Tuesday, March 11, 2014
On February 24th TODAY described the results of their Ideal to Real Body Image Survey done with AOL. You can download their 17-page report here.
Page 3 of the report has detailed stacked bar charts showing how much time we spend each day on our appearance. Averages are summarized above with a plain bar chart. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version). For the description they decided that larger numbers were appropriate, so they switched to hours per week, displayed on 12-hour circular clock-face charts, which easily can be confused with more common pie charts.
Then they decided they wanted a really Startling Headline, so they described things in terms of weeks per year, and found that adult women spend almost exactly two weeks per year on their appearance. It’s really just 55 minutes per day, which is slightly less than an hour. But, going to an annual basis makes it seem huge. Of course, we also could make it even larger by multiplying by the number of adult women in the U.S. population, as I discussed back in September 2012 in a post about Is 540 million minutes per day a large number or a small number?
Page 6 of the report has a table about our obsessions, with very different answers by women and men who were asked:
“Which parts of your body/appearance are you likely to worry or obsess over?”
I have displayed these results in a bar chart with the women’s 23 percentages shown in decreasing order.
For women the top five were:
1. Stomach (69%)
2. Skin (40%)
3. Thighs (36%)
4. Natural hair (32%)
5. A three-way tie between Butt, Cellulite, and Gray hair (all at 29%)
For men the top five were:
1. Stomach (52%)
2. Thinning hair (24%)
3. Skin (23%)
4. Gray hair (21%)
5. Facial hair (20%)
Both women (69%) and men (52%) worry most about their stomachs. Note that thinning hair (24%) was ranked second by men, but only 17th by women (18%).
The title for this post came from an old Frank Zappa song which had a different answer:
“...What’s the ugliest part of your body?
Some say your nose, some say your toes,
I think it’s your mind, your mind.”
The self-portrait by Zinaida Serebriakovа came from Wikimedia Commons.
Friday, March 7, 2014
His text is organized into seven sections: Introduction, The Power of Speech, Preparation, Delivery, Design and Use of Visual Aids, Special Occasions, and Epilogue. The Introduction is just two pages long, and the Epilogue is three. Otherwise each page covers a topic briefly via a few very carefully chosen words.
This book can best be enjoyed a page at a time, like unwrapping and eating a piece of good chocolate candy. Don’t try to gobble it down like a foot-long Quizmos or Subway sandwich. Two examples included in the Amazon preview are:
“SUSPEND THEIR DISBELIEF (Page 3)
When I was a child in Katonah, New York, I had a recurring dream that I stood atop the Cross River Dam and said powerful and eloquent things to people off in the distance.
The dream foretold my future. I became an actor and spoke the poetry of Shakespeare before becoming a professor of theater and then a consultant to business leaders.
Thaeter and business have something in common. In both, you get paid for for your performance. And those who get paid the most are endowed, or acquire through study and experience, the ability to create in others the willing suspension of disbelief.
That, in a nutshell, is the job of the actor and the business speaker.
....GATHER YOUR SELVES (Page 36)
Were I to add an ‘&’ between my mifddle and last names, I would become Marion, Sims & Wyeth, a tripod of a person, more stable and formidable, like a corporation.
The artist Alighiero Boetti did this in 1968 to indicate that he (and you and I) are not single, but multiple selves. He became Alighiro e Boetti (‘e’ is ‘and’ in Italian).
I have terrible stage fright, and it’s probably because I have three selves. My Chicken Little self is terrified of failure and humiliation, my bulldog self believes rehearsal pays off, and my aspirational self yearns to be a spell-binding dynamo.
I get my three selves to talk to one another, so I show up sufficiently scared, well-rehearsed, and aspiring to be great, which generally gets the job done.”
The copyright page says that a previous (and briefer) version of this book had appeared in 2011 with a longer title: A Zen Monk Had Sweaty Palms: Pointers on the Path to Better Public Speaking. The shorter title is more descriptive. (The story about sweaty palms appears on page 9 of the current book).
When you look up Marion Sims Wyeth on Wikipedia, you’ll find an entry for his architect grandfather. A 2012 memorial tribute for his father “Buz” notes that as a book editor at HarperCollins he once changed the title of a book by Fred Gipson from the prosaic Big Yellow Dog to Old Yeller. I’m old enough to remember that well-known 1956 book and 1957 Disney movie.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Page 23 of the January 2014 issue of FeedFront, a magazine for affiliate marketers, had an article by Heather Diamani titled Successful Public Speaking Strategies which began:
“Did you know more people fear public speaking over death? An article published in ‘Psychology Today’ in November of 2012 reported that the number one fear over death was pubic speaking.”
Her first sentence should have asked us if we knew that people allegedly fear death more than they fear public speaking. Heather’s version instead had me thinking of the following illustration by William Blake for Robert Blair’s poem The Grave.
Her proofreading of that second sentence missed an ending with a notorious typo, pubic speaking.
Her second sentence implied there was an article in the November 2012 issue of Psychology Today magazine about fear of public speaking. But, she didn’t give either its title or author. Over at my public library I checked on the Academic Search Premier database, and found there was no November 2012 issue of Psychology Today magazine. The September-October one was Volume 45, Issue 5, and the December 2012 one was Volume 45, Issue 6.
Either a speech or blog post should have a strong opening. Stumbling is not good.
What she referred to turned out to be a blog post by Glenn Croston on November 28, 2012 titled The Thing We Fear More Than Death. It opened by claiming that:
“Surveys about our fears commonly show fear of public speaking at the top of the list.”
I had commented on Glenn’s post, and asked him what surveys he was talking about, since on October 23, 2012 I’d blogged that Either Way You Look at It, Public Speaking Really is Not Our Greatest Fear. Glenn didn’t bother to reply to my comment.
Glenn’s column on the Psychology Today blog is titled The Real Story of Risk, which is also the title of his 2012 book. I got it from my public library, and found that on page 234 he wrote that:
“For a vast number of people, standing in front of a group to speak is the worst, most nerve-wracking thing they can imagine. The fear can be paralyzing, leading many to avoid doing or saying anything that could draw attention. Maybe this is another odd holdover from those thousands of generations when belonging to the social group was a life-or-death proposition, with people fearing that standing up and speaking may lead to rejection. Today, public speaking is consistently ranked as the greatest fear most people have - ranking higher than the fear of death itself. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, ‘This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.‘ “
There are no footnotes leading to surveys that back up his claim the public speaking is consistently ranked as the greatest fear, just the usual silly Seinfeld quote. That claim is an ipse dixit - I’m an authority, so you simply must believe what I say.
The image of stumbling was adapted from an old WPA poster I found at the Library of Congress.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
On Alltop Speaking I saw a headline for a blog post by Lou Hampton from 2013 about how March is International Listening Awareness Month. (The International Listening Association cooked it up for marketing their annual convention at the end of the month).
So, we’d expect to find articles about how we should learn to listen better. Lisa B. Marshall had one on How to Improve Listening Skills, and Lou Hampton had one on perceiving that You’re Not Listening to Me!
In the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations about what the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) have been doing, we now would think about being aware that an unwanted outsider might be electronically listening in on our communication.
The woman with radio headphones was adapted from this old Library of Congress image.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Speech topics can come from anywhere. Next to a corner I drive by south of Boise there is a white concrete bench in the front yard of a house. Last week something new appeared - a gold Buddha statue sitting on that bench. Why was it there? Once I quit thinking like an adult, a possible answer was clear.
One road in front of that house runs basically east and west. Looking west and downhill, it bends to the left just before their driveway. Looking east, the intersecting road runs off to the south.
To a skateboarder that bench must have looked like part of an obstacle course starting with the driveway. Adding the statue kept him from doing a grind on the front edge. There are other artistic solutions or deterrents for preventing skateboard damage. The battle between thoughtless fun-seeking kids and adults continues.
Why was the bench there? Perhaps to keep pedestrians, cyclists, and skateboarders from taking a straight line shortcut across the corner of the lawn (rather than following the curved sidewalk).
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Yesterday my Google Alert on the phrase “public speaking” led me to a ~900-word article on the Psychology Today blog by Professor Adrian Furnham titled Dreading the Boards: The Fear of Public Speaking. When I began reading it, I got a strong sense of déjà vu. Then I looked under his name on Google, and found out why.
He’d written a very similar article, an On Your head column, titled Pace, Pitch, Pause: Master the Art of Public Speaking that had appeared on November 17, 2013 in the Sunday Times. Compare the two, and you will find identical paragraphs.
The earlier title fits his content better than the new one. It’s an excellent article that’s worth reading. But, the new subtitle:
“What is it about public speaking that makes it the most common of all phobias?”
doesn’t really fit, since he never gets around to referencing where he got that somewhat silly claim.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Do your speeches include statements like the following:
Everyone needs to try this immediately.
Filler words like um are absolutely useless, and should be completely eliminated.
Everybody needs to hear this man’s story.
Without exception, you should never start your speech by telling a joke.
Everybody should absolutely always eat breakfast each morning.
If they do, then it’s probably time to consider whether you really can justify being that dogmatic and universal. Should you tell a pregnant woman with morning sickness to eat breakfast?
When I wake up very late at night, I sometimes amuse myself by listening to the Coast to Coast AM radio show hosted by George Noory. George is very fond of saying both exactly and absolutely. He has an endless parade of wacko guests with startling books about UFOs, demons, Bigfoot, pyramids, stargates, and near death experiences.
This post was inspired by Shari Alexander’s December 16th blog post on Dangerous Advice, but very similar sentiments about communication also were expressed by Tony Gentilcore in a November 2012 blog post on Everybody, Never, & Always which included:
“Don’t be an a-hole and think you know it all or that your way is the only way. Unless your name is Gandalf, get over yourself…"