A sheer pleasure to have YOU as a reader of my blog. At present my main teaching area is English so you will find that most of my posts are in English -my second language of communication. I promise to publish posts related to Spanish eventually; in the meantime, those of you interested in Spanish will find some interesting links regarding my native language. Truly hope you will visit my blog now and then; will try not to disappoint you!


Mi foto
GÄVLE, Sweden
I am an English/Spanish language trainer who thinks communication is a key issue in human interaction. Good sensible communication is needed whatever the language. On the personal side I strive for happiness by keeping love, respect and honesty as main ingredients. Last but not least, my smile is my trademark :O)

3 de abril de 2011

STORYTELLING IN PRESENTATIONS. Ms Huffingtton delivers a short but effective one.

Following the topic I began with in my previous post on Presentations, I would like to invite you to watch this second Ted Talk by Arianna Huffington. Her talk is called HOW TO SUCCEED? GET MORE SLEEP

You may have heard about her a couple of months ago when her widely-read online paper THE HUFFINGTON POST was bought by AOL Inc, and she became President and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group.

Well, my post is not to talk about AOL and/or Ms Huffington herself, but to show you the effectiveness of a sound content-message, in which words have been carefully chosen.

How to succeed? Get more sleep. Certainly the title itself is catchy. When reading it, one wonders how it is possible to be successful in life by having enough sleep. We are usually told that successful people have devoted themselves to working hard and giving up leisure or family time. If you want to be on the top, you must work up the ladder and it won't be easy. A visible instance of this is top-politicians; when they get into power their faces eventually start looking haggard with rings under their eyes, a certain sign of lack of sleep.

Ms Huffington delivers a brief talk (a bit over 4 minutes) that goes right into our inner feelings. She deliberately addresses the female audience with an interesting feminist message that goes away from the hackneyed discourse ¨we, women, are the same as men, therefore we have the same rights¨. Actually, she says the opposite: because we are different, we are better.

What's more, she does not use visuals, no ppt to enhance the content of her talk. The content of her talk uses the power of words and intonation to make it effective. She does this with the best technique: storytelling.

Her story has a personal drama, some research so you will become better, other characters humourously presented, not to forget the villains, there's also a time line with a past, a present and a future, and there's some learning to do in the hope that we will improve as human beings.

Her storytelling is imbued with simplicity and, yet, it is not simplistic.

Let's look at the use of adjectives, starting by the first sentence:

My big idea is a very, very small idea that can unlock billions of big ideas that are at the moment dormant inside us. And my little idea that will do that is sleep.

big / small / dormant / little / sleep
(simple opposing adjectives & the issue of sleep)

A pause, to let the audience take in what she has just said with the hope that it will raise their expectations to what she is about to say yet.

This is a room of type-A women... good address to the audience by praising them. Next she tells them a personal story to show her empathy with these great sleep-deprived women. Her personal story depicts pain, I broke my cheek bone bone, I got five stitches on my right eye,ouch! we only seem to learn the tough way. Then she backs up the story with some follow-up research. So, this happened to me, but it made me go beyond, illustrating myself with sound research so I now feel authorized to tell you why a good sleep is sound advice. A good bunch of positive adjectives the audience will surely like to feel as the definition of their lives, sort of the background music used in films to show the good moments:

And I'm here to tell you that the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.


She certainly delivers her message: a new feminist revolution so that we women will lead the way.

We are literally going to sleep our way to the top, literally.

We are set in a time line, with a past story, that of the Titanic, which is used as a metaphor to illustrate the recent present and its catastrophic consequences. Some of the characters have been named, Lehman Brothers. Men who brag their lack-of-sleep virility. Men who have led us to colliding into a crisis of unprecendented magnitude. Those men are the villains in our story. And we must learn out of this so that it will never happen again.

So I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us,
to shut your engine and discover the power of sleep.

2 de abril de 2011

TED Talk: DON'T INSIST ON ENGLISH & a good example on how to begin & end an interesting talk.

I've been teaching a course on Presentations for the past two weeks and TED Ideas worth spreading together with Presentation Zen are two useful and enriching sources on the web to learn and illustrate any key issue regarding this skill.

There is a previous entry on my blog called Delivering a presentation where I explain the main parts of a standard presentation, so I invite you to click your way there if you would like to read more about it.

The aim of this entry is actually to draw your attention to the beginning and end of a presentation. How we should start and end our presentation cannot be neglected during the preparation stage. However interesting our talk may be, we cannot expect our audience to walk out of the room remembering all we have said. Therefore, our message needs to be clear and simple (and by ¨simple¨ I don't mean ¨simplistic¨); we must make sure that they walk out of the room with the right message and not, say, with the lovely slides we have chosen to enlighten our talk, or an anecdote we have given them and whose purpose is simply to entertain.

There are different techniques we can use to make our start. A personal anecdote, an outstanding fact, a quotation, a catchy question, a joke; these are some of the ways experienced presenters use to start off, with the hope that the audience will immediately feel they are about to listen to something well worth their time.

Likewise, we need to think of a good ending so that our audience will walk out of the room with a fulfilled feeling; the sound bite.

Patricia Ryan, an experienced English teacher in Arabic countries, delivers a remarkable talk with interesting food for thought. Her talk is called DON'T INSIST ON ENGLISH and you can watch it with subtitles in different languages apart from English. This is another good feature of Ted Talks, the talks that have been uploaded to their site can be watched with subtitles in different languages eventually.

I would like to draw your attention to the humourous way in which Ms Ryan begins her talk. She actually turns what could seem a disadvantage at first hand into an advantage. She makes fun of her age and her looks to distract the audience from a potential preconception regarding her own appearance, and she certainly succeeds. Just watch her do it!

I will not discuss the content of her talk in this entry but there is certainly a lot to say about it. Nor will I discuss her choice of slides or body language. There is no other reason that my desire to stick myself to the aim of this post.

Finally, and with regard to the way she ends her talk I will end my post by eliciting her sound bite: MIND YOUR OWN LANGUAGE, USE IT TO SPREAD GREAT IDEAS!