Present Around The World: “I Thought My Location Would Stop Me From Competing”

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Nabeel Mehdi, Graduate Research Assistant at North Carolina State University
When Nabeel moved to the USA, he wanted to participate in the IET’s presentation competition for students and young professionals, but couldn’t find a heat close to where he lived. 
After a little investigation, he found that for the first time we were running an online heat. 
This allows competitors to submit a video entry (rather than present at an event) in the first round of the competition. It’s especially for those who live too far away or have inadequate transport links to our local events. 

Returning to PATW
Nabeel had thought about entering PATW ever since his first experience of the competition, as an undergraduate student in India. 
“In 2012, I won runner-up position at the regional finals, representing North India,” he explains. “It was a big boost to my confidence and I met some amazing people who I’m still in touch with.”
As a self-confessed “tech enthusiast”, Nabeel enjoyed having the opportunity to present on a topic that he was passionate about. 
“Having grown up in one of the most underdeveloped and impoverished regions of India, I recognise how technologies such as artificial intelligence and BlockChain can improve people’s lives,” he says. “Speaking on a topic close to my heart helped me to present more naturally.”
“Overall it was an incredible opportunity to sharpen my presentation skills, engage with the professional community and travel around the world.”

Online vs in-person
Though keen to experience PATW for a second time, Nabeel had a few reservations about submitting a video. 
“On the one hand, it was more convenient for me to enter a video, especially as my exams were in progress,” he says. “However, I was concerned that the viewer might get bored and hit the stop button. If you are presenting in person, you have the advantage of seeing the audience’s reaction, so you can respond to it.”
“When I found out that the video had to be filmed without music, editing or graphics, I knew it would be tough to keep the viewer’s attention.”
When enquiring about online entry, Nabeel received a lot of encouragement from our event co-ordinator and decided to give it a try. 
“As my exams were in progress and deadlines were near, I didn’t have much time,” he says. “I prepared the topic, recorded the video and submitted my entry within two days. It was an exciting experience and I learned how to create a presentation from scratch in a short space of time.”

“Unbelievable” success
Nabeel’s approach paid off, as he won the online round, receiving £150, and went on to compete in the Americas finals. 
“It was awesome and unbelievable!” he says. “It felt good to present with some of the best minds in the region. Also the judges gave individual feedback, which I found very useful. I came away from the competition feeling more confident and positive about myself.”

Tips for future competitors
Nabeel says he “encourages everyone to participate in PATW” now that it’s possible to compete wherever you are in the world. 
As a second-time participant, he has some tips for future competitors. “Choose a topic that you are really passionate about and don’t be afraid to take creative risks. After all this is a fun event and the judges are very supportive,” he says. 
“Also do some preparation. Practice as much as you can, get feedback from friends and colleagues, and take a look at previous winners’ videos on the IET’s social media sites. Good luck!”

If you’d like to improve your presentation skills, share your passion for a topic, and meet brilliant minds in engineering, take part in this season’s PATW! You can find out more about entering online and in person on our website
Posted by Amy Wilson on Nov 12, 2018 4:07 PM Europe/London

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