Thursday, December 20, 2012

Videoscribing Christmas Happiness

I am a BIG fan of animation and today I've been told Sparkol has 7 days free trials for their videoscribe accounts...so here we go, my first story :)

Not sure if Santa will manage, but hopefully next year I will get a PRO account!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Acting your presentation, happily!

I am far from being a presentation expert, given that my current job is not allowing me to practice it as often as I'd like to but I do think that communicating, presenting and engaging an audience, are some of the most essential skills. And although there are trainings and tips I do believe you're either born to be an actor or not. You either love the stage, the lights, the conversation or not. I know it's hard to be a writer, a scenarist and an actor but personally I think that is pure #HAPPYMAKING!

So while I was at a workshop recently and I was playing a 2mins video to my audience, I couldn't stop thinking about what to do: observe their reactions, watch it like I was one of them, sit, stand, smile, approve or have some water as I may not have time later :) It felt like I was in a play and I realized that no matter how informal a presentation is, internal external, on a topic we get to discuss all the time, with people we know or meet for the first time, presenting is kind of like acting. Fruthermore once you see good and bad example you're 100% sure that there must be some rehearsal behind your own "acting" event also.

Acting classes have been on my wishlist of hobbies for a very long time, still have not happened, but from all the reading I have done on it, and watched and observed, let me quickly share what I think it applies to presenting.

  • Assuming you don't have to present in the next hours, your presentation's rehearsal should have a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • Know your slides- before you begin rehearsing read the text, know the order of the slides. For acting they say you need to read the script a minimum of 6 times, max 12, I guess that should stimulate your mind enough. Reading gives you the chance to learn the storyline, memorize it, start asking yourself about how the information will change people's lives once they leave the room. Reading out LOUD, can help you even more, as you don't want to wake up in front of your audience and use words you can't properly pronounce.
  • What is your role? It is a key question if for example you just want to add value to an idea, enable, get people to act or plan to start a revolution :) Figure out your role from the beginning.
  • Understand your character at the moment of the presentation- if it's you, or if you're playing  an advocate for animals' rights, or a worried colleague. As all humans (and especially women :) HA) we all have tens of thoughts going through our mind each moment. Think at some of the thoughts you may have when presenting, it will help you not be taken by surprised: for example- Why are they still using their laptops? Wish the 2 in the back would keep quiet! How to lower the light? Hope I won't fall. What if the presenter's battery dies, what will I do?, Will the lunch arrive in time?  I only had a banana for breakfast. Must remember to txt my husband and ask him to pay the rent...
  • What are the other actors doing and saying that affects and changes your work? The audience is more and more turning into actors by raising questions or you may have people co-presenting with you, in both cases you need to pay attention to what they are doing and how they can affect your performance. For example if you saw that look on your mum’s face while you said you're not coming home for Christmas, it would change the dry way you are delivering the news to something more empathetic. Prepare yourself for whatever your audience may bring. And if you're co-presenting make sure you rehearse together and are on the same page.
  • Set the other actors up. You may have co-presenters and you need not to only know WHAT they will present but also what they will ANSWER if asked. There is nothing more confussing for an audience than presenters not being on the same page and contradicting each other all the time. You're not there to PRACTICE, but to perform, so do all the clarification before your show. Also a proper introduction, transitions, raising up the ball for your co-presenter are very important.
  • Just like in acting, a full dress rehearsal offers valuable insights. The room, the IT equipment, speakers, mic,  video projector etc can be your friends or your enemies. Don't ever think that the message is what matters and that a great speaker can do great anywhere, anyhow, do you really want to rely on that?  
  • A key concept is FOCUS, an all-important theatrical concept. Your audience isn’t going to be EVER equally interested in everything you do. And forget it, you can't keep them focussed for 30 minutes of one hour. To make a dramatic comparison, you need to figure it out where they need to cry, shout or laugh. You may have one moment for each. What will you use it for? And you create  that focus not with the “where” or "when". You create it with the “how.” It can be a very emotional or personal story you share, a joke, a mind-blowing finding or a witty comparison.
  • Rehearsing can have drawbacks and you don't want to waste all chances of being spontaneous. Acting masters say keep a SECRET and only expose it when you go on stage. I should be something small like asking something surprising, challenging your co-presenter or audience (avoid to bring them in an uncomfortable zone), change something from your initial plan. Small new things should also calm you down.
  • The costume gives an actor CHARACTER. You may opt for jeans or a suit, pick what would make your character more credible. And I am not saying comfortable here, but credible! However if you can't wear high heels you may want to forget about them as you may end up thinking about your feet hurting for like 80% of the time. I would also suggest to try your outfit on some days before- avoid materials that make sweat super visible, check if your pants still fit or if your blouse isn't too short so that when you raise your hand you end up with a naked belly :) 
  • Stay aware. Listen, think, allow people to speak but stay aware. Minimize the risks of misunderstanding because you were not focussing, or that you have forgot what was next because you realized your watch stopped.
  • The set is a great teacher. When you're done remain in the room and soak in the energy. Think about what worked well, what sucked, what could be done differently, collect these ideas while all fresh in your mind.
  • Take time before presentations. You should not rush in the next and next and next presentation. Give yourself some days/weeks to think about what you'd like to change and work on that change. Part of being a good actor means your work never stops :)
See you at the Oscars, my friends :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Travels

Something I have always wanted to write about :) And mainly from a very selfish reason: I hate waiting for minutes for some people to pass through airport security, when it could be really easy if we could ALL stick to some rules!
And not just that, but I am sure nobody is a big fan of getting super extra checked, questioned etc. I know security still has to make a living and they may ask for some things, but trust me, you can avoid LOTS of that by planning your security check just like you plan your packing.

So here are my travel tips:
  • NOT to wear when going through security: belt, scarf, high heels, lots of accessories. If you really need to have some watch or belt, keep them in your bag and put them on after you pass the security check...you can save some time :)
  • I wouldn't wear sandals, nor flip flops as in case you have to remove them and the airport has no plastic feet covers, you will end up walking barefoot...and that is not fun in an airport.
  • not too many sweaters and jackets as you will have to take them all off, really!
  • same for hats and other hair accessories, security just loves having you remove everything
  • now regarding small liquids recepients in your handbag: so far security has never detected my super small lip gloss or hand sanitizer even if not packed separately in the plastic bag. Personally I think they just do that so that YOU waste your time searching for them and putting them in a bag. THINK, that even if they find them, they will only check them so the max you risk is NOT LOOSING more time :)
Pretty simple rules I'd say, however I do also have some tips, regarding travelling in comfort and saving time. So here we go:
  • Nowadays travelling ONLY with hand luggage is becoming a luxury. Flight attendants go mad when they run out of space in the cabin, and you got one more thing to worry: where should I put my bag? I know delayed luggage is also not fun but personally I prefer to check it in all the way to the final destination, than running around with it through airports. Also think about taking your luggage to the toilet which is not fun, space wise...
  • Just wear comfortable clothing, and easy to take off shoes... that if your have a long flight. For one hour trip you can wear whatever but spending 12h in tight jeans may not be fun.
  • Have a scarf and a sweater handy, as it gets cold at above 8k m altitude...Plus the scarf is pretty handy if your mouth opens when you sleep :) You can just cover your face with it!
  • Have some snacks with you, as you never know what you're gonna get in the plane. Some airlines have great food, some call the detergent they serve fresh orange juice.
  • Make sure your laptop battery is fully charged and you got enough stuff to read, watch...not all airlines have good entertainment, sadly.
  • If you want to sleep, pick a window seat, this way you won't be disturbed whenever someone wants to go to the toilet.
  • Drink lots of water, and say no to random alcohol you find in the plane and is not really helping you stay hidrated.
  • Stretch and walk if you have a longer flight
  • Have a small moisturizer to keep your skin hidrated too
  • And toothbrush and toothpaste if the airline is not providing any
  • and yeah, keep your documents handy as you need them at least 4-5x for any take off :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meet Mr. Tanzanite

I have never agreed upon diamonds being a girl's best friends. It's like assuming all girls are the same and all girls like... Jack...if to give diamonds a male body & name I am sure they would be a Jack- wearing expensive  designer suits, flying business, eating truffles kind of guy, all shiny and worked out. And not all of us like Jack. It may be nice to say HI to Jack but he's so high maintanence and so limited in terms of feelings that I'd rather just wave my hand and pass by.

On the other hand we, girls, all fall for the passion, politeness, jokes, smiles, carrying moments, high school t-shirt, happy with a warm meal kind of man. So if not all girls want the Ferrari or Jack of gems, then why not talking more about the other fascinating precious stones out there? I am so sure many of you ladies also feel like having a ruby, emerald, sapphire, moonstone, topaz or any gem more colorful, exciting and related to some ancient stories about love and power...rather than just the diamond :)

Since you may already be familiar with my passion for gems and their tales, I'd like to introduce you to a new friend I met while in Tanzania. 



Meet Mr. Tanzanite- good looking, pretty strong too (but not hard enough for a ring, rather for other less exposed jewels), misterious and more affortable. The rare and precious Tanzanite is found in only one place on earth, deep in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Research has shown Tanzanite's geology to be totally unique. The chance of it being found somewhere else is less than a million to one. At the current rate of mining, it is expected that the source of Tanzanite will extinct within 25 years. In fact, its single source and limited supply makes it at least 1000x  more rare than a diamond.

Tanzanite's exquisite colour is an intriguing mix of blue and purple..even yellow and burgundy, unlike any other gemstone. Discovered by the Maasai tribe and named by the famous Tiffany&Co house who considered it to be "the most beautiful blue stone discovered in 2000 years", Tanzanite has became pretty popular.

Interestingly, when giving birth to a child, Maasai women wear blue beads and fabric to bestow upon the child a healthy and positive life, setting themselves apart as creators of new life.
For African women, and even for women from all over the world , Tanzanite has became ‘ the birthstone', the perfect gem to celebrate a birth.

Here is a bit more about HOW to shop for a Tanzanite in case you plan for some gems #happymaking. It is cheaper and a good alternative to blue sapphires however still out of my league :)

Hope you made a new friend!