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Whizkids of change: Battle against 'presentation-poverty'

  • Published at 11:02 am November 17th, 2015
Whizkids of change: Battle against 'presentation-poverty'

Everything suddenly went mute. The silence was deafening and his heartbeat pounded harder than his footsteps, as he entered the meeting room. They were awaiting his presentation with high expectations, considering what a superb job he usually does. But today he would disappoint. He was prepared, but not confident. He practiced, but was never guided. The promotion he sought would simply slip through his fingers, and into the hands of his rival, a “Whizkid.“

Human-kind has been using different forms of communication to convince and persuade others for a host of objectives from time immemorial. The latest of the bunch is presentations: A must-have tool for managers and salespeople alike to win over something, be it an allocation from the company’s budget for a new project or a multi-million dollar contract for business. Professionals across disciplines and functional areas need to give presentations in today’s world of cutthroat competition. However, the inability to give effective presentations has turned out to be serious problem all over the world, for the skill may not be as widely prevalent as one might expect. Bangladesh is no exception from “presentation-poverty” issue.

Recognising this problem, a presentation movement in the form of a unique competition focusing exclusively on presentation skills was initiated back in 2012. After two years of trial and error regarding formats and scale, the competition, fondly called “Presentation WhizKids (PWK),” was ready to be taken to a bigger and better level. With that in mind, Muhammad Saimum Hossain, founder of PWK, re-launched the competition under a national platform called the PWK Foundation in 2015. Keeping up with the PWK founder’s vision, both the competition and the foundation aims at solving the acute problems of weak communication and presentation skills prevalent in today’s university-level students across boundaries.

PWK Nationals 2015 is divided into four rounds, beginning with the online registration and slide submission rounds till November 7. A bootcamp session was held on November 13 at the FBS, University of Dhaka premises to prepare the participants better. Out of about 100 participating teams, the top 24 made it to the quarter finals on November 14 at the EMK Center based on the slides submitted. It a test of presentation skills in front of a panel of versatile judges from 12 renowned local and multinational corporations. After a spectacular show of talent and neck-to-neck competition, 12 teams managed to squeeze their way through to the semis, to be held on Friday, November 20.

The semi-finals come in a twisted and entertaining nature of sorts, aptly named the “Persuade Round.” Under this innovative format, pairs of teams are pitted against each other for a given topic. Both teams would be able to sit in the presentation session of the other – observing and noting their points and arguments. After being given some time to regroup and strategise, both teams would present again, with team A’s sole purpose being to refute team B’s former arguments and vice-versa. Six teams will move forward to the grand finale where they will compete in the form of the toughest of all: Instant presentation.

The simple nature of this competition may truly be deceiving, but the immense impact reverberated is purely remarkable. Whether it is the slide making prowess or presentation capabilities, the participants had a consistent feedback on their performance for their awareness and improvement from the judges. The recognition to be earned is the label of an expert communicator, a prodigy of an experienced stage performer, an expert of slide creation and intriguing graphics; the title of a “Whizkid.”

The PWK Nationals 2015 is being organised by the PWK Foundation, powered by the social and digital marketing company GEEKY Social Ltd, sponsored by the EMK Center and NewsCred, in association with Dhaka Tribune.

"PWK is just a part of a much bigger vision. We want to bring 1 million Bangladeshi students out of what I call 'presentation-poverty' by 2020.”

The writer is a content developer working with SteamPug Writers. He is a key member of the PWK Steering Committee and currently a final year student at North South University. He can be reached at steampugged@gmail.com