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Knowitall.ch often invites local experts in their field to contribute to their own blogs on our site. This means not only you will benefit from the useful recommendations that we make on our News pages, but you can also profit from some of the great advice and tips that these experts have to make on their favorite subjects. Whilst each of these bloggers has been recommended to us at some point during the evolution of Know-it-all passport and  knowitall.ch, obviously we are not able to test out all the suggestions they make on their blogs, nor do we necessarily agree with all their opinions.  So if you do find one of their tips useful (or not!), do let us know!

To make these blogs more accessible to you, we have now decided to group them altogether in one section, entitled Guest Blogs, accessible from our main menu bar.  We will also post the most recent blogs on the home page of our site in the right hand column.

We are still building up this area of the site, and are looking for bloggers in a number of sections, including Your Home, Travel, and Leisure, so if you feel you have a useful contribution to make in either of these areas, and have the time to submit blog entries approximately every month, then please get in touch!

Photo TEDx team 2014 copy

A TED talk is all about sharing an inspiring idea. It sounds easy enough, but it is more difficult than you might think.

I speak from experience - having coached speakers for several TEDx events in Geneva and Lausanne and having been called in twice to salvage someone's TED talk within days of the event.

So when I was asked by the UN to coach 9 speakers for their PlacedesNationsWomen event one of the first things I did was to write a guide on what makes a TED talk different from the usual presentation or keynote address.

Here are my tips on drafting a TED talk, based on my experience as a professional public speaker and coach and the wonderful book
"TED Talks - The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking". by the head of TED Chris Anderson.

  • Make it personal: As a speaker, talk about an idea that matters deeply to you and transmit the idea and the passion you feel about it to your audience. It has to be an idea worth sharing!
  • Know the audience: Think of yourself as a tour guide taking the audience on a journey to a new place. You need to begin where the audience is and steer them clearly and compellingly along the way.
  • Stick with your idea: Think of your talk as about an idea rather than an issue. This is particularly important if you are tackling a tough topic where compassion fatigue can easily set in. An issue-based talk leads with morality. An idea based talk leads with curiosity. It says, "isn't this interesting?" rather than "isn't this terrible?" For example, this is an issue: Education for all. An idea would be framed as "Education's potential is transformed if you focus on the amazing (and hilarious) creativity of kids.
  • Connect the dots: You need a connecting theme, which ties together each narrative element. It is the idea that you want to construct in the minds of the audience. Can you put this in no more than 15 words?
  • Make it memorable: Think about the three points/messages that you want the audience to remember when they leave the room. Studies show people rarely remember more than three points and recall drops dramatically the day after.

The structure
Choose a structure that most powerfully develops your connecting theme. See below some suggestions, which can be mixed and matched over the talk.

  • Personal journey: If you are sharing your personal journey then you may want to follow the classic "hero's journey" structure where you have a goal but meet challenges along the way which you overcome and resolve the best you can.
  • Persuade: If you want to persuade an audience that the way they currently see the world isn't quite right, you will want to guide them through your argument so that is it plausible. This means breaking down your argument logically into small steps, perhaps even taking the counter position to show that it is flawed.
  • Detective: Another way to build a persuasive case is to play detective. You start with a puzzle and then with the audience search for solutions, ruling them out one by one. You invite the audience on a process of discovery and this can work well if you are a scientist or researcher talking about a discovery you have made.
  • Aspirational: You may want to speak of the world not as it is, but as it might be. You paint a picture of the alternative future you want and compare and contrast it with the situation today. (Think Martin Luther King, "I have a dream".)

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Techniques to make your talk memorable

  • Open with impact. Within the first minute, you need to get the audience's attention, make them curious and excited. Here are some ways to start.
    1) A surprising statement, fact or statistic.
    2) A surprising rhetorical question
    3) Show a compelling slide, video or object
    4) A personal story or anecdote

You want to tease, but don't give away your punch line. If you are looking to persuade or reveal a discovery you want to build up to your revelation.

  • Close with impact.
    1) Move from the specific to the broad
    2) Call to action - invite people to take action on your idea.
    3) Personal commitment - make a commitment of your own.
    4) Values and vision - can you turn what you have discussed into an inspiring or hopeful vision of what might be?
    5) Narrative symmetry - the human brain likes balance so you may want to link back to your beginning so that the narrative comes full circle.

In my next blogs, I shall take you through how to align delivery and content as well as lessons learnt from my TED journey. 

Author's bio

clairedooleportrait 200Claire is a former BBC correspondent and international spokeswoman who is passionate about helping people communicate with confidence. Since 2006, she has successfully trained hundreds of professionals in the art of presenting and public speaking, talking to the media, managing communications in a crisis, and writing for the web. In addition, she has coached C-level executives and public figures to give powerful TEDx and TED style talks in Europe and the Middle East. A Swiss and UK national, Claire trains and coaches in French and English.

Claire is also a highly experienced moderator having facilitated panel discussions with government ministers, NGO activists, humanitarians and human rights specialists at major events.

www.doolecommunications.com

© credit to EMF in-house photographer Gabrielle Ward

© credit to EMF in-house photographer Gabrielle Ward

The Challenge

How to prioritize your limited renovation budget when you are the new owner of a quaint three-story 120m2 village house that is located on a tiny lane with no land outside of the building’s four walls, three of which are contiguous with other homes?

Said home is situated in the old town of Collex-Bossy, and although the 1800s-era building itself is not classified, it sits in a Zone 4B heritage-protected neighbourhood. This means that relatively stringent cantonal regulations dictate every minute detail of the type of transformation and the choice of materials allowed when converting this space into a cosy family home.

The structure is currently uninhabitable thanks to the discovery of undersized structural beams, rampant wood worm, asbestos and lead. Although the electric radiators and hot water heater still function, current rules insist that the old electric-based heating system has to go.

Finding Solutions

One of the first and most pressing questions among many we tackled to date was how to replace the no-longer-authorised and energy-consuming electric heating system given the lack of a cellar or sufficient technical space for a larger furnace and boiler installation. We looked at the possibility of a heat pump installation hung externally from the second floor but the close proximity of the neighbours’ roofs and windows meant we would be unlikely to meet either physical distance or passive noise rules.

What is more, modern energy regulations in Geneva require that once a roof is reconstructed (remember, we will replace the timber roof truss and insulate the structure to 21st century standards), it must be fitted out with solar panelling and related equipment for heating water—another internal space zapper.

Luckily, after a full though technically-challenging energy audit, we have decided to go forward with a wood pellet heating system with underfloor distribution on the upper floors and radiator units under the ground floor windows. The latter was a compromise as we do not have the ceiling height necessary on the entry level for in-ground insulation plus an underfloor installation. Digging too far down into the stone and earth traditional foundation was also deemed too risky for the solidity of the building.

We found a compact modulable pellet store that will be installed in the very back of the ground-floor technical room that is large enough to minimise the number of deliveries needed throughout the year, thereby reducing recharge fees. Although the vehicles that supply pellets are too large to manoeuvre in the tiny lane, their long-tubed delivery system (similar to that used for oil) will just reach the small discreet recharge panel that will be integrated into the façade of the building.

A Pleasant Surprise

At the outset and during a few rather stressful moments in the planning process, this renovation project seemed to be full of nothing but constraints. However, we have had at least one rather pleasant surprise!

Because the home will be heated with wood pellets, a renewable energy source produced from wood waste, the owner will be eligible for an exemption on the solar-heated water installation and still qualify for generous subsidies. Why, you ask, would anyone in this day and age who is remotely environmentally conscious not want to voluntarily harness the sun’s free energy?

Well other than the obvious reason of budget savings (in the region of Fr. 15,000 for equipment and installation), this home does not have sufficient internal space for the double boiler and converter necessary to receive energy from the thermal roof panels. If it had been imposed on the project by building regulations, it is likely that we would have lost the ground floor guest bath and a portion of the vital technical room.

Instead, we are not only saving part of the project budget which will be dedicated to triple glazing on the new windows, an energy plus, but also we will be economising on technical space leaving more room for living space. A big win for this client.

If you would like to check back on this project’s progress, we will be posting photos and milestones, that is once the cantonal authorities grant the construction permit, so don't hesitate to look in on our website or join up to the EMF mailing list for regular updates.

Author's bio

Liz Forest 200

Liz Forest is the founder and owner of EMF Management, a Swiss-registered renovation project management company servicing the international community in the greater Lake Geneva / Vaud region.

Liz spent the first ten years of her professional career as a free-market micro-economist and project manager. A move to Geneva in 1997 with her young family inspired a change from the corporate world ... and a home purchase over a decade ago taught Liz exactly what property ownership and renovating in Switzerland entails.

In 2013, Liz founded EMF to provide renovation project management services to busy expat homeowners who want to transform their space without the overwhelm. EMF handles the heavy lifting so clients do not have to learn a new trade, take time off work, or sacrifice family holidays or their sanity just to make their house a home.

www.emf-management.com

joyofleadership copy

Angus Ridgway and Tal Ben-Shahar ©Potenialife

By Sunita Sehmi, Walk The Talk

We know that leaders are avid readers and in a market flooded with leadership books sighting leadership as a challenge, The Joy of Leadership offers a renewed and captivating vision on how truly joyful leadership can be. Based on research and science, it is both practical and easy to apply. I found it provides authoritative insights and valuable tools to prepare any leader to flourish.

More than a management book, it’s practical, easy to read and full of life skills. A sensible and humanistic approach to a very human behaviour, leading. Both Angus and Tal are co-founders of Potentialife. I was very fortunate to interview one of the authors, Tal Ben Shahar. Enjoy!

Tal Ben-Shahar (www.potentialife.com; Israel) is a speaker and author of the international best sellers Happier and Being Happy. He taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership. Tal is co-founder and Chief Learning Officer at Potentialife, a leadership development organization.

Angus Ridgway (London, UK) is Co-Founder and CEO of Potentialife. Previously he was with McKinsey, and led the Strategy Practice in Europe, Middle East and Africa, overseeing the work of over 1,000 colleagues. In addition, for over 10 years he led Leadership Development functions at McKinsey, most recently for the global group of 1,500 Partners.

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Rapport is the foundation of influence and impact. An American psychiatrist and psychologist, Milton Erickson, once said, "With rapport, everything is possible. Without it, nothing is possible."

So what is this magical ingredient in effective communications? It is about being on the same wavelength as someone else so that we feel connected. It often involves having shared values, beliefs or similar life experiences. I know, for example, that I usually instantly connect with someone who is or has been a journalist due to my time at the BBC.

But how do you build rapport with an audience made up of many different individuals? This is vital when you are speaking in public presenting, giving a keynote speech or sitting on a panel at a conference.

Many of the things that you do naturally one-on-one are applicable, such as finding common ground, asking questions and actively listening to what they are saying.

But when you want to build rapport with an audience, you need to use these skills more consciously.

Let me explain by sharing my list of how to do it, based on my experience as a moderator and public speaking coach.

Finding common ground

When you prepare your speech or remarks you need to think about your audience first and foremost. What are their needs, expectations and challenges? Far too often presenters think that communication is a one-way process but to have impact you need to ensure that your message has got across to the audience so that they are not only engaged but also feel, say or think differently as a result of your presentation.

grapes 2018b

By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

Harvest is a time of new beginnings, as the long hot summer draws to a close, the hum of traffic increases as schools return to their academic routines and the garden gives its final push of colour and splendor before the weather changes and autumn is really upon us. We have had the most spectacular summer season. The Swiss federal office of meteorology has declared 2018 the third hottest summer since records began in 1864; only 2003 and 2015 were warmer. Rainfall this year has also been record breaking, noticable by its absence, between 20-30% below average. These extreme weather conditions affect the home gardener making planting decisions more and more critical. Right plant right place the byword of Beth Chatto, the well-known British plantswoman, is now more important than ever.

How have you coped with these tricky conditions this summer? My lawn is once again dry and yellow with the soil beneath parched and dusty. I thought the pots on my terrace were large enough to cope with dry conditions but they have proven to not be big enough, note to self even larger pots for next year. Leaves are turning and falling from the trees at a surprising rate much earlier than I’m used to. The fruit on my trees are already mature which caught me a little off guard. Always adapting to changing conditions, there is never a dull moment.

On a more positive note, the roses have been truly magnificent, repeat blooming varieties giving their all for the entire summer – I don’t know how a garden can be complete without a rose. Returning from a trip a few years ago to find courgettes the size of a small dog, I refrained from planting them this year however we have enjoyed weeks of delicious fragrant cherry tomatoes with basil and more green beans than I know what to do with. My direct vegetable seed sowing efforts were less successful. I think the super hot conditions combined with sporadic watering just sunk them. Next year I’ll give in and spend time filling fiddly seed trays with compost and transplant out seedlings when they are robust enough to survive. Something I have not missed this year is slugs. For once the heat seems to have significantly impacted their numbers, let’s hope this means going into autumn there will be even fewer of these pests around to damage our plants. The box wood caterpillar however is never far off and I’ve ended up spraying against this pest already twice this summer. I keep a keen eye out for small white moths, I occasionally spray a jet of water from the hose through the small hedges to see if there are any to disturb. If I find some flying away I next take a closer look for caterpillars and their webbed cocoons. As I’ve mentioned before the best product on the market at the moment is Delfin by Andermatt Biogarten. This product is a drench which must be sprayed onto the shrubs in two parts, two to three weeks apart. Please think carefully before you plant box, while adding structure and form to the garden it now also brings significant maintenance.