Sunday, November 10, 2019

Our signature dish - literally

I got a big laugh out of yesterday’s Pearls Before Swine cartoon, which had the following dialogue in a restaurant:

Waiter: Here you go sir.

Pig: What is that?

Waiter: It’s what you ordered.

Pig: Some man’s name written in mustard?

Waiter: Our signature dish. If you ask me, it’s not worth fifty bucks.

An image of an oval dish came from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Public speaking only is the seventh most embarrassing situation for Americans

On November 7, 2019 there was a press release at SWNS digital titled Majority of Americans feel pressured to go to work even if they’re very sick that described results from a survey of 2000 Americans done by OnePoll for cough-syrup maker Robitussin. It also showed up as an article in the New York Post.

At the very end of the text was a list of the Top 10 Embarrassing Situations, which I have shown above in a bar chart. Coughing in a quiet place (52%) came first, second was Getting an answer wrong in front of the boss (43%), and third was Forgetting someone’s name (40%). Then at fourth came a tie between Falling asleep in public and Passing gas in public (both 37%), and fifth another tie between Having the hiccups in a meeting and Tripping in public (36%), sixth a third tie between a Child having a temper tantrum in public and Significant other having a temper tantrum in public (34%), and finally seventh Speaking in front of a large group (32%).  

Friday, November 8, 2019

Homophones – cue and queue

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a homophone as:

“One of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (such as to, too, and two).”

The homophone queue showed up in a blog post on October 7, 2019 at Fearless Presentations titled Body Language in Public Speaking. The first paragraph said:

“Body language in public speaking is the nonverbal queues that your movements make during communication. Presenters often focus on what they are going to say and their visual aids. However, we often overlook an important part of the speech — body language. In public speaking, if you look poised and confident, your audience will believe you are poised and confident.”

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary a queue is defined as:

“A waiting line especially of persons or vehicles.”

As shown above, that blog post probably meant to say a cue, like Senator Josh Lee shaking his fist. When you watch a queue, you often will see body language cues like frowning and folded arms, indicating people really don’t like standing there.

Later in that blog post they dragged out a myth, which I blogged about way back on July 25, 2009 in a post titled Bullfighting the Mehrabian Myth.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Excellent advice on how to deal with a distraction or an emergency during your speech

The November 2019 issue of Toastmaster magazine has an excellent article by Barbara Augello about Dealing with Distractions. It has sections titled:
Ignore or resolve the situation?

How to deal with people problems.

Understand some situations can’t be fixed.

The November-December 2019 issue of Speaker magazine (from the U.S. National Speakers Association) has another excellent four-page article by Tim Richardson titled What Would You Do? How to prepare to handle emergencies when you’re onstage. He has stories about three real-life scenarios, and then discusses Essential Information and Lessons Learned.

On May 30, 2019 I blogged about A very worthwhile article on dealing with presentation distractions. Planning ahead and getting help from both your audience and event organizers can prevent you from having a worst moment.

Images of a big green and a big red pushbutton were adapted from those at Wikimedia Commons.  

Monday, November 4, 2019

What a word means can be completely different in the U.S. and South Africa

One misunderstood word can completely derail a conversation. In the U.S. a napkin is something used to wipe your mouth, while in South Africa it is clothing for a baby’s bottom.

That difference is the basis for a hilarious six and a half minute comedy routine posted on June 24, 2019 at YouTube where Trevor Noah Orders His First Taco. The dialog (at ~3:20) goes as follows:

Taco Truck Vendor: Hey, my friend, your tacos are ready.

Trevor: Thank you, man thank you very much.

Taco Truck Vendor: Yeah, do you want a napkin?

Trevor: I’m sorry, what?

Taco Truck Vendor: Do you want a napkin?

Trevor: And now, LA, this is where it gets weird for me. Because, you see, where I’m from napkins are the things babies wear to hold their sh*t. The thing for your mouth we call a serviette. But I didn’t know that…

Images of a stack of paper napkins and a sleeping baby came from Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Another eight questions to ask people you just have met – other than ‘what do you do?’

At the Harvard Business Review on January 30, 2018 there was an article by David Burkus titled 8 Questions to Ask Someone Other Than “What Do You Do?” They are:

What excites you right now?

What are you looking forward to?

What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?

Where did you grow up?

What do you do for fun?

Who is your favorite superhero?

Is there a charitable cause you support?

What’s the most important thing I should know about you?

Any of them could be asked for Table Topics, the impromptu speaking, one-to-two minute question-answering portion of a Toastmasters club meeting.

The image of a conversation is part of a drawing by Arthur Burdett Frost published August 1891 found at the Library of Congress.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A thought provoking how to book by Randall Munroe

How can you tell a good idea from a bad one? You can get some data or do some calculations. I have been having fun reading xkcd web cartoonist Randall Munroe’s latest book, How To: absurd scientific advice for common real-world problems. There are 28 chapters beginning with How to Jump Really High and ending with How to Dispose of This Book. For the first one he says you can either devote your life to athletic training or cheat, and the pole vault is a good way to cheat. Randall shows an equation for how high you can get, which comes from the simple energy transfer consideration I have shown above in an image.

Chapter 2 is on How to Throw a Pool Party. For an above ground pool (a circle with a 30 foot diameter) Randall uses the Barlow formula for stress from the weight of water to calculate how deep you can make a pool using aluminum foil (just five inches) or an inch of wood (75 feet).

If you think a border wall is beautiful, then you probably would like Chapter 9, How to Build a Lava Moat (around your home). But, as is discussed in the four-minute YouTube video shown above, this turns out to be a very bad idea.  

My favorite is Chapter 5: How to Make an Emergency Landing (A Q & A with test pilot and astronaut Chris Hadfield). Chris discusses a lot of different situations, including how to find a place to land the space shuttle. Runways for the shuttle are 15,000 feet long (nearly three miles). They carried a book showing every possible emergency runway in the world  and the direction you could land - which Randall illustrated via a cartoon of a book cover titled BABY’S FIRST emergency spacecraft landing.

There also are full-page cartoons discussing How to Listen to Music, Chase a Tornado, Go Places, Blow Out Birthday Candles, Walk a Dog, Build a Highway, and Change a Lightbulb.

The pole vault image came from Pearson Scott Foresman at Wikimedia Commons.