Sunday, February 26, 2017

Do you know what has been going on around you?

On February 24, 2017 there was an article written by Eiren Combs titled How to Deal with Your Fear of Public Speaking posted at the FlockU web site. She described five decent ways:

1] Wear a turtleneck (so your blushing is less visible).

2] Do breathing exercises.

3] Hold something sturdy (like the lectern, so you don’t shake as much).

4] Power pose.

5] Smile.

But the third paragraph in her introduction said:

“According to Statistics Brain, about 74 percent of the U.S. population has a fear of public speaking. This fear tops the U.S phobia charts, even beating out the number two fear: death.”

I found that hilarious considering she is listed as a class of ’20 student at Chapman University, where there have been three national surveys done on American fears. The 2015 survey ranked public speaking as 26 out of 89 fears, while the 2016 survey ranked it 33 out of 79 fears. On December 20, 2016 I blogged about them in a post titled Bursting the overblown claim that 95% of Americans fear public speaking at some level. The average fear levels from all three surveys were lower than the bogus 74% reported by Statistic Brain:

Not Afraid - 36.4%
Slightly Afraid - 34.6%
Afraid - 16.3%
Very Afraid - 9.8%

Very Afraid + Afraid - 26.1%
Very Afraid + Afraid + Slightly Afraid - 60.7%

The image of Little Miss Muffet came from the Library of Congress.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Food Labels: ENJOY BY, USE BY, or SELL BY?

Have you ever noticed that refrigerated bags of salad mix are marked with an ENJOY BY date but cartons of milk instead are marked with a USE BY date.

Does that mean that if I leave that bag in the refrigerator a few days too long I can use it, but I won’t enjoy it? (By then the iceberg lettuce will be an unattractive brown).

What about a bag of corn kernel snacks that says BEST IF USED BY? And what about the SELL BY date also seen on other packages?

On February 15th there was a press release from the Grocery Manufacturers Association titled Grocery Industry Launches New Initiative to Reduce Consumer Confusion on Product Date Labels. It described how:

“The new voluntary initiative streamlines the myriad date labels on consumer products packaging down to just two standard phrases. BEST If Used Bydescribes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consume. USE Byapplies to the few products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time; these products should be consumed by the date listed on the package – and disposed of after that date.”

The web page on Food Product Dating from the United States Department of Agriculture says that:

Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law.”

On the 1998 comedy DVD by Jerry Seinfeld titled I’m Telling You for the Last Time there is a routine on Supermarkets that includes a section about the expiration date for milk. You can watch a version with subtitles in Portuguese on YouTube:

“How do they know that is the definite exact day? You know, they don’t say like it’s in the vicinity, give or take, roughly. They brand it right into the side of the carton and they HISS (makes a sizzling noise). That’s your goddamn day, right there! Oh, don’t screw with us. We know what day is the final day. And then it is so over. Did you ever have milk the day after the day. Scares the hell out of you, doesn’t it?”  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Beware of bottom-feeding web sites

A few days back my daily Google Alert on “public speaking” turned up an article on a web page dated October 6, 2016 titled The Cons of Toastmasters at a strictly commercial web site titled Public Speaking Training. The author was not listed, and the Contact Us page for the web site refers you elsewhere. The fifth paragraph began with a sentence containing a grammar error:

“That’s how I feel as I sit down to right this article.”

Who really wrote this stuff, where had it come from, and when? It actually was scraped from a web site called Ezine Articles, was written by Marcus Antuan Smith, and appeared at a web page titled The Cons of Toastmasters submitted back on August 18, 2008. Terms on that web site call for including a link showing the author’s name, which was ignored by Public Speaking Training.

I looked at the last seven articles posted at Public Speaking Training, and found they also really came uncredited from Ezine Articles. All Public Speaking Training did was to add a stock photo or two.

The February 23, 2017 article on Five Simple Ways to Become a Better Public Speaker is recent. It was submitted by Jessica Lauren Vine on December 29, 2016 – so it was fairly new.

The February 21, 2017 article on Audience Analysis for Informative and Persuasive Speaking was submitted by John M. Lawrence on January 28, 2011.

The February 20, 2017 article on A Dozen Ways to Improve Your Speaking was submitted by Rex Rogers on August 2, 2010.

The February 19, 2017 article on Importance of Ethics in Public Speaking was submitted by Jordan Michael on April 16, 2015.

Another February 19, 2017 article on The Art of Listening and the Effect on Communication was submitted by Karen Golob on July 15, 2007, almost a decade ago.

The February 18, 2017 article on Public Speaking – 5 Tips for Writing an Engaging Speech was submitted by Crystal Coleman on February 18, 2009.

The February 17, 2017 article on The History of Arachniphobia – Fear of Spider Phobia was submitted by Andrew Power back on December 19, 2009. If you want to see a better discussion on arachniphobia, just watch the TED talk by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Spiders are discussed 8-1/2 minutes from the beginning.

The image of a man scraping came from the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How to research: If you can’t get in by the front door, then use the side door

On February 20 at her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog Jane Genova whined that Drudge Report’s curating includes articles behind paywalls – how disappointing. She said:

"For news junkies in a hurry, the Drudge Report used to be the go-to place. It had tons of curated content, continually brought up-to-date.

However, a problem has developed. That's because so many media outlets are putting up paywalls.

Click on, for example, today's headline on Drudge about Wal-Mart's growing troubles. The text is faded. Up pops a way to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal. How disappointing. And time-consuming.

To get access to that information we can key in on a search engine "Wal-Mart's troubles." That will bring up posts we can click on. Some might be behind a paywall. Others might not. We resent those extra steps.

So, for those whose mission is to always be up on the news Drudge may no longer be the first stop. Not if they want it fast.”

In Jane’s bad example she didn’t bother with a link to the Wall Street Journal article. There's also no link at her other version of the post.  As I said in a post about her back on June 19, 2016:

“Jane’s post is as interesting for what it leaves out as for what it says.”

But when you Google the likely title, Wal-Mart’s Big Box of Trouble, you will find another article with that same title and author. That’s because the source really was Dow Jones News, and the Wall Street Journal (also owned by Dow Jones) just was the consumer outlet.  

What else can you do to get past paywalls? Just remember that you are a member of a powerful statewide group known as Taxpayers who have already paid for database access. On July 30, 2016 I had blogged about Going around pesky periodical paywalls by using databases from your friendly local public library. That’s a side door you can easily use.

For example, Jane has said she lives in Austintown, Ohio. She’s served by the Mahoning County Public Library, and state databases come via OWL (the Ohio Web Library). The county library web site lists a powerful collection of EBSCO databases that can be searched either individually or by a single federated search (via EBSCOhost). I have access to a similar collection at the Ada County Library here in Idaho. (The Wall Street Journal is not in there, but lots of other publications like the Harvard Business Review are). A good EBSCO selection to search is:

Academic Search Premier

Business Source Premier

MasterFile Premier

Newspaper Source

I find it’s best to use the Advanced Search screen, and change from the defaults to display Date Newest rather than by Relevance, and limit the search results to Full Text articles rather than also including those just abstracted.   

An image of the Finnish Stockmann department store came from Wikimedia Commons, as did an image of the old State of Ohio seal.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Will eating bananas reduce stage fright?

Back on April 3, 2007 at her Speak Schmeak blog Lisa Braithwaite posted about how you should Eat bananas for public speaking success. She linked to an article titled  The ABCDs of Public Speaking where Dale Deletis said B was for banana and you should:

“B. Eat bananas. The banana, of the entire fruit kingdom, has one of the highest concentrations of Potassium. Potassium has the magical effect of relaxing the muscles in our body. When adrenaline flows into the body during stressful situations, Potassium comes to the rescue by relaxing muscular cramps. Apparently, according to Deletis, banana-eating is also the secret weapon for conquering stress of many professional musicians. Concert musicians undergo the highest stress of all performing artists because perfection is paramount. Mistakes are virtually unthinkable because musicians must blend in perfectly with one another.”

The 2015 Musician’s Health Survey, reported by John Beder at the web site for his documentary film Composed, asked how effective bananas were. Results for that question (also from Facebook) are shown above. Bananas were not as magical for performance anxiety as one might expect, and other alternatives did better. Only 3% said they were Very Effective, 42% said they were Somewhat Effective, and the other 55% said they were Not Effective.

Bananas still are a decent food, and I like to have one as a midmorning snack. The Chiquita Bananas web page on Nutrition Facts says one contains 110 calories, 450 mg Potassium, 3 grams fiber, 30 grams total carbohydrate, 19 grams sugar, but no fat. That’s about half the 39 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce can of Caffeine-Free Coca Cola, and the fiber helps keep you regular.

But watch what you do with those potentially hazardous banana peels.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Don’t make a eulogy by stitching together animated GIFs

A recent Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic had a man giving a crass eulogy from animated Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) files – perhaps like an elephant ambling, a donkey kicking or a throbbing pencil. That’s horrible!

Look instead at this 2010 article by Lisa B. Marshall on How to write and deliver a eulogy.

The previous comic on Nightmares was about zombie attacks and slide presentations gone awry.

An image of a woman sewing came from Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More lame marketing from DIRECTV


Today I received a “greeting card”  from AT&T Consumer Marketing about their DIRECTV NOW service.

On September 29, 2015 I blogged about how If you knew our company name, then you wouldn’t even open this envelope. As shown above, they tried that trick again. Clearly they have more money than sense. (I once worked in El Segundo, so I recognized the return address of 2260 East Imperial Highway was an office building).

The 1919 image of a man with crutches came from the Library of Congress.