Sunday, May 16, 2010

What should I do to keep from running out of ideas?

Be proactive. Make new information swim to you. Go to right where it should be. Tara Calishain wrote a book on Information Trapping which discusses ways to stay informed. She also writes a blog called ResearchBuzz.

For example, instead of searching in Google you can set up continuing alerts to receive email about particular topics. A Google Alert has the following parameters:

Search terms: a list of phrases enclosed by quotation marks
Web, News, Blogs, Video, Groups, or Comprehensive
How often:
as-it happens, once a day, or once a week
Email length:
up to 20 results, or up to 50 results

Right now I have two comprehensive, 20-results, daily alerts, on the broad phrases of “public speaking” and “business presentations.” Usually I just glance at the item titles, and look at the web addresses. Occasionally I look further and read the first paragraph. On rare occasions I read an entire article.

My Google Alert on business presentations mostly has led to forgettable articles on topics like buying projectors and getting presentation folders printed. However, yesterday’s referred to an article by Warwick John Fahy about how to get most people to turn off their mobile (cell) phones during presentations. His first name both is unusual and sounded vaguely familiar. I searched in my blog and found that I had linked to a YouTube video of him speaking to a Toastmasters Club in Shanghai in a 2008 post about how Speech Evaluation Leads to Improvement.

One way to read blogs is to save their addresses in your web browser (as Favorites or Bookmarks). Then you can occasionally go and look at a particular one. You can instead use Google Reader to automate that process. When you set up Reader you enter the web address for a blog. Reader connects to the RSS (really simple syndication) feed, and automatically sends you the latest entries as they are posted. That article I mentioned said that Mr. Fahy has a blog called The One Minute Presenter. I just subscribed to his blog via Google Reader. I looked some more at Mr. Fahy’s blog and found that he even had a box where you can sign up for email alerts of his new ezine articles.

Yet another way to manage reading of blogs is to view a buffet of them – a feed aggregator like Alltop. Alltop Speaking has a digital “magazine rack” showing the titles of the five most recent posts for about 75 blogs. I occasionally look at Alltop Speaking. When I find that I have been reading most of the recent posts on a particular blog, then I subscribe to it via Google Reader. Alltop does a reasonably good job of keeping their list relevant. Some lousy stuff gets on there, but then gets removed. Other excellent blogs like Sarah Marks’s Ah, Um, Er sometimes disappear and then reappear because they are not posted to every week.

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