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Monday = Tip from a book. Wednesday = Eloquence tip. Friday = Performance tip.

(11 Eloquence: Wednesday January 17, 2018)

A timeless/golden rule/guideline in public speaking is “Tell A Story, & Make a Point”, or “Make a Point & Tell A Story”

Stories elicit emotions. Stories make us care. Emotions form memories.
Stories Stick, Facts Get Forgotten
Stories Sell, Facts Tell

For more on Storytelling—RNK answer to QUORA question. How does one become a better storyteller?
Download a pdf gift chapter on Storytelling from my book Necessary Bridges: Public Speaking and Storytelling for Project Managers and Engineers.

11 Book: Monday January 15, 2018)

QUOTE. There’s another way of looking at male-female differences in Emotional Intelligence. This is the work of Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge University, who says that there’s an extreme “female brain” which has lots of mirror neuron activity, and is high in emotional empathy — but not so good at systems analysis. By contrast, the extreme “male brain” excels in systems thinking and is poor at emotional empathy.

These brain types are at the far extremes, with most of us somewhere in the middle. Many men are adept at emotional empathy, and many women are adept at systems thinking.

Analysis has revealed that while in general we find general differences across various competencies, when we look only at the pool of star performers (people in the top 10% of business performance) those differences wash out. The men are as good as the women, the women are as good as the men, across the board. UNQUOTE.

Source: The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights by Daniel Goleman

10 Performance: Friday January 12, 2018)

Popularized by  Don Greene, who insists that with proper practice, we can center ourselves in less than ten seconds.

7-Step Process

  1. Form your clear intention: Clear the jumble of your thoughts by focusing on a single aim, such as “I’m going to convince the buyer to sign a contract.” Don’t waffle. Keep he goal positive.
  2. Pick a focal point: Aim your eyes at an unimportant distant point, toward which you’re later going to fling excess energy, stress and nervousness.
  3. Breathe mindfully: Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Full expand your belly with each breath.
  4. Release muscle tension: Progressively relax your muscles, starting with your head, and moving down your body, checking one area per inhale.
  5. Find your center: Think about a spot two inches below your naval, and two inches below the surface of your belly. That’s your center. Focusing on this spot quiets your mind.
  6. Repeat your process cue: This is a phrase that’s supposed to trigger a specific action that gets you towards your intention. For a golfer it might be “smooth. good tempo”; for a negotiator, it might be “ask questions and be friendly.”
  7. Direct your energy: Hurl excess energy at the focal point you identified step 2.

This is more than just calming down. This is a systematic way to calm down, one that forces you to go through specific steps that also occupies your minds thereby distracting you from any nervousness you may be feeling.

The whole idea behind finding our center is to feel rooted, grounded stabilized—and in control of our energy.

Source:  Psyched Up:How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed. Daniel McGinn.

Centering: Devised by Robert Nideffer. Popularized by his protege Don Greene. Developed for San Diego SWAT team. Used in elite music schools like Juliard

(10 Eloquence: Wednesday January 10, 2018)

Pauses are one of the most powerful tools (rhetorical device) in all of public speaking.

When used skillfully, pauses allow audiences to experience messages more deeply, and process messages more thoroughly. Pauses of three seconds—or three heartbeats—are particularly effective.

An example of a 30 second pause. N Modi.

(10 Book: Monday January 8, 2018)

Relabeling or “Name & Tame” is an approach used to attenuate powerful negative emotional experiences.

(09 Performance: Friday January 5, 2018)

We’re regularly reminded of the need for passion, grit, positive attitude, etc., in order to perform excellently, over sustained periods.
However it appears that FOCUS is a more fundamental driver and predictor of sustained excellent performance.
Put differently, the ability to FOCUS may be more highly correlated to excellence and enduring success than passion, grit, positive attitude etc.

Daniel Goleman’s book “FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence” makes this argument. It is an excellent resource.

09 Eloquence: Wednesday January 3, 2018)

Susan Anthony’s commitment to excellence and expertise in public speaking changed history.

Few women have done more than Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906) to uplift other women politically. She found her calling early in life. “I must concentrate all of my energies on the enfranchisement of my own sex!

After a few successful acts of public defiance, Susan B. Anthony decided that she could not be content to be a good-enough public speaker. She would have to be a great public speaker. She would have to learn how to unleash her power in full view of halls of angry men and skeptical women.

She took on a coach and a partner, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was also a masterful speechwriter. Together they became a team, a force to be reckoned with … and together they made history.

More in this blog article.

(09 Book: Monday January 1, 2018)
All the best for 2018!

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
To bring forth what is within you:

(08 Performance: Friday December 29, 2017)

As 2017 draws to a close–it’s a time for REFLECTIONWhat worked? What didn’t work?

Today’s tip is based on an enchanting story of Nelson Mandela saying to his wife “I miss jail“.

(08 Eloquence: Wednesday December 27, 2017)

3 Cs = Convincing, Charming, Cajoling

Effective and persuasive communication is a—almost magical—combination of 3 Cs:
being Convincing, Charming, and Cajoling simultaneously.

(08 Book: Monday December 25, 2017)

An 2,500 year old Buddhist technique called Vipassana is discussed in the book.

The book points out that QUOTE Anyone can practice this technique and benefit.
A Christian will become a good Christian.
A Jew will become a good Jew,
A Muslim will become a good Muslim,
A Hindu will become a good Hindu,
A Buddhist will become a good Buddhist UNQUOTE

The insight is that suffering arises from reacting to both aversion and craving. Aversion and craving result from internal body processes.

  1. Input from senses
  2. Consciousness (awareness of input)
  3. Perception, act of recognition or (pattern recognition)
  4. Pleasant or unpleasant body sensations (cravings or aversions)
  5. Reaction.

It is the reactions to craving and aversion that lead to suffering.

Source: The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation—as taught by SN Goenka by William Hart

(07 Performance: Friday December 22, 2017)

Imagine 3 concentric circles.

The inner circle is the comfort zone. The middle circle is the learning zone. The outer circle is the panic zone.

We progress when we chose activities in the learning zone. Here we stretch beyond our current abilities and skills. We do not make progress if we are in either the comfort zone or the panic zone.

Identifying the learning zone is not as easy at it might seem. We have to truly know ourselves. Staying in it is not easy. Requires motivation, discipline and repetition. As skills and abilities improve, the learning zone changes requiring us to recalibrate regularly.

(07 Eloquence: Wednesday December 20, 2017)

Melody plays an important and under-appreciated role in spoken communication. A string of words, or sentences, spoken softly without melody is monotone and boring. The same string of words, or sentences, spoken loudly without melody comes across as shouting or angry. And yet the very same string of words, with melody can be enchanting.

Be bold and harness the power of melody to enhance your eloquence.

Science is investigating and revealing many strange connections between song and speech. For an introduction consider reading Chapter 3 (The Music of Sound: The Power of Repetition—in Song and Speech) from the book Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson.

07 Book: Monday December 18, 2017)

The After Action Review or AAR is a process developed and used by the US Military. It is said to have transformed the military. It is widely respected.

AAR = review meetings immediately after an exercise or an activity to discuss if mission was accomplished. All must participate. Providing candid feedback (regardless of rank) is essential. Symbolically, everyone takes off their helmets. This is called “Helmets Down” It signifies that, for the duration of the discussion, no one outranks anyone.


  1. What was supposed to have happened?
  2. What actually happened?
  3. What should we continue doing?
  4. What can we improve?

Source. Talent is Overrated. Geoff Colvin

(06 Performance: Wednesday December 15, 2017)

Why is it that in a high pressure / high stakes performance or contest, despite similar skills, training, motivation and effort, some perform significantly better than others?

Questions like these are investigated and answered by Daniel McGinn in his book “Psyched Up”.

It comes down to developing and having pre-Task Routines. This is a significantly under appreciated aspect of peak performance. We would all do well to develop pre-task routines to maximize performance return on our investments of practice, dedication and hard work.

The “All Blacks” (New Zealand Rugby Team) have a very famous pregame ritual call the HAKA

(06 Eloquence: Wednesday December 13, 2017)

For enhanced eloquence, for more power, precision, & poetry in communication, use the rhetorical devices “contrast” & “antimetabole”.

An example of Contrast: That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.

An example of Antimetabole: Mankind must put an end to war/nuclear weapons. Or war/nuclear weapons will put an end to mankind.

There is precision, power, and poetry in these examples. Yet they are merely rhetorical devices.

Anyone can harness the power of these rhetorical tools.
Use contrast and antimetabole to enhance eloquence.

For a more detailed article:

(06 Book: Monday December 11, 2017)

In Defense of a Liberal Education, Fareed Zakaria, the author argues that a liberal education prepares us specially well for a changing future because we learn how to write, speak and learn better.

A STEM education prepares us well for our first few jobs, where we are individual contributors.

A liberal education prepares us better for later in career jobs where we have to lead, persuade, inspire, and learn new subjects routinely.

Given my background of science, engineering and management, I feel I’ve missed out big time by not being exposed to liberal arts subjects till much later in life.

Perhaps STEM should be expanded to STREAM

STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

STREAM = Science, Technology, Rhetoric, Engineering, Arts, Math

Source. In Defense of a Liberal Education by Fareed Zakaria

(05 Performance: Friday December 8, 2017)

Watch the Videotape. World champion swimmer Michael Phelps’s coach, Bob Bowman, believed that for swimmers, the key to victory was creating the right routines.

When Michael Phelps was a teenager, at the end of each practice, Bowman would tell him to go home and “Watch the videotape. Watch it before you go to sleep, and when you wake up.”

The videotape wasn’t real. Rather, it was a mental visualization of a perfect race. Each night before falling asleep and each morning after waking up, Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. He would visualize his strokes, the walls of the pool, his stones, and the finish..

Source. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

(05 Eloquence: Wednesday December 6, 2017)

Rule of 3. The rule of three is a very effective rhetorical device. Consider using it when you have to be particularly persuasive.

Three identical words:

  • I shall fight, fight, and fight again to save this party that I love. A politician
  • No. No. No. Margaret Tatcher
  • Education. Education. Education. Tony Blair

Three different words:

  • I am the way. I am the truth. And I am the light. New Testament

Three phrases:

  • You have all the characteristics of a popular politician. A horrible voice. Bad breeding. And a vulgar manner.
  • A government of the people, by the people, for the people. Abraham Lincoln

Three clauses:

  • Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are all in harmony. Mahatma Gandhi

Source: Lend Me Your Ears by Max Atkinson.

(05 Book: Monday December 4, 2017)

In the book “Ten Pitfalls in Intensive Care”, one of the authors Dr. Farhad N. Kapadia, MD, FRCP (disclosure: my brother) writes:

Intensivists routinely deal with life threatening illnesses, anxious relatives, and multiple colleagues from other specialties. The intensive care services consist of consultants, residents or trainees, nurses, physiotherapists, and occasionally respiratory therapists. These ICU personnel have to communicate incessantly with each other and with other departments like the Emergency Department, the Operation Theaters, the Imaging Services, the Laboratory Staff, and the Blood Bank. At every step of the way, there is a potential for delay, or worse, error. Many of these can be costly in terms of worsening clinical outcomes. In this maze of conflicting demands, it is important for the ICU to deliver a smooth and efficient service.

To paraphrase Google, the theme or motto of a Critical Care service could be
Don’t Be Sloppy“.

(Source: Ten Pitfalls in Intensive Care by Farhad N. Kapadia & Ritoo Kapoor)

(04 Performance: Friday December 01 2017)

Generous Tit-For-Tat (GTFT). To generate long term trust and collaboration, a strategy of (1) Cooperate & Forgive, (2) Tit-for-Tat (TFT), & (3) occasional generosity (forgive even when betrayed) may be the way to go.

When the cold war was raging between the US & USSR, Robert Axelrod (professor of psychology University of Michigan) wanted to explore what strategy is best to get people to trust & cooperate. He held a contest where computer programmers wrote programs based on different strategies and competed. Shockingly, the most simple two line program won. Tit-For-Tat. This simple program decimated the competition.

To build long term cooperation & trust, as your first move (regardless of whether or not you’re treated well) forgive and cooperate. After that reciprocate the behavior. If you’re betrayed, you betray in the next round. If you’re cooperated with, you cooperate in the next round. To further improve the outcome, once in a while, forgive when betrayed. This is called generous TFT.

Generous TFT works because:

  1. It shows goodwill by first cooperating.
  2. It shows a willingness to counter punch when betrayed.
  3. It shows a capacity for forgiveness.

Generous-Tit-For-Tat (GTFT) ended up being more than just a cooperator or punisher. It became a teacher by teaching others how to play better.

(Source: Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker)

(04 Eloquence: Wednesday November 29 2017)

Style Without Substance is Awful. Chris Anderson, leader of “TED Talks” may well have watched more world class talks than anyone else. In his book “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking” he writes, “If you’ve picked up this book just because you love the idea of strutting the stage and being a TED Talk star, inspiring audiences with your charisma, please, put it down right now. Instead, go on and work on something that is worth sharing. Style without substance is awful.”

(04 Book: Monday November 27, 2017)

History records the Cuban Missile Crisis to be perhaps the most perilous event on earth. Mankind came chillingly close to annihilating itself.

History also records that in the year following the crisis, two sobered leaders and adversaries (Kennedy & Khrushchev) acted with immense political courage and grace. A partial nuclear test ban treaty was signed.

The author of “To Move The World” writes “The Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed and ratified for one overwhelming reason: Kennedy campaigned for it. He was a gifted campaigner: in six campaigns between 1946 and 1960, he had not lost a single one. And he triumphed again in the summer of 1963.

(03 Performance: Friday November 24, 2017)

Feedback for Improvement + Deliberate Practice + 10K hours = Road to World Class Performance (Anders Ericsson)

To make “feedback-for-improvement” feel normal:

  1. Frequency of feedback is more important than eloquence of feedback.
  2. Intention of feedback provider is more important than eloquence of feedback provider.
  3. After giving feedback-for-improvement (PULL UP), follow up with a friendly make up (PATCH UP) interaction.

(03 Eloquence: Wednesday November 22, 2017)

When creating a communication, it is advantageous to ask, very early in the planning process, “What is the final emotion I want to leave my audience with?” It is easier to put together a more compelling, coherent, and systematic communication once this question has been answered.

(03 Book: Monday November 20, 2017)

Words of wisdom that shaped Colin Powell’s (Secretary of State, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, General) life.

  • Organizations don’t get things done.
  • Plans and programs don’t get things done.
  • Only people get things done.

Organizations, plans, and programs either help or hinder people.

(02 Performance: Friday November 17, 2017)

 Positivity Ratio = 3:1
For a relationship, a job, a team, or a task to be sustainable it is opined that minimum three positive experiences are required for every one negative experience.
This ratio 3:1 is sometimes called the Losada ratio or the Losada line (named after psychologist Marcial Losada)
Nourishing relationships, great jobs, high performing teams, and satisfying tasks typically have positivity ratios between 5:1 & 10:1.
Therefore the ratio of positive : negative experiences can serve to provide feedback as to whether a relationship, a job, a team, or a task is sustainable for you.
If you are consistently experiencing less than 3 positive experiences for every negative experience—in a relationship, job, team, or task—it may be time to reflect deeply.

(02 Eloquence: Wednesday November 15, 2017)

There is a Talk Renaissance going on right now. And we ignore it at our own peril.

The combination of eloquent speakers (giving a talk / speech / presentation) & viral video distribution (dissemination technology) has resulted in a new way of rapidly spreading knowledge; which in many ways, is more effective and enjoyable than learning by reading.

To make the case: In Feb 2006, Ken Robinson (an eloquent speaker) gave a brilliant TED talk to an audience of about 800 people. Today, due to the combination of his eloquence & viral video that same talk is viewed about 800 times every hour! Total ~ 61.8 million views (48.2M on TED + 13.6 on YouTube) I rest my case : )

There is a Talk Renaissance going on right now. And we ignore it at our own peril.

(02 Book Tip: Invictus, Monday Nov 13, 2017)

In his book “Invictus”,Author John Carlin writes this about Nelson Mandela:
His secret weapon was that he assumed not only that he would like the people he met; he assumed also that they would like him. That vast self-confidence of his coupled with that frank confidence he had in others made for a combination that was as irresistible as it was disarmingIt was a weapon so powerful that it brought about a new kind of revolution.

(01 Performance: Friday November 10, 2017)

FLOW is the state in which we feel our best and perform our best. We are in FLOW when we are in-between boredom and anxiety–with full focus on the task at hand. FLOW experiences are characterized by a loss of sense of time and self.

(01 Eloquence: Wednesday Nov 8, 2017)

A platform of eloquence is built on 4 pillars:

  1. Clarity
  2. Brevity
  3. Levity
  4. Charity.

01 Book: Monday November 06, 2017

There are 4 way to read a book:

  1. An Elementary Read
  2. An Inspectional Read
  3. An Analytical Read
  4. Syntopical Reading

How To Read A Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading: Mortimer Adler & Charles Van Doren (first published in 1940).