USPolymath Session 6

Even in the audience, you could feel the speakers’ urgency, as they rushed to finish each point in 20 seconds.

And before you know it, the slide changes.

USPolymath is a Ground Up Initiative started last year that organises regular events for USP students to share about a particular topic of interest. The trick is that they have to fit all that they have to say in 6 minutes and 40 seconds – following what is known as the Pecha Kucha style of presentation.

Last Thursday USP saw the second series of speakers of the year, with topics ranging from blockchain to Pokemon Go.

But what really goes behind these speeches? How do they go from thinking of a topic to speaking according to specific timings.

For year two student Ryan Paul Augustine Lim, who spoke about the effect of Pokemon Go, the idea came from his partner.

He said: “I got angry that my partner spent so much time on the game,”

“Then like a USP student, I got critical and started thinking about how the game creates this kind of effect.”

For others it was as simple as drawing a link from what they learn in class to everyday events.

Philosophy major David Blanga, an exchange student from Nottingham University said: “I learnt about Plato’s cave back in my first year and it got me thinking about social media. I thought it was a nice illustration of the situation.”

Moving past the concept, much of the preparation was transforming these ideas into words.

Eunice Lim, who spoke about the theory of positive disintegration said: “I picked the key points of what I wanted to say and thought of the flow of how I wanted to say it.”

Ryan said: “I tried to find the application of the theory and how it was applicable to me.”

Year 5 student, Zheng Wei Han said that the dry runs with the USPolymath team really helped.

He said: “At first I just presented what I know but they gave feedback that my presentation lacks direction,”

“They told me to think about what my key message was and how to drive home that key message – what should people go back and think about.”

Ryan agreed that the audience matters. He said: “I tried to deliberately think about the implications of the topic so that I can refer back to the audience.”

Eunice said: “A friend who heard my speech told me that it was important to give a personal voice. In the end I tried to include more personal experiences because I thought it would get people to relate more.”

As survivors of the PechaKucha format, TCR asked the speakers what advice they had for future speakers.

David said: “Talk about something you enjoy, know your stuff and know the timings.”

Ryan said: “Practice and make sure you adhere to the 20 by 20 rule. And segment your slides so that they stitch together.”

He added: “It is important to take ownership of the topic. For me, my motivation was to own this topic.”

Weihan said: “Start preparing early. Don’t be afraid – there is something unique all of us know so just present it.”

Eunice, the first freshman speaker in the event said she did not expect to be speaking so soon, in just the second event of the year. She added: “(In the end) the joy to share overcomes the fear of speaking. You don’t know how what you share can impact someone personally.”

She added: “Ideas are powerful and they can fundamentally shape perspectives which influence behaviour. And that’s what USPolymath is about, a platform to spread ideas.”

Visit USPolymath’s Youtube Account to watch the featured speakers live, as well as previous sessions’ recordings!

Written by: Darryl Laiu