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Jun
30
2010
Communication Barriers Maranda Gibson

In the spirit of full disclosure, yes, I do have finger nails, and yes, they do make a tapping noise on the keys when I’m working. I apologize for that and I try to work as quietly as I can. I get lost in what I’m doing sometimes and forget that the sound of my keys does not make what I’m doing any better or worse.

With that being said, I was at a conference recently and sat next to someone who was using their laptop. Okay, fine, lots of people were. However, I have no idea how her keyboard has survived. She wasn’t just tapping against the plastic with her nails (again, like I do) but banging against the keys with her fingers so hard I could hear the plastic begging for help. Frankly, I was surprised she didn’t use her elbow to hit the space bar and just put the thing out of its misery. I wasn’t the only person who thought she was being disruptive, a few other people in the room were giving her sideways glances, and since I was at the perfect angle, I took a peek at her screen.

She wasn’t taking notes. She was working on something else completely. I can’t understand being that disruptive and not even paying attention. Not only was she disrupting some of the audience, but I can’t imagine how she wasn’t disrupting some of the guest speakers too. There are a lot of barriers in communication that can come up no matter if you’re speaking to one person or a thousand. Here are a few of the most common and how you can overcome them.

  1. Selves - Effective speakers know that a “me” focus turns off an audience. An audience wants to hear how what you know will benefit them. Sure, tell stories, but engage your audience with personal experience. Remember to always focus it back to them and how they can apply it in their business.
  2. Environment – One of the quickest ways to lose your excitement about speaking is to be in a bad set up or venue. Check out your set up before taking the stage to see if you’re comfortable. If there is something that doesn’t feel quite right, like the arrangement of the chairs in the room, you can go ahead and rearrange or prepare yourself for that.
  3. Noise – All noises can cause a distraction during a presentation. On a conference call you can easily mute the entire audience with a click of a button, but dealing with a face to face audience can offer more challenges. You can politely express that they turn off their laptops and communication devices, but we all know not everyone is going to do that. You have two choices when it comes to laptops and cell phones during a presentation – ignore it or embrace it.

As a speaker, it’s important to remember the barriers of communication and how to break through them. What barriers have you come up against and how do you get through them? And remember – your keyboard never did anything to you. Try not to hurt it.

Jun
30
2010
Cius Elbows into Tablet Market Chilton Tippin

Cisco announced plans for a new tablet called the Cius—pronounced “see us”—yesterday, which will be targeted for businesses as end-users and released for sale next year.

The 1.15 pound device sports a 7-inch screen and permits workers to connect to Cisco applications like WebEx and TelePresence, allowing them to participate in videoconferences and share documents via the screen.

According to the San Francisco Chronicler, it is “in essence a portable communications and collaboration platform.”

The Cius will run a version of the Android operating system and is compatible with Wi-FI and 3G services.

The Cius is equipped with two cameras: a 720p high-definition webcam on the front and a 5 megapixel camera on the back for still images and video.

According to an article in the New York Times, Cisco is talking about the tablet now in the hope that developers will begin creating business software for the product.

Barry O’Sullivan, senior vice-president of the company, told the Times that the Cius could replace the need for a desktop computer on each employee’s desk. The device runs on an Intel chip—one that usually powers laptops—and has hook-ups to connect it to a monitor and keyboard.

The Cius will arrive on I.T. desks with security and management controls that can be tweaked and customized in great detail, a clear bid to give the device an edge over more consumer-oriented products.


Jun
29
2010
White House Nearly Doubles Broadband Chilton Tippin

President Obama signed a presidential memorandum on Monday that will facilitate the auctioning off of 500 megahertz of spectrum for commercial use, a move that will nearly double the amount of airwaves available.

The move comes on the coattails of mounting FCC concern that current levels of wireless broadband won’t be able to keep up with increasingly popular smartphones, which use broadband spectrum to send and receive video and data.

According to the New York Times, some aspects of the memorandum could cause discontent among television broadcast companies, who will be asked if they can auction off some of their broadband for access.

However, National Economic Council Director Lawrence H. Summers expressed optimism for the plan, saying it should catalyze economic growth through the auctions and investment in wireless technology.

Summers also said proceeds will go to improving communication for police, fire and other public safety agencies, and to improving projects such as high-speed light rail.

The broadband will be salvaged in part from government agencies, such as the Defense Department, who may not be using all of their allotted broadband, and also from broadcasters and other spectrum licensees who already have spectrum up for grabs and are willing to part with it for incentives.

Jun
28
2010
Technology Turn Off Maranda Gibson

Things are busy. It’s the nature of the world we have created around us, we always have our emails on and this is truly an era of always being available. It’s good for business, but it’s not always good for your mental state. As much as I love what technology has done with always being able to communicate, sometimes, I just need everyone to shut up. There is too much noise – Facebook alerts going off, incoming texts and emails, and that annoying Twitter app I’ve been using. 

My need for silence has driven me to shut off all communication for one hour a night, but to be honest, I start getting the shakes after too long. For an entire hour, I have to ignore the temptation to scroll through my emails and make sure no one needs me right now, update my Twitter, send a text, or post to Facebook. When I first started, it was harder than I thought it would be. Then, I realized that I was trying to replace an activity with, well, nothing. Having my phone means always having an activity, and when I turn it off, I instantly have nothing that I can do to pass my time. With that in mind, I decided to make a list of the things that I can fill my hour of time with. 

Write. I don’t mean blog posts or working on comments, I mean writing something that is completely unrelated to my work life. This could be an entry for my personal blog or something fictionally related. It doesn’t matter; I just need to set some time for myself and the kind of writing that I do for pure fun. 

Clean. I admit that I am a bit of a clean freak. My husband would probably say I’m “crazy clean”. I wage daily battles against dust bunnies and coffee spots on the kitchen floor and counters. I actually find it very therapeutic and relaxing to clean. When I’m turning off my technology for an hour I like cleaning to relax – but if you hate to clean, I wouldn’t suggest this to you. 

Crap TV. I also admit that I have a deep love for the worst kinds of reality TV. The more out of control, the better for me, and I personally think it’s hilarious to watch people on reality TV struggle. Take all of these Housewives shows – they live in giant homes with all of this money, and the only things they have interesting in their lives it to sit around and pick at each other. I think it’s amusing – and we all need a good laugh. 

Read. I don’t read enough anymore. It’s one thing I’m aware of and I’m also a very picky reader. I’ve read things that have turned into movie franchises that when I see the words on the page, I want to stab my eyes out. People’s likes and dislikes are always different, but I can appreciate anything that is a good book.  (By the way, if you have any suggestions, I’m game. My book list has gotten shorter lately. I need new stuff.) 

There are some ways that I step back from my dominant need for my communication with others. It’s been really nice and if you’re not already turned off for a period of time each night, I suggest that you do. It’s been a great experience. The silence is actually very comforting. How are you shutting off and shutting everyone else up? 


Jun
28
2010
Healthcare Finds Hope in Telecom Chilton Tippin

A summit met in San Diego on Monday to brainstorm the merging of healthcare and telecommunications technology, a field known as “mobile medicine,” which is quickly gaining momentum.

The summit, called mHealth, was hosted by the World Economic Forum and lured over 700 innovators from both the telecom and healthcare industries to discuss a collection of business and consumer practices that should be pivotal in redefining healthcare.

At a time when the funding for the Obama Administration’s plan for health reform relies on the leveraging of technology, and with a proposed $10 billion set aside per year over the next five years, the role of telecom as a steward in the collective health of the nation is set to spike.

Obama’s administration maintains that investing in electronic health information systems and improving access to prevention and disease management programs will keep doctors efficiently informed and people out of the hospitals, two measures that are key to long-term healthcare sustainability.

According to a press release from the administration, a study by the Rand Corporation reported that if most hospitals and doctor offices adopted electronic health records, up to $77 billion of savings would be realized each year.

Telecom can play a big part in those savings.

Take, for example, devices such as the wireless blood monitor, a machine with internal components set to measure a patient’s blood pressure and send alerts back to his or her physician. The physician will be alerted in times of emergency and will have detailed information tracking the patient’s vitals.

Other products and apps abound, from hundreds of healthy eating applications people have downloaded on their smartphones to wireless-complete-health-monitoring systems that connect with physicians and measure activity levels, blood pressure and weight.

 All of these technological features serve to keep patients healthy while minimizing costs of actual visits to the doctors.

Companies such as WellPoint have organized programs where members can consult health care specialists through telecommunications media such as text messaging and video chat.

According to an article in the IndyStar, WellPoint, an Indianapolis health insurance firm, is reminiscent of physician house calls, only this time with doctors coming to patients in the virtual rather than physical realm.

Physicians will be able to speak with patients in real time to review symptoms, prescribe medicine, schedule follow-ups and review medical information over the Internet or telephone.

A good indicator of the growing “mobile medicine” field is the Ontario Telemedicine Network. The OTN was founded four years ago by the government of Canada and uses two-way videoconferencing and telediagnostic equipment to connect patients in one location to doctors in another.

In four years, the network has grown to facilitate 102,781 patient consults in fiscal year 2009/10, a 91 percent increase over the previous year, making it one of the largest telemedicine networks in the world, according to a June 15 press release.

As innovations increase and consumers become more aware of the products, accessibility and ease-of-use associated with such innovations, the telecom revolution should pick up momentum in the realm of healthcare, enhancing consistency and efficiency.


 

Jun
24
2010
iPhone 4 Problems Dampen Release Chilton Tippin

After people went out in droves today to wait in line for their shiny new iPhone 4’s an alarming recoil is welling up online.

The problem appears to be that when users grip the iPhone 4, the metal antenna, which wraps around the entire phone, becomes blocked off and the reception drops off, resulting in dropped calls.

Reports and user complaints abound on MacRumors’s forums. Dozens of You Tube videos display the service drop-off after the phone is gripped and the antenna is covered.

The problem is so prevalent that “iPhone reception problems” has already reached the ten spot on Google trends. As of the time of this writing, neither AT&T or Apple have commented on the issue.

Here’s a video that shows what happens.

Jun
24
2010
Listening Skills Maranda Gibson

When it comes down to communicating each other, there is nothing more important than listening to the other person. Since we are surrounded by things that are distracting, it’s hard not to look like you’re completely ignoring the person.  At home, my husband has this really bad habit of staring at the TV when I’m talking to him, replying with “uh-huh” a lot and then when I call him on it, he can repeat every word I say back to me. I still don’t feel like he’s listening, because he’s not engaged. At least, he doesn’t seem to be engaged. On a conference call or a phone call it is even harder to seem engaged, because no one can see you and your listening skills become even more important. Here are some listening skills you can use to show that you are engaged and interested in the conversation you’re having. 

Turn off email, IM, and even your phone. Even if you put everything on silent and turn the speakers on your computer down, people can see hear you typing. Unless the conversation you’re having online is directly related to the conversation you’re having on the phone, it won’t kill you to stop multitasking for 30 minutes to an hour. (No, seriously, it won’t.) 

When asked a question, try to repeat bits of it back in your answer. Let’s say I was asked a question about the changing climate of business travel. I would respond with, “That’s a great question. I think the changing climate of business travel is…” Or whatever would be appropriate. It lets the person who is asking the questions know you’re actively listening to the conversation. 

Let the natural flow of conversation take you over. Keep a note pad in front of you and if someone is speaking for a long time, you can jot down notes of things you might want to ask them about, good points in the conversation, or things you’d like to comment on. This way, you’re not interrupting the speaker (which is good), you’re keeping your thoughts organized, and you’re writing things down – which is a way of improving comprehension when listening. 

Is being knowledgeable of the subject matter being discussed important? Yes, absolutely, but conversations are nothing without active listeners. Take the example with my husband – sure he can repeat what I’m saying, but did he really comprehend anything I said? Maybe – I’ll probably never know. What listening skills are you bringing to the table to improve your communication on a conference call? 


Jun
24
2010
World Cup Media Boost South Africa Chilton Tippin

 

With the FIFA World Cup in full swing, the world is turning to a phalanx of innovational features across all manner of media to see what’s afoot—and upon the crest of the massive communication wave rides a country in genuine need of the limelight: South Africa.

To write this article, I did what almost anyone searching for World Cup buzz does: turned to Twitter. I wanted to review the “Cala Boca Galvao” phenomenon, where Brazilians made a hashtag telling the loathed Brazilian fútbol commentator, Galvao Bueno, to shut up—a hash-tag that gained so much impetus in Brazil that it became a top-trending Twitter topic, confounded Twitter users world-wide, and prompted them to Google the phrase in such volume that it remained a top trending topic on both Google and Twitter for 3 days; I wanted to include the comments made by Twitterzens regarding the sign held up in the North Korea - Brazil match that read, “Kim-Jong-Il Thinks I’m at Work”; I wanted to see the incessant tweets made on #worldcup, I wanted to laugh at the comments made under the vuzuzela topic and get a feel for the healthy rivalry infused in the smack-talking Tweets. I thought all these things would provide good fodder to show how Twitter alone unites the globe around World Cup conversations. 

I forgot one small thing: it was 9:45 in the morning, England was playing Slovenia and the United States was playing Algeria. With everyone rushing to the FIFA Twitium, Twitter was over capacity. What was I thinking?

The World Cup has always been known for its transcendental capabilities, but in a world replete with Google and Twitter, iPhones and Androids, streaming feeds and Apps, the border-defying potential takes on colossal dimensions. 

The numbers tell a lot: 

Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the U.S., received record-breaking turnouts, generating 108 million page views and 14 million visits across all interactive platforms by June 18, eight days into the tournament. The Univision Mobile app alone served 24.5 million page views and more than 5 million visits by the same date. Each day of the tournament, Univision has posted record-breaking traffic numbers across the board, more than doubling the traffic of the 2006 World Cup.

For the first 14 matches of the tournament, ESPN and ABC had an average of 3.35 million viewers, a 64 percent increase since the 2006 World Cup. The match between the U.S. and Slovenia was the most-watched soccer telecast in the history of ESPN.

Nearly half a million FIFA fans on Facebook have tuned to the ESPN World Cup page to read reviews, chat, post comments and play with the interactive applications.

Another mammoth market was opened for the first time when the pan-Asian ESPN-Star network bid $40 million to show all the matches in South Asia. 

And more than ever FIFA fans have been carrying the coverage on their hips. ESPN Mobile, one of dozens of apps made to chronicle the tournament, generated 1.8 million World Cup video views from June 11-18. Of course, this doesn’t even factor in smartphone apps from Goal.com, Univision, The Telegraph and Webdunia, to name some of the most popular.

These apps allow people to watch live video, read streaming feeds, learn about the teams and players, create brackets and share information and comments across sites like Twitter, Facebook, Delicious and the like. 

For South Africa, a country that put its hopes in the great game to change their image in the collective global perception, the ramped up coverage by networks, the mobile exposure of texts, photos and streaming, and all of the conversations shared by millions of people across thousands of platforms online couldn’t have come at a better time.

With an eye to history, World Cup 2010 organizers recall a World Cup victory helping to distance West Berlin from the vestiges of war in 1956. They recall the 1978 tournament hosted by Argentina, when a military junta cloaked its repressive regime with the fanfare of the World Cup.  And with these remembrances they are reminded of the influence wielded by the great game.

Beyond the influx of tourism and cash ($3.6 billion worth according to South Africa Tourism officials) South Africa hopes for a collective unity to come to the country that has been racked by social discontentment and xenophobia in the near past.

Indeed, the stakes are high for South Africa, the first country on the African continent to host the tournament, and the breath of the citizens, perhaps more than everyone else’s in world, will be held for the outcome of “the great game.”

Jun
23
2010
Conferencing Calling Bolsters Sustainability Efforts Chilton Tippin

A recent study conducted by The Carbon Disclosure Project highlighted the impact that telecom technologies can have on companies’ goals of committing to environmentalism.

According to the study, U.S. and U.K. companies using telepresence to supplant some of their business travel can reduce Corporate CO2 emissions by 5.5 million metric tons in total and deliver $19 billion in financial benefits by 2020.

The reduction is equivalent to removing more than one million passenger vehicles from the road for one year, according to the study.

Telepresence allows people to meet from multiple locations typically via large projector screens, which give the impression that all of the persons are in the same room.

The study was performed by Verdantix, an independent analyst research firm. The firm conducted interviews with executives of 15 Global 500 firms, who are the early adopters of telepresence.

While telepresence requires somewhat of a costly upfront investment, the study found that the companies achieved financial return on investments in as little as 15 months.

Additionally, the services offered by AccuConference, smaller applications, such as web, phone or videoconferencing, have been keeping companies in the black and in the green as well.

Environmental Leader, a publication focusing on energy and environmental news for business, reported that British Telecom reduced its carbon footprint by 97,000 tons of CO2 per year, which is 15 percent of its CO2 use, by using phone conferences and videoconferencing to cut back on staff travel.

Phone and teleconferencing generally have a less significant startup cost as they do not require the meeting rooms or large projector screens that telepresence does.

According to the Environmental Leader article: “A company spending as much as $23 million annually on travel can use telepresence to recover as many as 385,000 hours of lost productivity, reduce its carbon footprint by up to 4,200 tons and save up to $7 million.”

Jun
23
2010
Presentation Exercises Maranda Gibson

It’s just common sense that before taking a run, you should stretch out your muscles, and before attempting to tackle a novel, you should try to get yourself a general outline for your plot. There are just some things that you should do before you try something else. If you’ve seen 8 Mile you know that Eminem’s character B. Rabbit’s way of warming up before getting in front of a large group is to stare intently at himself in the mirror before throwing up a little. Then he is ready to face the crowd. I suggest not doing that – but here are some things I do suggest doing before you have to present.

  • Find a quiet place to park yourself and pre-game. Do you have any notes for your presentation? How about a print out of slides? Review your notes and slides and go ahead to make any last minute notes about things you want to cover.
  • Finish up your pre-game 30 minutes before the start time. While it might seem like a good idea to keep going over your notes until you walk in the door, I’d like to take a second to remind you of college and high school. Reading your notes again before the start of your test isn’t going to help you. If you don’t know it by now, you won’t, so give yourself a break.
  • Pump yourself up with some music before the presentation. Stick in your headphones and jam, or if you’re in front of a live audience, pipe it out to them too. You’d be surprised how much a couple of your favorite songs can get you ready to go.

I realize you’re not about to battle for the title of marathon winner or best freestyle rapper in Detroit, but no matter what, it’s still just as important to you that you do well. What presentation exercises are you doing? Do you have specific songs you listen to that get you pumped and ready to go?

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