Thursday, May 31, 2018

Pausing properly during your speech

Samuel Clemens, whose pen name was Mark Twain, reportedly once had said that:
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

One way to think of pauses is the verbal equivalent of punctuation. As is shown above, they can have at least four different lengths, corresponding to commas, periods, paragraphs, and topics (sections). All those lengths typically are not mentioned in discussions of pausing. A post by Keith Bailey on February 12, 2013 at the Decker Communications blog titled Power to the pause mentioned three:
“When there should be a comma, pause for one second. Where there should be a period, pause for two seconds. When you see a new paragraph, pause for three seconds.”

Another post by Noah Zandan on February 19, 2013 at the Quantified Communication blog titled The power of pause similarly said:
“Great public speakers often pause for 2 – 3 seconds or even longer. Punctuation can be helpful for deciding where to insert pauses. We use commas and periods as signs to pause when we are reading. These are the same places to pause when giving a speech. An especially useful strategy is to vary the length of your pauses.”

An article by Patricia Fripp titled Public speaking – the importance of the pause shared Ron Arden’s explanation of three length ranges: ½ to 1 second, 1 to 2 seconds, and 3 to 7 seconds.   

Pauses can be used functions other than punctuation:
At the beginning of a speech

For dramatic effect

After you ask a rhetorical question

After you present data on a slide

For emphasis after you present a key point

After you deliver the punchline of a joke

To recover when you lose your place

Fripp’s article mentioned nine types of pauses, and an article by Esther Snippe on February 7, 2017 at SpeakerHub titled Speak volumes with your silence: 10 ways to use pauses has an infographic with ten.  

A four-minute YouTube video by Darren LaCroix titled Presentation coaching: the pause says that Toastmasters champions paused with purpose. Another four-minute YouTube video by Brian Tracy titled Public speaking tip: the power of the pause is also useful. I was amused by Brian’s constant gesturing, including his use of the ‘sternwheeler steamboat paddle’ gesture - which signals illegal formation in football and traveling in basketball.  

The Twain quote appears in an Introduction by biographer Albert Bigelow Paine to the 1923 edition of Mark Twain’s Speeches. The image of Mark Twain was adapted from a December 16, 1885 back cover of Puck magazine found at the Library of Congress.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

‘Et al.’ is a pedantic Latin phrase that doesn’t ever belong in the title of a blog post or a speech

‘Et al’ just is Latin jargon that doesn’t belong in the title of a blog post or a speech. It merely means ‘and others.’ That phrase belongs in a list of references at the end of a scholarly magazine article – where an article has more than three authors, so listing them all would be clumsy.  

But in posts at her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog Jane Genova has used it seven times just this year. They were:
May 27, 2018The psychotherapy brand – David W. Harder, et al.

May 2, 2018:  Kathleen Huebner, et al. – No, I do not wish you well

April 17, 2018The law, according to Jones Day, et al.

April 13, 2018Tronc layoff – Why writers, et al., have such tough time exiting comfort zone

March 28, 2018:  Thanh Cong Phan, et al. – perhaps they just wanted to be a “somebody”

February 27, 2018Alexa, et al. – voice tech eliminating traditional brands, consumer choice

February 3, 2018Unlike iGen, our tribe HAD TO meet up in-person – Charlotte Toal, M. Lynn Rickert, et al.

Every week I look at Speaking Pro Central, so I saw her latest post with it on their list of Trending Articles. It’s practically a tidal wave of pomposity!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Celebrating the 10th birthday of this blog

This blog began ten years ago. Currently there are over 1550 posts and 1.35 million page views. Its use of Google Blogger was inspired by seeing Cleon Cox’s blog for his Job Finders Support Group in Portland, Oregon.  

I had agreed to be the Vice President – Education for The Capitol Club Toastmasters in Boise starting in July. They met at noon on Wednesday, not far from the main Boise Public Library downtown near the river. The Albertson Library at Boise State University was walking distance from the public library. I was learning about public speaking via magazine articles and books from both libraries.

My first post on May 26, 2008 said:

“Welcome to Joyful Public Speaking. This blog will discuss going from fear to joy. It will include tips and hints, links to articles and blogs, and brief reviews of relevant books.”

Quite a few older links I used in my posts now are dead or need to be changed.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Cognitive biases and the frequency illusion

We may think of ourselves as basically rational, but really have a long list of cognitive biases. The list at Wikipedia divides them into three categories (1) decision-making, belief and behavioral biases, (2) social biases, and (3) memory errors and biases. A selected few of them would make a good topic for a speech at a Toastmasters club, or a public speaking class. 

One is confirmation bias:
“the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.”

Watch a recent YouTube video shown above, with a tall geyser that confirms (based on our seeing Hollywood movies) - what should happen when a vehicle hits and breaks a fire hydrant just above sidewalk level. The video was made in Manhattan Beach, California.

But that’s just what happens with a wet barrel hydrant – a type used in Hollywood and other very warm places. It isn’t what happens in colder parts of the U.S. though where dry barrel hydrants are used. There usually will not be any geyer. Another YouTube video shows how dry barrel hydrants are made. The valve mechanism actually is located underground below the frost line. When the hydrant is hit above ground, the long rod which operates that mechanism just detaches.    

Now that I’ve mentioned fire hydrants, you will start seeing them, and have another bias – the frequency illusion:
“The illusion in which a word, a name, or other thing that has recently come to one’s attention suddenly seems to appear with improbable frequency shortly afterwards.”

If you live in a city or town, then fire hydrants really are all around you. But you probably were not paying any attention to them. There are Clow brand hydrants at both ends of the block my house is on. Within walking distance in other housing developments there also are Mueller and Waterous brands.

Over two decades ago I looked at a “traffic hydrant” which was designed so the ground level flange connection would break away rather than the hydrant body. That design used four necked down bolts which unfortunately corroded severely from road salt. When the hydrant valve was opened one day, the bolts failed and the body flew upward like a rocket. On January 25, 2015 I blogged about A simple prop made from PVC water pipe fittings.

This post was inspired by the May 23, 2018 Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic strip about the frequency illusion.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Statistic Brain web site now requires a ~$20 per month subscription. There are better ways to spend your time and money.

The last time I went to the Statistic Brain web site I was surprised to find that they have changed their business model and no longer allow public access. Instead they offer Student Access (for $9.99/month), Standard Access (for $19.99/month), and Business Access (for $99.99/month).

They have a web page on OUR METHODOLOGY (subtitled How Do We Ensure Accurate Data). Based on the oft-quoted example of their (top ten) Fear/Phobia Statistics page, it is NOT how they did their research. What they actually did was create a lie to match a Jerry Seinfeld joke. So, my mental image for them is that of a disreputable saloon, as shown above.   

An early version of that web page archived by the Wayback Machine is shown above. I blogged about it on December 7, 2014 in a post titled Statistic Brain is just a statistical medicine show. A more recent version with those baseless numbers showed up again on May 8, 2018 in a post by Jessica Teteak titled I’ll take death over public speaking at the Rule the Room Public Speaking blog.

What are some better ways to spend your time and money than a subscription to Statistic Brain? First, visit your friendly local public library and get a card. Ask the librarian about how to use their database collection. Second, visit your nearest state university library and see what options they have for visiting residents. You may be able to get an inexpensive card. I discussed using university libraries in a pair of blog posts. One from August 7, 2017 is titled Spotting fake news and finding reliable information for speeches. Another from February 24, 2015 is titled How to do a better job of speech research than the average Toastmaster (by using your friendly local public and state university libraries). Third, if you graduated from a university, look at the web site for their library. They may even have remote database access for alumni, like Brown University does.

The image of a saloon was modified from one at the Library of Congress.  

Monday, May 21, 2018

PowerPoint slides for displaying financial analysis & data

Dave Paradi recently announced a new section of his Think Outside the Slide website titled FinancialViz: Presenting Financial Data and Analysis Visually. It shows a total of 40 examples for nine different situations:

Trend over time (5)

Compare to a standard (4)

Comparing values (9)

Contribution of segments (7)

Rank (3)

Portion of a total (2)

Group of text points (5)

Process/sequence (2)

Timeline (3)

For example, under Rank Dave discusses The correct use of a pie chart.

An image of a Phrenological Chart was adapted from one found at the Library of Congress.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

More nightlight technology - default settings and doohickeys

This week we finally replaced the 2002 Philips 20” analog CRT TV in our master bedroom which we had been using with a digital converter box. The new set is a 49” 4K UHD HDR Roku smart TV (a TCL 49S403). I fastened the wall mount to a stud on the wall with a pair of lag screws, and hung up the TV. Then I read the 16-page quick-start guide it came with and set it up. It said that the large white Status Light LED below the center of the screen (shown above):
“glows when the TV is in standby, flashes when the TV is busy, flashes once with each button press of the remote control.”

But we didn’t either need or want a bright, always-on nightlight in our bedroom. On December 7, 2017 I blogged about The joy and frustration of modern nightlight technology, and discussed how we had instead bought a pair of motion-sensing nightlights.

I went to the TCL web site and downloaded their detailed 150-page User Guide as a .pdf file. Buried back on Page 92 it said:

Standby LED On/Off

Normally the status LED on the front of your TV is lit whenever the TV is in standby mode. If you prefer the status LED to not be lit in standby mode, you can turn it off. To do so, from the Home screen, navigate to Settings > System > Power > Standby LED and then select Off.”  

I went through the menu steps, and shut that offending Standby LED off. Their jargon is fairly obscure. That Standby LED really just is one mode for the Status Light LED. It’s a doohickey:

“an object or device whose name you do not know or have forgotten.”

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A door past the Vanity Fair magazine paywall

On May 9, 2018 Jane Genova blogged about Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair – Can It Survive a Paywall? She linked to an article from April 27, 2018 at What’s New in Publishing titled Vanity Fair launches digital paywall as part of wider Conde Nast strategy.

Jane ignorantly claimed:
“Frugal readers still determined to have a free ride can scan the Vanity Fair's headlines, then find similar content with a similar tone somewhere on the internet.” 

But that’s not necessary. A frugal reader will get out his library card, type the number into the login box for databases at his friendly local public library, and read (or download .pdf files) of articles in databases such as MasterFILE Premier from EBSCOhost. I discussed this in a blog post on December 27, 2017 titled How to build a bad presentation –describe a problem but not a good solution.

The image about being ignorant was adapted from one from 1938 by the Federal Art Project at the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2-Minute Talk Tips – an excellent podcast from Bill Monroe in Seattle

A few days ago I was searching on Google about brief presentations, and found the 2-Minute Talk Tips web site, which is subtitled Become a better presenter in two minutes a week. Currently there are 60 podcast episodes. Each begins with a two-minute tip and then continues with a longer discussion (the bottom or bummock of the iceberg).

For example, Episode 26 is titled Bring Candy and Read Storytelling with Data. The longer part is a review of that book, which I blogged about on March 28, 2016 in a post titled A brief book review of Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic.

The iceberg image came from Openclipart.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Driverless cars don’t need steering wheels - but the rest of us sure do

Sometimes the redesign of a product (or changes in materials and processes) results in unanticipated problems. The Ford Fusion is a mid-sized sedan which first was produced in August 2005. A second-generation model was introduced in 2013. A single 10mm diameter bolt holds the steering wheel onto the internally threaded steering shaft, as is shown above.

In USA Today on October 27, 2017 there was an article titled Probe of Ford Fusion steering wheels that may loosen, detach which reported on an investigation of ~840,000 vehicles and included this startling statement:

“A person in Georgia told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] that a steering wheel fell into their lap in a 2015 Fusion when turning into a gas station on Sept. 23.”

Another article in USA Today on March 14, 2018 was titled 10 times Ford steering wheels came loose or off, causing massive recall. The problem turned out to be bigger than expected. Ford announced a recall on that day:

“Ford is issuing a safety recall in North America for approximately 1.3 million 2014-18 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles for potentially loose steering wheel bolts that could result in a steering wheel detaching from the steering column. In affected vehicles, the steering wheel bolt may not maintain torque, allowing the bolt to loosen over time, and if not serviced, a steering wheel could potentially detach and lead to a loss of steering control and increased risk of a crash. Ford is aware of two accidents with one injury allegedly related to this condition.”

The NHTSA recall report had more details. As shown above, it said the chronology was that:

“Ford discovered a design change to the steering wheel fastening system in 2013 for 2014-2018 model year Fusion and MKZ vehicles. The amount (length) of threads inside of the steering wheel shaft decreased by 5 mm. The thread reduction is in the end of the steering shaft where the bolt first contacts the threads internal to the steering shaft. The bolts used to secure the steering shaft have a nylon patch prevailing torque feature to ensure proper torque retention. With the reduced amount of threads inside the steering shaft and if the nylon patch is located towards the head of the bolt, the nylon patch may not fully engage the threads to ensure proper torque retention.”

“The remedy bolt is 17 mm longer, providing more robust steering column thread and torque retention patch engagement. The remedy bolt also has a 13 mm longer torque retention feature to ensure proper engagement.”    

A bolted joint is held together by friction, which can be increased by adding a nylon patch. A web page for the ND patch process describes that feature:

“…fasteners are heated and sprayed with a custom nylon powder which adheres to the part. When assembled with a mating part, the engineered plastic nylon patch is compressed.  Due to the elastic memory it resists this compression and acts like a wedge, increasing the metal to metal contact 180° opposite the material. This mechanical force creates a strong, yet fully adjustable lock which will not weaken, even under extreme vibration.”

Another way to add friction to a joint is with a Nyloc nut, as shown above. When a bolt is  turned past the internal threads of the nut and into the unthreaded nylon in the locking feature, it forms new threads.

Almost two decades ago I encountered a situation where such a nut was not seated properly and led to a crash. It was on the elevator control linkage for a Glaser-Dirks DG-800B motor glider, N98NL. The crash occurred on June 21, 1998 at Jean Nevada, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ID was LAX98LA209. The glider had four hours of flight time after manufacture.  An FAA inspector examined the aircraft. He found the bolt in the fuselage and recovered it, but could not find the nut. The NTSB Factual Report says:
“The bolt and exemplar parts were examined with an optical microscope at SEAL Laboratories in Los Angeles, California, on July 31, 1998, in the presence of the Safety Board. A copy of the laboratory report is appended to this file.

According to the metallurgist, the first three threads of the accident bolt did not have debris in the roots, and installation of an exemplar locknut in the hand-tightened position would cause the nut threads to wipe material from the roots of the first three bolt threads. For proper tightening of the locknut, the threads must be engaged over the full length of 6 mm (six turns) so that the blue plastic lining which provides thread locking is deformed. This would require three more turns than are indicated by the lack of debris in the thread roots. The metallurgist concluded that a nut was installed on the bolt but not fully tightened.”

In this case, meticulous handling of the evidence by that FAA inspector, who bagged and tagged the bolt, made it possible for me to provide a definitive answer.

The image of a Nylon lock nut came from Wikimedia Commons.