Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How do you write 1300 blog posts? One at a time.

When I started the Joyful Public Speaking blog back in May of 2008 I never imagined that it would go on for this long - 1300 posts. But now that I am retired I plan to keep going since it provides me with a creative outlet.

As of today there have been 851,860 page views, which is comparable to the estimated current population for the city of Columbus, Ohio (where I once lived for most of a decade).   

How long does it take for me to write a blog post? Somewhere between three hours and three months. My September 20, 2016 post about Great versus small minds took about three hours from seeing the Sheldon cartoon to appearing here. Contrast that with my September 22, 2016 post about how Public speaking is not the most common fear for adults in British Columbia, which took three months because I had to sit down and use Excel to prepare a half dozen horizontal bar charts.

I have many inspiration for post ideas. They range from cartoons to serious magazine articles abstracted at PubMed Central, and other blog posts seen at Alltop Speaking.

The I-beam image was adapted from a Safety first poster by the WPA Federal Art Project seen at the Library of Congress.

Monday, September 26, 2016

PowerPoint slides or flipcharts shouldn’t give your audience an eye exam

At the very end of 2005 Guy Kawasaki described The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint which said:

“....a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”

The 30 point font size is a reasonable minimum. Dave Paradi has discussed Selecting the correct font size in more detail by including both the screen size and maximum viewing distance.

Back in 2008 my blog post on Don’t be a “Flip Chart Charlie” discussed how the same problem can rear its ugly head in flip charts:

“Keep reducing the size of your letters to indicate the headings, sub headings, sub-sub headings, sub-sub sub headings etc. With enough levels you can give your audience a free eye exam.”

In an article posted on April 23, 2014 Tim Themann described Some Data on the Current Use of PowerPoint - Font Sizes which revealed that people unfortunately seemed to follow PowerPoint defaults for hierarchical bullet point lists. Please don’t do that and then ask your audience to read 10 or 12 point letters!

The 1937 eye test image from the W.P.A. Federal Art Project was found at the Library of Congress.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Death vs. Public Speaking?

On March 19, 2015 Chad Biggs had a post on the blog for Red Sky (PR) here in Boise titled Death vs. Public Speaking? How to Harness Your Nerves. He opened by trying to scare folks with the claim that:

“It seems ridiculous. An anomaly. A statistical error. But according to research from two Bruskin/Goldring research studies more than 15 years apart, public speaking is the number one fear of Americans. That tops heights, illness and even death.”

He followed those words with a bar chart borrowed without attribution from my May 19, 2011 blog post titled America’s Number One Fear: Public Speaking - that 1993 Bruskin-Goldring Survey. But actually the previous survey was done by Bruskin (not Bruskin/Goldring) back in 1973 - exactly twenty years earlier and not the vague more than fifteen. My post had ended by mentioning Geoffrey Brewer’s March 19, 2001 article on the GALLUP web site titled Snakes Top List of Americans’ Fears. Public speaking came second in both their 2001 and 1998 surveys.

Another of my blog posts on April 2, 2014 discussed how a YouGov survey of U.S. adults found they most commonly were very afraid of snakes, heights, public speaking, and being closed in a small space. For A Little Afraid public speaking came first, and for the sum of Very Afraid and A Little Afraid it came third, after snakes and heights.

On October 30, 2015 I blogged about how According to the 2015 Chapman Survey of American Fears, adults are less than Afraid of federal government Corruption and only Slightly Afraid of Public Speaking. That survey ranked public speaking #26 out of 89 fears.So the #1 fear claim really doesn't hold water.

An image of the martyrdom of King Louis XVI came from the Library of Congress.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Public speaking is not the most common fear for adults in British Columbia

Back in June there was a poll about fears. Insights West conducted online interviews with 802 adult residents of British Columbia, between May 31 and June 3. They reported detailed results on June 17, 2016 in an article titled Terrorism, heights, snakes are top fears in British Columbia. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 per cent.

Residents were asked about the following 26 fears (shown here in alphabetical order):

Being the victim of a crime
Confined Spaces
Flying (Airplane/Helicopter)
Needles/Getting shots
Nuclear war
Open spaces
Open water (Ferry/Boat/
Public speaking

For each category, they were asked to choose how afraid they were on a scale from 1 to 4 where (0 = not sure, or don’t know):

1]   Not Afraid At All
2]   Not Too Afraid
3]   Somewhat Afraid
4]  Very Afraid

A bar chart shows results for Very Afraid. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer view). Terrorism (16%) was the most common fear, followed by nuclear war (15%) and snakes (14%). Heights and spiders (11%) tied for fourth place, while Being the victim of a crime and Public speaking (10%) tied for fifth place.

A second bar chart shows results for Somewhat Afraid. Heights (29%) was the most common fear, and Being the victim of a crime (28%) was second. Terrorism (27%) was third. For fourth place (26%) there was a three-way tie between Confined spaces, Public speaking, and Snakes. For fifth place (22%) there was another three-way tie between Death, Nuclear war, and Spiders.

 A third bar chart shows results for Not Too Afraid. Strangers (38%) was the most common fear. Germs (37%) was second, and Being the victim of a crime (36%) was third. Death (35%) was fourth. For fifth place (33%) there was a three-way tie between Terrorism, Water/drowning, and Insects. For sixth place (32%) there was another three-way tie between Confined spaces, Heights, and Public speaking.

A fourth bar chart shows results for Not Afraid At All. Open spaces (86%) was the most common unfeared item, and Fish (85%) was second. Birds (81%) was third, Clowns (79%) was fourth, and for fifth (69%) there was a tie between Ghosts and Open water (ferry/boat/ship). 31% had no fear of Public Speaking or Snakes.


A fifth bar chart shows results for the sum of Very Afraid and Somewhat Afraid. This sum was reported in the first online article about this survey on June 14th titled Terror attacks top list of B.C. residents’ fears, poll shows. Terrorism (43%) was the most common fear followed by a tie for second place (40%) between Heights and Snakes. Being the victim of a crime (38%) was third, Nuclear war (37%) was fourth, and Public speaking (36%) was fifth.

A sixth bar chart shows results for the grand sum of Very Afraid, Somewhat Afraid, and Not Too Afraid. Terrorism (76%) was the most common fear, and Being the victim of a crime (74%) was second. Heights (72%) was third, and there was a tie for fourth (68%) between Public speaking and Snakes. For fifth (65%) there was another tie between Nuclear war and Death. 

We commonly see claims that more people fear Public speaking than Death. This survey didn’t find that for Not Too Afraid, where Death (35%) was fourth - while for sixth place (32%) there was a  three-way tie between Confined spaces, Heights, and Public speaking.

For Very Afraid, Public speaking (10%) tied for fifth place, and Death (8%) was sixth. For Somewhat Afraid, there was a three-way tie for fourth place (26%) between Confined spaces, Public speaking, and Snakes. For fifth place (22%) there was another three-way tie between Death, Nuclear war, and Spiders.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Great versus small minds

Who said that:

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”?

A]  Winston Churchill

B]  Abraham Lincoln

C]  Eleanor Roosevelt

D]  Mark Twain

E]  None of the above

The answer is E]  None of the above. I saw that trio quote in a September 15th Sheldon comic strip, where it was attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. But an article by Garson O’Toole at Quote Investigator says no.

That quote is a good example of the speechwriting Rule of Three, Back on May 27, 2009 Andrew Dlugan discussed it in a post on his Six Minutes blog titled How to Use the Rule of Three in Your Speeches. Also, on February 12, 2015 on his Public Words blog Nick Morgan discussed the ‘I have a dream’ speech in a post titled Martin Luther King and the Rule of Three.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A great stuntman story - Eddie Braun rockets across the Snake River Canyon

On Friday, September 16th, Eddie Braun soared across the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho. He succeeded in doing what his boyhood idol, Evel Knievel, had failed at back on September 8, 1974. See the Wikipedia pages on Evel Knievel and the Skycycle X-2.

In a question and answer session with the local newspaper on the previous day, Hollywood stuntman Braun said the jump was how he would begin winding down his career. See the AP and TIME magazine stories on the jump.

Knievel’s attempt had a big buildup:

“A Time magazine reporter wrote about lots of bikers, drinking, partying and nudity before and on the day of the jump. He described the scene as ‘a bizarre spectacle, garnished with machismo and the threat of death.’ "

Friday, September 16, 2016

Spouting (Birther) Nonsense: After five years, Donald J. Trump finally admits that Barack Obama really was born in the United States

Today a CNN article reported that Trump finally admits it: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States.” He didn’t say why he’d changed his mind, but it’s easy to speculate that he did not want to leave that brazen lie around as a subject for the upcoming debate. But his campaign also made a point of blaming Hillary Clinton’s campaign for originating it, as also was discussed in a New York Times article. Trump mainly ran a publicity stunt for his new D.C. hotel.

Back in 2011 Jerome Corsi was almost ready to release his book titled Where’s the Birth Certificate. Instead the president released his long-form birth certificate just three weeks before Corsi’s tome was published. That was like a ‘Roger Rabbitcomedy routine:

“Eddie: Do you mean to tell me you could have taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?

Roger: No, not at any time. Only when it was funny!”