video conferencing.

How can students utilize the Handshake app to help them?

The Handshake app is available for both Apple and Android devices and is found in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, free of charge. Unlike Indeed and other job-posting websites, Handshake only provides job and internship postings for current and recently graduated college students. Rather than sifting through hundreds of or thousands of job postings, Handshake provides Belhaven students listings of job and internships that are customized for them and do not require years of previous experience to secure the job.

What are some misconceptions about job hunting after college that students need to know?

A misconception is underestimating how important a good cover letter and resume can be in getting a candidate an interview for a job. Hiring managers often take between 10-30 seconds to read a resume before deciding whether to pursue the candidate further or to proceed to the next candidate. The Center for Calling and Career can assist students with resumes, cover letters, and mock interviews to help them land that new job.