Monday, 7 December 2009

Listening skills : A few pointers from our Master Manual

Effective listeners actively process what they are hearing

Remember: Time is on your side! Thoughts move about four times as fast as speech. With practice, while you are listening you will also be able to think about what you are hearing, really understand it, and give feedback to the speaker.

Exercise: Form groups and find out what different people do to become better listeners and which factors help them.

Exercise: Assign readings from a variety of literature (fiction and non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, novels, guide books, etc.) and follow up with a comprehension test – ask pertinent questions about each reading’s content. After each reading,analyze where members listen best and where they fail to listen effectively and discuss the possible reasons why this happens.

Exercise: Program three or four prepared research speeches (i.e. speeches in which the facts are important) and have a verbal Spot Listening Check after each speech.

Exercise: Do the same with other types of speeches. Then discuss which speeches – the research speeches, the humorous, the serious, the anecdotal, etc., are easier to listen to effectively and why.
Listening involves hearing, sensing, interpretation, evaluation and response.
We hear only what we want to hear and remember only part of what we have heard. Good listening can improve both the content and the quality of what we hear and remember.

A good leader is always a good listener. A good listener may be or may not be a leader - but a good listener is usually popular, which is an important step in becoming a leader. People like to be someone who listens well. We can improve our listening habits. It will take concentration and hard work, as our listening habits are the results of years of often unconscious behaviour. But it can be done, and today is a good day to start!

From: The POWERtalk Master Manual
Section 5.1 PowerTalk One
Results 61-70

Friday, 4 December 2009

Check out the Word for the Day - and communicate better!

Have you had a moment to look at the Word for the Day section in the side bar? Every day there is a word from the Oxford English Dictionary with a definition, origin and history as well as the implementation of the word, including quotes. You won't ever have to look for ideas for your Lexicology- or Grammarian's slot on the programme or for interesting words with which to spice up your presentations!

For example, today's interesting word is "skank". Did you know this word? You may have heard the word used by the teenagers waiting at the bus stop -- referring to someone they do not approve of as a 'skank', or 'skanking off' on their parents, and then you may have wondered where this word came from and what it means. (Probably this usage comes from the definition of 'skank. skanked', meaning, swindle or cheat. What do you think?) I most certainly did not know its 'real' meaning -- but I know it now -- thanks to our very own "Word for the Day"!

skank, v
orig. Caribbean.
1. trans. To throw (a person) over one's shoulder. rare.

1971 Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 14 Jan. 6/5 When they beat me and cut me up he..hold me from behind and I tried to skank him (throw him over my shoulder).

2. intr. To perform a freestyle dance to reggae music (cf. SKANKING n.); (hence) to perform or play reggae music. Also (colloq.): to sashay, strut.

1973 Weekly Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 24 Jan. 13 The dancer, according to his mood, can rock slowly to the bass, or go all out and skank to the drums. 1987 Observer (London Suppl.) 20 Sept. 38/1 In London, you can..skank along Railton Road in Brixton until you come to The Legend, a bar built to celebrate the memory of Bob Marley. 1995 Wired Aug. 150/2 Under Cover has a talented DJ/singer skanking in a pleasing dance-hall style. 1998 C. CHANNER Waiting in Vain (1999) xix. 344 Behind her, beneath the thatch-roofed pavilions, the guests were skanking to old rock-steady choons and slamming dominoes on plastic tables and telling duppy stories.

3. trans. and occas. intr. To con, swindle, or cheat (a person).

1981 West indian World 31 July 4/1 Apparently Jaybird..a try skank him out of his hard earned bread. 1989 Independent 22 Mar. 19/7 Some of the younger girls on the Line try skanking{em}taking the money up front and then jumping out of the car. 1994 Sunday Times 16 Oct. (Style section) 26 You always buy from people you know, otherwise you get skanked and find you've spent, say, £50 on half an ounce of hash and they've given you less.

The Quote of the day!

"When one teaches, two learn."
-- Robert Half

Remind yourself just how true this is : Go to the International website, log in, click on Resources and type in Educational features. You will be astounded at how many features there are available to members -- interesting, informative, excellent quality educational features -- so much to learn, so much to teach - and so much with which to enrich and enhance your life and those around you! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Programme Tip for December

Are you struggling to get visitors to come back to your club meetings?
Are you finding it difficult to get new members to join?
Are you having to say goodbye to members?

No More! Logic tells you that if your club programme is interesting and stimulating and fun, you will not loose members, and you will attract new members!

Start thinking bigger. Start being bold and adventurous. Start breaking the old programming mould and shaping a fresh new one!

The December issue of the From the Boardroom, reminds members how to keep members happy and keep guests impressed! Offering inspiring, stimulating Programs is the way to keep members and guests coming back for more. The POWERtalk Website Resource Centre ► Education Features ► Club Assignments is the location where you find the Power Programmes Manual as well as dozens of other exciting programming ideas that offer quality training and coaching.

Power Programs is a manual full of ideas for programs from Art Appreciation, Using the Microphone to Understanding Customs and Cultures Around the World.

Clubs are asked to be responsible for providing programs that offer members a challenge to grow; keep them coming back for more; and for guests an incentive to join our organization.
Power Programs will help you to provide outstanding programs.

Another source of excellent programming material are the the two-hour POWERtalk short course modules. These are a great source of information when planning regular club programs. They are also excellent programs as last minute emergency fill in or as a regularly scheduled event. It gives each member the opportunity to practice the POWERtalk lessons, provides instant evaluation as the program progresses and helps each member gain confidence in their speaking abilities.
Look in the Master Manual at the POWERtalk short course section; at the end of each chapter is a list of suggested programming ideas and how to apply them to your club programming. The suggested Accreditation level applications are also listed.

The possibilities are endless --- no more excuse ever for boring and dull club programmes! A well planned innovative programme that stimulates, informs, challenges and entertains is a powerful vehicle towards packed club meetings!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

TEN TIPS on Controlling Nervousness

Know your subject matter...
and your notes.

Assess your audience... to gauge their needs and expectations.

Familiarise yourself...with the venue, equipment and acoustics.

Be ready to be called. Walk with confidence to the lectern, and place your notes securely.

Be still. Maintain your concentration. Take a deep breath and exhale - it relaxes the throat and face.

Look at the audience. Befriend them. Smile or gesture to command attention.

Build platform presence. Speak in a self-assured, enthusiastic manner to convince your audience that they need to hear your message. Be yourself.

Give your complete attention... to each sentence you speak.

Pause between thoughts.

In conclusion... smile, gather your notes, and exit with grace.

Monday, 23 November 2009

How to be a hit on television!

Anita Cox recently presented an excellent workshop at her club, POWERtalk Pollokshields on the secrets of a successful television presentation. She generously shared her material with us:

Having worked in television for over 30 years, what is normal to me
is far from that to others. TV studios can be daunting alien places, especially if you are asked to appear on a programme, so I hope that these notes will be of help you should you ever be invited to appear on television.

Imagine you have been asked to appear on a programme to give a talk about a subject that you are knowledgeable about. You may initially be approached by a Researcher for the programme who has been charged with getting the right people to make up the programme, which could be a totally new programme or an insert into an existing one.
You may have been asked generally whether you would be prepared to give a talk and your availability. In the excitement of the invitation you may not have asked very much about what is expected of you. However, you will need to know a few specifics initially to give you the best information for your preparation.

First of all you should establish whether your talk will be filmed (ie by a small camera crew in a location which could either be in your home or somewhere other than a studio) or either recorded or performed live in the studio.

It is worth asking what programme it is for and what context your talk will be used in and most importantly you must establish what the running time of the actual piece is required to be. You may be expected to talk on your subject to an interviewer after you have given your talk so it is best to be prepared – just in case.

Timing on television programming is usually very specific, it is not just rounded up in minutes but is counted down to seconds, so it is important to establish at the outset how long your piece should run. Be as professional as you can be, nobody, certainly not you, will want to fluff your lines and have to ask if it can be repeated. Even if it is not a live transmission, prepare as though it will be.
When you have that information, prepare your talk carefully and then time and practice it. We all know from our own experiences that what seems to flow beautifully in the written word may, when spoken, become stilted and awkward. You should read your piece out loud, refine it and rewrite until it flows trippingly off the tongue and also runs to time! So you now have your ‘script’.

I would suggest that you now think about what to wear. Less is more on television and black, stark white and red are colours that can cause problems with cameras.
Black can be very harsh (and if you are filmed against a black background– which is basically a black curtain- you could almost disappear!), white can flare under the lights and red can bleed, so think carefully about what to wear and have someone take pictures of you in the outfit you are considering wearing. It may help to show you what looks best. Stripes can also moirĂ© (or strobe) so it is best to avoid stripey shirts for men and woman. Large patterns and geometric designs may detract the viewer from your talk so try to look smart but appropriate to the programme and your own personal tastes.

Crisp fabrics such as taffeta and jangly jewellery can play havoc with radio microphones so avoid these. There is nothing worse than microphones than screech and crackle. If you do wear crisp fabrics or bracelets, large earrings or chunky necklaces etc and you move while talking, it will sound awful as the mic will pick up the rustles and jingle jangles and will magnify them.

If possible try and establish what background you will be sitting in front of. As I have said earlier it may be a cyc (cyclorama) which is usually white or black curtaining. The white cyc can be coloured by lighting on the day. You may however be in a set with quite specific colours and if that is the case think about your colours , after all you don’t want to fade into the background or clash violently with it! If you can’t establish what the set will be then it may be better to take a couple of tops of different colours – just in case, better to be safe than sorry.

Double check before you are about to start or go into the studio that your hair is combed, and clothing is sitting correctly. For men if you are wearing a tie, please check that the knot is in the right position and it is lying correctly. A lot of men have said that they went on a programme with a crooked tie because nobody at the studio had told them. Of course this provides a distraction for the viewer and will detract from the impact of your talk so do check.

On the day, if you are to attend the studio then get there in plenty of time and make sure that you have your notes prepared in an discreet but organised way with pages or cards numbered! You may be sitting at a desk so you need these not to be too noticeable. Cream paper as opposed to stark white is probably best.

You may be shown into a ‘Green Room’. This is effectively a waiting room for the show. The Researcher, stage manager or runner (junior) will take you there and ensure that you are taken to the studio when it is time for your piece.

Television studios have changed dramatically over the last few years and often they are very small and cramped places. There may be three or more large cameras on pedestals set up and you may be surprised at what looks big on screen at home, may be a tiny corner of a studio in real life.

If your piece is to be recorded you will probably be in a more relaxed studio atmosphere than in a live programme.
If you are to appear in a live programme there will be a lot of activity happening around you which could be distracting. Stay focussed!

You will probably speak into just one camera and you will be told which one. However, other cameras may be moving around getting into position for the next item and a floor manager may be indicating to presenters how long before the camera is on them or they have to wind up their piece. The Director, PA, Vision Mixer, Sound and Lighting Directors sit in a control room which is not on view from the studio. The presenter and floor manager and cameramen all have headphones or earpieces allowing them to hear the directions from the Control Room. Sometimes the presenter has an earpiece. This would certainly be the case in a newsroom environment.
So the crew on the studio floor will be concentrating on their own particular jobs and you should stay focussed on yours.

Remember your audience is the television camera. Play to it but don’t overemphasise your gestures, they should be smaller than usual. Don’t let your eyes wander especially when things are happening in other parts of the studio, you will look like you are about to take flight!

It is a new experience for you so enjoy it – you may be invited back.