Start strong

Start strong
You've heard it before: First impressions are powerful. Believe it.
The first 2-3 minutes of the presentation are the most important. The
audience wants to like you and they will give you a few minutes at
the beginning to engage them -- don't miss the opportunity.
Most presenters fail here because they ramble on too long about
unnecessary background information or their personal/professional
history, etc…
The more you are on top of your material the less nervous you will be. Why? We
fear what we do not know. If you know your material well and have rehearsed
the flow, know what slide is next in the deck, and have anticipated questions,
then you have eliminated most (but not all) of the unknown. When you remove
the unknown and reduce anxiety and nervousness, then confidence is
something that will naturally take the place of your anxiety.
Know your audience as well as possible
Before you can formulate the content of your presentation, you need to ask
yourself a lot of basic questions. The goal is to be the best possible presenter for
that particular audience. At the very least, you need to answer the basic "W
Who is the audience? What are their backgrounds? How much background
information about your topic can you assume they bring to the presentation?
What is the purpose of the event? Is it to inspire? Are they looking for concrete
practical information? Do they want more concepts and theory rather than
Where is it? Find out everything you can about the location and logistics of the
Why were you asked to speak? What are their expectations of you?
When is it? Do you have enough time to prepare? What time of the day? If there
are other presenters, what is the order (always volunteer to go first or last, by the
way). What day of the week? All of this matters.
Develop a presentation persona.
Whether you realize it or not, this is a performance as much as a presentation.
Good presentations include stories.
The best presenters illustrate their points with the use of stories, most often personal ones. The
easiest way to explain complicated ideas is through examples or by sharing a story that
underscores the point. Stories are easy to remember for your audience.
If you want your audience to remember your content, then find a way to make it relevant and
memorable to them.
This is Hans Rosling, Jedi Master of data presentations. Check him out at
Move around. You need to engage and interact with your audience. Get closer
to them by getting out from behind the podium. The goal of your presentation is
to connect with the audience. The podium is a physical barrier between you.
Removing it will help you build rapport and make a connection.
Modulate the tone, pitch, and speed of your speech. Do not speak in a
monotone. Vary your voice for emphasis and effect. This may seem a bit
intimidating, but the good news is that this will happen naturally when you are
passionate or excited about your subject matter.
Never say ‘uh”. Use appropriate pauses. Just take a breath and pause before
moving on to the next idea or point.
Use gestures and facial expressions to help you explain, emphasize, and
communicate the material. But don’t overdo it. Videotape yourself to find out if
you are unconsciously doing anything that may be distracting to your audience.
Also, you might want to invest in a remote control device to advance your slides
and builds. A handheld remote will allow you to move away from the podium. I
really like my Satechi SP400. They are about $35 on Amazon.
Are you passionate about the subject?
Point out the fascinating aspects of what they are learning. If you are not
interested in the subject, you can’t expect your audience to be interested,
QUESTION: What? Financial Aid is dry, you say? Most people are interested in
your interpretation of the reg, not the reg itself. Stay focused on the concepts
and interpretations…
Don’t overwhelm your slides with excessive text. Remember - a picture is worth a
thousand words!
If I had only one tip to give, it would be to be passionate about your topic and
let that enthusiasm come out.
Yes, you need great content. Yes, you need professional, well designed visuals.
But it is all pointless if you do not have a deep, heartfelt belief in your topic. The
biggest item that separates mediocre presenters from world class ones is the
ability to connect with an audience in an honest and exciting way. Don't hold
back. Be confident. And let your passion for your topic come out for all to see.
What’s the quickest way to be boring?
Don’t read your notes or slides! What a perfect way to lower your energy level
and make your audience feel less engaged.
EXAMPLE: Shoebox Budget - financial literacy training.
Remember the “B” key
If you press the “B” key while your PowerPoint or Keynote slide is showing, the
screen will go blank. This is useful if you need to digress or move off the topic
presented on the slide. By having the slide blank, all the attention can now be
placed back on you. When you are ready to move on, just press the “B” key
again and the image reappears.
Make eye contact with the audience.
Try looking at their faces rather than scanning the group. Since you are using a
computer, you shouldn’t really need to look at the screen behind you — just
briefly glance down at the computer screen.
One sure fire way to lose an audience is to turn your back on them.
And while you're maintaining great eye contact, don't forget to SMILE. …unless
your topic is something morose, that would be weird. But overall, a smile can be
a very powerful thing.
Build a rapport with the audience. Interact with them.
Make sure they are following you, and understanding what you are discussing. If
they appear to be lost, ask them. Then, take time to explain your points and to
answer questions.
Go ahead and bring a little humor into your presentation.
But all times: be courteous, gracious, & professional.
When audience members ask questions or give comments, you should be
gracious and thank them for their participation. Even if someone is being a putz,
you need to take the higher ground and at all times be a gentleman or lady and
courteously deal with them.
A true professional can always remain cool and in control. Remember, it’s your
reputation, so always remain gracious even with the most challenging of
EXAMPLE: Guy falling asleep & snoring in FA 101.
If you don’t handle the situation professionally, your credibility is gone, your
school’s reputation is damaged and you can bet your bottom dollar that as the
story is told and retold, it will morph into something much worse than it actually
was. I personally don’t want to be that urban legend. Do you?
We humans have short attention spans.
Passively sitting and listening to someone talk is just not our thing. I remember
reading somewhere that our attention spans wax and wane every 8 minutes or
Your audience’s attention is going to be the greatest at your opening and then
again when you say something like "In conclusion...." This is just the human
condition, especially so for today’s busy (often tired) workers. But still, it’s a
fascinating little factoid that can prove useful.
So, if you notice your audience drifting away. Try jolting them back with a little
“In closing…”. No just kidding. What I mean I, if you have 30 minutes for your
talk, try to finish in 25. It is better to have the audience wanting more of you than
to feel that they have had more than enough. Professional entertainers know
this very well. “Always leave them wanting more” is attributed to both Walt
Disney and PT Barnum. Whoever said it, the quote speaks to the showman in
Also, keep the lights on.
If you are speaking in a meeting room or a classroom, the temptation is to turn
the lights off so that the slides look better. But go for a compromise between a
bright screen image and ambient room lighting.
Turning the lights off — besides inducing sleep — puts all the focus on the screen.
The audience should be looking at you more than the screen. Today’s projectors
are bright enough to allow you to keep many of the lights on.
Okay, so let’s review…
Remember to make your slides visceral and memorable
Visuals that surprise people, touch them, delight them, and support your story are
best because they affect people in an emotional way.
People are more likely to remember your content in the form of stories and
examples, and they are also more likely to remember your content if your visuals
are unique, powerful and of the highest quality.
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When we are talking about Financial Aid, a good analogy is to refer to it as a
funding puzzle. Because very few of you will pull from once source to pay for
school. Most of you will be using a combination of savings, work,
parents/grandparents, scholarships and financial aid to fund your education;
your family's individual situation will determine what your puzzle looks like.
Paying for school is a hot topic these days. The cost of tuition is steadily
increasing while Financial Aid has remained fairly static. 20 years ago, students
would have been able to pay for college strictly thru savings. The reality of
education today is that most students work to some degree while they are in
school. The days when a grant covered all one’s education expense are long
But the good news is that if you have to work while in school, studies show that
students who work up to 20 hours per week while they are in school do better
academically than their non-working counterparts.
I just want to highlight some of the terms you will inevitably hear any time you
contact your financial aid office.
QUESTION: The first one is FAFSA. Anyone familiar with that term?
The SAR is your copy of the FAFSA calculation results. This report gives us your EFC
or Expected Family Contribution., which we use to calculate your Financial Aid
Dependency Status is usually a big issue. We’ll talk about that on the next slide.
There is a misconception held by many families that their income is too high to
be eligible for financial aid, and they never bother filling out the FAFSA.
The reality is that ALL families are eligible for financial aid As LONG as you meet
the FAFSA filing criteria:
1. U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
2. If male, registered for Selective Service
3. No arrests for drug related crimes
4. Not in default on a prior student loan
It is true that many types of aid are based on financial need. But both Student
Stafford Loans and Parent PLUS loans are available regardless of income. These
loans are considered financial aid because they are subsidized by the federal
government and the interest rates are fixed and much lower than you could
expect from a credit card or private loan.
Another misconception – students think they are required to attend full time to
receive aid – but not true – as long as you are half time, you can tap into some
of your financial aid – This may not always the best option for a student but
sometimes it can be a real solution if you have other competing responsibilities
such as work or family.
If you don’t meet the filing criteria for the FAFSA. Don’t give up hope. There are
still ways to pay for school. In Washington State HB 1079 allows any student who
has lived in WA for three years and graduated from a Washington High School to
pay in state tuition rates. ALSO, there are also numerous scholarship
opportunities. If you don’t meet the filing criteria, come see me after the
presentation and I will get you some resources.
The definition of dependency status for financial aid purposes is literally an Act of
Congress. So it’s important to remember that living on your own, being self
supporting, or being financially independent from your parents in real life, has
little or no bearing in FAFSA land.
If you don’t meet any of this criteria, we may still be able to help you. If we can
document a history of abandonment, abuse, or neglect, your financial aid
counselor may be able to manually override the requirements to make you an
independent student.
One key component missing from this flow chart is Verification. Remember to
factor in processing timelines, which can take up to 12 weeks in peak. Turning in
documents in a timely manner is so important. No aid can post to your student
account until Verification has been completed, so if you receive any requests for
information from your school and you don’t know what they are; don’t ignore
them. Contact your financial aid office and we will walk you thru the process.
Also, make sure that you use the FAFSA website at, NOT
When you complete the FAFSA, you are requesting a review of eligibility for all
aid programs with one single application.
The color coding helps know what you will be eligible for. If a student receives
free/reduced school lunches, they are eligible for the blue programs. But you
need to be aware of your school’s priority FAFSA deadline. If you file after this
date. There are certain grant programs that have already expended their funds.
The Loan program here is in green because ALL students are eligible regardless
of income.
There are also Scholarship opportunities, we’ll talk about those in a little bit.
So, lets talk a little bit about Stafford loans… Demystify them for you.
Subsidized means the Federal Government pays interest on Subsidized while in
Need is not a consideration for Unsub. Bill Gates would qualify for an
Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
All the loans have:
Fixed interest rate
Grace Period
Deferment/Forbearance options
3.4% on sub, 6.8% for Unsub 12/13 fixed interest rate
There are annual borrowing limits.
These amounts may seem low, but you should know that these amounts were just
recently increased after remaining static for over a decade. All the time while
tuition costs were rising each year.
One thing to be aware of is that your loan eligibility is the same from part time on
up to full time. So if you are in a situation where you have a funding gap, you
can weigh the pros and cons of going Full-time and having to fund the
remaining balance or dropping to ½ time and having enough aid to cover
tuition and books.
Repayment begins 6 months after graduation or less than ½ time enrollment.
We’ll talk about cancellation options on the next slide
Perkins loans are SIMILAR in structure to a subsidized Stafford Loan, but reserved
for High Need students. Usually Pell Grant eligible students.
Each school has a limited annual fund for Perkins loans. So the amount of the
loan will vary from school to school.
The USDOE MAY allow loan cancellation in certain situations for Stafford or
Perkins Loans
You must be employed after graduation in a “High Need” field:
•Child Care Provider
•Public Service
These are the CURRENT definition of high need majors – however, that could be
expanded in future years – especially with the STEM fields (Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Math).
Bottom line – if you will be working in one of these high need fields you may be
eligible for a portion of your loans to be forgiven. You will want to research what
the current rules are as you get nearer college.
•PLUS loans are based on a cursory credit screening
•This may not be the best option for you, but it is still an option
•Borrowers are parents of dependent undergraduate students and graduate
•Annual loan limit: cost of attendance (COA) minus other aid
•Fixed interest rate of 7.9%
Repayment can begin immediately or be deferred until 6 months after
Parents denied a PLUS Loan can request a $4000 increase in Unsubsidized
Stafford loans for their dependent students
Private Loans should be a LAST RESORT – after all federal and state aid accessed
Use to meet “gap” if COA not met with federal/state aid
Blue is need based aid.
Institutional grants usually pay remaining balance up to tuition & fees IF Pell and
SNG do not cover full tuition.
Maximum SNG is $9280
Maximum Pell is $5550
Be aware that this example includes all types of aid for which a student’ eligibility
is reviewed. The SEOG, Pell Grant, State Need Grant and Cougar Commitment
are all need based programs, and many students will not be eligible for these
types of aid.
•We use this award letter as an example to showcase all the programs we just
spoke about. But just know many students fund their education with the Stafford
and PLUS loans only.
FAFSA Priority Filing Deadline EVERY YEAR
School forms
Get documents in timely
Special Circumstances
Budget adjustments
Child care expenses
Computer purchase
EFC adjustments
Change in income
Change in household size
Medical/dental expenses
Keep copies of all documents
Follow up on all information requests
Use Online Portal for your daily check-in:
•Direct Deposit advice
•Financial aid Award Accept/Decline
Traditional scholarship season is October thru March of each year for the
upcoming year.
Most students make the mistake of applying for nationwide scholarships before
investigating local resources that have a much smaller applicant pool. The
broader your search the more competitive the scholarships. Also donors like to
see their money invested in their community.
The very first place all high school students should be looking at is in your local
high school. Many times alumni who have graduated from your high school
return and create a scholarship only for students attending your high school. Find
out where outside scholarships are kept in your school – usually either in the
counseling office or the career center.
Your next step is the colleges you are applying to. Most schools have
scholarships just for students attending their institution.
Then there are local community scholarships such as the Vancouver Rotary
awards $20K in scholarships each year just to the WSU Vancouver campus, and
the Scottish Rite has local scholarships as well. SEH America, Coca Cola, Credit
Unions, etc…
Weird Scholarships
New site just for students living in Washington – 1st in
nation, for scholarships
The most successful students are willing to put in the time and work for the
application process. Also, think of scholarships as a numbers game. The more
you apply for, the better your chances of getting the money you need.
Don’t restrict your applications search to just one or two sources. There isn’t one
database that houses every single scholarship.
Rather than spreading your volunteer hours among numerous non-profits, try to
focus on a select few and increase your volunteer hours. Many organizations like
the SW Washington Humane Society and SW WA Medical Center offer
scholarships for their volunteers.
Another very important part of creating a strong scholarship application is
personalizing your essay. Very often, your personal story can have a large
impact on whether or not you are awarded the scholarship.
Be thorough
Be persistent
Be involved in school & the community
Apply only if you are eligible
Signs of a scam
“This scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.”
“You can’t get this information anywhere else.”
“May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this
“We’ll do all the work for you.”
“The scholarship will cost some money.”
“You’ve been selected by a ‘national foundation’ to receive a
scholarship,” or “You’re a finalist in a contest” (that you never entered).
Like schools FA office on Facebook & follow on Twitter
Ask questions, questions, & more questions!
Use your resources and make sure to ask questions if you are not sure how to
There is always a way to fund your education!