Categories
Impromptu

Impromptu Speaking

How many times have you been caught by surprise in a business meeting and have been asked to give your opinion?

How many times have you answered with no structure?

Here are three simple structures for Impromptu Speaking:

  • 1-2-3
  • Past, Present & Future
  • Good, Better & Best

Let us say you work for a chocolate company which is considering to explore “FAIRTRADE” for their products and they ask you for your opinion.

Structure “1-2-3”:

Firstly “fairtrade” is not something we need to consider but it needs to be ingrained in every product we sell.

Secondly “fairtrade” helps us ensure that we take care of our suppliers all the way to the cocoa picker.

Thirdly “fairtrade” gives us the opportunity to let our customers consume chocolate not only for the taste but everything that went in creating it

Structure “Past, Present & Future”:

In the past, we created chocolate by keeping our suppliers and their working conditions a secret.

In the present, our customers are willing to pay for a product which not only tastes good but also is good in the production process.

In the future, by subscribing to “fairtrade” we have the opportunity to be fairer to our suppliers and provide good value to our conscious customers.

Structure “Good, Better & Best”:

Good chocolate had good cocoa beans in them.

Better chocolate had better chocolatiers working with them.

Best chocolate is when “fairtrade” is added to the recipe.

Try out these structures next time you are called to speak Impromptu!

What is your favorite structure for Impromptu speaking?

Categories
Speeches

Speech Energy

Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

Where do you get your Energy for a speech?

I normally get it from three places – Content, Stage and Audience.

If my content has something that I feel should be expressed with HIGH energy then I use HIGH energy in my expressions, voice and gestures.

eg: “Hold on to your beliefs and your dreams will come true!”

If my physical stage encourages me to make my speech bigger in feeling.

eg: Do you feel the BIGness of a speech change when you are on a 5m stage compared to a 15m stage?

If my audience is silent then maybe there are two reasons.

  • One they are listening intently and reflecting
  • Two they are lost and in a different world

I need to increase energy if they are lost and get them into the speech

If my audience is NOT silent then

  • One they are chuckling or laughing and having a good time
  • Two they are booing and want me off the stage

I need to take corrective action to change the booers into believers


My online audience is on MUTE. They are silent both ways!!

The content is still the same if it is a prepared speech.

If it is standup comedy, you may change it based on audience feedback.

When the stage is virtual, I am romancing the web camera.

  • I look 1cm to the right of the web camera for the audience to my right
  • I look 1cm to the left of the web camera for the audience to my left
  • I look 1cm to the top of the web camera if I am looking for godly inspiration
  • I look 1cm to the bottom of the web camera if I am looking down in sadness

My neck is training in a range of 1cm micro movements to keep my focus with the online audience.

It is difficult to feel the energy from a muted online audience.

It is possible to look at encouraging and nodding faces but you don’t always get it because you are looking at the web camera.

The energy has to come from within.

The energy has to be imagined and increased and decreased on cue.

I love the Energy from the physical audience. My speech takes on new levels with a physical audience.

I am learning to love the Online audience. The Energy is locked away with the online audience. It is my responsibility to take my speech to new levels to get the attention of an online audience.

Where you do get your energy for your speeches?

Categories
Scribbles

Message first or Story first

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

How do we start putting together a speech?

Message first or Story first?

I very often have a story that happened to me in the past. I feel like I learnt something from that story that I would like to share. I then take it and make it part of my speech and then build the speech around it. I find this approach organic. Sometimes getting a supporting frame to this story is challenging.

Having a message first reminds of me of being called to make an Impromptu speech. I have a phrase or challenge thrown at me and I need to build from there. In this case as I get warmed up with a first few sentences, my mind is chugging away in the background trying to put together stories that happened in my life and try to relate them with the topic. The moment any story matches a bit, I bring it in. During my story narration, I keep looking for a nice to loop back to the message. The advantage of this approach is that the message is known and everything is built on it.

What is your approach when you write your speeches?

Categories
Speeches

Know your audience

Toastmasters International – Fact Sheet (2020-21)

When making a speech to an audience it is important to know them.

Why?

Let us take the Toastmasters organization as an example. The statistics presented here are from the fact sheets published by Toastmasters International.

Age appropriate speeches for an audience are very important. When the average age is 46 years, making speeches about “nursery rhymes” might not be relevant. Maybe for a small group of the members who are parents.

When 78% of the audience have a Bachelor’s or Higher degree then it is safe to assume that the audience is intellectual and will be moved by intelligent argumentation and logic. Not to forget a personal story and emotional connection every now and then.

Toastmasters International – Fact Sheet (2020-21)

Till District (Country/Countries) level, your speech will have to also reflect some understanding of local culture and traditions for the connection with the audience. Once you cross the District border and your speech is being made in front of an international audience it is good to know that 52 percent of the audience is from the Americas. The story, the development, the humor and the message should be able to cross borders.

Knowing your audience and making a speech that fits is a challenge.

But getting your facts right and being prepared is half the job done!

Categories
Speeches

I, me and myself

Jafar(Disney)Character.png
Jafar (Aladdin) – Wikipedia

In the Disney movie “Aladdin” the villain Jafar comes out with a line wherein he says “Tell me about myself”.

I love this line!

How many of us love to talk about ourselves?

Especially when given the chance to make a speech with a personal story or with a hero’s journey.

I like to do the following exercise with my speeches.

Make a count of the number of “I”s, “Me”s and “Myself”s in your speech.

Here is a sample from one of my speeches:

Spoons and Forks – Ranjith Venkatesh | Speaker Shine

Number of “I”s: 21

Number of “Me”s: 7

Number of “Myself”s: 3

This speech has 659 words in all. Let us skip the “Me”s and “Myself”s.

The number of “I”s is 3% of the words in the speech.

If it crossed 10% the speech would make Jafar proud.

At 3% it is not high but still one has to see if there is a reason for “I”s to be where they are in the speech and if they are adding value.

How about your speech?

Is it about you or is it about your audience?

Categories
Scribbles

Story Cubes

I like games.

I like stories.

I like games which encourage storytelling.

I picked a game called “Rory’s Story Cubes” for my daughter recently.

You throw dice and start your story with the classic “Once upon a time”

And here goes:

https://www.storycubes.com/

Once upon a time

  • there was a bee called “Walter”
  • Walter lived in a tree on the topmost branch.
  • One day he flew down to smell a flower.
  • Walter noticed a big scary shadow from the side of his eyes.
  • BAZOOM! A shooting star just streaked past the sky!
  • From behind the tree walked a man wearing a mask.
  • He was singing a tune about how happy he was!
  • Walter gave a timid smile and only realized
  • There was LOVE in the air!

We even play the games in different variants

  • Each one says one sentence on one dice and the other one continues
  • We change languages – English one round and German another round
  • We change endings – Happy and Sad ending

Do you have a game which encourages storytelling?

Are you using storytelling at work to grab the attention and increase retention of the idea with your team members and stakeholders?

Categories
Scribbles

Agile Vlogmas – Apps and Hardware

I decided to do a Vlogmas for Christmas last year.

24 short videos over 24 days from December 1 to December 24, 2021.

After trying a few different tools, I settled down with two Apps inbuilt in Windows namely the Camera and the Video Editor App.

Hardware used: (links below)

I use the Logitech 4K Pro Webcam and I am happy with the video quality.

I use an external mike namely the RODE NT-USB Mini and I am happy with the audio quality.

I use a table top external ring light namely the Neewer LED Ring Light and I am happy with the light quality.

Step 1:

Recording the video using the Camera App.

Two settings which helped me were the Framing Grid and the Video quality.

I used the “Rule of thirds” for the framing grid and ensured that my head moved around in the middle box.

The Video quality was set to 1080p (Full HD). If your laptop does not have Full HD, get yourself a Full HD webcamera. It is worth the video quality.

I decided on an idea for the video and storyboarded in my mind. As the video length is aimed at 2 to 3 minutes, it is easier to storyboard it in the head. Anything longer might need a storyboard on paper or the equivalent.

Once the video was recorded, the only thing that it needed was to be trimmed in the beginning and the end for a few seconds.

I first did it with YouTube video editor but then realised that there is an Windows inbuilt video editor which is easier and faster.

Step 2:

Editing the video using the Video Editor App

Create a new video project and import the untrimmed video from earlier.

The video trimmer is very basic and I like it for this kind of video.

The first few seconds are the ones where you click on the record button and get ready. These seconds need to be trimmed. You may either move the trim control or use the arrow buttons to move step by step. I realised that I have a special look in my face before I start talking and I wait for that short span before the mouth opens and catch that point for the initial trim.

The last few seconds are the ones where you click on the stop record button. Your eyes are looking at the stop button and these seconds need to be trimmed too.

Once the trimming is done, you may finish the video and remember to select the 1080p for Full HD video quality.

Now you have a video ready for publishing in different platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Apps:

Camera App

Create films with Video Editor

Hardware:

Logitech 4K Pro Webcam with HDR and RightLight 3

Logitech G HUB – Logitech Support + Download

NT-USB Mini | Studio Quality USB Microphone | RØDE Microphones (rode.com)

RØDE Connect | Podcasting & Streaming Software | RØDE Microphones (rode.com)

Table Top Ring Light – neewer.com

Categories
Scribbles

Loyalty

Photo by Sebastian Vacca on Unsplash

It was afternoon and I had written two messages on WhatsApp to two different friends. As usual, I expected the messages to show me a tick in a few seconds.

NO! I saw an icon I had not seen for years. Something which looked like a clock indicating that my message had not been sent.

I waited for 5 seconds!

I started getting jumpy at 10 seconds!!

I knew that something was wrong with the world at 15 seconds!!!

I started to PANIC.

One message was about a cousin looking for a job.

Another message was about planning a meeting for a restaurant.

Both obviously very important messages that could NOT wait.

I opened another App after 1.5 minutes namely Telegram.

Luckily both friends were on it and I copied the messages from WhatsApp and sent them on Telegram.

Both messages left my phone and went off to my friends!

PHEW, I was saved.

My loyalty for sending messages to friends using an App(that I had used for 5+ years) switched after a downtime of 1.5 minutes.

How long does our loyalty to our Apps last?

How long does our loyalty to our Companies last?

How long does out loyalty to our Friends last?

Categories
Speeches

Popit

Photo by Anna Bondarenko from Pexels

I asked my daughter why does she like the new craze in kid toys – “POPIT”

She gave me the answer in a triad.

Firstly, the POPIT is FUN

I ask myself, are my speeches fun?

I catch myself adding humour after the speech has been written out.

I catch myself adding a funny anecdote to lighten a long process discussion.

I catch myself adding an agile game which is fun during a multi-day hackathon.

FUN is so important but very often an afterthought.

“Secondly, the POPIT fights BOREDOM”

What are the different things we do to fight boredom? If we are bored, are we enjoying what we do. Let us give that a break and assume we are bored for the sake of argument.

I fight boredom by walking to the coffee dispenser even when I am wide awake.

I fight boredom by reading some news between two important meetings.

I fight boredom by pinging a colleague on slack and asking them how they are doing.

BOREDOM is a reality that needs to be fought.

“Thirdly, the POPIT comes in bright colours, makes a pleasing sound and provides a nice touch feedback”

Do our speeches speak to different senses?

The POPIT is very often made in bright neon or rainbow colours.

When you press each convex surface, it makes a pleasing POP sound.

It also provides a nice touch feedback when you have POPed a POPIT and you want POP more.

When our speeches can be filled with FUN, fight BOREDOM and speak to SENSES we have a winner.

Go get a POPIT and start your next speech!

Categories
Speeches

Spoons and Forks

The heavenly smell of spices reminded me of home.

The rice and shining red curry invited me in for a feast.

My stomach purred like a cat in anticipation.

I was 18 years old at the college canteen in the north of India.

We were given cold stainless steel spoons and forks to eat with.

I was hungry, but angry at the same time as I did not know how to use spoons and forks.

Satisfying my hunger was so near yet so far.

Contest Chair, Guests, Toastmasters and those who love eating with your hands

It was my first day at college and it was dinner time.

Rice and curry was on the menu.

My face lit up like a 5 year old welcoming a Happy Meal at McDonalds.

Everyone around me was eating the rice and curry with a spoon and fork.

Coming from the South of India, we eat with our hands.

I did not know how to hold the cutlery.

I felt ashamed.

Have you ever felt ashamed when people around do something differently or better than you?

Have you ever felt that you had to hide your true self?

I wanted to be true to myself.

But, what will they think of me?

Will they think that I am not sophisticated?

I was afraid of the fork hurting my mouth.

I am Indian but had NOT done the sword swallowing training yet.

I stuck to the spoon alone and finished my dinner quickly, in only 2 hours.

One of the boys sitting in front of me asked

„Don‘t you have spoons where you come from?“

Another boy chimed in

„Look at your head move while eating!

That is quite a sight!!“

I felt my face go red not because of the spicy curry.

I felt ashamed.

Many years later, I attended a cultural awareness session in Germany.

In Germany, (nod head up and down) means YES

In India, (move head up and down and sideways) also means YES.

With Indians working in Germany you had to do cultural awareness sessions.

Our trainer Klaus told us something that has stayed with me ever since.

Eating is universal but cutlery is cultural.

Only if Klaus had told us when we were in college that eating with hands was cultural, I would have felt sophisticated.

He made me understand that we had no reason to be ashamed of what the people around us can do differently or better.

We don’t have to hide.

We can be true to ourselves.

A few years later, I was promoted and invited to a fancy dinner in a fine restaurant.

The place had wooden panels all around.

There were different wines arranged in fancy racks.

We were seated around a vast mahogany table with mahogany chairs.

This was an opportunity to impress the Senior management.

You would think I had learnt my lesson about being true to myself. Looking at the dining table –

There were TWO forks and TWO knives. And TWO spoons.

I broke into a cold sweat.

Will my college nightmare repeat itself?

Nobody was interested in my eating skills.

They were interested in the teamwork and the synergy we had by being different but better together.

I realised that the by being true to myself, I had been true to my colleagues, my company, and my clients.

Maybe this realization can help you too.

By being true to yourself you are being true to the people around you.

I live in Munich in Germany now.

At the beer garden, I put aside my spoon and fork and use my bare hands to dig in and eat.

How many of you have eaten with your hands?

Why don’t you give it a try today!

Donald Winnicott – the psychoanalyst says that

„It is a joy to be hidden, and disaster not to be found.”

Come out of your hiding place and

Be true to your self.