concise (adj.) marked by the use of few words to convey much information or meaning

I’ll be brief” adds two minutes to presentation, “we are running late, so I’ll be brief” adds five to ten. What can you do when your presentation space shrinks from decent 15 minutes to five? Be concise not brief

Craft your presentation or speech in a scalable way. Have 🌟 a memorable opening, 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣ up to three points and 🎁 a memorable closing. One way is to have a summary version of presentation at the begging of your slides.

Reiterate your point (but don’t be boring). ☝ Tell them what you are going to tel. ✌ Tell it. 🖖Summarize what you just told.

Focus on the powerful closing. Your goal is not to show the last slide. Your goal is to make your point. So, reiterate it in 🎁 a memorable closing and make a pause 🧘‍♀️ to allow your final point to sink in.

Let me ask you…

Public speaking could be a misleading term, it is less about speaking and more about communication. Questions are incredibly versatile tools for making presentations more effective and engaging. Questions could be used for building intrigue, inviting audience engagement, helping you remember what to say and even calming your anxiety.

🤩 Rhetorical questions build intrigue and prompts audience to think about the issue. “But why, some say, the moon? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?” asked JFK in his Moon Speech

🙋‍♀️ Polling questions make the audience part of your point, shared experience is a great connection builder. It works well both in-person and on-line—”please raise your hand if you ever…” or “please vote with smile emoji if you ever…” Stand up artists and showrunners use it all the time

🔀 Outline the talk using questions and regulate the flow of the presentation. List questions which could serve as prompts for what you intend to say. It will help you to navigate speech without memorizing it word-by-word. In turn, it makes speech more conversational and engaging—you are simply answering your audience’s unasked questions.

Read more about Questions as a Speaker’s Best Tool here

Hidden human capital and cost of staff turnover

More than century ago Henry Ford made an unusual offer. He guaranteed pay $5 per day (around $150 per day in today’s dollars) for eight hours of assembly line work for all workers at his production plant. At the time the offer was surprising and created a lot of hype. It was quite generous, roughly doubled workers’ pay. It went against common wisdom—labour is abundant, you could fire and replace workers in no time. Ford had his own views, based on the issue he faced. Ford standardised products and production processes at plants. The workers were not, turnover was high, and quality of products varied. Generous wage offer aimed at reducing workers turnover and maintaining this hidden human capital. Arguably, it paid off in a long run.

Century later economists got data to confirm Ford’s intuition and quantify the hidden cost of worker turnover. Recent article in Management Science “The Hidden Cost of Worker Turnover: Attributing Product Reliability to the Turnover of Factory Workers” combined data on weekly workers turnover at major electronic producer plant, and data on field failures of their electronic products. Result? For Each percentage point increase in the weekly rate of workers quitting from an assembly line, field failures increase by 0.74%–0.79%. These extra failures could total to striking 10.2% in the high-turnover weeks following paydays. The associated costs amount to hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

The issue seems to be even worse in new sectors economy, knowledge based. Search Cloud provider Sinequa published findings from a survey of 1,000 IT managers at large organizations in the UK and US to explore the impact the Great Resignation has on employee experience, productivity, and organizational risk. It showed that 64% felt that their organization already has experienced loss of knowledge due to people leaving the company. There is a concern that turnover could have a cumulative effect—56% of surveyed managers agreed it will hurt the organization’s ability to onboard new employees. Hidden human capital is not that visible, highly underappreciated, and could be quite costly to replace.

If data are not persuasive enough, here is a nice meme on newbie dealing with legacy products.

Be better, one thing at the time

You have to improve structure of the speech, also your body language, and vocal variety, and…” Have you ever felt overwhelmed by suggestions for improvement—clearly, well intentioned? They provide a good map of improvements. You should tackle them one at a time, by focusing on one thing to be improved and letting other things be as they are.

Want to improve vocal variety? Drop the speech writing and read a famous speech or letter. Interpretive reading is a great opportunity to practice your vocal skills and it is fun. Moreover, you could find many examples to learn from. My favourite is Benedict Cumberbatch reading Sol LeWitt’s letter to Eva Hesse, what is yours?

Want to improve speech structure and content? Guineapig it on colleagues, family, your dog! Don’t worry much about other features, like posture and vocal variety. Open Mic is a great model for testing material, which is used by experienced speakers.

Want to pump your impromptu speaking? Volunteer for Table Topic Sessions at Toastmasters Club Meeting, they are often open to guests, or attend (run?) a Table Topic Marathon. Your learning goal is to start speaking on the spot, so practice this and only this.

Want to give a helpful speech evaluation? Limit your suggestions to 1 or 2 points maximum. I prefer “3-2-1” evaluation scheme: three observations on achievements, two suggestions for improvement, one takeaway.

Practice makes you better. Just keep going. One step at a time.

Shades of Informality

Informal employment attracts a lot of attention, because it is widespread but associated with risks. It lacks of insurance against shocks, and therefore directly related to vulnerability to poverty. Many Social-Economic Impact Assessments of COVID-19 showed that informal workers were particularly hit hard by turbulence in 2020-21. However, measurement of informality is not that simple. Most often used definition is lack of social and/or health insurance. Meanwhile, research has shown that formalization does not automatically lead to poverty reduction.

While there are many reasons why this link does not work automatically—flexibility of informal arrangements, hidden costs of formalization—one reason could be how we measure informality. We usually measure welfare on the family level, using household income or expenditure and assuming that families share these. However, informality is usually measured and analysed on individual level—individual workers, family firm, the household head—without making assumptions how risks and benefits of informality are shared in family. (There is a rich and growing body of literature on migration as a risk sharing, for instance “Risk Sharing and Internal Migration”) As a result, policies related to poverty reduction and reducing the risks of informality are often designed with different groups in mind—families and single individuals respectively.

This chart of the week comes from a recent paper “Welfare and the depth of informality. Evidence from five African countries”. It shows that there are shades of “informality”, rather than simply “Yes” / “No” dichotomy. The paper further investigates the relationship between welfare and informality at the household level. The findings confirm the nonlinear relationship between welfare and informality—families with some formal incomes are as well off as families with only formal income. Moreover, paper suggests that moving to full formality only translates to meaningful welfare improvements if the household income gain is sufficiently large.