As the competition season heats up, take the opportunity to review the written event that you’ve worked so hard on. Make sure it’s the absolute best it can be before it reaches the judge and it’s your turn to deliver a knockout presentation!
Even though the nature of competition relies on how subjective the judge’s opinion is, you can make sure that you present your best work.
Here are three key considerations:
1. Content is King
Now that you’ve written your entry, go back and make sure it does the job. The executive summary should be dynamic. It should concisely and effectively highlight the main points of your written entry all while including a call to action. Why? Because it’s the first thing that your judge will read.
If you’re in the entrepreneurship events, for example, your ultimate ask would likely be for funding. Or, if you’re in a chapter team event, your goal is to demonstrate the impact of your project management through a compelling story. However, a strong executive summary doesn’t mean the rest of your entry isn’t important. In fact, the entire entry shows your research, strategy and plan to achieve your purpose.
You will want to make sure that all of the items from the outline on the written entry evaluation form are included in your written entry, because your judge will award points based on those.
Seven Tips for an Effective Executive Summary
1. Start with a bang.
2. Identify the problem, solution and opportunity.
3. Focus on what makes you stand out.
4. Sell don’t just tell.
5. Include data and finances.
6. Use graphics and formatting as appropriate.
7. Imagine this is the only thing someone would read.
Action Item: Give your entry to a trusted advisor (alumni, a teacher other than your DECA advisor or community member) who would be reading about your written entry for the first time. Ask them to read it and make notes about items they may not understand or need more information on.
2. Check Your Written Entry to Avoid Penalty Points
Penalty points can cause you to lose your chance for advancement quickly! Many times, they can easily be avoided.
Some of the most common reasons for penalty points include:
- Not using the current year’s event guidelines.
- All participants or advisor not signing the Statement of Assurances.
- Leaving out sections in the body of the written entry.
- Having too many pages. Double check the number of pages allowed in your written entry.
Action Item: Give your entry to a trusted advisor or peer to review against the Penalty Point Checklist from the DECA Guide.
3. Enhance and Refine Your Presentation
You have a limited amount of time to give your presentation, so make sure you highlight the most important aspects of your entry, while also using it as a persuasive tool. You want the judge to think that you have the best entry. Use the oral presentation evaluation form as a blueprint for your presentation, because the judge will be awarding your points by using it.
Don’t just repeat passages from your written entry. Take a look at your visual aids and make sure that they support your presentation. Do they add value to your presentation? Are your visual aids easy to use? Do you have a plan B in the event your visual aid becomes inoperable? And of course, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse so you feel confident in the information you are presenting.
Action Item: Find a small audience to deliver your presentation to. Give them the oral presentation evaluation form and ask them to rate your performance. This is a great opportunity to see what questions or feedback they may have while obtaining the confidence to present to a judge.