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CS2101 Critical Reflection Essay

· 4 min read

While CS2103T is about technical skills and CS2101 is imbued with insights around the topics of communication, both aimed to teach me how to work with others effectively. The former opened my eyes to working in a technical environment and the latter taught me how to interact with others to strive towards excellence in that environment. My reflection will be deeply involved in how the theme of persuasive presentation connects the dots in the module CS2101.

The first part of the module introduced me to persuasion stemming from being audience-centered. Before taking this module, I have never believe in the thinking that in order to persuade someone, one has to be perform strategic needs analysis or conduct pre-presentation surveys. I valued more on being interesting and informational in a presentation or a speech. That led to a rather average performance during my OP1 presentation which I focused on squeezing in all the content about conflict management styles and disregarded the audience profile. It was not effective as I did not put a premium on connecting with the audience. I learned from this experience that persuasive presentation should start with identifying the target audience and also identifying with the target audience. It would be better if I had analyzed the audience who were my fellow computing students, and constructed my content based on their needs and the benefits that they might get out of from learning about the various management styles.

Following from keeping the target audience in mind, persuasion also requires careful consideration of the purpose that the speaker is trying to achieve. After learning about the audience's preconceived notions and their expectations, a convincing presentation should focus on aspects of the completing values framework (CVF) and employ rhetorical appeals. During OP2 product demo, I tried to strike a balance between the informational and promotional aspects of CVF. On top of presenting the features of the product, I empathized on the design considerations and how they were catered to solve problems that potential users might have. I also utilized "Pathos" by opening my presentation with a relatable story that the group of computing students who were the audience could understand. In my explanation, I also included a reference to a famous design principle named "KISS" to establish credibility in my claims. I ripped the benefits of applying what I learned in the module to organize my presentation to be context and purpose driven.

The last part of persuasion in a presentation comes from having an unified and cohesive delivery with strong teamwork. The difficulty in a team presentation context is with transitioning of ideas and the entire flow of presentation. While I understood the importance of coding styles that were taught in CS2103T to make our code appear unified in the technical context, I realized that I lacked that consideration when preparing for a team presentation. Often times the team members decide on what they want to say before a proper discussion on the flow and purpose of the presentation. This often results in minor issues such as the lack of sign posting and unnatural transition between the team members and sometimes serious drawbacks when team members repeat what was communicated earlier or angled their sharing on a separate front. In this aspect, I think while following a structure such as motivated sequence pattern (MSP) is important to achieving soundness in logic and coherence, the planning of talking points among the team members and constant review of the integration between different teammates is crucial.

In conclusion, I was able to identify and practice many of the said ideas in the opportunities provided by the module. Keeping in mind the devices that help build a persuasive presentation, there are also other important aspects of communication such as participating in audience interaction and providing constructive feedback. Communication skills require practice and I am grateful to be armed with the relevant knowledge to further practice what was taught in the module in the future.