How to communicate with an audience?


I strongly think that technical professionals’ ability to speak, write and the quality of idea (in that order) would be a significant factor in their success. So why is communication important? We live in an era of distractions, work from home, online conference meetings, etc. Humans have only one language processor. We do not know if everyone on the meeting across the wire implements rules of engagement as they would during an in-person discussion. Even during an in-person conversation, it is plausible for someone to be mentally absent.

The uniform code of military justice specifies court-martial for any officer who sends a soldier into battle without a weapon. Communication skills are nothing short of weapons for professionals.

Speech

If you go to conferences, I can almost guarantee that 9 out of 10 speakers would start their speech by saying “{Greetings} my name is {name} I am from {place} and this talk is about {topic}.” By repeating what you already know, the speaker is signaling you to catch up with emails on your laptop/phone or maybe make plans for your weekend. Second, “Umm … umm … aaah .. is the mic working? How much time have I got?” Not a great way to get uninterrupted attention from your audience.

Another example would be a social networking event. Most of the time, you walk up to a group of people hanging out and say, “Hi, I am {name}. I am from {place}. My interests are {hobbies}. I do {occupation}.” I bet it is just a matter of time before these people would walk away from you. How can you get them to engage with you in a conversation? If possible, use social networking tools (e.g., LinkedIn) to research the people you would be meeting and find common ground. e.g., Try to walk away from a stranger who tells you that they and you know someone in common! If we are to define the quality of communication, it could be defined as following. Here, I have used font size to emphasize the importance of each parameter.

Quality = f(Knowledge, Practice, Inherent talent)

When I deliver my presentation or speech, I generally start with an empowerment promise or a question that matters to the audience or a shocking factoid to captivate the audience. Example: A solar panel array covering an area of the Sahara desert only as big as the US state of New Mexico is capable of generating 100% of the entire world’s modern electricity needs. It would have approx 51.4 billion solar panels. I am sure that would make you re-think solar energy.

Another approach in a networking setting that is quite effective is storytelling because stories are about people! An adult version of “once upon a time.” For example, “In September last year, I was in this room with 150 people, and we were having a little conversation with one of the leading world experts on computer science. He said something to me that has me thinking ever since. He said something to me that changed what I think about what I think would be the future of the human race.” Suppose you can tell a story from your own life that connects you to why a particular topic is important to you. In business, how do you affect the quality of life of a customer? That’s what would make them trust you.

Recommendations

  • Use Graphics (Board):
    Gives a target to draw audience’s attention back to you if they have got out of the track on what you have been saying.
  • Use Props:
    Right props really carve a long lasting image on our memory. Remember Walter Lewin’s video from MIT?
  • Inspire audience:
    Exhibit passion about what you are doing.

Presentation

How many times have you seen a too busy presentation or the presenter is reading the slides? As a reminder, humans have only one language processor. So when the slide is too busy, the audience is likely to ignore what you are saying. Try to avoid distractions (funky backgrounds, etc.). Engaging with an audience and maintaining eye contact is far more important than making them watch the back of your head.

Slides should be condiments of what you are saying, not the other way around.

Within the first five minutes, take an opportunity to explain your vision and show that you have done “something” relevant to the topic.

The last slide

Titles like “Questions?”, “Conclusions”, “Collaborators”, “The End”, “Thank you”, “For details, see {link}”are common examples for the last slide. They all are awful. I do not recommend using any of these! Saluting the audience or saying “Ite, missa est” are far better ways, comparatively. I want to let the audience remember me by what I have done: My Contributions, which allows me to come full circle on my vision slide in the beginning. Alternatively, my final words often are a joke. So, when I finish, the audience thinks they had fun the whole time. 😂

In the end, I’d leave you with a YouTube video [link to the video] if you do a lot of public speaking on technical demos, presentations, etc.

Employer Handbook 0


Often, we have an employee handbook. We never have one for employers, though. In this article, I try to share a boiler plate employer handbook.

  1. Always encourage craftsmanship, and hire people smarter than you.
  2. Employees don’t leave their companies. They leave their manager.
  3. Whether you hire a CEO, CFO, or a developer, ask the new hire to Continue reading “Employer Handbook 0”

How to deal with spammers?


So it finally happened. You went to a conference for your employer or visited a webinar or a website … somehow, you willingly and consciously shared your email address and/or phone – because they require you to “check-in.” Fast forward three months, and now you are getting phone calls after phone calls from their marketing and their newsletter, for which you never signed up! You can ever so politely say that you are not interested in their product and unsubscribe from their marketing emails on the phone call. These actions should be the end of it. What do you think?

No, they were just getting warmed up!

I started getting more and more imaginary “follow up” phone calls and then emails to schedule “appointments” with me & my manager to buy their product. Despite how many times I would unsubscribe from their emails, or I would tell them that I was not interested – on the phone, it did not stop. A new marketing associate would call me and then tell me that he/she did not know the conversation I had in the past with one of their own. This company kept cold calling me for a few months. Boy, they were persistent!

But then I realized, if they keep doing this, it must be fun! Why should they have all the fun? 😀

The time had come when their tactics backfire. I collected the email addresses and the phone numbers of each associate, ever to communicate with me. It took me just a few minutes to set up an outlook rule to forward spam emails from their own company back to them. The kind of IP phone I use comes with an SDK. (SDK is an acronym for Software Development Kit, a software company would give you with a digital device to integrate with your computer program.)

Let the hacking begin!

The Social Network (2010)

The SDK documentation was not even close to being well documented. With some tinkering, I could programmatically monitor the incoming phone calls and place the calls. I wrote a pretty simple C# .NET Core worker service to call my computer program if the incoming number was on my blacklist. My background service simply answers the phone, mutes me, and starts calling the rest of the spammers from my blacklist.

The next time a blacklisted spammer called, sure enough, my “smarter than before” phone answered the call, started calling the rest of the spammers in a conference call and muted myself. By the time the spammer was greeting me, some of their fellow spammers had joined the conference call. They got confused. For a few days, they seem to think their phone lines got crossed. Some would hang up the phone, try again, only to fall into my trap, yet again. All I had to do was to make sure that my blacklisted phone numbers were up to date. Come on, I do not want them to miss out on the fun.

“‘I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

Obi-Wan, Star Wars

Now, I never have to let them know that there is warm blood on the other side of the line. It took the spammers a few days to realize that I was up to no good. I was never this much proud of my IT skills. 😉

Here’s the problem w/ YouTube API’s TOS


Thoughts on YouTube TOS (II. Prohibitions):

Who Moved My Cheese?


Management


Muttitasking is a myth, The only type of multi tasking I know is to think about a problem and then to sleep ! Many of the times I hear people talking, “I can multi task” well most of the times it actually is not it, but just “task switching”. You know it probably is 3:30 pm and you’re so deep and concentrated on your task, coding, designing, reading, planning whatever may it be, and then all of a sudden your phone rings, if you notice carefully, you’re dumping the thought process of your current task and answering the call, ( chances are less that you’d continue “multi tasking” and you’d be doing both them well ! ) What could you’ve done ? You could’ve probably asked your phone to keep mum !

The way I start my day is I ask my self what N ( = 3 ) things I want to accomplish today ? Then visualize those things getting accomplished, just imagine, how good would I feel if these N things get done today. Then what I do ? Then, I accomplish them. Friends, I’ve seen people in my life where they do things and then hope for things to work out, hope is not a strategy ! Few other things I personally use as parameters, are effectiveness (peek a goal and get it — doing right thing) , efficiency ( doing things right way !)

Continue reading “Management”