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Tuesday 16 March, 2021
Avoid Death by PowerPoint
PowerPoint can be a great aid to use to support your speech however, it can also work against you. Rather than enhance what you are saying to your audience, if not used properly it can actually turn your audience off completely.
Here are some top tips to consider the next time you need to write a presentation.
1. Before you even get to your computer, consider what your subject is and what you need to cover. Have you done your research and is everything correct? What are your objectives? Are you trying to persuade, entertain, inform etc? How long does it need to be and finally, what is the outcome that you are looking to achieve?
2.Once you have a clear agenda or story, break down your main ideas into bite-sized statements for each of your slides. This will help you control the length of your presentation and decide what needs to be there and what doesn’t need its own slide.
3. Choose a single background to your presentation and use it throughout. If you use a different background it will look ill-prepared and distracting. By all means, use the tools that PowerPoint has to float words onto the screen or fade in or out, but don’t overuse these. Keep it simple and clear.
4. Use simple and clear fonts ensuring the text is big enough. Think about the audience in the back, they need to see what you have written too.
5. Use bullet points rather than sentences. You only want to give your audience a snapshot of what you are going to talk about, not the whole of your speech. When you are presenting try not to read from the screen either. Your audience can already read your presentation. When you go through each point, that’s when you can elaborate.
6. Use key words to emphasise your points. Use strong punchy words that get the point across without giving away everything.
7. Make sure that your slides follow a logical order. Nothing is more off-putting than a presentation that jumps all over the place. Think about a story needing a beginning, middle and end.
8. Use pictures. If they support your presentation then use pictures to support your key points. It will help to keep your audience interested and engaged.
9. Avoid a lot of text and too many slides. If you have ever heard the saying ‘Death by PowerPoint’ this is why. The more your audience needs to read, the less they will listen to you and the more what you are saying will fall flat.
10. Rehearse and time your presentation. Sounds obvious, but lack of preparation before your presentation will show. You need your words and your PowerPoint presentation to work in complete harmony. You are only able to see if your speech and presentation work together if you present it out loud. Present to a friend or family member and ask for honest feedback. By the time you are ready to deliver your presentation, you will be confident that your PowerPoint presentation and your speech meets all of the points mentioned in tip 1.
Bonus Tip: Love what you are presenting. Passion comes across in your voice, so enjoy your subject and good luck !
Friday 5 March, 2021
Most people find it hard to stand up and speak fluently off the cuff. Perhaps you want to respond to someone’s talk, but do not have the confidence or know the right words – how often do you say nothing and then when you get home you suddenly think “now why did I not say…”. At a meeting you may be asked for your opinion or asked to comment on a particular subject. You may know the subject, but having to comment right there and then….
Perhaps you need a bit of practice — and you can do this at home, no-one else needs to be around.
Step 1: Take a noun e.g. DREAMS
|Photo by Benjamin Sow on Unsplash|
Step 2: Write down words beginning with each letter
Step 3: Take 5 minutes to draft a story using these 6 words. It does not matter in which order you use them, just make sure you use them all in your story.
Step 4: Read out the story you have just written (remember this is just to yourself, but it is better to say it aloud)
Step 5: Repeat step 2 — same letters, different words.
Step 6: Now, don’t write anything down, but still compose your story as you speak it, i.e. impromptu.
And now that you have tried that, you can choose any other word and repeat — until you feel more confident that you are not going to get tongue-tied next time you want to stand up and say something at a meeting or are asked for your opinion!
Tuesday 16 February, 2021
You are sat down with a blank piece of paper, ready to write your speech; an hour later the page is still blank. You want to be entertaining and engaging, funny even, but the words just aren’t coming to you.
Here are some top tips to inspire you to write an awesome speech.
1. Know your audience. Identifying who your audience is will help with setting the pitch tone and content of your speech, use the right language and engage your audience appropriately. Is your speech in front of professionals or a casual setting? Setting the pitch and tone at the right level will help you to get maximum engagement from your audience.
2. Write an outline. Much like writing a story, a speech needs a beginning, middle and end. By writing an outline of what you want to say will help when it comes to adding detail. What are the main points that you want to cover? What is the reason behind giving the speech? What do you want to achieve?
3. How long does it need to be? Keep this in mind will help when it comes to fleshing out the details. You may have a set time that you need to stick to or the freedom for it to be as long as you like but make sure that no matter what the length, you keep to the time you set otherwise, you could run the risk of waffling which will detract from the main points you want to cover.
4. Get creative. Now you have your main points, it’s time to flesh out the details. Let your typing or writing run amok. Give yourself complete and utter freedom to write down whatever comes to you. The more writing you do at this point the better your speech will be. Even if you think of something crazy, write it down. At this stage, it doesn't matter.
5. Editing and proofing. Following your outline as a guide, it is now time to give your writing some structure. Take out the bits that don’t support your speech, focus on your intentions, take out any waffle. Expand on the bits you know to be important.
6. Practice. Perform your speech in front of a friend or family member and ask for honest feedback. This not only gives you the opportunity to time your speech but also to cut out or add anything to make it better. Once you have edited your speech, then recite it again and again until you are comfortable. The more you know your speech the more natural it will be when you come to deliver it.
7. Enjoy. Even if you are delivering to a room full of professionals, if you prepared well and comfortable with your speech you will come across as confident and enjoying sharing with the room.
Next time you need to write an all-important speech, following these tips will help you to not just write a speech, but to write an awesome speech.
Monday 25 January, 2021
What is good platform presence and why is it important on Zoom? Good platform presence helps to command and hold the attention of your audience, whether you are physically in front of an audience in a meeting room or appearing on a screen on the wall or even on a screen in your own home. You may not be too worried if you are simply making social contact on Zoom, but if you are in a business meeting you may need to impress and you certainly need to get your message over, to make your presence felt.
The following gives you some suggestions to ponder over before you venture onto Zoom.
A Two Step Approach
- Make sure you have practised on Zoom beforehand — you can always try it out with a friend. But remember that there are different levels of Zoom, each providing slightly different facilities. Search of the internet will give you lots of practical advice on how to use Zoom and how to get the best out of it technically.
- If you are using Zoom from your home, decide which room you are going to use and make sure your set-up is as good as it can be. Avoid busy and untidy rooms in your house. Alternatively, Zoom offers you the ability to change the transmitted background using a selected wallpaper. However, be careful what sort of background you pick. If it is too busy it will distract from your presentation. Also be aware of how any movement you make may affect the apparent focus of the background. This is definitely something to try out beforehand.
- Make sure that your lighting is suitable, you cannot impress if your audience cannot see you clearly. The best source of light is one that you are looking towards. Light from one side can be adequate but will highlight your pores and blemishes, so it depends on how vain you are!
- Make sure that you are in focus and that you can clearly hear and be heard. Again a practice with a friend beforehand can be useful. If using a PC then a separate webcam and speakers may be required – make sure they are of adequate quality.
- Have visual aids which can be brought into play without difficulty. Zoom facilities for displaying documents or slides are available. There is also a Whiteboard option. But do make sure you have tried and mastered these facilities beforehand.
- Have your notes in order and easy to handle – cards or A4 sized documents are still best for talking from but remember that it will be possible to display key data using the facilities described in the paragraph above.
- Be appropriately dressed. Your appearance is still important and although casual outfits may be appropriate, you do need to look as if you care.
- Be sure you know how to get into Zoom in a timely manner and how to mute your voice when others are talking so that no extraneous noises disturb the meeting. Not everyone wants to hear your dog barking or your children quarrelling!
- Don’t forget to close all unnecessary files or tabs that can slow down your software and connection. Make sure you have done a test run to ensure there are no unexpected technical obstacles for your presentation.
- Place your seat so that your audience can see your head and shoulders. If using a laptop, have it on a solid surface and use a box or books to raise it up if necessary.
- Greet your audience and introduce yourself if necessary. Make sure your name is appropriately displayed on the screen. If you press the “record” facility at the start, then you can review your presentation and all the audience interaction to it, afterwards. Your next presentation can then be even better.
- Sit comfortably and try not to move around as this can be distracting and may affect the focus of your picture or the clarity of your sound for the audience.
- Indicate when you are starting and speak clearly.
- Maintain eye contact by looking at the screen. Avoid looking at the walls and the ceiling of your room, and never out of a window.
- Be aware of any distracting mannerisms you may have as these can be exaggerated by the concentration of your presence on a small screen and annoy your audience:
- Make sure your hairstyle is tidy even if you haven’t had a hair cut for a while. Untidy hair can be a distraction especially if you find yourself “fiddling” with it.
- Spectacles that do not fit and have to be pushed up the nose all the time should be avoided if possible.
- Gestures may not be of much use on Zoom but do not to fiddle with paper or other things on your desk / table.
- Make sure your hairstyle is tidy even if you haven’t had a hair cut for a while. Untidy hair can be a distraction especially if you find yourself “fiddling” with it.
- Make sure it is obvious when your presentation has come to an end.
- Wait for the host to close the meeting before you disconnect.
Platform presence is as important on Zoom as in any other situation. Do not be put off by the technology. With thorough preparation, your presentations can take off on Zoom and achieve the high standards you are used to. No presenter is ever perfect and nobody expects you to be. If you slip-up during the presentation, simply acknowledge it, and pick up from where you erred. Always remember to keep your audience engaged with a SMILE.
Tuesday 12 January, 2021
Imposter syndrome (Noun)
We have all had a moment of doubt in our abilities where we feel unsure of if we are any good at what we do, whether it is in your professional or our personal lives. It's not a nice feeling, so what do you do to overcome it? We have put together some ideas for you to try the next time that imposter devil comes knocking at your door.
- Recognise imposter syndrome. As soon as you admit to yourself that this is truly how you are feeling and not just having a bad day, you enable yourself to tackle how you feel. Sometimes giving a name to how you are feeling is just as good as a cure.
- Ask for validation. Vocalising your worries to someone you trust is a great way to not only get how you are feeling off your chest, but a good confidant will also help to boost your confidence back up again. Don’t worry about feeling embarrassed or ashamed, chances are that they have felt the same way at some point.
- Talk, talk, talk. We are all feeling pretty isolated at the moment which can impact our confidence greatly. If you are alone you run the risk of getting stuck with the thoughts in your head and can lead to depression which is the last thing you need when you are having a crisis of faith. Set up a zoom call or phone a friend just to talk nonsense if you want to. We are designed to be social creatures, so try to avoid hiding away.
- Make a list. It is easy to forget our achievements, successes and capabilities, by putting them down on paper you will have physical proof of how great you are. Keep that piece of paper to look at every time you feel this way and remind yourself daily that you are amazing!
- Ask for testimonials from customers. This may sound slightly strange, but when you feel unsure about yourself, asking for a customer to give you feedback on the great job you do, will instantly boost your confidence. Every business will benefit from having good feedback, so it is a practical thing to do anyway. As soon as those testimonials start coming though it will help no end with your confidence. Be sure to share them to your social media and website. Let everyone know.
- Know that you aren’t the only one. We are so lucky that the internet has given us an abundance of reference materials. The saying forewarned is forearmed so do some research into imposter syndrome. It will help you to recognise how you are feeling and will help you overcome this bad patch.
- Connect with others. Join a forum or networking group. Particularly in your professional life, joining in with a group will help you to learn from others. Not only will it give you that crucial social interaction, but it will also enable you to share your fears and worries without fear of embarrassment.
- Take a day off. Having a proper break from work does the world of good. Turn the laptop off, switch your phone to silent and have a 'me' day. If your imposter syndrome is personal, then do something to change up your routine. For example, if you are experiencing a day where you have doubts regarding your parenting skills, then go out for the day. You may be homeschooling every day, as well as trying to work and keep on top of the chores; take a break. Go to the park and feed the ducks or go for a nice walk. Breaking the monotony is essential for you as well as your family’s mental health. That pile of washing can wait!
- Are you a perfectionist? If you suffer from imposter syndrome, is this because you constantly strive for perfection? Absolutely no-one is perfect, no-one is expected to be perfect. Try to realise that it's probably only you which is putting this level of pressure on yourself. Try to take a step back from the situation and spend some time letting go of the unimportant things. You will feel so much better for giving yourself a break.
- Give yourself a reality check. Yes, this does mean having a stern talking to yourself. Tell those voices in your head to get lost because YOU GOT THIS!!!!
Written By Sarah English – Write Idea 11 January 2021
Tuesday 8 December, 2020
Have you ever looked at someone and admired how confident they are? Confidence is an ability that can be learned and with a little practice, you can overcome your fears and learn a skill which will help you all walks of life, from doing well at an interview to speaking in public.
- Set goals and get stuff done.Accomplishing tasks either big or small will change your overall mood. Lifting your mood automatically, helps you stand prouder, even when you speak you will come across as happier and more confident.
- Be positive and visualise.Sound simple doesn’t it? It is fact that if you have a positive outlook, your mood changes, as does the mood of everyone around you. If you take time and visualise a positive outcome of a situation, you are far more likely to succeed. Sports professionals, entertainers, public speakers etc, practice this frequently.
- Internalise. Confidence comes from within. Really think about what confidence is and what it means to you. If you fear failure, challenge what failure would mean, how are you able to pick yourself back up again. As soon as you realise that you can bounce back with no trouble, the fear will subside.
- Posture. Work on your posture, shoulders back, chin up, chest out. Confident people will always have great posture. Not only will you look more confident, your voice will be louder and clearer.
- Reward yourself. Praise and recognise your achievements. If you won a big contract or got the job you wanted, celebrate your success. It doesn’t have to be anything lavish, just something that marks your achievement.
- Appreciate yourself. It is easy to be critical of ourselves, but when did you actually sit down and think about how great you are? Grab a pen and paper and list your qualities and achievements.
- Talk to yourself. You may feel silly doing talking to yourself, but having a dialogue with your reflection is a great way to build confidence. Tell yourself that you are amazing and confident and you can do this!
- Live in the present. It is easy to fret about something that hasn’t even happened, which causes you stress that you don’t even need. Be in the moment and let things happen. As soon as you release the worry, you will feel lighter and more in control.
- Practice eye contact. Next time you speak to someone be conscious of how much eye contact you hold or don’t hold. Being aware of our body language is a powerful tool to have at your disposal. We do it without even thinking and we read the signals that it gives out from others. Recognising positive body language signals will help you appear far more confident.
- Be yourself. Our individual personalities, tell people what we are all about. You can learn to be confident, but stay true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not. It is fine to aspire to be like someone but ultimately your confidence is yours to own and embrace.
Wednesday 4 November, 2020
If you missed our very own Cat Foulkes on the ZoShow on Wednesday 28th October, you can watch it again with this link. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=654238222119399
If you don’t have time to watch, we have picked out some great highlights from the show here. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Zo: Tell us a little about yourself and your role within Birmingham International Speakers Club (BISC).
Cat: I am one of the organisers of the club, I have a job that I love and although it doesn’t involve public speaking, I would not have achieved this role if I didn’t have the effective communication skills that BISC gave me.
Zo: Public speaking is a huge skill, I had huge issues with a stutter when I was younger and had a real lack of confidence. So, I plucked up the courage to join BISC and as soon as I sat down, I knew I was in the right place. Can you explain to people who don’t know about BISC, what the club is all about?
Cat: I had a similar experience with public speaking that went terribly wrong. I went for a job that required a 20-minute presentation as part of the second round of interviews. I ended up not progressing further with the job because of the fear of public speaking. I knew that this fear would stop me from progressing with my career so I looked online and I found BISC. It’s a local club based in Birmingham and part of a global organisation. We have a clear set of procedures around public speaking, to enable anyone and everyone to become a competent public speaker, and to become a proficient communicator.
It’s a definite life skill that impacts so many parts of our lives, so I initially joined to enable me to deliver a presentation for an interview. Now, I have learnt how to structure the content of a presentation and how to deliver in an impactful manner, becoming competent in speaking whenever I am called upon. It feels so good to overcome something that was, initially debilitating and to progress further in my career. BISC has impacted all parts of my life.
Zo: Lets talk about fear. How do you overcome the fear of speaking in public?
Cat: Communication is fundamental in progressing through life. My first speech, I was absolutely petrified, I was hoping to break a leg so I wouldn’t have to go. I wasn’t really clear and confident about my content and the delivery itself was laughable. I spoke too quickly and just ran of the stage when I was finished. Because this experience was so bad, I found that every occasion after that was slightly better. So, with the positivity of the club and my own determination, I was able to progress.
There are three main points that BISC help with. The first is to know your audience, and to get the internal dialogue away from you. Think about what you are going to teach them, you are there to share information with them. Once you change the focus from you to your audience it really helps.
Secondly, practice. Practice in the shower, the car, to a line of pillows on the sofa, to a family member. The more you practice the more confident you will be with your content.
Third is to breathe. Take the time before your presentation to concentrate on your breathing, even write it in your notes to make sure you do it. Right before starting, take a deep breath and survey the room.
Zo: What are some quick tips on overcoming nerves?
Cat: Being well prepared, goes without saying. Have a positive visualisation of seeing the meeting going really well. Have someone manage the timing of your meeting to take that worry away. Most importantly. believe in yourself. If you have been asked to deliver a speech, then they are already deeming you competent. Having the self-belief that you can do it will help so much with your confidence and nerves.
Re-focus the adrenaline that you are feeling. It is the same adrenaline that you feel when you are excited, so instead of focussing on how you are feeling nervous, change it to feeling excited instead. Time to shine!
Zo: What is a typical club meeting?
Cat: Twice a month we are currently meeting online, formally face to face, and the meeting is divided into two halves. The first is typically 2-4 prepared speeches on a pre-given topic and time frame, and the second half is a workshop which is fully interactive, either delivered by a member or external guest. The topics given could be anything from a lottery win to a bank heist and it is entirely up to the individual to take the topic and run with it however they would like to.
There are two evaluations given for each speech, by more experienced members, and this is where the magic happens. You are given feedback on what went well and what to consider for next time. You get to learn your individual strengths as a speaker and often, it comes to light, things that you had never considered before. Maybe you say ummm a lot or touch your face, and once your attention is drawn to it, it makes you more conscious and able to do something about it for future presentations.
Zo: What about impromptu speaking?
Cat: I would suggest three things, think about your audience. What is the take home message that you want to give your audience? What is the one sentence that you really want to end with? Make sure that you mention why you are there and why you are addressing everyone. It could be raising a toast at a party or speaking about someone leaving a company. It is a skill and you do have to work on it, but once you do, its like riding a bike.
Zo: How do you deal with hecklers or negative members of the audience?
Cat: Address them at the end of your presentation, deal with it in a diplomatic way, without letting them disturb your flow. The main thing is, that it is your presentation, so acknowledge them and deal with their comments at an appropriate time in a way that does not derail you from your flow.
Zo: Many meetings are now been held over the internet so do you think that the world is changing in terms of switching to digital?
Cat: I think there will always be the need and desire for people to gather in a face to face auditorium to get the energy and passion that you get from a public arena. I think that learning to be a host on Zoom etc is definitely a skill in itself and we will all benefit from learning how to move to digital.
Zo: Talking about fillers in a presentation, the ummms for example. How would you suggest you tackle these?
Cat: Fillers are such an easy go to; they are the words that you use when you can’t think of what to say next instead of leaving a silence. Leaving a pause instead is actually a lot more effective, it will keep your audience’s attention without holding you back from your message. One thing we teach you is to become comfortable with holding pauses. It seems very alien at first but is very powerful, your audience will be in suspense of your next words, if used correctly.
Zo: Do you have any suggestions for anyone delivering something via digital medium?
Cat: I would suggest that meetings held on Zoom would still follow the same time management structure. Engagement is the key change. Face to face you can easily detect if someone is distracted, lost focus or they are loving what your saying. On a Zoom meeting, the way to keep engagement is to be much snappier and quicker, keep the meeting moving.
Zo: How important, now we are moving into digital delivery, that tech works?
Cat: I can’t tell you how many Zoom meetings I have been on where someone’s battery has died and the meeting has just stopped. A good hour before the meeting, check to make sure that everything is working and the battery is fine. Be prepared by checking that your background is appropriate and well lit. Check that you are a proper distance away from the camera, that the sound works etc.
Zo: For digital meetings, what is a non-aggressive way of involving those who are not participating?
Cat: There is a fine line between putting someone on the spot and trying to involve them in engaging in the meeting. I tend to make sure that everyone introduces themselves at the start so everyone knows everyone. It could be as simple as asking what they had done that morning. This involves everyone right from the get go, and it’s a bit of an icebreaker. It helps you engage everyone throughout the rest of the meeting.
Zo: What is the benefit of being able to speak in public?
Cat: Many of our members, including myself, have gone on to get promotions at work and have improved their lives dramatically. I find that I am now able to put my point across succinctly and be confident in an environment when I am put on the spot. Without effective communication we cannot succeed. In all aspects of our lives, work, relationships, friendships, we need to be able to put across our point to make sure that the recipient of our message understands. Public speaking is just the tip of the iceberg, it actually effects so much more to a person in all parts of their life.
Zo: How important is it to learn in a safe environment where you don’t feel criticized or inferior to others?
Cat: To go to a club, where your boss isn’t there and meeting other like-minded individuals who all want to grow and no one is judging is freeing. Everyone is there to encourage and support growth not to criticise. Its all about building confidence.
Zo: We’ve had some great tips here, so how do people go about visiting BISC and getting involved?
Cat: Facebook : https://facebook.com/BhamSpeakers/
We look forward to seeing you there!
Tuesday 6 October, 2020
Top 15 tips to enhance your Zoom meetings
Zoom has quickly become the most popular tool to keep us connected during Covid-19, especially in a professional capacity. We have adapted well to running and joining meetings at home even with the worry of invasion from the kids, the cat sitting on your laptop or the dog deciding it’s a good time to pee on the carpet. Even when we finally go back to offices, the popularity of Zoom meetings will continue, as we realise that there is no longer the need to bring everyone together for a meeting in an office environment and can just as easily be done remotely. More and more people will also be given the opportunity to continue to work from home. So, Zoom is here to stay! Here are some great tips to help you when running or attending meetings.
1. Add a background – Zoom offers a selection of backgrounds to use or upload one of your own. Just go into settings and get creative. If you don’t want to use a background then have a plain wall behind you.
Saturday 3 October, 2020
How I found out about the Scottish Colourists
In the pre Covid times, I always enjoyed my annual visit as Region Board member to Caledonia Council meetings.
|Portrait of Grace McColl by J D Fergusson|
Who would not enjoy being royally entertained by old friends? I always arrived on the Saturday evening, had a splendid meal provided by my host for the weekend, then a full breakfast on the Sunday morning, and so on to the Redhurst Hotel for the Council Meeting. On one memorable occasion, I was seated comfortably enough, and from somewhere I could hear the sound of the staff preparing to serve Sunday dinner. “I’m still full from breakfast!” I began to think, when, suddenly, I found myself on the edge of my seat, almost startled. I had hardly noticed from the programme that the last event of the morning was to be “The Scottish Colourists”, but Brendan had commenced a talk and was projecting a stunning sequence of paintings onto a screen. I was surprised because, although art has always interested me, I had never heard of this group, and had never seen any of these paintings, before.
The Colourists were Samuel Peploe, John Fergusson, George Hunter and Francis Cadell. They were at their height between 1900 and 1930 and were very much the heirs of the French Impressionists of the nineteenth century. The name came to be applied to them because of their “use of brilliant colour to capture the rich evocation of a place or person”. What were their subjects? To continue to quote from Dr Cummings of Edinburgh University, “whether a landscape, a portrait, a still life or a subject celebrating the vibrancy of urban life, [they] convey a real sense of joie de vivre which few can match”. It’s difficult for the layman to add to that. A large part of their attraction is that they are capable of being appreciated by anyone: the viewer can simply enjoy the use of colour and not try and guess any “hidden meaning”. Confident in their own Scottishness, they spent a lot of time in France, where the sunshine gives plenty of scope for the artist. Several of their paintings were purchased for the French nation.
Disgracefully, I am not aware of any of their work being on display in any of the major English galleries, and would be very happy to be proved wrong. If you want to see more, and I hope that this very brief introduction has whetted your appetite, then the National Galleries of Scotland have some fantastic exhibitions from time to time.
Tuesday 8 September, 2020
Body Language – The unspoken communicator
Body language is our non-verbal way of expressing our thoughts and feelings. We gesture with our body and use facial expressions without even realising it. Being aware of how we use our body language is a powerful tool when it comes to the art of negotiation and persuasion and will help fully engage your listener/s.
Once you learn how to use your body language, you will naturally be able to read others which will help you gauge situations quickly and adjust your behaviour as necessary. This is great in meetings especially if you are needing to really capture the attention of who you are talking to.
Here are some top tips to consider when you are in your next meeting or giving your next presentation or speech.
1. Use open body language – make sure your arms are unfolded and your hands are unclenched. This shows the listener that you are being open and will help convey honesty and integrity. If you have to deliver bad news or face a difficult meeting where there is the potential of a sticky situation, you will most likely see your audience with arms crossed, facing away from you and not making eye contact. If you mirror their behaviour then you will hit a stalemate. By showing you are open allows them to feel more at ease and they are far more likely to engage.
2. Make eye contact – No matter if you are speaking to one person, a few people or a whole room full of people, eye contact is important. Of course, there is a fine balance between holding eye contact with the same person for too long and not holding it for long enough. Too long and you are in a creepy staring match, not long enough will make you appear disengaged. A few seconds at a time is more than adequate. If you speaking to a room full of people then pick out people left, right and centre and alternate every few seconds.
3. Avoid touching your face and fidgeting – If you frequently touch your face or fidget you will come across as being uncomfortable, untrustworthy, dishonest and shifty. It really won’t matter how great your subject is if you let your body language contradict what you are talking about.
4. Use open hand gestures – Be careful to not overdo the gestures with your hands, this can be distracting from what you are saying. Having your hands opened palmed will convey openness, sharing and trust. Unless you are putting across a serious issue and it is intentional. Never point, this will show aggression and will turn your audience right off.
5. Smile – Unless you are delivering bad news of course! The simple act of smiling will show warmth and trustworthiness. Your audience will be put at ease and feel more relaxed and open. Smiling changes your whole persona and has a knock-on effect, if you are smiling you tend to make others smile. Much like how a yawn is contagious.
6. Posture – If you are standing to give a presentation or speech, stand with your shoulders back and chin up, this will convey confidence and also frees your diaphragm which will help to keep your voice loud and clear.
Bonus Tip: Film yourself giving your presentation or speech so you can see how you are gesturing, the facial expressions you are making, and any bad habits you may be displaying without even realising it. Most of us are self-critical when watching ourselves back on film, so try not to be too hard on yourself.
Written by Sarah English for Birmingham Speakers Club - 08 September 2020.
Wednesday 5 August, 2020
Giving a speech requires preparation, from research and planning to writing and rehearsing, but failing to prepare mentally can mean the difference between a good speech and a great speech.
Controlling your nerves requires a little practice and patience, but once perfected it can be used for all sorts of situations. Here are some great tips to get you started.
Accept your nervousness and feel okay about it. If you make a conscious effort to identify that you feel worried, that you feel queasy, that you are sweating and understand that your nerves are doing this, you are able to then accept that feeling nervous is natural and absolutely okay.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect. We often compare ourselves to others and put pressure on ourselves to be perfect but you are far better off being yourself. Even the most established of speakers make the odd mistake and that’s what makes us all human.
Know your subject matter. It is evident very quickly if you are talking about a subject that you know little about. The speech come across as lacklustre and wooden with lack of passion and conviction, your audience won’t engage and your speech will soon be forgotten. The more you know about your subject the more confident you will be.
Engage your audience. Involve your audience so they feel a part of your speech. Not only will it raise the energy level of the room, your speech will be far more memorable.
Use breathing techniques. Controlling your breathing will bring your heart rate down and help you to focus. Sit or stand straight and slowly take in a deep breath from your diaphragm to expand your tummy as full as you can. Hold for a few seconds exhale slowly as far as you can, hold for a couple of seconds and repeat. You will instantly feel calmer and in control.
Practice mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is the art of being in the moment, not letting any outside influences in, any worry or problems, questions or noises. It is clearing your mind enough to blank out everything and listen to your own heartbeat and breathing and nothing else. Mindfulness and meditation take practice and patience; there are plenty of guides, YouTube sessions and books out there to help you learn.
Visualisation. Visualise the success of your speech. Imagine getting to the end knowing that you were concise, clear, engaging and interesting. So much so, that your audience applauds loudly and you know that all your preparation and practice was all worth it and more importantly, you enjoyed delivering your speech.
Practice out loud. When preparing to deliver a speech you should always rehearse it out loud and in front of a friend or family member. That way, not only are you practicing, you can get open and honest feedback on your delivery and content.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol. The last thing your body needs is extra stimulants when your adrenaline is taking over. You may think a drink beforehand will calm your nerves but in actual fact it has the opposite effect and will only add to your anxiety. Only drink water, your body and mind work so much better when hydrated.
Make eye contact with your audience. It can be very tempting to read from que cards or your PowerPoint presentation without really looking at your audience, but will show lack of willing to engage with your audience and will turn them off what you are trying to say. Try to hold eye contact across the room by alternating to your left, right and centre audience.
By following these techniques, you will soon be on the way to delivering great speeches and actually enjoy giving them!
Tuesday 16 June, 2020
Birmingham International Speakers (BISC) held only their second Zoom based meeting on Wednesday 10th June with coaching and tips on speeches of persuasion.
We consider public speaking as involving relatively new communication skills but we went back as far as Aristotle to understand the power of crafted speeches, especially if you want the listeners to agree with a point of view.
Some 12 members attended and we also welcomed several guests.
|Aristotle at the Academy|
Aristotle’s “Three Musketeers” for the persuasive speaker are logos, pathos and ethos. That is, the appeal to reason, the appeal to emotion and the appeal based on the moral character of the speaker, respectively.
The success of Aristotle’s techniques may be judged by the fact that his work Rhetoric remained the standard text on the subject for centuries. Or perhaps it may be judged by the achievements of his pupil Alexander, whose leadership skills enabled him to conquer most of the then known world.
We cannot promise to help you build an empire but we can help you to build your confidence and develop your leadership skills.
If you are interested in finding out more about BISC fill out our query form.
Thursday 20 February, 2020
Thursday 6 February, 2020
Everyone was made welcome to the first meeting of 2020. Unfortunately, there were a number of apologies which meant that various members had two assignments.
Brendan introduced Louise
The Education/ Fun item was by Regina
Following the tea break, the two speakers were introduced
Monday 28 October, 2019
Thursday 17 October, 2019
Saturday 5 October, 2019
The theme for the evening was Send in the Clowns.
The President Brendan welcomed the members and one visitor and gave the apologies.
Roz was introduced as Chair for the evening. Roz gave an Inspiration from Cole Porter's Be a Clown and then gave out topics which were given by Brendan, Carole, Liz, Ruth and Grace all connected to the Theme.
The Education Session was given by Regina in the form of a quiz about Glasgow. This was full of very interesting facts and was very educational due to the fact that the scores were very low. Everyone learnt quite a lot about Glasgow.
Following the tea interval speeches were given by Ruth and Liz - both keeping to the Theme, but with very different approaches to the subject.
The evaluations were given by Grace and Brendan.
Brendan conducted a short Business Meeting in which finances were discussed and Liz mentioned the forthcoming Council Meeting.
The timing was by Regina and the General Evaluation and Vote of Thanks was given by Carole.
A most enjoyable evening was had by all.
The next meeting will be held on 16th October in the home of a member due to the fact that ths School will be closed for the October holiday.
Saturday 31 August, 2019
|Linda presenting the trophy to the winner, Laurence|
In the evening we had a meal at the Crown and Mitre. A little surprise was that a former member of ITC had provided a little reminder of the past.
After a good meal, Rosemary led a very entertaining topic session.
Wednesday 3 April, 2019
Monday 25 March, 2019
Thursday 21 February, 2019
Saturday 9 February, 2019
Members were welcomed by President Scilla who welcomed Regina as a new member - a good start to the year.
Thursday 8 November, 2018
Thursday 18 October, 2018
Saturday 1 September, 2018
Activities continued in the afternoon with a talk by Nancy on her early years on Lewis, a quiz on Etymology led by Diana and a workshop on accents led by Evelyn. As always it was very enjoyable and we learnt a lot.
A more formal dinner will take place tonight and there will be further workshops tomorrow morning before we wind up the weekend and head for home.
Friday 6 July, 2018
Monday 18 June, 2018
Friday 9 March, 2018
Tuesday 20 February, 2018
The next Meeting of Pollokshields Club is on 5th March and will take the form of the Annual Speech Contest. Everyone is welcome.
Tuesday 23 January, 2018
Theme: Difficult People.
President Roz Keenan opened the meeting and welcomed our guest May-belle she then handed over to the Chairman for the Evening - Louise. Topics - all on Difficult People were given to Iris, Roz, Scilla and Liz.
Wednesday 6 September, 2017
Following Dinner on Saturday in The Halston, the Speech Contest Winners were announced. Evelyn and Diana were presented with the cup by the Chairman of Judges Marjorie.
Sunday Morning bought an interesting and very lively session by Marjorie called "What, Why and Where"
A group Discussion was then led by Evelyn on the future of our club and the organisation.
The final item on the Agenda was a presentation with slides on a Utah adventure by Iris.
Sunday 27 May, 2012
- Read the words
- Read the punctuation
- Read between the lines.
The words only tell us what to say, the punctuation tells us how to say it. There should be a slight pause at the end of a sentence or when you encounter a comma. You might use a longer pause when you encounter a semicolon, colon or dash. If nothing else, pauses give you a chance to take a breath.
When you encounter quotation marks your tone of voice should indicate the change from narrative to quotation.
In normal speech we tend to use an upward inflection at the end of a sentence when we ask a question. So if you encounter a question mark you should inflect your voice in the same way (note: in some dialects of English an upward inflection is part of normal speech).
An exclamation mark is the most obvious indicator that emphasis should be applied but if you read between the lines and try to imagine how it should be said. Which parts should be louder or softer? How can your tone of voice replicate the tone of the piece you are reading?
When reading poetry you have to capture the rhythm of the poem but prose can have rhythms as well. Modulate your voice and avoid monotone. Your audience will appreciate it.
Tuesday 13 March, 2012
The speaker was clearly confident in giving presentations to his peer group. The overheads were mainly black text on white. He proceeded at a rapid pace. One overhead might have a heading and a line of text, the next another point under the same heading.
Half way through the presentation he said "You don't need to take notes, the slides will be available on the website".
At one point he looked at the screen and said "I didn't mean to concentrate so much on ***".
After the meeting, I heard a few people say "A lot of that went straight over my head".
What do you think the speaker could have done to improve the presentation?
Friday 1 July, 2011
Online, On Paper or Both?Are people going to be reading your newsletter on a computer screen? If so any web addresses should be hyperlinks i.e. the reader should be able to click on a link to be taken to the web address. If it is to be printed you may want the number of pages to be a multiple of four especially if it is to be professionally printed. One sheet of A3 can accommodate four A4 pages (this is the advantage of the ISO system of paper sizes over the ANSI standard used in North America).
Tick TOCIf you want to use a table of contents insert a TOC field. It will make life much easier for you. Why? because the table of contents is updated Automatically. By default the TOC entries will be based on the heading styles so make sure that you use the correct heading rather than arbitrarily changing the size and weight of the font to match a heading. The page number will be a hyperlink to the item and you can add the \h option to make the entire entry a hyperlink (this is the default in newer versions of Word).
As an alternative to mapping the TOC to headings you can set the \f option to use TC fields. This means that you insert a TC field before any item that you wish to appear in the table of contents.
Add Your Own StyleYou may wish to add a style for a particular purpose for example a byline style might use right-justified paragraphs and bold text to display the author of an item.
ColumnsColumns can complicate the layout of your newsletter but you may prefer this style of presentation. Use section breaks to separate collimated parts of the newsletter from non-collimated parts.
At the Drop of a CapIf you leaf through a magazine you will notice that the first paragraph of an article and possibly some of the other paragraphs start with a large capital letter. This is a dropped capital or "drop cap". In word you can format the first letter of a paragraph as a drop cap. Do not use it on every paragraph and especially avoid it on short paragraphs. You might want to use drop caps as a way to break an article into sections.
Pull QuoteThat eye-catching quote in your magazine highlighted in large print is known as a pull quote. You can add a pull quote in Word by inserting a text box and choosing a large font style. Format the text box to allow text to flow around it.
Format PainterIf you incorporate a submitted article into a newsletter you can use the format painter to copy the paragraph style from elsewhere in the document. The format painter is a brush found on the home ribbon or standard toolbar. Select a piece of formatted text and then click on format painter. Select the text to be formatted and when you release the mouse button the format is applied. If you want to apply the format to several places you can use a double click to activate the format painter. It then stays active until you press the escape key.
An alternative to format painter is to use Ctrl-Shift-C to copy the formatting and Ctrl-Shift-V to paste formatting to other places.
Take care with formatting paragraphs containing hyperlinks. The hyperlinks will still be active but will have the appearance of the surrounding text.
Compatibility IssuesSomebody’s just got a brand new shiny computer and suddenly you cannot swap files. What’s wrong? The chances are that the recipient is using an earlier version of Word. If you are the sender you can fix the problem by ensuring that you send files in Word 97-2003 document format (Instead of “Save” choose “Save As” from the file tab and find said format in the pull-down list for “Save as type”). If you are the recipient of a “docx” file and your version of Word can only load “doc” files, do not despair; you can download a compatibility pack from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/open-a-word-2007-document-in-an-earlier-version-of-word-HA010044473.aspx
PicturesInsert your picture and experiment with the different formatting options until you are satisfied that it is presented the way you want it.
The Devil… is in the detail so they say and the detail will depend on the version of Word you are using. Use what I have said above in conjunction with the help system to add a little sparkle to your newsletters.
Saturday 21 May, 2011
Words can have emotional resonance that strikes deeper than rational argument. When a tabloid journalist talks about “Frankenstein food” he or she is trying to stir up revulsion at the idea of “tampering with nature”.
Words like pure, natural and hygienic are what I call charm words. Words like artificial, synthetic and “germy” are what I call hex words. The former have a positive connotation, the latter a negative one.
A vitamin made by artificial means is no different to the same vitamin from a natural source. Is it meaningful to describe a soap dispenser as “germy” if it harbours a few hundred bacteria? If it harboured a few thousand the advertisers might have a point.
In a TV studio discussion programme they were talking about whether obese pregnant women should be given a drug hitherto given to diabetics (including pregnant diabetic women) in order to prevent the foetus from receiving too much insulin. One of the panel said that if she were pregnant she would want to make sure that anything she took was “pure”. Pure what? Pure poison?
When I hear words like “chemical” being used a hex word I take it with a pinch of sodium chloride (that’s a chemical commonly known as salt by the way). If you want to avoid chemicals, avoid the sugar and spice and go for the healthy protein of the rats and snails.
To recap, in Part 2 I explained that an Adult-Adult transaction at a social level can also be an Adult-Child transaction at a psychological level. As a persuasive tactic you can appeal to the Child in us through charm words, words that make us feel safe and comfortable or you can use hex words to frighten the Child (scary monsters – hide behind the sofa).
In debating think about the use of words and the resonances that certain words have. Don’t forget about humour. sometimes the charm words that work best tickle the Child.
Friday 20 May, 2011
The expression of the three kinds of ego state may be referred to colloquially as the Parent, Adult and Child respectively.
Berne defines a transaction as a unit of social intercourse. Parents indulge in gossip. Adults solve problems together. Children or Parent and Child play together. These are known as Complementary Transactions. However a Crossed Transaction occurs when one party addresses the other as Adult-to-Adult and the other party responds as Child-to-Parent or Parent-to-Child.
What does any of this have to do with persuasive speaking? In Part 1 I talked about Aristotle’s three types of persuasion. Ethos (moral character of the speaker) is an appeal to the Parent, Logos (reasoned argument) is an appeal to the Adult and Pathos (an emotional appeal) is an appeal to the Child.
Berne points out that transactions involving the activity of two ego states simultaneously (Ulterior Transactions) are the basis of games (games are complex social behaviours with their own rules not necessarily games in the literal sense). He cites the following example:
Salesman: ‘This one is better, but you can’t afford it.’
Housewife: ‘That’s the one I’ll take.’
On a social level the transaction is Adult-Adult but on a psychological level the salesman’s Adult is addressing the Housewife’s Child. Notice that there are two sets of Complementary Transactions here. Berne states that “the first rule of communication is that communication will proceed smoothly as long as transactions are complementary; and its corollary is that as long as transactions are complementary, communication can, in principle, proceed indefinitely.”
Perhaps now you can see why the emotional appeal is particularly powerful. In Part 3 I’ll examine the use of language in persuasion and how we are easily persuaded using words with a positive connotation (charm words) or those with a negative connotation (hex words).
Thursday 19 May, 2011
Aristotle identified three types of persuasion that a speaker can use:-
- Ethos: Persuasion based on the moral character of the speaker,
- Logos: Persuasion based on logical argument,
- Pathos: Persuasion based on emotional appeal.
Saturday 25 September, 2010
Presentation Structure is the Key
In a situation like this, you need to have some form of standard structures in your head that you can call upon at very short notice.
One example structure that you can use quickly (if it’s relevant) is:-
- What’s the issue
- How is it affecting things?
- And what is being done about it?
Another structure you can use for impromptu presentations is:-
- What was it like before?
- What was the event?
- What’s the result now?
More Conventional Structure
- Main Body
- Point 1 – with 3 sub points in support
- Point 2 – with 3 sub points in support
- Point 3 – with 3 sub points in support
- Conclusion and call to action if relevant
As with most things the more you practise something the better you can become at it. And impromptu speaking is no exception!
Give yourself some topics to speak on and then allow 2-3 minutes of preparation for each one. Then try presenting on each of about 5 minutes. Learn as you go get someone to watch you and give you feedback on how it went. Try it in your POWERtalk club!
Not a member yet? See the links to clubs in the right-hand panel or ask about starting a club in your area.
Tuesday 1 June, 2010
- The microphone and other electrical equipment is working
- water is available for the speaker
- the lectern is the right height for the speaker
- You have enough background information.
2. Make the Speaker Welcome
- Meet the Speaker at the entrance.
- Ask if there is anything he/he requires.
- Show the speaker to his/her seat.
- Prepare your introduction and thanks beforehand.
- Write key words on a cue card.
- Repeating yourself - remember to use your notes.
5. Use this Formula.
- Why this subject?
- Why this subject subject for this audience?
- Why this subject for this audience at this time?
- Exaggerate the speaker's qualifications
- Read a lengthy curriculum vitae or biography
- Say how wonderful the speech will be
- Steal the spotlight
- Speak to the audience not the speaker
- Be brief - never longer than two minutes
- Be genuine and sincere
- Smile and relax
8. Facilitating questions
- listen carefully to the question
- Repeat it clearly for the benefit of both speaker and the audience
- Unobtrusively guide speaker to audience members signalling to ask a question.
9. Thanking the Speaker
- Say what you enjoyed about the presentation
- Don't simply repeat the main points of the presentation
- Speak to the speaker and the audience.
10. Most Importantly
- Be sincere
- Be brief
- Be seated!
Wednesday 19 May, 2010
- Mentoring is a relationship that enhances the development of individuals by the passing on of knowledge, skills and values.
- This relationship is a creative bond between a mentor (teacher) and a mentee (learner) which is to the benefit of both.
- From a mentor, a mentee receives input about organisational culture, coaching and counselling, skills development, motivation and continuous feedback, thus becoming a useful member of an organisation much more quickly.
- The mentor benefits by the development of interpersonal and leadership skills, and accomplishments in his/her mentee's success.
- A mentoring programme should have the visible support of those at the head of an organisation, and it should form part of the culture of that organisation.
- The ideal ratio is one mentor to one mentee.
- Mentors should volunteer their services. The relationship should be one of choice, and should be committed to in writing.
- The best mentors are experienced empathetic persons with a willingness to share, the capability of building trust, and with good listening skills.
- Specific time periods should be set aside for mentoring. Opportunity should be given to the mentee for questions and feedback.
- It is recommended that the mentee maintains a close relationship with the mentor, takes ownership of his/her own development and actively seeks new challenges.
Monday 10 May, 2010
Thursday 25 February, 2010
- 10% of our waking time is spent in communication and 45% of that time is spent listening but we only retain 25% of what we hear.
- Active listening is about listening for the purpose of understanding and interpreting the message the speaker is trying to convey.
- Concentrate carefully - don't get distracted.
- Listen for the explicit date (what is said) as well as the implicit data (what is not said)
- Refrain from immediate evaluation - attempt to see the other person's point of view.
- Check that you are really listening to the other person - not just waiting your turn to speak.
- Listen for the main ideas. Acknowledge what you have just heard and give an appropriate response.
- If you do not understand, don't be afraid to ask for clarification.
- Read and listen to difficult materials just for the exercise. Jot down the main points you have noted and then check to see how you did.
- For a day, keep a record of the time you spent listening. Consider the specific differences improved listening could have made.
Thursday 7 January, 2010
Has your club every thought of having Book Reviews for a club programme?
Many members of POWERtalk are avid readers (when they have time) and have widely varied tastes in books. There are many advantages to having this sort of evening including making you much more aware while reading a book you intend to review and enjoying hearing other people’s views of something you have read your self or even finding out about one or more books that you would enjoy
Another interesting idea would be to ask members to review specific books – perhaps something that they would not normally read
Wednesday 6 January, 2010
There are so many new means of communicating on internet -- UTube, My Space, Twitter, Facebook -- as the one celebrates its first birthday, the next is born overnight -- yet blogging is one that seems to remain and to persevere through it all and to hold its own. I see every major newspaper starting up more and more blogs as their resident or invited correspondents air their views, start up debates and comment on current issues, more and more academics and intelligentsia turn to blogging to argue topical issues, every organization or business enterprise realize that this is by far the easiest, the most economical and the most effective way to advertise, inform and communicate their interests; -- and when more inane and seemingly senseless forms of one-liner self-indulgent and nonsensical kind of communication forms pop up -- such as Twitter and even Facebook, and blogging remains the only such format where longer and meaningful debaters and columnists can express their views. I wondered about this remark -- and so went to look at what I wrote about blogging before. The following is from one of my posts about blogging -- read and let me know what you think -- do you agree with the comment that "blogging as very 'last season' and a fairly tiresome means of communicating" I look forward to hearing from you!
I recently wrote about literary awards for bloggers and how blogging has started to emerge as a recognised form of published literature.
The latest news is that Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, One Tiny Apartment Kitchen has been named the winner of the inaugural Blooker Prize, beating the major British contender on the shortlist, Belle de Jour, a prostitute's memoirs.
It seems that the majority of internet users out there are still pretty much in the dark as to what exactly a blog and blogging is.
As it concerns internet issues, I thought the internet encyclopaedia was the correct source for a definition -- Wikipedia says:
A blog (or weblog) is a website in which items are posted and displayed with the newest at the top. Like other media, blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Since its appearance in 1995, blogging has emerged as a popular means of communication, affecting public opinion and mass media around the world.
So where did this blogging revolution start?
Andrew Sullivan says: "Weblogs Are To Words What Napster Was To Music".
In the beginning - say 1994 - the phenomenon now called blogging was little more than the sometimes nutty, sometimes inspired writing of online diaries. Most of the writers called themselves diarists, journalists, journallers, or journalers. A few called themselves escribitionists. These days, there are tech blogs and sex blogs and drug blogs and onanistic teenage blogs. But there are also news blogs and commentary blogs, sites packed with links and quips and ideas and arguments that only months ago were the near-monopoly of established news outlets.
Poised between media, blogs can be as nuanced and well-sourced as traditional journalism, but they have the immediacy of talk radio. Amid it all, this much is clear: The phenomenon is real. Blogging is changing the media world and could, I think, foment a revolution in how journalism functions in our culture.
First off, blogs are personal. Almost all of them are imbued with the temper of their writer. This personal touch is much more in tune with our current sensibility than were the opinionated magazines and newspapers of old.
The second thing blogs do is - to invoke Marx - seize the means of production. It's hard to underestimate what a massively important medium this has become. For as long as journalism has existed, writers of whatever kind have had one route to readers: They needed an editor and a publisher. Even in the most benign scenario, this process subtly distorts journalism. You find yourself almost unconsciously writing to please a handful of people - the editors looking for a certain kind of story, the publishers seeking to push a particular venture, or the advertisers who influence the editors and owners. Blogging simply bypasses this ancient ritual.
Think about it for a minute. Why not build an online presence with your daily musings and then sell your first book through print-on-demand technology direct from your Web site? Why should established writers go to newspapers and magazines to get an essay published, when they can simply write it themselves, convert it into a .pdf file, and charge a few bucks per download? Just as magazine and newspaper editors are slinking off into the sunset, so too might all the agents and editors and publishers in the book market.
The original weblogs were link-driven sites. Each was a mixture in unique proportions of links, commentary, and personal thoughts and essays. Many current weblogs follow this original style. Such links are nearly always accompanied by the editor's commentary. An editor with some expertise in a field might demonstrate the accuracy or inaccuracy of a highlighted article or certain facts therein; provide additional facts he feels are pertinent to the issue at hand; or simply add an opinion or differing viewpoint from the one in the piece he has linked. Typically this commentary is characterized by an irreverent, sometimes sarcastic tone. More skilful editors manage to convey all of these things in the sentence or two with which they introduce the link . Indeed, the format of the typical weblog, providing only a very short space in which to write an entry, encourages pithiness on the part of the writer; longer commentary is often given its own space as a separate essay.
These weblogs provide a valuable filtering function for their readers. The web has been, in effect, pre-surfed for them. Out of the myriad web pages slung through cyberspace, weblog editors pick out the most mind-boggling, the most stupid, the most compelling.
By highlighting articles that may easily be passed over by the typical web user too busy to do more than scan corporate news sites, by searching out articles from lesser-known sources, and by providing additional facts, alternative views, and thoughtful commentary, weblog editors participate in the dissemination and interpretation of the news that is fed to us every day. Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as they file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand.
Towards 2004, the role of blogs became increasingly mainstream, as political consultants, news services and candidates began using them as tools for outreach and opinion forming. Even politicians not actively campaigning began to blog to bond with constituents. Some blogs were an important source of news during the December 2004 Tsunami such as Medicins Sans Frontieres, which used SMS text messaging to report from affected areas in Sri Lanka and Southern India.
Blogs have been seen as archives of human thought. They can provide useful insights to aid in dealing with humanity's psychological problems (such as depression and addiction). And they can also be used to solve crimes. (In 2005, Simon Ng posted a blog entry which identified his murderer.)
Blogs have also had an influence on minority languages, bringing together scattered speakers and learners; this is particularly so with Scottish Gaelic blogs, whose creators can be found as far away from traditional Gaelic areas as Kazakhstan and Alaska. Blogs are also used regularly by other minority language activists. Minority language publishing (which may lack economic feasibility) can find its audience through inexpensive blogging.
Around the beginning of 2005, amateur blogging took off in a big way. Terms such as 'Alternative media' began to be used for blogging in the mainstream media. Well-informed bloggers soon shot into prominence by sheer ingenuity and clarity of their content. And in the United Kingdom for instance, The Guardian newspaper launched a redesign in September 2005, which included a daily digest of blogs on page two.
These days, most blogs are often updated several times a day, and have become instead a record of the blogger's thoughts: something noticed on the way to work, notes about the weekend, a quick reflection on some subject or another. It is also quite fascinating to see new bloggers position themselves in the weblog community, referencing and reacting to those blogs they read most, their sidebar an affirmation of the tribe to which they wish to belong.
More than that, blogging itself places no restrictions on the form of content being posted. Its web interface, accessible from any browser, consists of an empty form box into which the blogger can type...anything: a passing thought, an extended essay, political or social commentary, a subject he or she wishes to debate, a cause to promote, a childhood recollection, a place where the blogger can give much added information which would be of interest to a potential customer, but which would not be suitable for the business website. The Spectator's blog Coffeehouse, and Got2begreen, a conservation blog are two examples.
Sunday 3 January, 2010
The carriages of that train are the separate thoughts from which it is constructed. You are most likely to lose track when going from one thought to the next. So it is important to consider how the carriages (thoughts) are linked together.
Write out your speech in paragraphs, each paragraph representing a particular thought. Make sure that you can move easily from one to the next, like a passenger moving through a train to find the buffet car.
In POWERtalk a contest speech lasts five to eight minutes with a light signal that goes on at five minutes and off at six. Thus you aim to speak for about seven minutes.
Make sure you know where you expect the signals to come in the speech and remember that on the night you may have to shunt a carriage or two into a siding. So make sure that your speech contains a couple of unimportant paragraphs that you can drop to adjust your timing.
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