Sunday, April 22, 2018

How not to deliver a world-class infographic on presentation anxiety

On August 4, 2017 the Hong Kong based Malcolm Andrews issued a press release titled Leading Executive Coach Reveals the Tricks to Delivering a Killer Presentation Despite Common Anxiety that linked to an infographic titled HOW TO DELIVER A WORLD CLASS PRESENTATION.  

On May 20, 2015 I blogged about Is that an infographic or just a totem pole scroll? In that post I noted that an infographic provides real information, while a totem pole just recounts legends. Malcolm’s infographic is 9.6 times higher than it is wide, and it requires lots of scrolling to read.

The section on anxiety at the top of this infographic, shown above, begins with a pair of ‘statistics’ that just are legends – and are displayed via silly donut (hollow pie) charts.

The first claim is: “Around 75% of the population worldwide suffer from the fear of public speaking, and for many, their fear is so great it could derail their careers.” On February 3, 2014 I had blogged about Busting a myth – that 75% of people in the world fear public speaking. In that post I chased down where that old number came from. It really just is about the U.S., and likely university students.

The second claim is: “In fact, 19% of the population are more afraid of public speaking than death, spiders, heights, and dark.” That really comes from a pie chart by Jim Peterson on the
Fear of public speaking statistics factsheet web page at his Speech Topics Help web site (shown above as a bar chart). Jim doesn’t say where those percentages came from, and I doubt they are real. The percentage for the sixth fear on the list, of people or social situations is out of place, and should be larger than that for public speaking. I discussed that on December 7, 2014 in a blog post titled Statistic Brain is just a statistical medicine show where I debunked their fears list that clearly was inspired by Speech Topics Help.

The third claim (repeating the first) is that: “Roughly 3 out of 4 people admit to being scared of public speaking. Now that’s huge!” This is followed by column charts showing the percent of females and males in ten countries, as two rows of four and one of two.

That data actually came from a Reader’s Digest Canada survey (the eleventh link) but aren’t explicitly identified either in the infographic or in the table at the bottom. But there really were 16 countries, so there should have been four rows of four. Malcolm left off India, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, and South Africa. I blogged about that survey on April 9, 2012 in a blog post titled Poll by Reader’s Digest Canada found fear of public speaking wasn’t ranked first in 15 of 16 countries surveyed. The table shown above lists both the percentages and the rankings by females and males. The averages for fearing speaking in public were 20.6% for females, and 17.1% for males – which are quite far from the 3 out of 4 people claim.

The fourth claim is titled “Top 10 fears of Office goers” but doesn’t say that data come from the United Kingdom, and just lists six of ten. Why not two rows of five, and why not use column bars instead of those silly donut charts with icons in their centers? Worse yet, the ninth link identifies my blog as the source – it points to a January 18, 2016 blog post titled Over a quarter of workers in the UK chose careers to avoid their office fears - although I had linked to the original source there.

Further down in the infographic, under Preparation it admonishes that “It is important to understand your knowledge gaps regarding the situation. About what you might know or not now (sic) about the subject and the presentation.” What is the knowledge gap for this infographic? That there was a social fears survey done for Hong Kong back in 2009. I blogged about it in a post on February 7, 2011 titled Fears of superiors and public speaking in Hong Kong. A bar chart with the results is shown above. Note that the percentages apply to 12-months, so the question would be “In the past year were you” rather than “In your life were you ever.”  Public speaking (public performance came second to talking with a higher-status person.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Playing with words: PRO or CON?

At a Toastmasters club meeting one role is that of the Grammarian, which may optionally include introducing a ‘Word of the Week’ to help members increase their vocabulary. At today’s meeting of the Saint Al’s Toastmasters club that word was Zeal, and the theme was National Humor Month. So, I was pondering whether it might be humorous to instead have a PAIR of related words, one PRO, and one CON – like Progress and Congress (which almost seem opposites).  

A half-dozen examples are shown above. (There also are some near-misses like Proceed and Concede).

Back on December 27, 2014 I had blogged about how to Have fun making up new words! Another way to do so is to notice there are other words where either the PRO or CON word is missing – as shown above in four examples each. If you are driving around in a Convertible, then you might be inspired to call someone else’s sedan a Provertible.

UPDATE April 21, 2018

Here are four more.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A cartoon for illustrating a humorous ‘how to’ speech

On April 17, 2018 Doug Savage had a Savage Chickens cartoon titled The Right Way. It goes perfectly with the following story, which I told slightly differently in a blog post on February 22, 2011 titled Return of the Table Topics Bunny:

Back in the early 1980s I had a two-story condo and a curious little black kitten named Finster. On a late-spring weekend day I opened windows for the upstairs master bedroom (front) and bathroom (rear) for cross ventilation. Then I left to run errands for a couple hours. When I returned and opened the front door, I found a mound of toilet paper on the landing. A trail led all the way up the stairs, and into the bathroom. Finster obviously had jumped on the windowsill to look out. As he jumped back down he had brushed the toilet paper roll in the holder on the back wall, and it began to rotate and unroll. Once he got it started he just kept unrolling it and playing. I turned the roll around to feed out underhand rather than overhand. Then I never had that problem again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fear of Public Speaking in Brazilian College Students

The January 2017 issue of the Journal of Voice (v31 n1) has an article by Anna Carolina Ferreira Marinho et al. titled Fear of Public Speaking: Perception of College Students and Correlates. You can read the abstract at PubMed, and a preprint of the full article at ResearchGate.  

1135 students at one  college or university replied to a questionnaire: 765 women (~2/3) and 370 men. As is shown above in a bar chart, 63.8% of them feared public speaking – 68.8% of females and 53.8% of males (significantly less). Age and field of study did not significantly affect the extent of fear.(Click on the chart to see a larger, clearer view).

A second bar chart shows how students perceived their own voice. 36.8% thought it was adequate. The majority did not – 30% thought it too high pitched, 18.5 % thought it too soft, 7.4% thought it too nasal, 4.9% thought it too deep, and 2.4% thought it too hoarse. An overwhelming majority of 89.3% expressed interest in getting speech language training.

The results shown in my first bar chart came from Table 1 of this article. If you go back and look at it you will find I calculated the percentages from the numbers rather than using those shown directly there. Those percentages are wrong – they were calculated by columns rather than rows. This is the sort of nonsense which can result in an article with multiple authors when a table is delegated to someone else but not carefully checked.  

Data by sex from Table 1 are shown above. For males, the percent answering yes should be 100*(199/[171 + 199]) or 53.8%. Instead it was 100*(199/[199 + 525]) or 27.5%. Obviously that percent for males should NOT depend on the percent of females who answered yes, and the row sum for yes and no should be 100%.

Data from Table 1 by age and field of study are shown above in two more tables. For age the percentages again were calculated by columns rather than rows. For field of study, the column sums reveal that the numbers for no and yes were wrongly switched as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Three out of five public speaking ‘statistics’ that are shockingly off the mark

On March 30, 2018 at Ethos3 Kelly Allison blogged about 5 Shocking Public Speaking Statistics, and opened by claiming:

“There’s a lot of misinformation and false statistics floating around out there with regard to public speaking and specifically public speaking fear (AKA glossophobia). For instance, maybe you’ve seen the ever-prevalent stat that 75% of people have a deep fear of it? Well, turns out that’s not even close to true. We did our homework and found some stats that are actually true. Below you will discover our findings.”

But she didn’t really do her homework (dig all the way down to primary sources), so her first three are way off the mark. (I knew they were nonsense, but have not bothered to chase down the other two). Their first two are that Fear of public speaking cuts wages by 10% and Fear of public speaking inhibits promotion to management by 15%. She linked to Peter Khoury’s awful December 13, 2016 blog post at Magnetic Speaking titled 7 Unbelievable “Fear of Public Speaking” Statistics (which talks about the 75%). Two days later I had blogged about it in a post titled Believable and unbelievable statistics about fears and phobias of public speaking. Mr. Khoury claimed both percentages came from a publication at Columbia University, but it just had mentioned those results in the 13th slide, and actually referred to a magazine article by Daniel Katzelnick et al titled Impact of Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder in Managed Care which had appeared in the American Journal of Psychiatry, December 2001, pages 1999 to 2007. But that article never ever uses the words public, speaking, or fear. As the title says, it really is about social phobia which is a broader topic than public speaking but apples to a higher level of fear. On page 2003 it  says that:

“…generalized social anxiety disorder is associated with 10% lower wages”

….and a 14-percentage point lower probability of being in a managerial, technical, or professional occupation.”

The third ‘statistic’ claims that your delivery matters more than your content. Specifically: 

Studies suggest that effective presentations are 38% your voice, 55% non-verbal communication, and only 7% your content.
That commonly is known as the Mehrabian myth. I blogged about it back on July 25, 2009 in a post titled Bullfighting the Mehrabian myth and again on September 15, 2010 in another post titled If the Mehrabian myth was true.

The astonished monkey cartoon came from Openclipart.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Right and wrong room setups

The January – February 2018 issue of Speaker magazine has a one-page article by Alan R. Zimmerman titled Smart Room Setups. He says you should plan ahead to get the right one. If you don’t you might wind up with something very wrong - like the century-old railroad car shown above (with 12 rows of seats, each for just four people). Alan’s article has a .pdf file download showing nine different setups for a wide range of audience sizes:

Boardroom (21)

Theater Curved Rows (30)

Small Group Rounds (35)

Classroom-Style with 2 aisles (36)

Small Group Angled Tables (40)

Classroom-Style with one aisle (60)

U-Shaped (72 )

Theater Style U-Shaped (254)

Theater (for 500+)

The 1903 railroad car interior came from Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Have you ever seen a flip chart stick out its tongue?

On November 27, 2017 at his Train Like a Champion blog Brian Washburn posted about 9 Tips for Better Flip Charts. His eighth one, to Make Dynamic Flip Charts, caught my eye. Brian showed how his colleague Jeremy Shuman emphasized new points. Jeremy taped a Z-folded strip of chart paper behind a page, but left a tab showing at the right. Pulling the tab revealed more information – like sticking out your tongue, as is shown above.    

In Robert W. Lucas’s The Creative Training Idea Book (2003) there is a section titled Flip Chart Magic on pages 279 to 292 (which you can view at Google Books). He has a web page with some brief articles about using flip charts you can download as Acrobat .pdf files. One also titled Flip Chart Magic mentions using tandem flip charts. As shown above, you might use one chart for your prepared presentation during a meeting, and another to capture comments from participants. (If you don’t have two easels, you could use Post-It self adhesive pages to put the comments pages on a side wall). Other articles are titled Enhancing Your Message with Flip Charts, 5 Super Tips for Enhancing Flip Charts with Color, Successful Flip Chart Usage, Spicing Up Your Flip Charts with Graphic Images, and even Transporting Flip Charts Effortlessly.