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Archive for the category “Communication Studies”

How to Polish It Off in Front of the Camera Without Really Trying


almamoreno

Going viral recently is an interview of this famous sexy actress turned senatorial candidate by a veteran journalist. Reading the transcript of the interview was not as awkward as watching the footage of the exchanges between the actress and the journalist. It makes people think: What kind of candidates are we exactly getting?

While I have never ran for public office, it is my personal view that candidates should NEVER attempt to face the cameras without keeping in mind a few pointers:

  1. Remember that journalists may not be forgiving when they punch in the questions, so be prepared to take (hard) questions. Study if you must!
  2. Politics is not acting. You can’t fake it (or you can try to, but it will show). Have personal views on political and social issues. These are one of the most often asked questions by journalists. Mean it.
  3. Draw up your platform. Journalists will always ask this because this is what constituents need to know. Know what your political party’s platform is (of course, Philippine political parties don’t really have an ideology or strict political platform to base their stance with, but that is a different issue altogether). You just cannot show up on the boob tube and radio and simply say you have the heart and willingness to serve. Is this idea still selling with the public?
  4. If you get stuck in a question, just eat humble pie and be simple. Do not look like you are squirming in your seat trying to find the answers. Be straightforward. You the owe the public some decorum for watching you on tv. Try to look smart at least. Study how seasoned politicians like Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama respond to sticky situations.
  5. Talk to the viewers, not just the journalist. In interviews of veteran politicians, you will find them responding to the reporter but are actually talking to the viewers. It’s the whole package—the response, eye contact, and body language. One running for a high public position should exude this confidence and aura of reaching out to the public. You are not just explaining your views to the interviewer; you are presenting yourself to the public.
  6. People are SMARTER now.  The public may be forgiving, but be prepared to become the butt of jokes for weeks.
  7. PRACTICE public speaking PLEASE! Rehearse anticipated responses to common questions. Some candidates get an image counselor and spin doctor for this. If you belong to a political party, see how your party can help you develop this. If not, get help from professional public speakers.

Let me just capture some of the funny remarks on Twitter.

almamoreno2

almamoreno3

Hope we don’t find a lot of these in the months to come.  No offense to the candidate, but what was she thinking?

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Hard Confessions of a Doctoral Student


As I write this piece, I am sick in bed nursing a a fever while grappling with a paper that’s way past due.  It’s not just any paper, but an assignment that requires me to propose quantitative tools (that’s MATH for the rest of us) for analysis.  It’s not easy, but I do it because: 1) it’s required under the course outline and 2) heck, I’m enjoying it!

Welcome to the life of a doctoral student.  And I guess, everyone who is at this level has the same predicament.  Juggling time can be a challenging exercise.  Unless you are in it full time, mastering time management is something you have to deal with on a regular basis.  For students who work full time like me, it can be excruciating to meet all work and school deadlines.  But hey, no pain no gain, right?

Welcoming DCOMM Students at the orientation

Welcoming DCOMM Students at the orientation

When I attended the UP Open University (UPOU) orientation for the Doctor of Communications course in July this year, we met Rey Ardamoy who was one of the 2 students graduating this year.  He spoke about his experiences as a doctoral student at UPOU and as an expat in China.  His experiences during the whole course of the study helped give me that frame of mind which I needed.

It’s all about reflection,” he said, something was passed to him by his adviser, Dr. Jean Saludadez.

Dr. Jean Saludadez (photo copied from our group's FB page)

Dr. Jean Saludadez (photo copied from our group’s FB page)

So here I am, several months later, reflecting on my proposed dissertation paper, thinking about how I am going to relate all my chosen variables for the topic.  And with quantitative research, I need to correlate and test these variables to look for strengths, weaknesses and what have you.  For a person who finds Math a challenge, it can be a real difficult exercise.  But then I know the concepts well enough to understand how they work, and that is good enough for me.

Taking higher studies (a doctoral degree at that) requires you to read lots of literature.  You really have to, so for those who hate to read, then it is simply not the course for you.  A doctoral degree is basically research work, and that means sifting through scholastic papers and studies of related literature.  There is no substitute for it.  Google and a host of search engines do make life easier, but it doesn’t mean that you can cut-paste everything you find.   You have to learn how to discern which paper makes it to your paper and which doesn’t.

Participating in discussions.  Again, no substitute.  Somebody else’s idea will always be better than yours.  At UPOU, there is no spoon-feeding.  The courses are structured in such a way that the learnings are based on the student’s exchanges.  It is student-centric, so you are expected to contribute to forum discussions.  I admit some personal challenges here, because I only feel the need to participate when I’ve read enough of the topic to contribute something to the forum.

Some of my DCOMM batchmates who attended the orientation

Some of my DCOMM batchmates who attended the orientation

Consulting with peers and advisers.  Another sound advice we got during the orientation.  You really have to touch base with peers and your adviser to fine tune your topic.  You can’t know everything, so you have to get help.  The professors at UPOU, for instance, are very approachable and will be very agreeable to give you sound advice.  Never be afraid to take the opportunity.  If you have to set up an appointment, do it (I have yet to set up mine though, since I still need to polish my paper before I seek advice).  Get all the support you need.  Attending the orientation was very helpful because it gave me an idea of what the people were like face-to-face, a real take-off from the mostly online instructions we have as a distance learning student.

Any kind of learning can be difficult.  To say that distance learning is easy is utterly FALSE.  In fact, it is all the more challenging because you have to brace yourself with the situation of studying at your own pace, your own resources, and with little detailed instruction on how to go about it.  So whoever said online learning is easier has simply not tried it yet.

Learning is a journey–enjoy it!    Learning is a process, not a cross or burden.  So enjoy every minute of it.

As I bring my article to a close, I am back in my zone.  The fever is down, but I still have joint paints everywhere.  I’m back to my reflections again.

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The iconic UP Oblation at the UPOU Campus

PUTTING YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD: MAKING INTRODUCTIONS WORK


(Source: Circleback.com)

(Source: Circleback.com)

Years back during college, our professor asked us to introduce ourselves in class. It was the first day of class and we were freshmen at UP. I had a classmate who audaciously introduced herself this way (I am removing the name of the person as a respect of her privacy):

“I am __________ from Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University. I graduated with 9 medals!”

It caused a lot of whispering (or maybe uproar!) inside the class, some in awe and some in plain jest. Nevertheless, everyone had a sheepish grin on their faces, me included. It caused another classmate of mine to introduce himself as somebody “with no medals”.

Fast forward into college and into graduation, it is still one of the most often-talked about moments in our student life. I remember her name but hardly remember what she was like as a friend (she was my dorm mate for a brief period of time). One thing for sure was that she was branded for most of our college life.

Making introductions is like selling yourself to people. When you introduce yourself you put your best foot forward no matter what. An expert introducing himself before distinguished guests puts his foot forward by telling something about his professional credentials that will be of interest to the audience, but he cannot do the same introduction before a group of grade school students who might be disinterested by what he does. Similarly, a student speaking before peers should introduce himself by mentioning interests that may connect with his peers’ interests (and hopefully, not sounding like a braggart about it). Although listing down all the medals and achievements attained may be quite impressive to most people, it takes an amount of warm and sincerity to pull off a talk that may be intended to connect with people in a personal way than an introduction that’s intended for a conference of a hundred distinguished people.

Keep in mind the following things when introducing yourself:

  1. KNOW THE AUDIENCE – is it a big crowd or small one? An academic community or a group of peers? Board room or classroom? You want to connect with people, not put them off. Knowing who your audience are should give you an idea how to tailor fit your introduction to them.
  2. KNOW THE CONTEXT – is it for a professional conference? Is it for a classroom introduction? For media release? If the event is for professionals, you’d want to introduce yourself as someone who’s been in the field for quite some time. That lends you credibility to be talking in front of people. But if it’s just a simple introduction within a classroom setting, you need to project yourself as a warm and approachable person. To give people your resume-like achievements will tend to drive off people from you.
  3. KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE – follow the K.I.S.S. Rule (Keep It Short and Simple). People do not want a long list of introductions, especially introduction coming from the horse’s mouth. If there is another person introducing you, that is acceptable; if you’re making your own introductions, it tends to turn off people. Keeping it short keeps people’s interests up. It gives the other person the idea that “this person is not simply thinking about himself”. And guess what? People who keep their introductions short and simple get more people to know more about them.
  4. DO A FIRM HANDSHAKE IF POSSIBLE – A firm handshake is what business contacts do to seal in an agreement. A good grip is always a sign of sincerity and trustworthiness.  But doing a handshake doesn’t always apply. You don’t do a handshake before a audience of pre-schoolers, do you? Again, always determine the context you are in and do the correct practice.
  5. MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT – Do not lose eye contact with the person you are introducing yourself to. In a bigger audience, maintain that sticky eyes and move your eyes from one person to another slowly. Looking people straight in the eye is always an indication of warmth and sincerity. A person who doesn’t look at you at all doesn’t deserve to be looked at all.

Making introductions doesn’t have to be difficult at all when you know when to use the right introduction. Connection is always the key, and when you know how to do that you’ll be branded–for life.

Meeting with Friends: Making Meaningful Relationships


(Source: Anchor.Org website)

(Source: Anchor.Org website)

During a recent wake, I’ve reminded of a wake I attended a few years ago, also with a batchmate. It was even made sadder by the fact that she was a dear cousin of mine, who succumbed to cancer. She was a close friend of mine in high school, and over the years I would see her and we would chat occasionally until the news came that she was deathly ill. I was with her during her last few days at the hospital.

From that time since then, I’ve had schoolmates and friends who have passed on to the next life. It’s sad to meet friends only during wakes and funerals. You talk about the memories you’ve had with the deceased in the past—as in long PAST. It’s the same even with classmates who are still alive. You meet to attend a wake and talk about the good times. After spending a few hours talking, you go home, exchange numbers, and then WHAT? Almost always, it takes weeks and even months before you send a message to your classmate, if at all. That’s it.

I have to ask myself this question: Why do I have to attend reunions like this because somebody’s dead? Why can’t I meet more friends under less depressing conditions?

That changed my perspective. Why meet up with friends just because somebody’s dead? Why not find the time to meet more, during fun times, and make a connection?

It’s so easy to be blinded by deadlines, workloads, and chores at home and at work. One could easily be so caught up with all the world’s distractions. But if we just take a day’s off to bond, to simply touch someone else’s life with our presence, then that will make a whole lot of difference to you and your friend. It doesn’t have to take a whole day to just chat with a friend.

And so it has become my own conviction to reach out, connect with old friends, create new ones, and make these relationships MEANINGFUL. And this means going out more to mini-reunions and other activities. Some may or may not welcome it, but that’s their problem, not YOURS. If you have a family and guilt over the feeling that you are choosing friends over family, why not make it a family affair? The key to all of it is finding balance.

So reach out and touch a friend. He just might touch yours.  You’ll never know until you make that move.

Understanding How the World Works: A Communicator’s Perspective


systemic

(This paper was my submission in one of the subjects I enrolled in as a Communication student. I’ve edited some portions of the original paper to make it more discursive and reader-friendly.)

In my personal view, the emergence of social media reflects an open and globalized society. It has allowed man to bridge gaps where ordinary communication could not fill. Technology has made things easier, faster and more convenient to everybody.

Because of the accessibility and wealth of information available (as least, in a democratic and/or market-driven society), anybody can become a source and recipient of information. This is what communication is all about: it’s not one way, it’s not two-way but it’s multi-channeled. Thus, it is so easy to get entangled in a sea of information (and misinformation) that it becomes difficult to identify which information is true and which is false.

In Malcom Gladwell’s book “Blink” (I am a great fan of this author, by the way), he asserts that people do not really need to know the whole picture of a company, but only that sufficient information that will enable a person to make an informed decision. There are people who really on gut-feel and win, while there are those who are more cautious but are consistently deficient. The whole premise of the book is this: the best decisions do not necessarily involve having that know-it-all, know-everything attitude, but rather comes from knowing only the pertinent details to make a wise decision (Gladwell, 2011).

Looking at the World Through Blinkers

 

For some time, this has been my personal belief. The only information I need is what I can use for my job responsibilities. Everything else is surplus, and what I don’t know won’t hurt me. Even in the workplace today, most companies expect personnel to act according to their particular tasks. This is why job descriptions are designed by management—it also makes it easier for managers to measure employee performance. Employees simply take their cue from management policy and follow what is designated to them.

Do we really want to see the world the way horses look at race tracks?  Probably not.

After taking on this course for my Doctor of Communications degree however, it changed my view of how I ought to see things.

A Systemic Perspective: A Not-So New Idea

Going through the whole semester of information exchanges and online discussions have taught me the relevance and importance of systemic thinking supported by Bartlett (2000), Forrester (1959) and Richmond (2000). As asserted by Mathews (2007) in her paper, “a systems thinker will look beyond his/her discipline, assumptions, and knowledge and search for a holistic view of whatever is at hand” (Mathews & Jones, 2007). Taking on a systemic approach has forced me to see the big picture—an attitude I had done before but outgrew as I logged in years of experience in the workplace.

On a practical note, it has enabled me to look at situations from all corners before coming up with decisions that will be effective and timely. For instance, on deciding whether or not a proposal is feasible or not, I have to look at its applicability from a financial, operational and legal viewpoint. This has led me to go out of my circle and network with other departments for fish out their views on certain points. The result of the exercise has so far generated positive impact.

As a communicator, using this approach has encouraged me to be more methodical and comprehensive about communicating with others. Communication itself requires great skill, and to deliver it is quite another. It is not as simple as others would think, but as a student of communication it is a challenge that we must come to accept. Organizations exist because of the people behind it, and for organizations to move ahead is to have strong leaders who are able to communicate the group’s mission and vision to the members and implement its programs.

Bibliography

Bartlett, G. (2001). Systemic Thinking: A Simple Thinking Technique for Gaining Systemic (Situation-Wide) Focus. Prodsol International.

Forrester, J. W. (1959). Industrial Dynamics.

Gladwell, M. (2011). Blink: The Art of Thinking Without Thinking. New York: Hachette Book Group.

Mathews, L. G., & Jones, A. (2007). Using Systems Thinking to Improve Interdisciplinary Learning Outcomes: Reflections on a Pilot Study in Land Economics. American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, (pp. 1-26). Portland.

Richmond, B. (2000). The Thinking in Systems Thinking. In The Systems Thinker.

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