Learning through Observation

Posted by Hilari Weinstein on Sep 3rd, 2008
2008
Sep 3

Eleanor Roosevelt once suggested, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself."

We can also learn from others’ excellence-when they get it right.

Did you catch any of the Democratic National Convention?  Political conventions are great opportunities to observe a number of speakers with dramatically different approaches and styles. 

Like his politics or not, Barack Obama is a talented and charismatic speaker.  For educational purposes, I recommend you take a peek at Obama’s recent DNC speech.  The link is below.  Not only was it extemely well written, but his delivery was exceptional.  It was an oratorical knockout-absolutely on-target.

In particular, pay attention to

  • how he uses pacing and his voice to take the listener to

  • many levels within his speech

  • variation of intensity

  • the use of stories

  • shifting from "me" focus to "you"

  • memorable themes

View the speech at:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZCrIeRkMhA

What did you learn from viewing Obama’s speech?  Email me at Hilari@highimpactcommunication.com

Also, I encourage you to watch the upcoming Republican Convention to observe and learn what engages you and what doesn’t in the various speeches delivered.

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Speaking lessons learned from the NFL Hall Of Fame inductees…

Posted by Hilari Weinstein on Aug 7th, 2008
2008
Aug 7

Yesterday I was meeting with a client , Ron, who mentioned that he recently watched the NFL Hall of Fame induction.   Each of the inductees was asked to speak.  Most had a piece of paper with their speech written out word for word.  Some read directly from the page which wasn’t very effective or memorable.  One fellow had notes written down but forgot his glasses and could not read what was written so from the podium, he asked to borrow someone else’s glasses. 

 

 

My client remembered the Maya Angelou quote I always use, "People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

 

 

Ron did not remember a word from most of the inductees.  The ones who were memorable, may not have had perfect verbal fluency but really connected with the audience and spoke from the heart.  Are you too attached to your content? Or do you connect and speak from the heart?  It is ideal to have a good balance of a strong message and engaging delivery.

 

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The “Brain Rules” for Presentations

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jul 18th, 2008
2008
Jul 18

Garr Reynolds put together a great presentation last month on John Medina’s book "Brain Rules" and presentations.

 


 


Here is the full list of 12 rules from "Brain Rules" .

 


 12 Brain Rules from John Medina

 




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Build a Memory Palace to Lose the Crutch – Part V

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 22nd, 2008
2008
Jun 22

(Read the earlier posts in this series here, here, here and here.)

 

 

Next up in this series are two videos with Andi Bell (three time World Memory Champion) from the BBC program "How to Improve Your Memory".

 

 

In this first video, Bell memorizes the order of 20 decks of cards in ten minutes. He then shows how he encodes the card by translating them into characters, then stores the images in a memory journey around London.

 

 


[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-xl7_hdWZo]

 


 

In this second video, Bell teaches the host of "How to Improve Your Memory" how to create his own memory palace out of his home.

 


 

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NROegsMqNc]

 


 

This second video shows how really simple the technique of creating a memory palace out of home or memory journey out of a path through town is very simple to do. Remembering the locations is the easy part for most people. Learning to quickly create vivid, bizarre images can take a bit of practice.

 

Take a recent presentation you built. Write down the opening statement, the three main points ( and examples for each) and the closing statement. Now create a memory palace. For this exercise, I suggest using your home. Start your path in your bedroom, then work a path through the entire home until you have eight spots for your memory palace. Use halls, bathrooms and closets if necessary. For now, only store one vivid image scene in each location.

 

Next, work on creating a vivid, bizarre action scene for the opening and closing statement, and one for each of your three main points and three examples. Each of these colorful action scenes should include sounds and a  powerful smell or taste as well.

 

 

Try it out. Please post your results and thoughts on the experience in the comments.

 

 

More video examples to come…

 

 

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Video, Powerpoint and the Back of a Napkin

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Jun 12th, 2008
2008
Jun 12

A screencast is " a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration."  I completed a screencast recently, and would like to share the final results and the process to create it with the readers of this blog.

 

In my last post here, I wrote about the video coverage project I put together for my company’s annual user conference. This video project went extremely well (despite a few hiccups, especially with wi-fi and cell coverage). In the week after the event, I had to put together a report to share the results with internal employees and with the audience for the Citrix blog

 

On the flight home, I was thinking about the format I wanted to use for the report. I felt that a video about the video coverage was the best way to communicate the results. I dabbeld with the idea of using the Nokia N95 cell phone to do a Qik video, but quickly discarded that notion. The view of my big head adds nothing to a report.

 

I had just finished reading an excellent book called "The Back of the Napkin" by Dan Roam. This was a very eye opening book about the process of using visual thinking to solve problems and communicate ideas. While Dan’s focus in totally on white boarding, it occurred to me that his process applies to any type of visual communication, including powerpoint presentations and screencasts. I resolved to create a screencast of the Synergy Underground results that follows Dan’s model for the types of questions to ask and answer in a visual manner. 

 

In addition to using the visual thinking frame work from "The Back of the Napkin" I used several other techniques that I have discovered during my journey down the road to more effective speaking. As I have written about before, I used a mind map for the outline and included it as the agenda slide. In several slides, I followed the Lessig Method for text. The great majority of the sides were simple visuals which I narrated, consistent with the principles of Garr Reynolds book (and blog) Presentation Zen and the research of Richard Mayer.

 

 

 


 


 

 

I am very pleased with the overall results. This screencast is certainly not perfect and has given me the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons as I reflect on the experience.

 

 

Voice over – The mic I used was not very high quality. I spent a lot of time trying to clean up noise. Camtasia is great for editing video, but I found the audio editing capabilities of my version to be lacking (or at least my knowledge of how to use them). These lessons have been useful in my preparation for the new podcast series I am putting together for Citrix. I have upgraded to a studio quality condenser microphone (an AKG Perception 200 from ebay), an Alesis Multimix USB mixer and a home made "Porta-Booth" to minimize noise. I have also started using Adobe Audition specifically for audio editing.

 

Overall, I am not thrilled with my voice over. My voice was very flat in the beginning. In several places I stumbled as I narrated then slide. Two main factors contributed to my lackluster voice over- insufficient practice and the very late hour when I did the final cut. 

 

Preparation – I spent the lion’s share time trying to get all the other pieces right (the outlines, slides, Camtasia screen recording, etc…). I set a deadline when to finish this, and spent most of the time changing the outline and redoing the slides to fit with the new structure I learned from Dan Roam’s book. Recording the voice over at 2 am was probably not the best choice to maximize the tone and rhythm of my voice. Since I have not done a screencast in some time AND I was using a new framework for the overall structure of the presentation, I should have given myself more time to complete this project.

 

Visuals- I am very pleased with the content of the screencast overall. One issue does stand out however. It is very obvious now that the video is too long. While I did get many questions about how I did the live video streaming from the Nokia N95 cell phone, I can see now that I should have made that into a separate video. That one changed would have cut the length by about 4 minutes.

 

My goal for the over all structure was to follow the "Visual Thinking Codex" from "The Back of the Napkin"  (pg. 141). I chose the relevant  frame work questions and selected one of the recommended visual methods  to answer each question. Mind mapping  this new frame work helped a great deal, but took much more time than expected due to numerous revisions.

 

Using the simple visuals, minimal text and the basic bar charts recommend by Dan Roam for "How many?" questions did help save a great deal of time. Unfortunately, when Camtasia converted the video to wmv or avi format on the first few attempts, there were significant issues rendering the rapid text changes. That issue took an inordinate amount of time to solve.

 

 

 

Despite these issues, I am very happy I went through this process. I learned a lot of important lessons that will help me in the futre. I hope that my writing about this process will help some of you as well.

 

 

My ultimate goal here is to create a repeatable process that allows me to communicate even more effectively.This combination of visual thinking from "The Back of the Napkin", powerpoint and video along with other lessons I have learned in the past are moving me closer to that goal.  I appreciate any feedback you have on the progress to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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