Saturday, July 30, 2016

Going around pesky periodical paywalls by using databases from your friendly local public library

One irritation when doing web research is finding that a site like a newspaper or magazine that once  offered free access now has put up a paywall. What can you do? After all, aren’t you just a poor, helpless, lone consumer?

Of course not! You are a taxpayer, and your state taxes paid for a library system that bulk purchased a whole set of databases. That makes you part of a powerful group. One or more databases likely has that pesky periodical. Instead of being shut out at the front gate for that paywall, just get out your library card and use it as the key to open up a side gate via your city or county public library web site. If you want or need even more, try visiting the library at a state university.  

Back on February 24, 2015 I blogged about How to do an better job of speech research than the average Toastmaster (by using your friendly local public and state university libraries).

At her Law and More blog on July 16th (Mary) Jane Genova posted  briefly on the topic of Catching up with fun parts of the law w/o paywalls. She said:

“....But with the growing number of paywalls, there are fewer free sites to browse., WSJ Law Blog, Bloomberg Law, The New York Times, and The Washington Post all have put up those toll gates. Some of those, such as The Times, allow a certain amount of freebies a month.”

I was surprised to see that she didn’t mention using public and state university libraries, or to also post that article on her other Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog. In her town of Tucson the Pima County Public Library has InfoTrac Newsstand, which reportedly carries the last decade of The New York Times. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Would three out of four people rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy?

Not really! Recently I have blogged about how a famous quotation by Jerry Seinfeld comparing the fears of public speaking and death was instead attributed to three other men - Woody Allen, Jay Leno, or Jerry Springer. Yesterday there was yet another fantasy version at The Long Distance Internet Entrepreneur. Phil Thomson blogged about Helping to reduce the fear of business presentations. His mixup of what Jerry said could be called something like Three Out of Four Would Prefer the Casket to the Eulogy. It began like this:   

“For those of us of a certain age, the USA comedy series Seinfeld holds a special place in our hearts. For many years in ran second to Friends in the US ratings, the only fundamental difference being that Seinfeld was much funnier. One particular episode stands out in my memory, when Jerry Seinfeld and friends were sadly attending a funeral. The subject of peoples’ greatest fears came up in conversation and specifically where death itself was ranked compared with having to speak in public. Sienfeld’s comment was something on the lines of ‘So what you are saying is that three out of four people in the church now would rather be in the casket that having to give the eulogy’.

This apparently jokey comment seems however to be based on fact. After flying, speaking in public comes in a strong second place ahead of spiders, the dark and yes even death. Until recently I had no idea that there was even a specific catch-all name for the physical sensations we go through before and during public speaking. It is called Glossophobia (from the Latin word Glossa meaning tongue) and it covers everything from dry mouth and weak voice to sweating and elevated blood pressure.”

Back on February 3, 2014 I blogged about Busting a myth - that 75% of people in the world fear public speaking. So, the 3 out out 4 isn’t really fact based. Neither is the Statistic Brain version with 74%.

Also, in last year’s second Chapman Survey of American Fears, speaking in public didn’t come second. It came 26th out of 89 fears, and on the average people were only slightly afraid of it. See my October 29, 2015 blog post titled: According to the 2015 Chapman Survey of American Fears, adults are less than Afraid of federal government Corruption and only Slightly Afraid of Public Speaking.

Glossophobia is a pseudo-technical term that won’t lead you to the best information about speech anxiety.

The old man writing in a casket was modified from Wellcome Images.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

She ought to be good - she’s using my act

The press was quick to recognize that parts of Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican convention last night were directly inspired by one Michelle Obama gave back in 2008, CNN reported that, as usual, the Trump campaign denied everything - that she had ‘cribbed’ them. Newsweek Europe printed the full text of both.

The retro image of a woman was copied and modified from one at Openclipart  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Everyone thinks they are the Center of the Universe

We’ve all met some of those people. They will proudly tell us they’re an Influencer, Thought Leader, the Number One Authority, or the Greatest in the World. Up in Wallace they have a manhole cover with the ultimate boast. An article at Atlas Obscura on July 13, 2016 describes how The Self-Proclaimed Center of the Universe is in Wallace, Idaho. But the Exploratorium has a web page titled Where is the center of the universe? which instead explains:

“When astronomers look at distant galaxies to determine how fast they're moving, it looks like they're all moving away from us. Does that mean we're at the center of the universe? Well, no. It turns out that every point in the universe sees itself as the center!”

Atlas Obscura has another article on Felicity, California: Center of the World. I thought instead the center was way down at the core and unreachable, as shown schematically above.

When you write a speech, you have to deal with how people think. They will consciously or unconsciously be asking what’s in it for me (WIIFM)? Back on June 20, 2007 Gavin Meikle wrote about For persuasive presentations don’t forget WIIFM. There’s a recent two-minute YouTube video with Scott Schwertly of Ethos3 discussing How do I make sure my presentation addresses the idea of WIIFM? Scott says you need to answer three questions: What?, So what? and Now what?

An image of that manhole cover was modified from one by Jan Kronsell at Wikimedia Commons, as was the image of the earth’s core.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

What presenters can learn from that first graphical Trump-Pence campaign logo

An Associated Press story on July 15th by Michelle R. Smith titled Trump-Pence logo gives some people the giggles described how the now discarded graphical top part of the logo shown above was ridiculed. The design is a stylized part of an American flag, but with the stars replaced by the letters TP. The first and most obvious problem is that TP is a common acronym for toilet paper.

Second and worse, having the vertical shaft of the T entering the opening of the P led to suggestions that it described sexual intercourse. Samantha Bee had an animated gif version, and tweeted it with the title Breaking the mattress of America, which I’ve shown at the bottom of the stroke. (It also was noted elsewhere that when the logo is inverted those letters look like a hand job). Politics indeed makes strange bedfellows. What a big boner. 

The graphic since has disappeared from the campaign logo. USA Today, TIME, and Fortune all gleefully reported on the first one. They should have taken a critical look before releasing the logo. Haste makes waste. It just came and went.

Back in 2008 there was a book by Donald Sexton and Donald J. Trump titled Trump University Branding 101: How to Build the Most Valuable Asset of Any Business. On page 108 it proclaimed:

“You do not need a graphic design house to develop your logo. The Nike logo was designed by a graduate student at the University of Oregon for a modest amount. However, you do need to be sure that your logo leads to the attributes that you want associated with your brand such as the coverage provided by Sherwin-Williams paint or a different kind of coverage provided by Travelers Insurance.”

Unfortunately the Trump-Pence campaign didn’t follow that advice.

Back in the late 1960s, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Carnegie Tech and Mellon Institute merged to form Carnegie Mellon University. For a brief period the new institution was just called Carnegie University. Then apparently the Mellons protested, and the name was quickly revised to Carnegie-Mellon University. The artwork on the new logo was done in such haste that the hyphen wound up protruding from the left side of the M in Mellon, and there it stayed for many years. It is on my 1972, 1974 and 1981 degrees.    

Friday, July 15, 2016

(Mary) Jane Genova also was a self-appointed brand ambassador for Toastmasters International

That’s why it was so funny to read her blog post on July 7th titled Toastmasters, et al. - Beware your self-appointed brand ambassadors. Jane must have forgotten that in both 2014 and 2015 she cranked out blog posts based on Toastmasters International press releases about their Golden Gavel award. She used their logo, but didn’t bother linking back to her sources.

On July 11, 2016 she blogged about What Else Has Changed - We can now burn bridges, with a few exceptions. No way! Anyone can site search on Google and eventually find what was written in a blog.

The image was modified from Have Another at the Library of Congress.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

She’d rather die than make that choice

Often a woman manages to get in the last word. At the upper right corner of page 7C in the July 8, 2016 issue of the Idaho Statesman there was an obituary for Jeanne Hunter Sahlberg that opened with the following sentence:

“Faced with the dilemma of having to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Jeanne Sahlberg decided instead to pass from this life on June 30, 2016.”

I’m going to wait at least until I see who they pick to run for Vice President.

There already are very silly revelations about some detractors though. Look at the July 9th New York Times article by Alessandra Stanley titled Dick Morris Takes Aim at Hilary Clinton From a Tabloid Perch. In Trump-speak we would call Dick a big toesucker.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How to make statistics understandable

On July 10th the Slideshop blog had a post titled How to Present Statistics that Make Sense. Headings were:

Frame it from the perspective of your audience
Use a tangible and concrete point of reference
Plot statistics on a graph or chart

One of their examples placed the height of the tallest wind turbine (220 meters) between the tallest giraffe (6.1 meters) and the tallest tower (634 meters). Lengths are pretty easy. What about weights or volumes?

The 1938 image shown above says U. S. bituminous coal production was about 10 million tons per week. People can relate to coal being transported in the usual container, which back then was a railroad hopper car holding 100 tons. So, that’s also 100,000 cars per week.

100,000 cars per week converts to 14,285.71 cars per day, or 595.24 cars per hour, or 9.92 cars per minute. Ten cars a minute is easy to imagine.

How else can we express this in human terms? A car is roughly 50 feet long, so we can imagine a single coal train going by at a speed of 500 feet per minute or 5.7 miles per hour for that whole week. According to Wikipedia an average walking speed is 3.1 miles per hour, so you’d have to jog instead of walk in order to keep up with it.  

What should you avoid? In a blog post July 15, 2011 titled What can we say about a really big hole in the ground? I discussed the Bingham Canyon open pit mine near Salt Lake City. Kennecott Utah Copper said that each day they mine 500,000 tons of ore, which was described as being 10,000 50-ton humpback whales. Most of us don’t see humpback whales in everyday life, so that’s not a useful point of reference.

What about volumes? In another blog post on August 17, 2011 I discussed How to make a large number incomprehensible - or comprehensible. A July 22, 2011 article in The Week described how:

“....For Americans at home, flushing the toilet is the main way we use water. We use more water flushing toilets than bathing or cooking or washing our dishes or our clothes. The typical American flushes the toilet five times a day at home, and uses 18.5 gallons of water, just for that. What that means is that every day, Americans flush 5.7 billion gallons of clean drinking water down the toilet. And that’s just at home.”

It’s impossible to get your brain around that number, of course—5.7 billion gallons of water a day. But here’s a way of thinking about it. It’s more water than all the homes in the United Kingdom and Canada use each day for all their needs—we flush more water down the toilet than 95 million Brits and Canadians use.”

5.7 billion gallons a day is hard to comprehend. But it can be compared with something huge - it is about 9% of the flow over Niagara Falls. When you multiply anything by 308 million people, you will get a huge number. I discussed that problem in a September 23, 2012 blog post titled Is 540 million minutes per day a large number or a small number?

Bleach and milk both come in gallon bottles. Think about picking up and pouring 18 of them into a toilet, one at a time. So 18 gallons per person per day is easy to imagine and visualize.
Another statistic in that Slideshop blog post was: 

“Here’s an example of how a teacher could use statistics to promote motor vehicle safety to students.

Good: Don’t drink and drive. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 there were 9,967 people killed in alcohol-impaired auto accidents in the US. (Possible reaction: Wow! That’s a huge number!)

Better: Don’t drink and drive. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 an average of 27 people died every day from alcohol-impaired auto accidents in the US alone.  (Possible reaction: I could have been one of the victims!)”

27 people per day is a small enough number to visualize easily. (Imagine 27 coffins in three rows of nine). But, how does that number compare with the Top Ten list shown on the CDC FastStats web page for Leading Causes of Death?

As shown above in a bar chart, it’s about 4 times smaller than the 117 a day for #10 (suicide) and about 14 times smaller than the 372 for #4 (accidents of all kinds), and 62 times smaller than the 1682 for #1 (heart disease). Students who get curious and check that page will say that you are unjustifiably trying to scare them. 

Very small numbers are harder to express. I discussed small thicknesses in a January 13, 2010 blog post titled How thin is “extremely thin”?

If you are using the Google Chrome web browser, then you can install an extension called the Dictionary of Numbers (Quantity in human terms). It will automatically look up comparisons. I talked about it in a September 22, 2013 blog post titled Putting numbers into context with a browser tool - The Dictionary of Numbers.

UPDATE July 13, 2016

For another recent viewpoint, see Ashish Arora's June 29th blog post at SketchBubble titled Statistics don't need to be sleep-inducing in your presentation.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A great front-page editorial in Sunday's Dallas Morning News

Page one of the July 10th issue of the Dallas Morning News had just a drawing of a crying eye and an editorial titled This city, our city. It is a fitting response to the horrible slaying of five police officers.

Amid all the journalistic tabloid craziness of the current Presidential election, it is wonderful to see that some newspeople still are thinking and then writing.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Beware of anything labeled as a Complete Guide

My Google alert on the phrase “public speaking” pointed me to an article from July 9th at Clapway by freelance writer Jonathan Emmen from Copenhagen titled How to Avoid All Possible Flops in Your Public Speech - The Complete Guide.

It’s just over a thousand words, so his title is a hilarious overreach. (Back on February 29, 2016 he wrote a LinkedIn Pulse article on why 10 Bits of How To Success Advice Are Absolute Twaddle).

What are some things Jonathan left out of that Clapway article?

The first one is a written introduction for your speech. Back on November 9, 2009 I blogged about what can go wrong in a post titled An unforgettable introduction for a professor

The second one is technology like a PowerPoint presentation, assuming the venue provides a computer and projector. You need to have that presentation file on a thumb drive, and a backup CD or online version that can be loaded and run through well before your speech is scheduled to begin. You also may bring printed handouts.

A third is what to look for if you are bringing a computer. In a blog post on July 12, 2014 I mentioned Three things to check so your presentation doesn’t go up in smoke:

“Before you head out the door with your laptop, check that:

1. Your desktop display has appropriate wallpaper and no naughty icons like My Porn Files.

2. Your screen saver isn’t Not Safe for Work (NSFW) like the one shown in this video.

3. Your PowerPoint handout doesn’t contain an embedded Excel workbook full of unrelated but proprietary data. (Save it as a .pdf file, or just include the spreadsheets you used for that presentation).”

A fourth is to prepare by having a checklist. I discussed that topic in a February 1, 2011 blog post titled Is your speech ready for takeoff? Are you sure? For example, if you are bringing a laptop you need to also have your wireless presentation remote and spare batteries, etc.

Back in 2009 Joseph A. Grippo wrote a 56 page book titled A Complete Guide to Public Speaking. It isn’t complete. In 2007 Jeffrey P. Davidson wrote a 336 page book titled The Complete Guide to Public Speaking. It’s also not really complete.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

After 42 years master storyteller Garrison Keillor stepped off the stage at A Prairie Home Companion

USA Today, NPR, and People magazine all covered his retirement.

That two-hour Saturday evening radio show won’t be the same without his hosting and storytelling - particularly long comedy monologues covering the News from Lake Wobegon. Garrison Keillor has discussed inventing that fictional central Minnesota town filled with stoic Lutherans. You can watch his 17-minute July 2nd last monologue on YouTube. You can listen to that show too. 

I don’t remember the title, but still remember the plot from one old monologue. He began at one end of town by describing a young woman high school student being seated on the turret of a Sherman tank at the head of the Homecoming parade, followed by the marching band. Garrison described how that tradition meant that rather than mentally putting women on pedestals he would put them on Sherman tanks.

Then he switched over to the other end of town, where her father had responded to an emergency plumbing repair call about an overflowing septic tank. He got a backhoe and dug it up, but found that instead of a real tank they’d done a depression-era improvisation and just piped the sewage into the buried body of an old automobile. Finally he got the stinking manure-filled vehicle onto a flatbed trailer, and headed through town to dispose of it at the county dump (and then pick up a new septic tank).

But he’d forgotten all about that homecoming parade. Of course he met it and his daughter in the middle of downtown on Main Street - where the sidewalks were crowded with onlookers. So, he had to back up the truck and trailer and instead take less direct route on a side street.    

The show had several fictitious long-term sponsors including Powdermilk Biscuits and The Fearmonger’s Shop (serving your phobia needs since 1954). They sell products like edible clothing, safety shields for your appliances, the Lever of Life, and stuffed buzzards. Other sponsors include the singing whales from Seattle.     

In a blog post on August 5, 2014 I described Mr. Keillor’s discussion of a self-erasing commencement speech.

So long Garrison. You made us both laugh and think.

The image of a theater stage came from the Library of Congress.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Calling a horse a zebra doesn’t make it one

PickTheBrain calls itself:

“ of the fastest growing and most trusted self improvement websites & communities on the web.”

On June 30th Jose Hamilton posted there about 3 Public speaking Brain Hacks From A Psychiatrist. Those three were to:

1]  Change your thoughts

2]  Learn to relax

3]  Face your fear

But one paragraph there claimed that:

“....Research show that 48% of the American population has some degree of public speaking fear, and a survey from Harvard Medical School estimates that the lifetime prevalence of extreme public speaking fear, characterized as social anxiety disorder, is 12.1%.”

When I followed his link to the SOCIAL ANXIETY ULTIMATE GUIDE page on his Youper web site and looked under the heading How common is social anxiety disorder?  I found a different version of that paragraph. He kept those two percentages but changed what they referred to. Now the word shyness was substituted for the phrase public speaking fear:

“Research show that 48% of the American population has some degree of shyness, and a survey from Harvard Medical School estimates that the lifetime prevalence of extreme shyness, characterized as social anxiety disorder, is 12.1%.”

Which is correct for the 48%? It is shyness. The Social Anxiety Ultimate Guide refers to a 1995 article in Psychology Today magazine by Carducci and Zimbardo  titled Are You Shy? which much more vaguely says that:

“Research in my laboratory and elsewhere suggests that, courtesy of changing cultural conditions, the incidence of shyness in the U.S. may now be as high as 48% - and rising.”

What about the more precise 12.1%? That is correct for social anxiety disorder, but is too high for extreme public speaking fear (phobia), and instead should be 10.7%.

Another section in his SOCIAL ANXIETY ULTIMATE GUIDE is titled What situations that commonly provoke anxiety? IT contains an online survey you can take that asks about 15 different situations. But, it doesn’t mention that most of those situations were covered in the National Comorbidity Survey - Replication (NCS-R) and discussed back in 2008 in a detailed magazine article. There is data for both fears and phobias, which I discussed in a blog post on October 11, 2011titled What’s the difference between a fear and a phobia? In another post on August 12, 2015 titled There’s really no mystery about how common stage fright is I discussed exactly what the question in that article was regarding Public speaking/performance.

The zebra image is from Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How not to give a birthday party speech

In the Sydney Morning Herald on July 1st Danny Katz wrote about Why it’s a good idea to drink heavily before speaking in public. His five tongue-in-cheek tips (which definitely should NOT be followed) are:

Tip 1: Write your speech. Make it honest and sweet, filled with personal anecdotes about the person you are honouring. Now pepper all the honest sweetness with lewd one-liners you found on best-man wedding-speech websites (e.g. "Fornication! ... oh sorry, I read that wrong ... For-an-occasion such as this ... ")


Tip 2: Half an hour before delivering the speech, find a quiet corner to collect your thoughts, focus on the task, and get drunk. Not mildly drunk; we're talking completely hammered, until you can't stop grinning and it takes five tries to say "cash register".


Tip 3: Seconds before giving the speech, take off your glasses so you can't see anyone's faces. If you don't wear glasses, put on a pair of someone else's. Now you'll be speaking to a roomful of blurry pineapple shapes with honeydew heads. Not only easier; kind of cute.


Tip 4: Say funny stuff about the person. If you can't think of anything, just imagine something funny and laugh uncontrollably (baby sloths in a bucket). Also say some sad stuff. If you can't think of anything, imagine something sad and start to cry (baby sloths in a bucket, most dead, a couple very sick).   


Tip 5. Keep the speech short and get off – don't wait for applause, there won't be any. Find a quiet corner to wind down, debrief, and get even more hammered, so you won't notice that no one's talking to you for the rest of the night.

Sometimes it’s fun to talk about the opposite of what to do. I did that back in June 24, 2008 in a blog post on Don’t be a “Flip Chart Charlie.” 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Would you expect a homeopathic remedy at a potency of 30C to reduce your dog’s anxiety about loud noises like fireworks?

It’s the Fourth of July, so this evening people will be setting off lots of fireworks and scaring lots of dogs (and also cats). Would giving a homeopathic remedy help?

Heck no! It’s just magic. But I found an article from June 2015 at a web site called PrimallyInspired titled Natural Remedy If Your Dog Is Scared Of Fireworks Or Thunderstorms. It described giving your dog homeopathic Phosphorus at a potency of 30C.

When you look up Homeopathic dilutions at Wikipedia, you will find that C means diluting by a factor of 1 to 100 and 30C means repeating that process thirty times. It is also equivalent to diluting by 1 to 10 and repeating that process sixty times. That is a factor of ten to the sixtieth power, or

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times.

At that dilution there are no atoms of phosphorus left. It is just a placebo - the sugar pills or alcohol and water used as a carrier. By Charles Dicken’s terminology from A Christmas Carol, Phosphorus 30C should just be called The Ghost of Phosphorus Past.

I found another article from 2015 by Linda Miller at Dogs Naturally magazine titled Noise Phobia in Dogs: Homeopathic Solutions. It also recommended a potency of 30C, and along with phosphorus also mentioned:

Asarum (wild ginger)
Ferrum metallicum (metallic iron)
Theridion (from spiders)
Zincum metallicum (metallic zinc)

I would not expect iron or zinc at higher concentrations to have any effect either. That’s because they are used in piping and already should be present at parts per million levels in drinking water. For example, look at the detailed water analysis report from 2014 for New York City.

There also is a combination remedy from HomeoPet called Anxiety TFLN. (TFLN stands for thunderstorms, fireworks, and loud noises). Here in Boise it is carried by Zamzows. It contains:

Borax 6C and 30C
Chamomilla 6C and 30C
Phosphorus 6C and 30C
Rhododendron 6C and 30C
Theridion curassivicum 6C and 30C

Each of those ingredients supposedly is present at both 6C and 30C - a very peculiar idea called a potency chord. I discussed that idea back in a May 2, 2012 blog post titled  Is taking a liquid homeopathic remedy more like drinking lemonade or playing an accordion? In this case the 30C is fictitious and ten to the 48th power less than the 6 C (12X).

There actually was a double blind clinical trial of HomeoPet Anxiety TFLN. Results are in a magazine article in the Veterinary Journal from 2008 (Volume 177, pages 80 to 88) by Nina R. Cracknell and Daniel S, Mills titled A double blind placebo-controlled study into the efficacy of a homeopathic remedy for fear of firework noises in the dog (Canis familiaris). They concluded: 

“No evidence for the specific efficacy of homeopathy for the treatment of fear of noises was found in this study. However, significant improvements were reported with both the homeopathic and placebo treatments with approximately a 41–45% improvement in the behavioural signs of fear, an improvement seen in 68% of subjects and an approximate 10% complete recovery rate. Evidence from this study highlights the caution required when interpreting the results of uncontrolled treatment trials for the management of fear of noises in dogs. To find the true efficacy of a treatment it is necessary to compare results to that of a placebo under the same circumstances.”

What might really work? There is a medication called Sileo which was discussed on June 28, 2016 in New York Times article by Jan Hoffman titled A New Treatment for Dogs Scared by Thunder and Fireworks, and on June 29, 2016 in a Washington Post article by  Ben Guarino titled For dogs terrified of fireworks, new drug aims to take the edge off of the Fourth of July.

For a more general discussion, see a recent 5-minute YouTube video from the American Chemical Society titled Does Homeopathy Work?

The image of a woman with a magic wand was derived from an 1852 patent medicine label for Sybilline leaves found at the Library of Congress.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Making a mountain out of a molehill about getting a refund from Toastmasters

On June 19, 2016 I had blogged about how Jane Genova was Running Away from Toastmasters. On June 17th she had blogged about Toastmasters - Style over substance. Jane had joined a club in Tucson, but gave up after attending just three weekly meetings - and then asked for a refund of her dues. Then on June 19th she replied to my post by whining about me in the second half of another post titled Hilary Clinton Isn’t Such a Hot Public Speaker - So? 

On July 1st Jane whined further - about not yet receiving her refund in a post on her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog titled Beware Toastmasters - You could be toast. That same post appeared on her other two blogs Law and More and Over 50 with titles of Toastmasters - This Scenario Wasn’t Covered in Anger Management and Toastmasters - Bad Taste in My Mouth (like burnt toast).

She didn’t carefully proofread, so her last two words were originally brunt (sic) toast. After I commented she fixed that typo. Since she bangs out roughly three posts a day on Speechwriter-Ghostwriter, I wasn’t surprised by that lapse.  

In my June 19th post I had noted that:

“Jane’s post is as interesting for what it leaves out as for what it says.“

That’s also true of her latest one. How huge of a refund are we talking about? For comparison purposes, keep in mind that she’d mentioned taking a myriad of Dale Carnegie public speaking seminars. The basic Dale Carnegie course (of nine weekly sessions) currently costs $1695 to $1995. She mentioned that Group 5858 (actually Conquistador Toastmasters Club) had told her more than half her dues had gone to International. That would be just $36 for six months. Another $20 was for a one-time fee for a new-member packet containing publications. There also would be some local dues to cover club expenses. So, her total expenditure was somewhere less than $72, or roughly 25 TIMES less than the price for that basic Dale Carnegie course. 

Was the Conquistador club her only possible choice? No! There are 38 clubs within a 25 mile radius of her zip code. 11 of them have restricted membership and 3 are Advanced,  so there still are 24 to consider. Ten meet in late afternoon or evening (like Conquistador).

In my June 20th post titled Does public speaking training always work? I mentioned that Toastmasters works for lots of people, if you take the time to research and find the right club. Jane never mentioned if she visited any others before she joined.

Is Jane's latest outburst her silliest post for the last month? Nope, that would be the June 23rd one titled HEAT WAVE! - Wal-Mart Turns Up AC. It’s not really news that Arizona is as hot as blazes in summer. (I once interviewed for a job in Phoenix on a day where the high was 104 degrees).

Images of Mount Borah and molehills came from Wikimedia Commons.

UPDATE July 7, 2016

Today Jane Genova posted what might be a reply to this blog post. Her latest gem was titled
Toastmasters, et al. - Beware Your Self-Appointed Brand Ambassadors. But she didn't directly refer to me, so I'm not clear on what she's really talking about. Also, she never clarified exactly how much money she wanted to get back.  

UPDATE July 15, 2016

Today I posted about how (Mary) Jane Genova also was a self-appointed brand ambassador for Toastmasters International  - she did blog posts in 2014 and 2015 cribbed from press releases about their Golden Gavel awards.

Very curiously within hours she blogged about Digital Martyrdom - Great for Google Rankings. In her non-reply she again referred to self-appointed brand ambassadors. But she never enlightened us about the status of her attempt to get the Toastmasters dues refunded. 

You can listen to Jane speak on June 30th here and decide for yourself whether she has less style than substance. 


Saturday, July 2, 2016

It’s the very obscure Freedom From Fear Of Public Speaking Day

Which used to be a week or month, but two years ago got reduced to just a day. It’s getting pretty obscure though. This year Beverly Beuermann-King, who started it, hasn’t  even mentioned it.   

Friday, July 1, 2016

A little fear of public speaking is good, but a lot is awful

Is public speaking fear good for you? Maybe yes, maybe no - as is shown above. It depends on the level of fear. An article by Dean Burnett in The Guardian on October 16, 2014 titled Social anxiety: why the mundane can be terrifying pointed out that:

“....Sometimes, stress and pressure can increase performance. 

This is actually a reliable occurrence, and gave rise to the Yerkes-Dodson law. This law can be represented by a simple curve, and basically shows that as nervousness and stress increase, performance increases. 


You’ve heard people say they work better when a deadline is imminent? This is probably true. And maybe the brain is piling the pressure on in social situations where you want to impress – to increase your performance, upping the odds of you doing so?

But this increase in performance only occurs up to a point. And that point is all important: too much stress or pressure and your performance declines to nothing. People can’t function properly when they’re incredibly stressed, and it shows.”

That curve also has been discussed in a 2011 article by Jennifer K. Paweleck-Bellingrodt on Anxiety, a 2012 article by Scott Duggan titled You Need Stress - Really! and a 2015 article by Till H. Gross titled 4 public speaking tips from a professional public speaker. A more detailed 2012 article by Dan Goleman at Psychology Today discussed The Sweet Spot for Achievement - what’s the relationship between stress and performance?