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Posts tagged ‘Behaviour & Relationships’

To Speak or Not to Speak

This week I heard a radio commentator refer to the time-honoured, greatest dread of people (supposedly): the fear of public speaking.  The host noted how importantly the skill of being able to deliver presentations could impact one’s professional opportunities.

He then alluded to a just released story of a teenager who has confronted his own trepidation, by sending out an entreaty to educational authorities that he be spared from having to make presentations to other students in class.  There has been reaction to this quickly in social media.  No doubt, ‘experts’ on both sides of such a debate are aplenty.

I’m a long-time Toastmaster, who five years ago departed a career in financial services, and thus frequently has had to make versions of presentations, to various sized groups of people, over many years.  Naturally, on some of these occasions I was more in ‘the zone’ than others, but always managed to get through.

So, I have a couple of concerns about these perspectives.

I used the word supposedly with respect to the perception of public speaking being greater for many people than, for example, fear of death or other tragedy.  In our club over the years, I’ve seen many join because of their stated fear of talking in front of a group.  Yet, when the opportunity is presented to them to speak in front of the supportive group of club members, they are often loathe to follow through on the main reason they joined, wind up making few speeches, and in many cases drift away without making a serious effort to address this supposedly important goal.  If this has been such a concern, which caused them to seek out an organization like Toastmasters to begin with, what happens to their motivation, and commitment, to personal growth and career advancement?

Concerning the student’s effort to eliminate classroom presentations if disliked, clearly more education of the implications is required.  The education system should both develop the mind and prepare the individual to find their place in society.  Effective communication is pivotal, and can’t be found exclusively in mobile devices.  With all the tools for self-improvement readily available these days, it’s too bad some still have to learn the hard way.

So, what are some practical ways to confront the fear of speaking in public…

  • Practice doing ‘soapbox’ speeches: their tiny size should remove any feelings of intimidation
  • Have a two drink minimum for your audience, so that whatever makes up your talk later comes across as impressive
  • Hire a special effects artist to provide production values backing up your presentation
  • Tape clues to prizes under the seats to bring a distracted audience back to alertness
  • Deliver the talk in different voices so as to maximize appealing to a diverse audience
  • Purposefully fumble with your performance early on, to make it easier to rise to audience expectations
  • Bring back the laugh track
  • Plant a couple of supporters in the audience, ready to demonstrate for you on cue
  • Imagine the audience not only in their underwear, but also trying to maintain yoga positions
  • Have a comfort pet visible with you, to elicit the benefit of the doubt from animal lovers

See, there are many ways to improve one’s chances with an audience.

Cruising for Options – Part One

I imagine anyone who has experienced for the first time the temporary lifestyle of a cruise on the high seas (actually in this case, the Mediterranean), has numerous reflections.  Like with almost any vacation, ideally, the high points resonate stronger than the inevitable issues one encounters.

One clear advantage going on a trip involving a cruise is that one has in place a pretty good plan of action, at least insofar as destinations and time available to be spent at each.  After all, some people make these arrangements up to a year, or longer, in advance.  So, one can take time to prioritize what to see and do; one takes on faith that those service groups upon whom planning depends hold up their end.  The latter includes such aspects as organized shore excursions, and local transportation such as the popular ‘hop-on/hop-off’ buses.

On our recent journey, here are a couple of examples of passengers having to adapt on the fly, so to speak, to evolving circumstances.

From its distant nearest port, we traveled to Rome via a pre-booked extension of a hop-on/hop-off bus pass, which included pick-up from and to the port’s transit oval.  After emerging from the ships’ shuttle bus, we were given a map by a representative of the bus company providing the pass, showing its two routes with drop off points in the city, with one route recommended.  When we arrived in Rome, and ventured to the nearest pass stop, we found out that the suggested route had been replaced a week earlier by a newly coded route; plus, we discovered we would be better off to follow the alternative route anyway.  To top it off, Rome has a plethora of ‘hop-on, hop-off’ bus companies, which feature confusingly similar signs for their stops at concurrent locations.

Our day in Montenegro featured a cruise sponsored shore excursion.  Due to the prevalence of narrow, two-lane roads, travel was painfully slow to the inland initial destination, with an excessive amount of time spent there (notwithstanding some impressive scenery), leaving limited time to see the main port town of Kotor before returning to the ship.  Unbeknownst, it seemed, to virtually all passengers aboard, there was an interim stop on the way back, where we were intended to have a nearly hour long diversion, featuring a trade-off between receiving refreshments and listening to a sales pitch mainly about Croatian leather products.  In an attempt to curry favour with our disgruntled bunch, the trip co-ordinator arranged for a more colourful (read: through the mountains) way back, at one point giving us a spectacular view coming down towards the harbour.

In short, whatever kind of fork in the road is followed on shore excursions, there’s good opportunity for surprises which add to memories of a given experience, if not necessarily enjoyment.

It’s an interesting side-bar to this kind of trip, to consider the trade-offs involving time allotted versus cost versus destination appeal, vis-à-vis the different versions of shore excursions to a particular port of call.

Based on my experience, here are some cruise excursion options and comments, with varying degrees of applicability:

  • Excursion operators providing earphones to passengers, for ongoing commentaries, should check these function properly
  • Exercise due preparedness when visiting locations which only accept their own currency
  • When providing buses from ports to distant towns, excursion companies should look for alternative routes to time-consuming, traffic-clogged, two-lane roads to and from destinations
  • Having hand wipes or cleaners is the best way to cope with varying standards of cleanliness in destination washrooms, notwithstanding paying to use them
  • In high temperature ports of call water is perhaps the single most important and cost-effective item one can carry
  • Greater focus on clarity can be exercised by travel providers with respect to helping passengers identify buses on which to embark
  • Souvenir price competition increases as one gets further from the most popular tourist spots in a destination city
  • Those planning itineraries for shore excursions should arrange to maximize time available by minimizing side trips featuring upsells and promotions
  • Given their own years of experience, cruise lines could provide more information and details about ports of call beyond their own costly shore excursions
  • Taking a break in many tourist hot spots means having to cope with mobile locals coaxing you to buy something
  • As the day wears on, prices in many gift shops become increasingly malleable
  • Be aware that some ports of call have more flexibility in returning to the ship on time than others

Part 2 – options on board ship

Insightful(?) Dichotomies

A brief article in the August issue of Psychology Today looks at the current state of affairs of personality tests.

The inconsistency of some of their standards has given rise to doubting the value of results.  Indeed, popular ‘Temperament Sorter’ and ‘Type Indicator’ programs include undesirable features such as “ambiguous language and false dichotomies”. (more…)

Life Lessons from ‘The Intern’

In September 2015 a comedy-drama film called “The Intern” was released in theatres.  Starring Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway, it told the story of a retired, 70 year-old widower (de Niro) who returns to the work-force as part of a new senior intern program launched by a highly successful, internet clothing company, run since its start in her kitchen 18 months earlier, by its hyper-active founder (Hathaway).

The film’s overall box-office gross overall was close to $200 million (budget approx. $35 million).  It was a financial success, but tended to be overlooked by many in the industry because of its being tagged as something of a ‘chick flick’, and which didn’t feature IMAX worthy special effects. (more…)

What is More Fun than Hot & Humid Weather?

It’s early July, and the times (i.e. morning and night), they’re only limited respites from hot and humid.

What could be more fun?  According to some pundits in the media in Canada, we should be grateful for whatever we get, because it’s much better than the cold of mid-winter.  Indeed, they consider the extremely uncomfortable conditions in eastern Canada this past week, outside the protection of air-conditioning, are simply part of the price to pay. (more…)

Where Can I Get a GPS Tattoo?

We have become party to a panoply of leisure travel destinations, embellished by baby boomers entering the retirement lifestyle mode in ever-greater numbers.  With this comes the need to satisfy an ever-widening array of interests or concerns, while communicating with a range of cultures.

There is an abundance of information in both printed and on-line forms, not to mention anecdotal tips one may encounter.  Books in full size to pocket size offer flexibility and quick access for travelers on the move, who do not want to be dependent on connecting devices.  (Of course, many younger trip takers prefer the latter.) (more…)

TOP 10 Election Aftermath Realities

Among the truisms of government elections, and candidates’ behaviours, are that many of them are predicated on massage or sublimation.

Such as in the afterglow of Ontario’s provincial election June 7th(more…)