Craig Strachan - Keep Talking!

4 Ways to Become a Charismatic Speaker

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Communicating your presentation idea alone won’t be enough to convince your audience. You should also have the charismatic appeal to enhance your credibility and complement your central message. A likeable image is what leaves them swayed, in awe, and wanting more.

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On goal setting and running

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Here is a thought about running and goal setting. It is very seldom that I don’t have a big race coming up in the future, hence a lot of my runs are training runs for that race.

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A thought on pseudoscience…

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Would you use a soap containing drain cleaner as a key ingredient? If you won’t, then you probably won’t use any soap. One of the best drain cleaners is sodium hydroxide. The reason it is so good at cleaning drains is that it dissolves fat. But what happens when the fat dissolves?

Why Toastmasters

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I was asked to write a short piece as to why I have been a member of Toastmasters for over 15 years. I have shared it below. My intention when I joined Toastmasters was to be a member for a few months – just long enough to improve my business speaking skills.

Day One review

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If you use a Mac and keep any sort of journal this is an app to look at. If you are a Windows user this is one more reason to make the switch. I have been a user of Day One version 1 for several months, and it is an excellent tool for journaling.

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10 steps to creating a really strong story

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Guest post by Jim Harvey. It sounds like a presentation trainer’s cliche, but it’s not. In business presentations, the story is the thing. There’s a skill and a structure to creating interesting and compelling narratives.

7 lessons from wordcamp

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Last week I spoke at WordCamp, Cape Town (the WordPress conference), and I watched many of the other sessions as well. Here are a few lessons I learned from my and the other sessions: Keep the sessions short and sharp.

I’m feeling lucky – book review

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I’m Feeling Lucky. The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59. Doug Edwards. This book is for anybody looking for an inside view into the growth of one of the biggest brands in the world. Marketers, techies or anybody wanting to learn what it is like working at Google should ready this book.

Book review: Obstacle Illusions

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Obstacle Illusions: Transforming Adversity into Success. Stephen J. Hopson was born deaf but quickly learned to speak and began attending public school.

Ben Zander – tickets still available for JHB

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Yesterday, I saw Ben Zander speaking in Cape Town. He and his wife Ros were here for the launch of the Alive With Possibility DVD, a DVD celebrating the possibility in South Africa.

Five Tips to Deliver Exciting Speeches

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I received this article in Patricia Fripp’s email newsletter, and I have reposted it with her permission. Five Tips to Deliver Exciting Speeches. Open Hot, Close Hotter. To grab audience attention and be remembered, start the presentation with a bang, not a limp “Thanks, it’s nice to be here.” ” The first (and last) 30 seconds have the most impact on the audience.

Music on NPR

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(Slightly off topic). Here is something a little unusual. On Saturday. a song that I wrote using Garage Band on my IPAD was broadcast live as the opening song on Geek Speak, a radio show from KUSP (Central Coast Public Radio, Santa Cruz). It is syndicatd via the US National Public Radio podcasts. You can listen to the show here (but you have to wait until the end to hear the credits). You can downoad the song off my photo-blog here: Geek Speak Theme. Communication Podcasts ipad music npr

10 Delivery Guidelines for Speaking with Impact

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Craig Valentine offers 10 simple guidelines for adding impact to your speech. Included are: 1. Don’t move all the time. If you are always moving then no movement will be meaningful. Your audience will never know what’s most important. Move with a purpose. When there is no reason to move, don’t. Don’t use the same gesture over and over again. This is evidence of a habit and most likely distracts from your presentation. Read the full list with more details and audio-examples here.

This is what customer service is!

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I have had my Amazon Kindle for about 18 months (6 months out of warranty), and a few weeks ago it started behaving strangely, in that whenever it went onto standby, it would crash. So, I started a live chat with Amazon support on their website to see if we could resolve it.

Book review: The Healthy Programmer.

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This book is a practical guide for computer programmers (or any office worker) who want to get more fit and healthy.

Are you in the minority?

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I was queuing to pay at a shop the other day when my phone rang. I took the call and quickly hung up when I got to the front so that I could pay for my shopping. The shopping assistant was surprised that I had hung up to speak to her. She told me that it was the first time that had happened, and everybody else just carried on speaking on the phone while they paid; as if she did not exist. I thought it was just basic manners to speak to the person serving you, and not to treat them as a servant.

Do you want my money or not?

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Why do so many companies make it so difficult to give them money? Here are just 5 ways to make me take my money elsewhere? Don’t have a website. Have a website, but don’t provide contact details. Have a website with contact details, but don’t respond to my queries. Don’t return my phone calls. Break your promises, or make unreasonable promises. I bet you are thinking that your business would never do any of these. These are not difficult things to get write; they really are the basics.

A freebee from the best

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I have listened to Darren LaCroix’s “Get Paid to Speak by Next Week&# CD’s several times, and they provide great insight into the business and art of public speaking. Darren has now gone a step further by offering offering 52 weekly modules (IE 1 year) via email for free. You can signup or find out more here. Coaching Products Speaking course darren laCroix email

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Peter Block workshop in Cape Town

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At the end of February Symphonia will be hosting our very popular 2-day workshop based on Peter Block’s book “Community: The Structure of belonging”. This is an opportunity to learn the art of community building whilst experiencing what it means to be in community with a diverse group of people from across South Africa. I have personally attended some of these workshops, and they are not to be missed.

Free PowerPoint templates

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Here is a pretty cool website that I have been looking at: Slide Hunter , an online collection of free PowerPoint templates. I am not sure exactly how many there are, but at about 40 pages of 7 templates I estimate at least 280 or so templates (and they are all free).

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Presenter View; a quick tip

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Here is a quick tip to make your PowerPoint presentations a little more effective. If you setup Presenter View, you can see a great summary of your presentation on your laptop screen, and show the regular presentation on the projector screen. So when I give a presentation, I see something like this.

Shopping with Cybercellar; a lesson in customer service

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First of all full disclosure; Cybercellar gave me a R100 discount voucher to try out their website with the aim of writing a blog post about it “if you feel that we are worth mentioning, we believe we are!, it will be appreciated.”

DEVONThink or Evernote?

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I have been a paid user of Evernote for a couple of years and have always found it to be a very good service.

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Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to publish a book

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Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to publish a book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. Although I would like to publish an ebook at some stage, it is not something that I am looking at doing right now, so the review copy on my Kindle sat there for quote a while before I got to browsing through it.

Charteo review – create custom slide decks

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Here is an interesting way to create your presentations. It’s an online tool called Charteo, which allows you to create a custom slide deck based on a selection of over 10000 online slides. In summary, you pick and choose your slides and create a custom desk.

Just get out there

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Two of my interests are photography and public speaking, which is why I follow the blogs of Both Darren LaCroix , who won the world champion of public speaking in 2001, and Jared Polin (aka the Fro) , who is the most amazing photographer and teacher out of Philidophia.

Syndicating your blog – Word Camp Cape Town

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Some of you have asked for a copy of my recent presentation at WordCamp Cape Town. The organisers have loaded all of the sessions onto YouTube, so if you would like to watch my session (or any of the others, look below).

A clear message

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I saw this sign on one of the movie cameras at the recent Toastmasters Convention. A short and simple way to get your message across. How do you get your message across? Communication Toastmasters message sign

Do you backup?

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I just read an email about an author from Port Elizabeth who has lost over 200 pages from a book that she is busy writing after her laptop was stolen. These are over 200 pages of the only draft! While I feel sorry for her, I hear this kind of story almost every week. How simple is it to really backup your files? I am sure that right now, she is thinking that perhaps she should back up on a more regular basis.

Guest post: 5 Tips for Conquering Q&A

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“What Questions do you have for my answers?” – Henry Kissinger. When roles are reversed, and audience members are handed the microphone, many public speakers turn a brighter shade of purple. But this article will outline 5 practical steps for beating Question & Answer Sessions, and help you leave the stage as victor. But first, the preliminaries: Questions and Answer sessions have become routine with many forms of public speaking and will often be expected by a host.

Community building

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My friends at Symphonia are running a community building sessions based on the methodology and work of Peter Block. I have been to his workshops and they are great. Most sustainable improvements in community occur when citizens discover their own power to act… when they stop waiting for the professionals or elected leadership to do something, and decide they can reclaim what they have delegated to others.” Peter Block.

Schrodenger’s Restaurant

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Isn’t it interesting that as soon as you find a quiet, out of the way restaurant, everybody starts going there. You know what I mean, the sort of place that is reasonably priced, serves really fine food, and has a fine ambience. Then everybody hears about this place, and before you know it you have to book weeks in advance. And then when you finally manage to visit the restaurant, its full, noisy and impersonal. Everything that you liked about it has gone.

4 tips on PowerPoint

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Use PowerPoint to enhance your presentations, not as a substitute for poor presentations. Create your content first, and then create the visuals. Creating slides is far more fun that creating good content; don’t fall into the trap of creating great slides that support a weak message. Budget your time. Allocate a set amount of time to create the slides, and budget that across all the slides you need.

3 acronyms to make email messages a little more effective

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Hey are three acronyms you can use to make your email communication a little more effective. NNTR / NRN**. If you put NNTR in the end of the subject line (No need to reply, or no response needed), it tells the recipient that you are not expecting a response. e.g.: > Minutes of last night’s meeting attached NNTR. Personally I prefer to assume that unless you explicitly tell the reader that a response is needed, a response is not expected. **EOM**. EOM**.

What to get done

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In my previous post I gave some tips on getting tasks done; here are some tips on what to get done. Never accept a meeting on the same today – it messes up your planning. Know what you need to do today, and only focus on those – remember to eat the biggest frog First (Brian Tracey). Don’t do other people’s work – it is too easy to say yes, but mean no – delegate! Only commit to work that you can complete, and if you can’t complete it, don’t commit!

Ulysses – markdown editing

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Before I tell you about Ulysses and why I think it’s a great piece of software, a quick primer on markdown. What is markdown? Markdown is an easy way to create rich documents using a plain text editor (with bold , italic , etc), and it is particularly useful to create HTML content. Markdown makes it easy to create blog posts without having to worry too much about the formatting, but you can still perform powerful formatting in a text editor. For example, you can create: A headings.

What do you need to do?

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What do you need to do today? What do you need to do this month? What do you need to do this year? What do you need to do next year or further in the future? Productivity time management

Stop being interrupted

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Put your phone on silent and turn it over (so you can’t see the screen). Switch off your email. You can check your email when the task is complete. Turn off your messaging clients (FB messages, Lync, Skype etc). Even better turn off your network connection if your task doesn’t need you to be online. Hide – one of my biggest distractions is people coming to my desk to ask a question.

On running and pacesetting

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year ago I started paceseting for races in Cape Town. My first race was the UCT 10k. I drove a (somewhat empty) 60 minute bus, and arrived at 59:10. Over the past year I have been a pacesetter for 20 races with a total distance of 704km (ok so I love numbers; I freely admit it). Even though it has only been a year, pacesetting has taught me about running in a bus, and about running in general, and my busses are a lot more full. Here are a few tips. I hope they help. When running in a bus.

Lessons from Gary Bailey

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Gary Bailey plated goalkeeper for Manchester United for almost 300 games, and being South African he is considered something of a local hear. Here are some lessons from him: On Manchester United: Is a $1 billion business. Delivers weekly. Has 300 million customers. Lessons. Be tough and learn to takes knocks. Build on gratitude. Appreciate staff and all those around you. Things go wrong for everybody at some time. It’s how you deal with life, not what happens to you that makes a difference.