Sunday, July 08, 2018

Going (to) Solo

For some reason I really wanted to go to a movie last night, maybe all the rain we've had, so I ran over to see Solo: A Star Wars Story after dinner. I got out in enough time to walk the dog late.

This is the movie people love to hate. I thought it was fun. Too long, perhaps, but creative. I liked the droid who set the other droids and slaves free. I loved "Lando." I think, except for the dark hair, Alden looked enough like Harrison and was cute as all get out. There were lots of fun connections to the first ones (like "I ran the kessel run in 20 parsecs--what the heck does this mean?" we find out). Chewy is great. The colors are dark, but they are supposed to be. We see that he is an outlaw with a heart of gold who really does want to help the oppressed.

So why the hate? As my son says, "It's not as good as the movie they have in their head." But that movie in their head is not nearly as good as they think it is. It's all about nostalgia, really. These psuedo-critics were so blown away and emotionally involved in the early Star Wars movies that they are forgetting that they were not the end all and be all. They have inflated their importance and quality beyond all reason.

Many complain "this was a movie that didn't need to be made." I think we could say that about roughly 75% of films.

Part and parcel with this is the Peter Pan Syndrome, this cultural refusal or at least inability of men to grow up. I thank God for a mature, church-involved, educated, employed, responsible son. I am blessed.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Public Speaking Online: Final Post and Resources

This is the last installment on this topic of speaking online for webinars, etc. Please use archives to find the earlier ones. I wrote this for an open resource textbook on public speaking. It is one of the appendices. This book, Exploring Public Speaking, (soon in third edition), is free and quite good if I do say so myself. It is being used all over the world and I really think it is the best source out there if you want to save your basic public speaking students and cover all the same material, plus some. If you google the title and my name, you can find it at the University System of Georgia repository.  Contact me and I'll send you the link to the ancillaries. You should at least check it out.

Speaking for an Online Class
            This writer teaches an online business communication course where she requires either a face-to-face (if possible) presentation or one done online.  In these cases, instructors usually want the presentation given in front of a live audience of a prescribed number of people and/or in a venue like a classroom (not the student’s living room).  Many public speaking instructors do not believe this option is as good as an in-class speech, but if you are in this situation, here are some tips.
1.     Film your whole body—not just your head and shoulders.
2.     Do tech walk-throughs and make sure your camera is working well and picking up your voice.
3.     Make sure you can get the recording to your instructor.  You probably will not be able to just send it through email because the file will be too big.  You will have to post it to the cloud in some manner.
4.     Wear appropriate clothing.  Not being in class may tempt you to wear something too informal.  This might be an opportunity to go a step beyond in your clothing.  Make sure, also, that it looks good on camera in terms of color and lighting in your setting.
5.     Along that line, since you probably won’t have professional lighting, get the room as bright as you possibly can, but do not point the camera in the direction of a bright light.  The light should be coming from behind the camera.

            As mentioned before, this subject is an evolving one.  These tips and tactics should help not just avoid the major problems but also cross the finish line into an effective presentation.
Links that might help with this topic:

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

More Thoughts on Creativity and Nobel Prizes

When I open my web browser, it gives me links to interesting articles. They are probably a form of intellectual clickbait--the links are about education, technology, the brain, creativity, all subjects of vital interest to me. I have become a fan of a website called Brain Pickings, and bought Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet at its advice.

Here is an interesting link on Creativity:

In reading this it occurred to me that scholars in the hard sciences and economics, for example, do not get their Nobel Prizes until many years after their work is published, as if it has to be vetted for quite some time. That makes sense. Apparently the same is not true for the Peace Prize. Barack Obama got one just for being elected, within his first year. You can take that for what it's worth. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Public Speaking Online, Part V

The other fundamental question is about your audience.  Who are they?  Where are they?  In fact, in some cases the audience is in a different time zone! And that really matters in how a listener responds.

            Other experts suggest the following:
1.     Along with standing up for your presentation, smile.  People can hear a smile even when they don’t see you.
2.     Your anxiety does not go away just because you cannot see everyone in your “web audience.”  Also, you might not have ever met the people to whom you are speaking.  Be aware of the likelihood of anxiety—it might not hit until you are “on air.” As Ron Ashkenas says, “Anxiety in speaking is like static on the radio.”
3.     In your use of periodic questions, be specific.  The typical “Any questions?-pause- let’s go on” is really pretty ineffective.  First, it’s not directed or specific, and second, people need time to formulate their questions and articulate them.  Even saying, “What questions do you have?” is better, but even better is to ask specific questions about what you’ve been addressing.  Many times you can forecast possible questions, and use those. 
4.     Remember the power of transitions.  Many people think that slides don’t need transitions because, well, they change, isn’t that enough?  No, it’s not. The speaker needs to tie the messages of the slides together.
5.     Verbal pauses can be helpful.  Since one of the things that put audiences to sleep is continual, non-stop flow of words, a pause can get attention.
6.     Look at the camera, not the screen.  You will appear more professional in those cases where the audience can see you.

Ending the presentation
            As mentioned before, webconferences and webinars can go long—don’t let it. End on time.  Allow participants to email you questions if needed, but don’t take advantage of people’s time by entertaining questions longer than the scheduled time.  Software allows for recording and archiving, so the audience should know how to access the recording. 

Mindset, Passion, and Learning Revisited: Why Not To Follow Your "passion"