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Guest Blogs

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!

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By Claire Doole, Doole Communications

Here in Geneva it is “la rentrée” – meaning back to school or back to work after the summer break.

For some it will be the first time they are back in the office after many months, while for others they may still be working from home.

This means that hybrid meetings are de rigueur (order of the day) with some people meeting in person and others joining remotely.

Hybrid meetings should combine the best of both worlds, but the challenge is to make them inclusive and seamless.

Below are some tips and techniques for setting up and facilitating a hybrid meeting, based on my experience as conference moderator and conversations with organisers and technical suppliers.

Getting the equipment right

The higher the stakes, the higher the production values. A hybrid team meeting does not require the same level of equipment and resources as a townhall or stakeholder meeting. You may for example want to book a professional studio for a more important meeting, rather than set up a studio in your office. However, whatever the status of the meeting, you need to ensure that the online and in-person audience – the “Zoomies” and the “Roomies” can see and hear each other.

Audio equipment – The “Zoomies” join on their laptops or mobile devices that have inbuilt microphones, speakers and cameras, allowing the “Roomies” to see and hear them. Where it gets complex is ensuring the “Zoomies” hear the “Roomies”. “Roomies” need either dedicated microphones for each participant or another option is ceiling microphones which can pick up sound over a certain amount of space. I am no specialist on this, but I highly recommend you contact companies that install videoconferencing systems to ensure proper set up. I know of one organisation that held a hybrid meeting where the echo from the “Roomies” audio made the whole experience a waste of time and resources.

Visual equipment – You need a screen so that the “Roomies” can see the “Zoomies”.

In the room you also need a camera or camera(s), depending on the production values, focused on the entire room as well as the person who is speaking. These cameras are often automated and can zoom in and out on individuals speaking. This image is then relayed back to the online participants through a Zoom link (if that is the software you are using). More complex meetings require more cameras and a technical director who switches between cameras in the room.

keyboard

A hybrid form of working is going to be the new norm for most people. Both working in offices and at home can have challenges for productivity. For example, open-plan offices are ineffective for concentration, as it is so easy to get distracted or engaged in unproductive activities.

Depending on your role and/or company, working from home will hold a large percentage of your time. So, how do you create an environment to optimise your productivity?

Have a workspace

When the first lockdown hit, there was a rush to find a workspace in the home - kitchen tables, desks in bedrooms, working on the kitchen breakfast bar, etc. Now we have the time to plan this space and become creative around the function. Try, if possible, to keep this workspace out of the bedroom. The bedroom is a dedicated space for sleep and recovery. Invest time and money into the interior; this is your opportunity to personalise the area.

Try to make sure that the room is as light as possible, as exposure to natural light help maintains our body's natural rhythm, allowing us to feel awake during the day and help us fall asleep at night.

Spend time picking a desk and chair

Investing money into a suitable desk and chair is going to be vital for productivity. Ideally, this desk needs to be one that can also turn into a stand-up desk, as sitting all day is seriously harmful to our health and wellbeing. Of course, you do not need to stand all day. I like the idea of odds and evens. Evens you sit and odds you stand. Changing your position every day helps.

Also, make sure that your screen is just above the eye line to help with energy; looking down can make us feel sleepy.

blackberry

With the abondance of rain our wild blackberries behind the fence have been fruitful so I thought I would try to make some of Aunt Faye's blackberry jelly. And the only way to really appreciate eating it was to make some homemade biscuits!

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BLACKBERRY JELLY
What I used (multiply these quantities for the amount you have):
— 600g blackberries (most were black but not sweet)
— 1/4 cup of water
— 1 cup of sugar (I used the one for making jams)
— 1 sterilized jar

Six characters in search of an author 2

By Claire Doole, Doole Communications

Have you seen the play, “Six Characters in search of an Author” by the Italian dramatist, Luigi Pirandello? Actors rehearsing for a play are interrupted by six unfinished characters in search of an author to finalise their story. It was first performed in 1921 and is part of the absurdist genre – breaking down the barriers between fantasy and reality.

Unfortunately, a century later, it is the absurd reality that many moderators can find themselves in when confronted with a cast of speakers selected by the organizers of an event. We struggle to work out why they have been chosen, and what they bring to the subject under discussion. We are then left to build connections between the speakers to create a narrative flow that makes sense to the audience.

Believe me, this can take hours of head scratching and sometimes the connections are just not there, particularly if an organiser has selected someone for non-editorial reasons such as an important donor, someone they want to do busines or engage with in the future or because we must have a representative from all five corners of the globe.

Start with the what and not the who

Organisers often tell me they want a BBC-style discussion. If that is the case, they need to follow the principles of BBC news and current affairs programmes. You start with identifying the news of the moment – for event organizers – this translates as what is top of mind and relevant for the audience.

A lot of events today are focusing on building back better after the pandemic, asking if the world can be more sustainable. The BBC would take an opposing view structure bringing someone from the government to explain how they set new environmental targets to achieve net-zero emissions, and then an environmental activist who says the targets are inadequate. The BBC might also put into the mix an academic who can give context.

SLGLearner Mask 1765831763

By Trudi Hayes, Swiss Language Centre

We are super happy to have Trudi Hayes as one of our new bloggers. To get her started, she has introduced the company she is working for and her blogs will be centered around Languages and Learning

Why learning a new language is a necessity

The current pandemic has nudged people to research and try out new activities to ‘mentally escape’ the day-to-day monotony we can sometimes feel during these restrictive covid times.

It has given some people the chance to finally tackle lifelong goals or has made others recognize the value in growing and improving themselves, and in giving themselves new opportunities that will help them succeed both during and after these times of uncertainty.

One of the most popular activities has been learning a new language, with mobile apps reporting huge increases in users, and schools dealing with unprecedented demand.

But why would language lessons suddenly become so important?

It basically comes down to the fact that being able to converse in and understand a foreign language helps in both your personal and professional development.

As Manager of a Swiss Language Centre in Geneva (Ecole Suisse d’Allemand, Swiss French School and Wall Street English), I have seen large numbers of students who are now “reinventing” themselves.

They are reconsidering (by choice or by force) their professional or academic plans and they understand now just how important mastering a new language can be.