Kyle Chan, one of the participants of MPPC 2014, shares his personal advice on participating in MPPC.
“Any tips for the participants of MPPC?”
Yes, I do! But there is so much for me to talk about so I thought that it would be easier for me to break them into some bite-sized advice. So, here you go:
1. Team Chemistry
“Talent wins games, teamwork wins championships.” It is essential to have good chemistry within your team if you want to go far and win. Take some time off to identify each other’s strengths and weakness before seeing how you can complement and supplement each other. Communication is vital!
2. The Application Essay
Don’t underestimate the application essay! Though the questions may not have any bearing on the actual theme during the residential challenge, the thought process is the same. It is good practice for your team. Do some research, brainstorm and start drafting! (And try not to submit your application at the very last second!)
Tip : Coming up with new solutions are secondary, it’s okay to base your answers on existing solutions and innovate from there. It’s the thought process and how you want to relay the message that counts. 😉
3. Advice from Seniors
Seek advice, you must! If you know of people who have participated last year, it might be worthwhile to ask them about their experience. Different perspectives will give you a better insight into what MPPC is about and what you can expect. Every little bit counts!
Take full advantage of the infor packs provided before the Residential Challenge! Read, digest and process the information and pick up key facts. Try understanding the bigger picture and do additional research on your own if you feel necessary. Time won’t be on your side once the competition starts, so doing prior research might give you the extra edge.
Get as much rest as you can before the Residential Challenge! You are going to need it, the next three days will be physically, mentally and intellectually challenging. Do not take my word for it but a can or two of Red Bull might come in handy. 😉
During the Residential Challenge
Hope you had your coffee in the morning, it is going to be a long session! It is good to listen attentively to the talks. You may pick up good points or additional facts useful in the latter stages. Most of these talks will revolve around the theme and perhaps, the competition question itself.
2. The Briefing
Pay attention to the briefing and ask any questions you may have for the organisers. It is wise to air and clear your doubts now rather than later. Imagine preparing for a pure 10 minute presentation when it’s supposed to be a 10 minute presentation inclusive of Q&A!
3. The Competition Question
The competition question would be released during the briefing and you will most probably be asked to come up with a solution and present it through a powerpoint presentation. Take time to read through the question carefully and understand the demands of the question.
Brainstorm with your team and critically evaluate each other’s opinions and suggested solutions to the question at hand. Always check to see whether you are on point or whether you have strayed away from the topic. This is critical because the longer the competition goes on, the fewer the opportunities to research the change in solution .
Make full use of your mentors! You would have been allocated to a mentor during the briefing. Tap into their resources, insights and experiences! Proactively seek out their inputs and advice on the application question, useful points and on your eventual solution and presentation. They have your best interest at heart and would strive to bring out the best in you and your team!
5. Time Management & Teamwork
Time is your enemy. You will not have the luxury of uninterrupted hours to discuss your solution and practice on your presentation during the day. There will always be sessions, not to mention the actual competition rounds itself, conducted throughout the three days to further educate and expose you to the competition theme. This is especially true should you advance to the latter stages which may or may not ask the same question.
Make the most of the free time you have. Delegate work effectively and efficiently. Chances are high that you would continue working on your solution well into the night. Last year, several teams did not sleep for the two nights! That can of Red bull might come in handy then. You have been warned!
6. Powerpoint Slides
Less is more! Don’t kill your slides with excessive words. Not only will you have the tendency to read from your slides but it will be distracting for the judges and audience. Keep it simple but informative. You may put graphs and figures if you find them necessary.
7. Presentation and Q&A
Practice makes perfect! It is one thing to finish drafting your solution in time and another to ‘pitch’ and present your solution to the judges. Other teams may come up with similar or identical solutions to yours. In the end, it is HOW you deliver it that will decide whether you make or break. (Well, it is a given that the content must be there obviously :P)
The same goes for Q&A. Brainstorm and practice on questions and answers. Appoint a ‘detractor’ in your team for this session. It will come in handy when the judges or other teams fire you ‘bullets’. Being able to answer it calmly (through preparation) will not only show to the judges that you know your stuff but it also makes your team look good! 😉
Warning : You need to pay attention when others are presenting as you will have to come up with questions for them and the quality of your questions will affect your team’s total score!
Proactively seek out feedback, especially from the judges regardless of the result. Remember, at the end of the day, it is the learning experience that counts. Find out what you did right, what should be avoided and how you can improve on your solution and presentation. You can always use it in the future.
9. Most importantly, have fun!
“It’s not the destination that counts, it’s the journey.” Do not take the competition too seriously! Enjoy it as much as you can. Bond with your teammates, make new friends, network and just live in the moment! The experience gained is priceless and can you serve you well in the latter stages of your life 🙂