"Preparation, practice and presentation" - I jotted these three words down for myself at the end of a recent workday to remind myself of the keys to good oral presentation.
I find powers of articulation to be increasingly important for everyone, including CPPCC members in their roles as government advisors.
It had been a long day. My story about China's hotly debated healthcare reform had been killed. But after some thoughtful argument, I managed to find it a place in the newspaper.
I was kindly told by the editor that it was a good story but had been done many times before.
My story was dead in the water. Back in my cubical, I thought over the story's newsworthiness. Yes, it is an old topic but one about which the general public and our readership cares deeply.
More importantly, I had a new angle to put the whole issue into perspective. Wait did I highlight this angle for my editor or simply brush over it?
I debriefed the editor again - this time more confidently and succinctly. I got the nod.
This had long been a stock news story.
But over the past few days I had heard it repeated in the CPPCC panel discussions.
Mostly experienced political figures, social elites, experts and scholars in various fields, the CPPCC members face a task similar to mine - communicating their ideas and suggestions to the panels and then to the relevant government bodies they advise. And they must do so facing time limitations and thousands of competing suggestions.
I heard some members deliver brilliant presentations that pulled other members onboard. These deputies became much sought after by media hungering for comments and quotes.
I also heard tedious presentations covering so many points it was difficult to identify the gist. On several occasions, the panel chairman had to interrupt written-report-based speeches after several reminders that the speakers had exceeded their time limits.
I also heard speeches delivered with such strong accents I could hardly understand a word.
I have never doubted members' earnest intentions to address those issues they believe to be direst. But it's a shame to see many of them brushed off because of poor presentations.
My experience showed me the way in which a proposal's success is shaped by its presenters' articulation. I shared this with a few CPPCC members, including He Wei, a doctor from Shenyang, Liaoning province.
He has been much sought after by the media because of his quotable speeches.
It turned out the he is equally concerned: "Presenting one's ideas clearly and effectively is not only important to winning support for proposals but also for earning fellow panel discussion participants' respect."
He even suggested Power Point presentations be used in the national congress to avoid confusion from accents.
Personally, I can't agree more. If CPPCC members are government advisors, they must know how to efficiently present their advice.
People say public presentation is an art form. Some are born artists in this respect; others aren't.
Thankfully, it is an art that can be learned.
I used to be one of the "others". But with the three key words I wrote at the beginning of this article and end of my workday, I have been improving.
I'm sure that with training and practice, our political advisors will soon learn too.
(China Daily 03/11/2009 page8)