Why Should You Attend Your Debriefing Session?

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Collegiate DECA recently attended the Wisconsin Collegiate DECA Association Career Development Conference in Madison, Wis. Members from all over our association competed and those qualifying competitors will now be going on to compete at the International Career Development Conference in Washington, D.C., in April.

All competitive events were followed by a debriefing session with judges who shared general information for how members could improve their presentations. It seemed to me like the debriefing session was the least important component of many competitors’ schedules. It can be tempting to skip out on, especially if your debriefing time conflicts with other events such as the ice cream social, or even more important dinner! After all, the debriefing session comes after your event and your placement has already been determined by your presentation. What can you really gain from attending?  

Even though I have competed several times, there is usually at least one new thing I learn each time I attend my debriefing session. Here are some tips and suggestions shared at the Hotel/Lodging Event debriefing session during the Wisconsin Collegiate DECA CDC:

  1. Start and close the meeting with a firm handshake. It is important to give a female judge the same handshake you would provide to a male judge. Here is a trick to combat sweaty hands: put a tissue into your pocket. Right before you go in to compete, put on a little bit of hand sanitizer. It will dry up your hands and then squeeze the tissue in your pocket a little to get off any excess.
  2. The judges must score you based on the performance indicators. Write each performance indicator onto your notes that you will bring into the presentation with you so you can be sure that you speak about each one. No matter how creative your ideas are, if you do not speak on each performance indicator, the judge will not be able to score you highly.
  3. Do not reiterate the entire case. The judges already know the case and they do not need you to remind them of what your assignment was. They have the same information you have. In fact, they will listen to many students speak about the case all day long. Start by directly going into your case.
  4. Stay in your role for the entire presentation. This is especially important in closing the meeting. Remember, these case studies are giving you life experience in how to handle a professional meeting. It is important to sell yourself and sell your ideas to the judge. Make sure that you do not simply stop talking and wait for the judge to guide you, but instead take charge. A strong close could include asking, “Would you like me to proceed with the solution I have presented here?” or “May I call you tomorrow for your decision?”
  5. It is not necessary to use the entire amount of time that is allotted to you for your presentation. Use only what is necessary to competently present all of the information. Do not begin to ramble or repeat previously shared information in order to use more time.
  6. Project your voice. It can be difficult for the judges to hear presentations due to the amount of other competitors in the same area speaking. You might make the most profound statement ever, but the judges can only score you on what they hear.

I hope some of these tips are useful to you as you move onto your association conference or even the International Career Development Conference. And this year, think twice before skipping out on your debriefing session, you never know what you might learn!

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Categories: Business Simulations, Case Studies, Collegiate Competitive Events, Compete, Conference Highlights, Previews