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Thursday 15 October, 2020

 POWERtalk Pollokshields

Due to the current pandemic POWERtalk Pollokshields have been meeting via Zoom.  This has proved to be very successful and the members have enjoyed lively meetings.   On Wednesday 14th October the club met at 7.30 pm.  The Theme for the evening was "The World is your Oyster - or is it?"    President Brendan opened the meeting and introduced Roz as Chair for the evening.   The topics were taken by Louise, Grace,Liz and Scilla.  A very entertaining Education/Fun session followed by Carole Ford introducing a shared Screen and a lively Quiz.  The two speakers were Anita - "Pearls of Wisdom" and Brendan on "Is the Future Google?"  A useful General Evaluation was given by Grace and the Timing and Vote of Thanks was given by Liz.  Members are really enjoying the Zoom Meetings which gives us an opportunity to continue with the club in these very difficult times.

The next meeting is on 28th October and the Theme will be "Sights and sounds and smells".

Tuesday 6 October, 2020

Top 15 tips to enhance your Zoom meetings


Top 15 tips to enhance your Zoom meetings

Zoom has quickly become the most popular tool to keep us connected during Covid-19, especially in a professional capacity. We have adapted well to running and joining meetings at home even with the worry of invasion from the kids, the cat sitting on your laptop or the dog deciding it’s a good time to pee on the carpet. Even when we finally go back to offices, the popularity of Zoom meetings will continue, as we realise that there is no longer the need to bring everyone together for a meeting in an office environment and can just as easily be done remotely. More and more people will also be given the opportunity to continue to work from home.  So, Zoom is here to stay! Here are some great tips to help you when running or attending meetings.

1.      Add a background – Zoom offers a selection of backgrounds to use or upload one of your own. Just go into settings and get creative. If you don’t want to use a background then have a plain wall behind you.

    2.      Light up- Being in a well-lit area or having a light facing you will highlight your face. You can easily use a lamp or with a small investment, buy an LED ring light.
      3.      Level up – Have your camera at the correct level. You don’t want to be looking down or up at your screen. If you need to sit your laptop on a pile of books to get the correct level then that’s fine. No one can see what you are using. Your picture will be a lot more flattering and clearer to anyone watching.
        4.      Mute and unmute quickly – It can be very distracting if everyone is off mute throughout a meeting. Having everyone mute other than the speaker is wise. If you need to unmute quickly, simply hold the space bar down while you talk and release it when you have finished.
          5.      No need to add video when you join a meeting – When you join a meeting, generally there is a period of time when you are waiting for others to join. There is no need to activate video straight away. Wait until the meeting is about to begin before opening the video option.
            6.      Change up the screen – Use Gallery View so you can see everyone in the meeting.
              7.      Sending invites – Send well ahead of time with a follow up reminder. Often Zoom meetings fail purely because they are badly organised.
                8.      Share Screen – This enables you to do presentations or demonstrations to everyone at the same time. Both the co-ordinator of the meeting and the attendees are able to share their screen.
                  9.      Zoom App Market Place – Through these apps which integrates with Microsoft Teams and your google or outlook calendar, making the whole experience with Zoom a lot more seamless.
                    10.   Recording your meetings – There are two levels of being able to record your meetings. Zooms free level enables you to record your meeting locally onto your hard drive, whereas the paid Zoom level will allow you to save to the cloud.
                      11.  Enhance your look – Zoom offers you the chance to soften your features. (Settings -> Video -> turn on Touch up my appearance)
                        12.  Audio Transcript – The paid version of Zoom lets gives you the option to have an audio transcript of your meetings, found under advanced cloud recording settings.
                          13.  Waiting Room –It is a good idea to enable this feature as hackers or strangers could be attending your meeting without permission or an invite. Using waiting room lets you see exactly who is in attendance and who shouldn’t be. This can avoid an embarrassing situation during a meeting.
                            14.  Break out rooms – If you have a large number of attendees you can set up to 50 break out rooms for workshops or mini meetings.
                              15.  Practice –Arrange with a friend or colleague a dummy meeting to test out the Zoom features and to get the level and lighting right.

                              Saturday 3 October, 2020

                              ITC – An Education!

                              How I found out about the Scottish Colourists


                              In the pre Covid times, I always enjoyed my annual visit as Region Board member to Caledonia Council meetings.  

                              Portrait of Grace McColl by J D Fergusson

                              Who would not enjoy being royally entertained by old friends? I always arrived on the Saturday evening, had a splendid meal provided by my host for the weekend, then a full breakfast on the Sunday morning, and so on to the Redhurst Hotel for the Council Meeting. On one memorable occasion, I was seated comfortably enough, and from somewhere I could hear the sound of the staff preparing to serve Sunday dinner. “I’m still full from breakfast!” I began to think, when, suddenly, I found myself on the edge of my seat, almost startled. I had hardly noticed from the programme that the last event of the morning was to be “The Scottish Colourists”, but Brendan had commenced a talk and was projecting a stunning sequence of paintings onto a screen. I was surprised because, although art has always interested me, I had never heard of this group, and had never seen any of these paintings, before.

                              The Colourists were Samuel Peploe, John Fergusson, George Hunter and Francis Cadell. They were at their height between 1900 and 1930 and were very much the heirs of the French Impressionists of the nineteenth century. The name came to be applied to them because of their “use of brilliant colour to capture the rich evocation of a place or person”. What were their subjects? To continue to quote from Dr Cummings of Edinburgh University, “whether a landscape, a portrait, a still life or a subject celebrating the vibrancy of urban life, [they] convey a real sense of joie de vivre which few can match”. It’s difficult for the layman to add to that. A large part of their attraction is that they are capable of being appreciated by anyone: the viewer can simply enjoy the use of colour and not try and guess any “hidden meaning”. Confident in their own Scottishness, they spent a lot of time in France, where the sunshine gives plenty of scope for the artist. Several of their paintings were purchased for the French nation.

                              Disgracefully, I am not aware of any of their work being on display in any of the major English galleries, and would be very happy to be proved wrong. If you want to see more, and I hope that this very brief introduction has whetted your appetite, then the National Galleries of Scotland have some fantastic exhibitions from time to time. 

                              Colin Gray



                              Tuesday 8 September, 2020

                              Body Language – The unspoken communicator


                              Body Language – The unspoken communicator

                              Body language is our non-verbal way of expressing our thoughts and feelings. We gesture with our body and use facial expressions without even realising it. Being aware of how we use our body language is a powerful tool when it comes to the art of negotiation and persuasion and will help fully engage your listener/s.

                              Once you learn how to use your body language, you will naturally be able to read others which will help you gauge situations quickly and adjust your behaviour as necessary. This is great in meetings especially if you are needing to really capture the attention of who you are talking to.

                              Here are some top tips to consider when you are in your next meeting or giving your next presentation or speech.

                              1.      Use open body language – make sure your arms are unfolded and your hands are unclenched. This shows the listener that you are being open and will help convey honesty and integrity. If you have to deliver bad news or face a difficult meeting where there is the potential of a sticky situation, you will most likely see your audience with arms crossed, facing away from you and not making eye contact. If you mirror their behaviour then you will hit a stalemate. By showing you are open allows them to feel more at ease and they are far more likely to engage.

                              2.      Make eye contact – No matter if you are speaking to one person, a few people or a whole room full of people, eye contact is important. Of course, there is a fine balance between holding eye contact with the same person for too long and not holding it for long enough. Too long and you are in a creepy staring match, not long enough will make you appear disengaged. A few seconds at a time is more than adequate. If you speaking to a room full of people then pick out people left, right and centre and alternate every few seconds.

                              3.      Avoid touching your face and fidgeting – If you frequently touch your face or fidget you will come across as being uncomfortable, untrustworthy, dishonest and shifty. It really won’t matter how great your subject is if you let your body language contradict what you are talking about.

                              4.      Use open hand gestures – Be careful to not overdo the gestures with your hands, this can be distracting from what you are saying. Having your hands opened palmed will convey openness, sharing and trust. Unless you are putting across a serious issue and it is intentional. Never point, this will show aggression and will turn your audience right off.

                              5.      Smile – Unless you are delivering bad news of course! The simple act of smiling will show warmth and trustworthiness. Your audience will be put at ease and feel more relaxed and open. Smiling changes your whole persona and has a knock-on effect, if you are smiling you tend to make others smile. Much like how a yawn is contagious.

                              6.      Posture – If you are standing to give a presentation or speech, stand with your shoulders back and chin up, this will convey confidence and also frees your diaphragm which will help to keep your voice loud and clear.

                              Bonus Tip: Film yourself giving your presentation or speech so you can see how you are gesturing, the facial expressions you are making, and any bad habits you may be displaying without even realising it. Most of us are self-critical when watching ourselves back on film, so try not to be too hard on yourself.


                              Written by Sarah English for Birmingham Speakers Club - 08 September 2020.

                              Wednesday 5 August, 2020

                              Top tips to calm your nerves when giving a speech

                              Giving a speech requires preparation, from research and planning to writing and rehearsing, but failing to prepare mentally can mean the difference between a good speech and a great speech.

                              Controlling your nerves requires a little practice and patience, but once perfected it can be used for all sorts of situations. Here are some great tips to get you started.

                              Accept your nervousness and feel okay about it.  If you make a conscious effort to identify that you feel worried, that you feel queasy, that you are sweating and understand that your nerves are doing this, you are able to then accept that feeling nervous is natural and absolutely okay.

                              Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect. We often compare ourselves to others and put pressure on ourselves to be perfect but you are far better off being yourself. Even the most established of speakers make the odd mistake and that’s what makes us all human.

                              Know your subject matter. It is evident very quickly if you are talking about a subject that you know little about. The speech come across as lacklustre and wooden with lack of passion and conviction, your audience won’t engage and your speech will soon be forgotten. The more you know about your subject the more confident you will be.

                              Engage your audience. Involve your audience so they feel a part of your speech. Not only will it raise the energy level of the room, your speech will be far more memorable.

                              Use breathing techniques. Controlling your breathing will bring your heart rate down and help you to focus. Sit or stand straight and slowly take in a deep breath from your diaphragm to expand your tummy as full as you can. Hold for a few seconds exhale slowly as far as you can, hold for a couple of seconds and repeat. You will instantly feel calmer and in control.

                              Practice mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is the art of being in the moment, not letting any outside influences in, any worry or problems, questions or noises. It is clearing your mind enough to blank out everything and listen to your own heartbeat and breathing and nothing else. Mindfulness and meditation take practice and patience; there are plenty of guides, YouTube sessions and books out there to help you learn.

                              Visualisation. Visualise the success of your speech. Imagine getting to the end knowing that you were concise, clear, engaging and interesting. So much so, that your audience applauds loudly and you know that all your preparation and practice was all worth it and more importantly, you enjoyed delivering your speech.

                              Practice out loud. When preparing to deliver a speech you should always rehearse it out loud and in front of a friend or family member. That way, not only are you practicing, you can get open and honest feedback on your delivery and content.

                              Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol. The last thing your body needs is extra stimulants when your adrenaline is taking over. You may think a drink beforehand will calm your nerves but in actual fact it has the opposite effect and will only add to your anxiety. Only drink water, your body and mind work so much better when hydrated.

                              Make eye contact with your audience. It can be very tempting to read from que cards or your PowerPoint presentation without really looking at your audience, but will show lack of willing to engage with your audience and will turn them off what you are trying to say. Try to hold eye contact across the room by alternating to your left, right and centre audience.

                              By following these techniques, you will soon be on the way to delivering great speeches and actually enjoy giving them!




                              Tuesday 16 June, 2020

                              BISC on Zoom

                              Birmingham International Speakers (BISC) held only their second Zoom based meeting on Wednesday 10th June with coaching and tips on speeches of persuasion.

                              We consider public speaking as involving relatively new communication skills but we went back as far as Aristotle to understand the power of crafted speeches, especially if you want the listeners to agree with a point of view.

                              Some 12 members attended and we also welcomed several guests.

                              Aristotle at the Academy

                              Aristotle’s “Three Musketeers” for the persuasive speaker are logos, pathos and ethos. That is, the appeal to reason, the appeal to emotion and the appeal based on the moral character of the speaker, respectively.

                              The success of Aristotle’s techniques may be judged by the fact that his work Rhetoric remained the standard text on the subject for centuries. Or perhaps it may be judged by the achievements of his pupil Alexander, whose leadership skills enabled him to conquer most of the then known world.

                              We cannot promise to help you build an empire but we can help you to build your confidence and develop your leadership skills.

                              The POWERtalk Great Britain Blog is listed on the Top 10 UK Public Speaking Blogs.

                              If you are interested in finding out more about BISC fill out our query form.

                              Thursday 20 February, 2020

                              POWERtalk Pollokshields — Dance

                              Wednesday 19th February. 2020  in Hutchesons' Grammar School - Room A21.

                               The evening was opened by President Brendan who gave apologies from three members and introduced 
                               Roz who was the chairman for the evening.   Roz gave an inspiration and topics were given to Grace, Liz, Louise, Brendan and Regina.   Brendan handed out a quiz about Dance which caused much discussion and laughter.   Following the Tea interval two speeches were given   
                               One by Grace on a Hungarian Dance she did at school and
                               Lauren on the importance of dance lessons for the young.
                               Regina evaluated the speech by Grace and Louise the speech by Lauren.

                              A short business meeting was then held to discuss the Caledonia Council Speech Contest and to make arrangements for the Club Speech Contest at the next meeting.
                              The General Evaluation was given by Ruth and the Vote of Thanks and Timing was by Liz.

                              A very happy and informative evening was had by all.

                              The next meeting is on 4th March in Hutchesons' Grammar School - room A21 and is the Club Speech Contest to which all are welcome.

                              Thursday 6 February, 2020

                              POWERtalk Pollokshields — Fashion

                              5th February 2020

                              The evening was opened by President Brendan who introduced the Theme "Fashion" with a recording of the Kinks "Dedicated follower of Fashion" and had everyone singing.

                              Everyone was made welcome to the first meeting of 2020.  Unfortunately, there were a number of apologies which meant that various members had two assignments.

                              Brendan introduced Louise

                              who gave us an interesting Inspiration and gave out Topics such as Liz on Burns (not a fan), Roz on fashion who gave us a quote from an Editor of Vogue "Fashion can be bought, but Style you must possess), Regina on a quote from Marilyn Munroe on the right kind of shoes, Brendan on TV programme fashion - Pottery" and

                               finally, Grace who was asked about fashion which caused dogs to be bred for fashion - she did not like the topic and cleverly talked about jewellery fashion.

                              The Education/ Fun item was by Regina
                              This took the form of a most entertaining Quiz covering many areas of fashion.   The winner was Brendan.
                              Following the tea break, the two speakers were introduced

                               Roz who took us through the ages with fashion and gave us sensible advice at the end.
                              Carole who led us through a number of areas of life which was fashion-led and told us about a jumper which she has knitted which was on the catwalk during London Fashion Week.

                              The evaluations were by Grace and Brendan.

                              A short Business Meeting then took place and items discussed were the Council and Club Speech Contest and club dues.

                              The Timing was by Carole and the General Evaluation and Vote of Thanks was by Liz.

                              A most enjoyable evening was had by all.

                              Date of the next meeting:   19th February 2020 in Hutchesons' Grammar School and the Theme will be Dance.

                              Thursday 28 November, 2019

                              POWERtalk Pollokshields — A Heilan' Fling

                              Wednesday 27th November, 2019

                              The evening was opened by President Brendan who amused us all with tales of his highland dancing when very young.

                              Brendan then introduced us to the Chairman for the evening

                              Scilla who handed out topics to Louise on the furthest North she had been.
                              Regina, Liz and finally Brendan.

                              We were then led through a session by Brendan on Happy Memories through the decades.

                              Following the tea break Ruth gave us a very interesting and historical speech on Tam O' Shanter and Glengarry hats which was evaluated by Grace

                              Iris was the second speaker and her topic was on Whisky Cocktails with a very amusing tale of the origins of the term Cocktail. Iris's speech was evaluated by Anita.

                              A short business meeting followed to discuss some Region Business and also the Division of Labour for the Christmas Party next week.

                              The timings were by Liz and Regina gave an excellent Evaluation of the evening.

                              The next meeting of POWERtalk Pollokshields is the Christmas party which is to be held in the home of the President.   There will be a short break thereafter until February.