Friday, 8 October 2010

Newsletter Issue 191, October 2010

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 191, October 2010
Hi guys,
Check out why you need to pay attention When Leaders Talk With Their Hands below.
We take a quick tour of Tim Ferriss' updated book in Mash-up: Ferriss & the Four-Hour Workweek
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

When Leaders Talk With Their Hands

In an article I read recently by Dr Carol Kinsey Goman entitled "When Leaders Talk With Their Hands", Dr Goman talks about how our gestures show - or betray - our inner feelings. Dr Goman has been kind enough to allow me to reproduce her article for you, as follows:
Have you ever noticed that when people are passionate about what they’re saying, their gestures automatically become more animated? Their hands and arms move about, emphasising points and conveying enthusiasm.
You may not have been aware of this connection before, but you instinctively felt it. Research shows that audiences tend to view people who use a greater variety of gestures in a more favourable light. Studies have found that people who communicate through active gesturing tend to be evaluated as warm, agreeable, and energetic, while those who remain still (or whose gestures seem mechanical or “wooden”) are seen as logical, cold, and analytical.
That’s one of the reasons why gestures are so critical to a leader and why getting them right in a presentation connects so powerfully with an audience.
I’ve seen senior executives make rookie mistakes. When leaders don't use gestures correctly (if they let their hands hang limply to the side, hide them in pockets or clasp their hands in front of their bodies in the classic “fig leaf” position), it suggests they don't recognise the crucial issues, they have no emotional investment in the issues, or they don’t realize the impact of their nonverbal behaviour on the audience.
We all form impressions about a speaker that help determine how we interpret what the speaker is saying – and the impression we get about someone’s trustworthiness is a critically important factor in effective communication. If an audience does not trust the presenter, or at least think that the speaker believes what they are saying, then it will be almost impossible for that speaker to get their message across.
Trust is established through congruence – that perfect alignment between what is being said and the body language that accompanies it. If a speaker’s gestures are not in full agreement with the spoken words, the audience consciously or subconsciously perceives duplicity, uncertainty or (at the very least) internal conflict. Although people may not be aware they are doing so, audience members are also evaluating a leader’s sincerity by the timing of their gestures: Authentic gestures begin split seconds before the words that accompany them. They will either precede the word or will be coincident with the word, but will never come after the word.
To use gestures effectively, leaders need to be aware of how those movements will most likely be perceived. Here are some common hand gestures and the messages behind them:
  • Emblematic gestures - Some gestures have an agree-upon meaning to a group and are consciously used instead of words. These are referred to as emblematic gestures, and, like the words they represent, they’re processed in the left hemisphere of the brain. We learn emblematic gestures at home, in school, and in other social environments, so they generally differ from culture to culture. So remember that what may be effective communication in one culture can become ineffective or even offensive in another.
    Emblematic gestures used in the U.S. include the thumbs-up sign that is commonly understood to mean “good job,” “OK” or “everything’s fine,” and hand rocking - where the palm faces down and the fingers spread out and the hand rocks left and right - means “so-so” or “maybe".
  • Pacifying gestures – When nervous or stressed, people pacify themselves with a variety of self-touching gestures. They rub their legs, pull at their collars, and cross their arms to hold their upper arms in a kind of “self-hug.” In a presentation, any pacifying gesture (including hand wringing, rubbing the forehead, playing with jewellery or hair, etc) makes a leader look tentative, unprepared or insecure.
  • Illustrative gestures – Everyone produces gestures spontaneously and unwittingly as they speak. We may seldom think of our gestures consciously, but in practice we use them with great efficiency and sophistication to cover a surprisingly wide range of communicating. Sometimes gestures are used to physically illustrate a point, as when pointing to a particular paragraph in a contract or moving your hand to the right when telling someone to turn in that direction.
  • Other gestures are unconscious signals that give the viewer a glimpse into the speaker’s emotions, motivations or attitude. These include . . .
    • Open palms at an angle – Gestures with palms showing (tilted to a 45 degree angle) signal candour and openness. When being truthful or forthcoming, people tend to use open gestures, showing their palms and wrists and spreading hands and arms away from their bodies, as if saying, “See, I have nothing to hide.”
    • Palms up – When palms are rotated straight up and fingers are spread, in a prototypical pleading position), it communicates the lack of something that the speaker needs or is requesting.
    • Palms down – Speakers pronate their palms to signal power and certainty. This is also a controlling signal – as when trying to quiet an audience.
    • Vertical palms – Vertical palm gestures with a rigid hand are often used to demonstrate the need for precise measurement – or to beat out a rhythm that gives emphasis to certain words.
    • Clenched hands – When a speaker clutches an object tightly, grips his hands behind his back, or curls his hands into fists, it signals anger, frustration or a nonverbal way of saying, “I’m holding on to something and I’m not going to open up to you.” Depending on the context, the clenched fist gesture can also communicate a warning that unwavering fortitude may be necessary to achieve an objective. I’ve often seen leaders use a fist to add the nonverbal equivalent of “with power”, “firm commitment,” or “by force” to their message.
    • Finger pointing – Finger pointing and wagging are parental gestures of scolding, and I’ve often seen politicians and executives, in particular, use this gesture in meetings, negotiations, or interviews for emphasis or to show dominance. The problem is, that rather than being a sign of authority, aggressive finger pointing suggests that the leader is losing control of the situation – and the gesture smacks of playground bullying.
    • Hands on hips – Whether in a stubborn toddler or an aggressive CEO, hands on hips is one of the most common gestures used to communicate a defiant, super-confident, or independent attitude.
    • Hidden hands – Hidden hands make you look less trustworthy. This is one of the nonverbal signals that is deeply ingrained in our subconscious. Our ancestors made survival decisions based solely on bits of visual information they picked up from one another. In our prehistory, when someone approached with hands out of view, it was a clear signal of potential danger. Although today the threat of hidden hands is more symbolic than real, our psychological discomfort remains.
    • Steepling gestures – It is common to see a speaker using a steepling gesture (palms separated slightly, fingers of both hands spread and finger tips touching) when feeling confident or comfortable about a subject they know well. Politicians, executives, professors, and attorneys are very fond of using these gestures when they speak.
  • Hand gestures of enthusiasm – There is an interesting equation of hand and arm movement with energy. If a leader wanted to project more enthusiasm and drive, she could do so by increased gesturing. On the other hand, over-gesturing (especially when hands are raised above the shoulders) can make her appear erratic, less believable and less powerful.
  • Hand gestures of composure – Arms held at waist height, and gestures within that horizontal plane, help you - and the audience - feel centered and composed. Arms at waist and bent to a 45 degree angle (accompanied by a stance about shoulder-width wide) is also the posture I advise leaders to assume between gestures. It helps keep them grounded, energised, and focused.
Author Bio: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is an international keynote speaker, executive coach, and management consultant. Author of THE NONVERBAL ADVANTAGE - Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work, Carol’s new book, THE SILENT LANGUAGE OF LEADERS will be published by Jossey-Bass in May 2011.For information contact Carol by phone: 510-526-1727, email:, or through her web sites: and

Mash-up: Ferriss & the Four-Hour Workweek

This article is about a mash-up. For those of you who haven't heard that term before, I guess we could call it 'confluence'; where some different ideas, taken together, create something more - or less - unique. It was a term originally used for a web page or app that combined data, material or functions from several sources to create a new product.
I was recently lent a book authored by Tim Ferriss (the 2009 updated version), called The Four-Hour Workweek. I read it, and found many of the ideas within it quite sensible. Probably not necessarily achievable, but certainly sensible.
Tim suggests that we need to focus on the important things in our work, and stop doing the other 3/4s of the junk (à la Stephen Covey); suggests only checking and responding to emails a couple of times a day so we are not continuously distracted (à la Time Management seminar I attended in 1995); re-promoting the 80/20 rule (à la Richard Koch); thinking laterally (à la Edward De Bono); a whole lot of lonely planet travel stuff; create some passive income (à la Lynn Terry); outsource all the ooky bits of your life to India or local specialists wherever possible (outsourcing and contract hiring has been around for a long time, but web-outsourcing has got easier this past decade); and some - my my view - dubious takes on setting and following rules of business engagement. That last part appears to be "all Tim". The outsourcing appears to be largely him too.
You may already have an inkling where this article is going. Tim's novel is a mash-up. What is more, he has cross-promoted the bejazus out of it on his blog, writing for lots of other blogs, got on TV - through lots and lots of hard work on his part - and as a result, has made mega-bucks from it.
The really interesting thing is that Tim says he only spends 4 hours a week working (note the title!). But in reading the book, he seems to define work as 'things I don't like doing'. As much of his income is created via successful marketing, promotion, speaking and writing, I am sure he spends far more than four hours a week on those activities.
Really what Tim is selling us is the dream; same old snake oil salesman, selling the "you too can be great" if you do X. However, Tim does help the reader stop to question their own routine. To make us consider what you are attempting to do with your life, and whether it is time for a change.
An interesting book, but not one that tells us anything new.
It does, however, pull a number of old narratives together into a new mash-up. So if you have a burning desire to travel and work independently, and to eventually create some passive income from running your life that way, buy it. If you don't, get it out of the library instead, then read the original authors quoted above.
We should remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or, to quote Google Scholar, is that stand[ing]on the shoulders of giants?

Draw Attention to your Presentation

If you need to highlight specific text or image in a presentation, there is a nifty PowerPoint function that allows you to draw a circle around it.
This is a two step process; firstly you create the thing you want to highlight, then secondly you need to draw an oval AutoShape over it.
Once you have created the item you want to highlight, then:
  1. Click the Oval on the Drawing toolbar and drag it inside the slide. If you need a circle, hold down the Shift key as you drag out the AutoShape to create a circle, not an oval.
  2. To format the oval, right-click and choose Format AutoShape from the pop-up menu. On the Colors and Lines tab, set Fill Color to No Fill, and Line Weight to 2 pt (or higher). You may want to change the Line Color to red, or another stand-out colour.
  3. To animate your oval, right-click and choose Custom Animation.
  4. From the Add Effect dropdown, choose Entrance.
  5. Select Wheel (click More Effects if Wheel isn’t available from the short list).
  6. From the Start dropdown, choose With Previous.
  7. From the Spokes dropdown, choose 1
  8. From the Speed dropdown, choose Fast or Very Fast
  9. To view your animation, key F5.
Depending on your audience and the complexity of the info you want to highlight, you may want to play with the speed a bit.
Very simple but quite effective. Thanks to TechRepublic at for this tip :-)

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:
  • PHP, Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP is an open-source script language, used primarily on Linux Web servers and an alternative to Microsoft's Active Server Page (ASP). PHP originally meant "Personal Home Page Tools", but now stands for "Hypertext Preprocessor" which the PHP FAQ describes as a "recursive acronym" at :-)

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
Over the next few newsletters, we are going to look at all you can do with Function keys. This time it is F7:
  • Access, Excel, FrontPage, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Word "Check spelling" F7
  • Excel, Word, PowerPoint "Move command (can use arrow keys as well)" Ctrl & F7
  • FrontPage, Word "Look up a word in the Thesaurus " Shift & F7
  • PowerPoint, Word "Find next misspelling (Automatic Spell Checking enabled)" Alt & F7
  • Word "Dictionary" Alt & Shift & F7
  • Word "Update linked information in a Word source document" Ctrl & Shift & F7

Hot Linx
Want a personal assistant for that tricky task you need extra help on, but don't know who to turn to? Emma Taggart's taken a leaf out of Tim Ferriss' book and set herself up as the Kiwi front-end to outsourcing all your business needs at
There are an amazing number of blogs out there, but this - admittedly rather strange - one caught my eye the other day. It is written by a fashionista with a fascination for the past, at
Oh, and while I am speaking of blogs, for those of you who have seen the film, Julie & Julia, the blog is still up (though it has not been added to since 2004 when Julia Childs died) at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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