Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Listen and you will develop intuition.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Google Calendar Gadget

Dear Google,

Please fix the Google Calendar Gadget for Websites.  The POWERtalk websites in Great Britain Region had nice little mini-calendars with a list of events below. Now the Google Calendar Gadget does not work so I have had to resort to using the embedded calendar instead.

I can still display the calendar on my iGoogle homepage but we want the world to be able to see it.  It was by far the best of the Gooogle Gadgets. 

Note to Rovers: please see what it says at the foot of the calendar!


POWERtalk Great Britain Region Web Editor

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


We can’t all be shining examples, but we can at least twinkle a little.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Mentoring - a Learning Partnership

If you have had a good experience of being mentored, or of acting as a mentor, you may recognise the definition of mentoring as a learning partnership. This idea of ‘partnership’ is what distinguishes mentoring from straightforward ‘coaching’ or ‘teaching’.

Who Needs a Mentor?
Anyone facing a new challenge could find it helpful to have a mentor. So, the answer to the question of who needs a mentor is: we all do at some stage in our careers.

Choosing a Mentor
It’s best if the initiative in seeking a mentor is taken by the person wishing to be mentored (the ‘mentee’). Mentoring isn’t something that can successfully be imposed on mentees.

The following checklist will help you choose a mentor:

  • I know what I want from a mentoring partner.
  • I have identified potential mentoring partners.
  • I know why I want this person as a mentor.
  • I have ideas about how it might operate.
  • I have a list of concerns for discussion.
  • You should have worked through these points before choosing a possible mentor.

The Mentor
The mentor’s role is to listen, provide constructive feedback and help their mentee consider options.

They may refer their mentee to other resources as well as facilitate decision-making or share their own experiences. They provide guidance, not direction; and do not solve problems, but act as a collaborator in the problem-solving process.

Primary responsibilities of a mentor include:

  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Being accessible
  • Promoting decision making
  • Helping achieve the goals of the mentee
  • Ensuring a professional relationship
  • Acting as a role model
  • Knowing when to end the relationship

More Information for POWERtalk International Members
You will find a Guide to Mentoring in the members’ resource centre of the international website under ‘PREM’. There is also a workshop in ‘Education Features’, which can be used to promote the adoption of mentoring at every level.

Keys to Success
Any promotion of mentoring will only succeed if:

  • Potential mentors are identified who have an excellent track record in skills such as leadership, delegation, management, communication and motivation.
  • These potential mentors can be paired successfully with mentees in a true learning partnership.

Saturday, 9 January 2010



Prior to the meeting ensure a comprehensive agenda has been prepared and distributed to all members. Ensure that you have all relevant documents to hand in the same order as the agenda.

It is the chair’s responsibility to regulate the meeting and to ensure that a quorum is present before business commences.

Stick to the Agenda.

Only one person should speak at a time. Should discussions “on the side” become apparent, call for order.

Do not permit speakers to stray from the topic under discussion.

Do not hesitate to seek expert advice when necessary. It is in order to suspend the matter under debate until such advice has been received.

From time to time during a prolonged discussion summarize the main points. This helps those present to follow the argument.

It is sometimes advisable to set a time limit on debate. Such a proposal must be approved by the assembly. A time limit may be placed on each speaker and no speaker may speak twice to the same motion until all who wish to speak have had the opportunity to do so.

Be sure to remain neutral.

When it is necessary to take a vote, repeat the motion immediately before the voting takes place. The most common method of voting is by a show of hands. Remember to ask for votes in favour and for any against. When announcing the result, again repeat the motion so that all present are clear on the decision which has been taken.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Book Reviews in Club Programmes

(Club Programming)

Has your club every thought of having Book Reviews for a club programme?
Many members of POWERtalk are avid readers (when they have time) and have widely varied tastes in books. There are many advantages to having this sort of evening including making you much more aware while reading a book you intend to review and enjoying hearing other people’s views of something you have read your self or even finding out about one or more books that you would enjoy

Another interesting idea would be to ask members to review specific books – perhaps something that they would not normally read

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Accreditation: The What, Why, Who and Where to get you started



Accreditation is a way of recognising achievement and guaranteeing quality. In POWERtalk we all do assignments that we are proud of but we soon forget how well we did. If you have all of your assignments accredited as well as evaluated you will have a record of those you did well. Accreditation is not just a tick box exercise. To be accredited for an assignment you must do it to a minimum standard which is where the guaranteeing the quality comes in.

If you wish your employer will be informed when you complete each level.


Because it gives you a goal and a record of all the assignments we complete, together with a written evaluation for future use. It is a measure of your improvement.


Can I find out more about this?
Go on line to the International web page at
Click on Resource centre for Accreditation (don’t forget to click go)
to read about
The Accreditation Journey
Accreditation Basics Master Manual UK Section 8
Lists of Accomplished Communicators and Distinguished Communicators

After that go to Master Manual for the Accreditation Programme

Master Manual - Section 3.1 Project Basics level 1
Effective Communicator (EC) Level One l
Master Manual - Section 3.2 Project Basics level 2
Proficient Communicator (PC) Level Two
Master Manual - Section 3.3 Project Basics level 3
Skilled Communicator (SC) Level Three
Master Manual - Section 3.4 Project Basics level 4
Accomplished Communicator (AC) Level Four;
Master Manual – Section 3.5 Project Basics level 5 Distinguished Communicator (DC) Level Five
Master Manual - Section 3.6.1 Appendices for Effective Communicator
Master Manual - Section 3.6.2 Appendices for Proficient Communicator
Master Manual - Section 3.6.3 Appendices for Skilled Communicator


At any time – print off levels 1 and 2 (or more if you are really keen) and inform your Accreditation Chairman of the Club that you are on the programme and wish to be evaluated. Levels 1 and 2 can be completed all at Club level.


All members can participate in the programme and it has been found that clubs where many members are taking part discover a new enthusiasm in the club with members eager to complete assignments.


A thought for the day

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." - Abraham Maslow

More about blogging : Is it already an outdated means of communicating'?

There are so many new means of communicating on internet -- UTube, My Space, Twitter, Facebook -- as the one celebrates its first birthday, the next is born overnight -- yet blogging is one that seems to remain and to persevere through it all and to hold its own. I see every major newspaper starting up more and more blogs as their resident or invited correspondents air their views, start up debates and comment on current issues, more and more academics and intelligentsia turn to blogging to argue topical issues, every organization or business enterprise realize that this is by far the easiest, the most economical and the most effective way to advertise, inform and communicate their interests; -- and when more inane and seemingly senseless forms of one-liner self-indulgent and nonsensical kind of communication forms pop up -- such as Twitter and even Facebook, and blogging remains the only such format where longer and meaningful debaters and columnists can express their views. I wondered about this remark -- and so went to look at what I wrote about blogging before. The following is from one of my posts about blogging -- read and let me know what you think -- do you agree with the comment that "blogging as very 'last season' and a fairly tiresome means of communicating" I look forward to hearing from you!

I recently wrote about literary awards for bloggers and how blogging has started to emerge as a recognised form of published literature.

The latest news is that Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, One Tiny Apartment Kitchen has been named the winner of the inaugural Blooker Prize, beating the major British contender on the shortlist, Belle de Jour, a prostitute's memoirs.

It seems that the majority of internet users out there are still pretty much in the dark as to what exactly a blog and blogging is.
As it concerns internet issues, I thought the internet encyclopaedia was the correct source for a definition -- Wikipedia says:
A blog (or weblog) is a website in which items are posted and displayed with the newest at the top. Like other media, blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Since its appearance in 1995, blogging has emerged as a popular means of communication, affecting public opinion and mass media around the world.

So where did this blogging revolution start?
Andrew Sullivan says: "Weblogs Are To Words What Napster Was To Music".

In the beginning - say 1994 - the phenomenon now called blogging was little more than the sometimes nutty, sometimes inspired writing of online diaries. Most of the writers called themselves diarists, journalists, journallers, or journalers. A few called themselves escribitionists. These days, there are tech blogs and sex blogs and drug blogs and onanistic teenage blogs. But there are also news blogs and commentary blogs, sites packed with links and quips and ideas and arguments that only months ago were the near-monopoly of established news outlets.

Poised between media, blogs can be as nuanced and well-sourced as traditional journalism, but they have the immediacy of talk radio. Amid it all, this much is clear: The phenomenon is real. Blogging is changing the media world and could, I think, foment a revolution in how journalism functions in our culture.

First off, blogs are personal. Almost all of them are imbued with the temper of their writer. This personal touch is much more in tune with our current sensibility than were the opinionated magazines and newspapers of old.

The second thing blogs do is - to invoke Marx - seize the means of production. It's hard to underestimate what a massively important medium this has become. For as long as journalism has existed, writers of whatever kind have had one route to readers: They needed an editor and a publisher. Even in the most benign scenario, this process subtly distorts journalism. You find yourself almost unconsciously writing to please a handful of people - the editors looking for a certain kind of story, the publishers seeking to push a particular venture, or the advertisers who influence the editors and owners. Blogging simply bypasses this ancient ritual.

Think about it for a minute. Why not build an online presence with your daily musings and then sell your first book through print-on-demand technology direct from your Web site? Why should established writers go to newspapers and magazines to get an essay published, when they can simply write it themselves, convert it into a .pdf file, and charge a few bucks per download? Just as magazine and newspaper editors are slinking off into the sunset, so too might all the agents and editors and publishers in the book market.

The original weblogs were link-driven sites. Each was a mixture in unique proportions of links, commentary, and personal thoughts and essays. Many current weblogs follow this original style. Such links are nearly always accompanied by the editor's commentary. An editor with some expertise in a field might demonstrate the accuracy or inaccuracy of a highlighted article or certain facts therein; provide additional facts he feels are pertinent to the issue at hand; or simply add an opinion or differing viewpoint from the one in the piece he has linked. Typically this commentary is characterized by an irreverent, sometimes sarcastic tone. More skilful editors manage to convey all of these things in the sentence or two with which they introduce the link . Indeed, the format of the typical weblog, providing only a very short space in which to write an entry, encourages pithiness on the part of the writer; longer commentary is often given its own space as a separate essay.

These weblogs provide a valuable filtering function for their readers. The web has been, in effect, pre-surfed for them. Out of the myriad web pages slung through cyberspace, weblog editors pick out the most mind-boggling, the most stupid, the most compelling.

By highlighting articles that may easily be passed over by the typical web user too busy to do more than scan corporate news sites, by searching out articles from lesser-known sources, and by providing additional facts, alternative views, and thoughtful commentary, weblog editors participate in the dissemination and interpretation of the news that is fed to us every day. Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as they file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand.

Towards 2004, the role of blogs became increasingly mainstream, as political consultants, news services and candidates began using them as tools for outreach and opinion forming. Even politicians not actively campaigning began to blog to bond with constituents. Some blogs were an important source of news during the December 2004 Tsunami such as Medicins Sans Frontieres, which used SMS text messaging to report from affected areas in Sri Lanka and Southern India.

Blogs have been seen as archives of human thought. They can provide useful insights to aid in dealing with humanity's psychological problems (such as depression and addiction). And they can also be used to solve crimes. (In 2005, Simon Ng posted a blog entry which identified his murderer.)

Blogs have also had an influence on minority languages, bringing together scattered speakers and learners; this is particularly so with Scottish Gaelic blogs, whose creators can be found as far away from traditional Gaelic areas as Kazakhstan and Alaska. Blogs are also used regularly by other minority language activists. Minority language publishing (which may lack economic feasibility) can find its audience through inexpensive blogging.

Around the beginning of 2005, amateur blogging took off in a big way. Terms such as 'Alternative media' began to be used for blogging in the mainstream media. Well-informed bloggers soon shot into prominence by sheer ingenuity and clarity of their content. And in the United Kingdom for instance, The Guardian newspaper launched a redesign in September 2005, which included a daily digest of blogs on page two.

These days, most blogs are often updated several times a day, and have become instead a record of the blogger's thoughts: something noticed on the way to work, notes about the weekend, a quick reflection on some subject or another. It is also quite fascinating to see new bloggers position themselves in the weblog community, referencing and reacting to those blogs they read most, their sidebar an affirmation of the tribe to which they wish to belong.

More than that, blogging itself places no restrictions on the form of content being posted. Its web interface, accessible from any browser, consists of an empty form box into which the blogger can type...anything: a passing thought, an extended essay, political or social commentary, a subject he or she wishes to debate, a cause to promote, a childhood recollection, a place where the blogger can give much added information which would be of interest to a potential customer, but which would not be suitable for the business website. The Spectator's blog Coffeehouse, and Got2begreen, a conservation blog are two examples.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The Economics of Communication

Economists talk about commodities in terms of substitutes and complements.  If you think that carrots go well with peas you might be more likely to buy carrots if you buy peas and so they are complements to one another. If you sometimes buy green beans in place of peas then green beans and peas are substitutes for one another.

How does this apply to communication? Some would say that there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. However we need other means to communicate when face-to-face isn't possible.

An e-mail is a substitute for a letter but it is more of a complement to a phone call.  The phone call provides interactive communication, a letter or e-mail is a delayed communication until the recipient opens the envelope or retrieves the e-mail.  The analogy with vegetables breaks down a little because you don't often need to write and phone.

The purpose of the communication is what is important. Do you want to tell or to ask? Do you want an immediate response?  The financial cost may be significant if the person you are communicating with is on the other side of the world.

What of blogging an social networking? They are sometimes slated as a waste of time by the "get-a-life" brigade.  For POWERtalkers they should always be seen as a complement to what we do, not a substitute; an economical way to tell the world what we are all about.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Train of Thought

How do you maintain the train of thought when making a speech? How do you stay on track and avoid being derailed or crashing into the buffers?

The carriages of that train are the separate thoughts from which it is constructed.  You are most likely to lose track when going from one thought to the next.  So it is important to consider how the carriages (thoughts) are linked together.

Write out your speech in paragraphs, each paragraph representing a particular thought.  Make sure that you can move easily from one to the next, like a passenger moving through a train to find the buffet car.

In POWERtalk a contest speech lasts five to eight minutes with a light signal that goes on at five minutes and off at six. Thus you aim to speak for about seven minutes.

Make sure you know where you expect the signals to come in the speech and remember that on the night you may have to shunt a carriage or two into a siding. So make sure that your speech contains a couple of unimportant paragraphs that you can drop to adjust your timing.