Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Overstuffed Series of Donut Charts

In his All About Presentations blog on July 24th Vivek Singh blogged about how to Create professional looking charts in 6 steps. He showed how to use PowerPoint to make a very pretty donut chart series like the one shown above, which is taken from an Ericsson publication called Performance Shapes Smartphone Behavior. (I added the light green background).

When I looked at that series, something didn’t seem to add up, and doesn’t. Those four percentages are shown as separate categories, which implies they are exclusive. But, 40% + 25% + 23% + 20% = 108%. That’s bull dung.

Something is wrong with the raw data. Before you plot percentages you need to check that they total to a hundred percent. (You could have the named percentages total to less than a hundred, if you left out a miscellaneous or other category though).

PowerPoint is set up to automatically scale the total from them to fill a circle on a single pie chart or donut chart, so it won’t object to showing something silly like this. If you tried to plot them on a single chart, you might be more likely to check them. When you saw that 25% did not fill 90 degrees, you would ask what is wrong.         

Perhaps there really are people who use a train or bus and they shop while commuting. Or, maybe there are people who grab a sandwich and have dinner while they are either shopping or commuting. The charts should show what is really happening.

This is a much more subtle error than the pie chart with a total of 271% I blogged about last December as ‘tis the season for pies and artistic charts about them.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Leave the “clean and jerk” to the weightlifters!

The "jerk" is the last part of a sequence, but if you are a public speaker rather than a competitive weightlifter holding a barbell that gesture will look silly (and perhaps show off sweat patches on your armpits).  

I found this 1939 filibuster image of Senator Warren R. Austin on the Library of Congress web site , with a long title that began:

“If we have to make speeches until morning!”

Back in June 2008 I blogged about What to do with your arms and hands, and mentioned the T-Rex posture, where you let your hands dangle uselessly in front of your body.

Competitive weightlifting is a performance watched by an audience, which is Why Strippers Would Be Good Weightlifters.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Should you wear a megaphone helmet for public speaking?

Probably not, although wearing your very own personal public address system might be tempting. Back on November 18, 2005 Phillip Torrone posted on the Make web site about How to Make a (Pimped Out) Megaphone Helmet:

“Here I show you how you can very simply modify a megaphone to accept 1/8” line input from an iPod, and mount the megaphone on top of a motorcycle helmet. The resulting ‘Mega Helmet’ delivers the maximum aural stupidity allowed by law...Go play softball wearing the helmet. It is very good for antagonizing the pitcher, and trash-talking in general. The helmet allows both for amplification of your voice, and playback of mp3s from the iPod.”

Then on October 24, 2012 The Onion took that idea to an absurd limit (implanted microphone and speakers), demonstrated with an Onion Talk parody of  a TED Talk titled Loudness Equals Power.

Finally, over in London, designer Tomomi Sayuda came up with her two versions of what she called the Mask of Soul. The newer one is described on Designboom in a July 2nd post, Tomomi Sayuda’s mask of soul helps overcome fears of public speaking. It’s slick looking, but the concept is a bit silly. (The Vimeo video shows a swearing contest, and thus is not suitable for playing in a work environment). Her earlier soft version is shown in another Vimeo video from December 14, 2013. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chris Hadfield’s amazing TED talk on What I learned from going blind in space

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. So, it’s a good time to look at one effect. Up in Ontario it inspired a nine year old boy to dream of becoming an astronaut, which seemed impossible. Chris told that story in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. (Back in January I blogged about his advice to Visualize failure and then plan for success).

In this TED talk he describes getting over fear, what going up, being in space, and coming back down feels like, and his sense of wonder. (In the book he mentions an ironic detail - that before launch of a Soyuz rocket Russians toast to Miakoi posadki [soft landings]).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spam comments from folks who don’t know which end is up

When I checked the spam folder on my blog yesterday, I found a comment on a post from September 29, 2009 about Teleprompters and public speaking that said:

“Wow, supoerb blog layout! How ldnghty have you been blogging for? You make blogging glance easy. The overall look of your site is magnificent, let alone the content! My site...”

Now, the gray Blog Archive list on the right side of my posts shows that this blog has been around since 2008, so asking me how long I’ve been blogging is rather silly. 

Even sillier was the totally unrelated topic of his web site - a review for a nonprescription remedy meant to treat hemorrhoids. That remedy combines a dietary supplement (capsules) and a homeopathic spray (containing about 25% alcohol, and purified water), When I looked at two web sites about the product, I found rather confusing instructions.

The manufacturer’s web site says that the spray is applied under the tongue, but one paragraph says twice a day, while another says three times a day.   

Another web site selling the product says that that spray is applied twice a day - either directly to external hemorrhoids, or under the tongue. I’m not sure they know which end is up. 

A third web site says that the remedy originally just was the capsules, and then the spray was added later by new management.

The cartoon of a handstand was derived from this old WPA poster.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

National Speakers Association fell off their new PLATFORM, and will try another brand name

On July 7th I blogged about Will the National Speakers Association fall off its new platform? At their annual meeting they had announced that they were going to switch to a single-word name of PLATFORM.

But, Michael Hyatt already had a best-selling book published in 2012 with the title Platform: get noticed in a noisy world. I said that name change by NSA looked like a hilariously poor choice, and expected that it would not happen.

On July 14th NSA released a YouTube video titled Update on NSA’s Proposed Brand/Name Change - National Speakers Association in which they said they were going to drop PLATFORM and do something else.   

NSA has a code of ethics for members which includes:

“Article 4 - Intellectual Property

The NSA Member shall avoid using - either orally or in writing - materials, titles or thematic creations originated by others unless approved in writing by the originator.”

The text accompanying the YouTube video contained this reply (separation into paragraphs added by me for clarity):

“2. Why did NSA not adhere its own ethics and values related to intellectual property when others were using the Platform name?

An extensive search was conducted through the US Patent and Trademark Office during the development process. While there were 40 separate trademarks held by various companies throughout the US, only one of those was trademarked in the speaker marketplace and it had not been actively used in the last 15 years.

As soon as NSA became aware that someone else was actively using this brand in a similar marketplace to what we proposed, we reached out to that individual immediately to discuss the issue. While it took some time, we have communicated with all parties (including Michael Hyatt and his organization) and have worked out all issues to the satisfaction of everyone involved.

NSA takes very seriously any infractions of intellectual property and holds its ethics process and the values of the organization in high esteem and would never intentionally violate either of them.”

Michael Hyatt’s gracious reply to the announcement included this statement:

“The real test of leadership is not in whether you make mistakes. They are inevitable. I’ve certainly made my share. The real test is in what you do about them once they happen.

This is a good example of an organization that stumbled but then had the integrity to reverse their decision once they processed all the relevant input. This is extremely rare among individuals, let alone organizations. I salute them for their leadership.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The ultimate presentation nightmare cartoon

Wow! Today’s Savage Chickens cartoon by Doug Savage has it all - a presentation nightmare where you didn’t know what you are talking about, are naked, and are surrounded by critical angry bears (that shoot lava out of their paws). 

The only thing I’ve heard of that approaches it is a somewhat obscene comedy routine by Patton Oswalt about how taking Ambien creates crazy dream mashups that include several nightmares.