This has been a challenging year for all of us. In the beginning of March, I was in Holland attending the Engage user group conference when the pandemic started and I returned home just 2 days before the border restrictions would have left me stranded in Europe. It turned out that was the last time that any HCL Ambassadors would gather this year.
What is an HCL Ambassador? As described at the HCL website:
“HCL Ambassador is a distinction that HCL awards select members of the community that are both experts in their field and are passionate about sharing their HCL knowledge with others.
HCL Ambassadors are exactly that, ambassadors. Importantly they are not employees, but their commitment to sharing their expertise has a huge impact on the HCL community. Whether they are blogging, writing books, speaking, running workshops, creating tutorials and classes, offering support in forums, or organizing and contributing to local events – they help make HCL’s mission of making technology play nice, possible.
HCL Ambassadors are eager to bring their technical expertise to new audiences both in person and online around the world.”
This year it has been exceptionally difficult to contribute in the typical ways, but this group of individuals managed to make the transition, holding several more user group conferences online, which actually made it possible for more people to attend than ever before. Certainly these heroes are the glue that keeps our software community together to make it possible for all of us and the companies we work for, to maximize our success. There is no stronger brand loyalty in the industry. See the entire list of HCL Ambassadors here. I am honored and humbled to be surrounded by such a team of positive, generous, innovative people dedicated to our profession and the HCL Digital Solutions community, I am! If you know or work with any of them, please take a moment to thank them.
I recently had the honor of playing the role of game show host of a Notes/Domino edition of Jeopardy! at CollabSphere User Group Conference. This was the Day 2 Lunchtime entertainment.
The contestants were Helen Mendoza, an HCL customer from Chicago, IL, USA; Roberto Boccadoro, an HCL business partner from Milan, Italy; and Luis Guirigay, an HCL employee from Boca Raton, FL, USA.
Hosted by me, HCL Ambassador David Hablewitz.
Many requested it, so here is the replay of that fun game.
It opens with the pre-game chat to relax the contestants and wait for the audience arrive. The actual game starts at timestamp 5:00 and ends around 38:00 followed by more conversation. Actual attendance was about 60 people. Event organizer Richard Moy (Donna) did have a gift certificate for the winner.
Sadly, on November 8, less than 2 weeks after this event, Alex Trebek, the host of the actual TV game show for 36 years, passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was a great honor and tribute to have the privilege to serve as moderator and will make this event so much more meaningful to me. While you’re watching, please take a moment to view the video in youtube and subscribe to my youtube channel or click the subscribe button at the end of the video.
A few logistical details for those interested:
The meeting was run as a webinar in Zoom, though it could have been done in any online conferencing software. Helen and Luis chose to use the virtual background feature in Zoom. Roberto used the IRL background feature (in real life). For my background, the introduction bumper, and some game controls and audio effects (which were muffled) were managed using Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS Studio) software. The website used to host the online game was https://www.playfactile.com/
The game website does provide for a method of using a buzzer, but I opted to keep this as simple as possible to avoid potential technical difficulties and it really was entertaining to hear the contestants’ voices when they buzz. This also switched the speaker view in Zoom to the person when they buzzed. The recording of the event only shows one camera at a time, but during the live event, the cameras of all 3 contestants and the host were visible at all times. This was really fun to do and it was a great success, especially considering I had only a week to pull it all together. Freddy The Bassett also made a cameo appearance at the very beginning.
I always thought Tom Hanks was a captivating speaker, but never analyzed carefully to figure out why. If you want to be a more interesting speaker, practice the 4 tips in this video. If you’re in toastmasters, you may have heard some of this, but not with this much detail (vocal variety, body language, eye contact) and there is more here that you might not have heard before:
1. story gap
2. emotional intrigue
3. inherit the character
4. audience inclusion
Watch it and tell me what you think in the comments. (disclaimer: I don’t know about or have anything to do with the promo at the end of the video.)
Just a little fun with @FreddyTheBassett as he joins me in creating our promo video for the upcoming conference.
Are you a Notes/Domino administrator, developer, or user?
Remember that crazy problem you had that took a bit of work to solve using the software?
Maybe you have a mission critical business application that seems so simple in Notes, but others might benefit from seeing how you solved it?
CollabSphere is calling for abstracts. Gather your session ideas, write your abstracts, and submit them.
This year it will be easier than ever to present at the CollabSphere user group conference. It will be held online. The hope is to also draw new speakers and attendees who may not have been allowed to attend conferences in person in the past. Submission period closes September 30, 2020 at midnight Central time. The event is October 27-29.
You can also sign up to get the news and announcements for the conference. Enter your abstract ideas here. And they don’t have to be strictly about the HCL collaboration solutions.
After you have submitted the abstract, you might want to start practicing presenting online. I highly recommend checking out Toastmasters as a place to practice your online presentation skills. I have also posted a few tips on the topic.
(In Lieu of any current travel here’s a tale of a trip I made July 13, 2018)
Boston to Seattle. I am sitting in the window seat. Food and beverage service comes by. “May I have the chicken plate please?” I ask.
“I’m sorry” the flight attendant says, “There was a mix-up in supplying the plane, we already ran out of meals. That woman and her daughter (pointing to the seats in front of me) got the last ones.”
My water bottle is empty. I didn’t get to fill it before boarding the plane. So I ask the flight attendant “Can you pour me some orange juice in my water bottle so I don’t have to worry about it spilling?”
“No, we’re not allowed to pour into passenger’s containers because we may spill. But I will give it to you in a paper cup so you can pinch the top and pour it into your water bottle.” Then instead of the usual low profile plastic cup, she gives me a large paper cup full to the top with orange juice. Too full to try to pour it, I set it down.
Just then I am distracted by a commotion with the passenger behind me and the very large, very full cup of juice tips over, spilling onto my laptop computer and squarely into my lap.
So now I’m trapped in the window seat, sitting in a puddle of orange juice just 1 hour into a 6-1/2 hour flight. How could this get any worse?
A minute later I feel my foot getting wet. The little girl in the seat in front of me spilled her full cup of Sprite between the seats and onto my foot and backpack. At least I already have a wad of slightly used napkins to dry it up. How could this possibly get any worse?
The girl’s mother in the middle seat turns around and apologizes and then goes into a 10-minute rant telling me how bad her flying experience has been today starting with the airline giving her trouble at the baggage check for not having water in the cage for her labra-doodle. How dare they!
She ends with “I’ve had such a bad day! This really is Friday the 13th, isn’t it?” She says.
“Yes it is.” I reply with a wry smile, “yes it is.”
If there is something people dread more than public speaking, it is probably speaking in front of a camera. But until we go back to meeting in person, we are stuck giving our speeches and presentations to a camera at home.
Unfortunately, being skilled at speaking to a live audience does not ensure you will be good at presenting to a camera. But with every challenge also comes opportunity. And by making a conscious effort to improve on camera, you will expand, refine, and diversify your speaking skills in more ways than you ever could by giving in-person speeches alone. Watch this speech to get some ideas:
Bonus: Wash your hands for 20 seconds
1. Have a simple, uncluttered background
2. Dress as you would for an in-person speech
3. Mark where to stand with a towel (and be barefoot)
4. Look at the camera, not at the screen
…but don’t stare! Look away occasionally, more naturally
5. Study Late Night talk show hosts for examples
6. Sit 3-5 feet or stand 4-6 feet from the camera (where the front row would be sitting)
7. If presenting, consider standing instead of sitting
8. Move around the stage
9. Use body language, gestures and facial expressions
10. Even if you aren’t giving a speech, don’t put your camera down low!
11. Put the camera level with your eyes and tipped slightly down
12. Put the camera on a tripod or other stable support
13. Using your phone? Prop it on a box if you don’t have a tripod
14. ALWAYS use landscape (horizontal) orientation!
15. Have multiple light sources
16. Avoid bright light / windows behind you
17. Avoid harsh lighting / spotlights
18. Don’t stand too close to the wall
19. Only use virtual backgrounds if you must
20. Virtual backgrounds work best with a green screen
21. Simple, natural backgrounds are best
22. Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers sit because they do a 1 hour show
23. Silence your cell phone and close all apps on your computer
24. Put pets and kids far, far away… Unless they are quiet like @FreddyTheBassett
25. Use an external microphone
26. Cell phone earbuds make good microphones
27. Be close to camera-mounted microphones
28. Soundcheck your audio before the meeting starts
29. Use fresh/fully charged batteries or plug into an outlet
30. Be in a quiet location
31. Close any windows during your speech
32. Join early to test audio, video, visual aids, timer
33. Pin the timer’s video AND have your own timer
34. Connect to the internet using a wire instead of wifi if possible
Watch what works well for others and try different things and have fun with this new platform for speaking! Be sure to check out the other Toastmasters tips I’ve posted by clicking the Toastmasters tab at the top of this page.
If you support HCL Notes and Domino (formerly Lotus Notes and Domino) environments, you can get many great tips on how to be more productive and discover the wealth of features that only come with 25 years of software development. Follow HCL Digital Solutions’ Youtube channel. Here is one example: How to Delegate a User’s Mail and Contacts https://youtu.be/rEijwzyAshA
Watch for tips that your users might appreciate and share the videos with them.
I’m thrilled to share that HCL has brought over important content from IBM that was hosted in Domino!
- HCL Connections On-Premise Documentation Wiki:
- HCL Connections Cloud Documentation Wiki:
- HCL Notes and Domino Wiki: https://ds-infolib.hcltechsw.com/ldd/dominowiki.nsf
- Notes/Domino Fixlist: https://ds-infolib.hcltechsw.com/ldd/fixlist.nsf
Note these are .nsf databases. Yes, Domino databases. I have asked if they will open it up to anonymous access with Notes clients like they had been in the past. Meanwhile, this is another accomplishment in the process of HCL invigorating the proof of the product. HCL will add the forums too after passing the privacy requirements; not a trivial task.
This video demonstrates how to:
1. Create a Facebook event.
2. Simplify the steps to invite your friends to the event.
3. Promote your event beyond the people you know.
For more Toastmasters tips, visit https://davidhablewitz.com/category/toastmasters/
As Vice President OF Public Relations (Chief Marketing Officer) there are many things you can do to promote your club. Here is a checklist for you to download and work through: http://bit.ly/vppr-checklist
Breakout rooms are free in Zoom if you know how to enable them.
Watch this video to learn how.
I’ve gathered more information on this topic regarding iPads, Androids, and older PCs.
A few notes from the video:
- The Zoom app on Android devices doesn’t have the Virtual Background function.
You will need to use good old colored paper to indicate the colors. Be sure to keep holding up each color until time to switch colors. I have not yet tested this functionality in WebEx.
- Some older or lower end models of PCs can’t handle the Virtual Background feature in Zoom. I have not yet explored the details in WebEx.
Steps to add color cards as background images on the iPad:
- Visit http://bit.ly/timerbackgrounds
- Click each file one-by-one and download it to the iPad (don’t use the Download All)
- Open Downloads
- Tap the first file to open it, then tap it again to make it full screen.
- Take a screenshot (press the power button and the home button at the same time). This adds it to the photos which is where Zoom looks for background images.
- Repeat steps 4 & 5 for each photo
- Open Zoom. Tap on the ellipsis (…) in the top right, then tap on Virtual Backgrounds
- Click the + icon at the bottom of the screen, then select the first image (white) to add it to the backgrounds.
- Repeat this for green, yellow and red in order.
- Leave this open while timing and choose NONE for your background between speeches, then choose WHITE when the speaker starts and GREEN, YELLOW, and RED at the appropriate times.
Please add comments with your own ideas or experiences with this process to make it better. See more of my Toastmasters tips at https://davidhablewitz.com/category/toastmasters/