Subterfuge, submersion, two words, and one-liners [Snippets #1]

I’m trying a new thing. Inspired by Dan Lewis (NowIKnow) and Jim Fishwick (The Fishwick Papers) who collate and share interesting things they have come across. Here are four interesting things I came across recently, and links to read more.

1. The real objective of those old Windows games got my attention

I had never given any thought to the purpose behind including low-fi games in Windows installs.

The intention was that Solitaire would get a generation of computer users still most familiar with a command-line input to teach themselves how to drag and drop, without realizing that’s what they were doing.

[I]n 1992, the Microsoft version Minesweeper was introduced to Windows 3.1 — not to demonstrate that Windows was an adept gaming operating system, but to make the idea of left and right clicking second nature for Windows users, and to foster speed and precision in mouse movement.

That’s really cool.

It makes me wonder how many companies copied the artefact (games) without understanding the original objective (learning). Snake on Nokia phones and Game Centre on Apple phones spring to mind. Though everyone should have Tetris installed on their phones in case of traumatic incidents, because playing 15 minutes has been shown to reduce the likelihood of shock and PTSD. (See Nature and Scientific American articles for more on that.)

Read: The True Purpose of Solitaire, Minesweeper, and FreeCell at Mental Floss

2. It all started with an innocent observation

This delightful article, tagged “an investigation”, was inspired by a parenting forum thread wondering if little boys get into the bath like adult men do: on their hands and knees. It’s a very fun 5-minute read written from an inquisitive female perspective.

It also contains illustrations:

Now raise yourself up into the Bathing Man position…

The article uses physiology and physics to debunk the idea that the little green squiggle in the image above could be lowered into hot water last. It’s a silly issue addressed with journalistic earnestness, like an XKCD “What If?” drawn with the cartoon style of MS-Paint Adventures.

For more insight into whether warm water hurts a baby’s testicles, my colleague Izzy Grinspan reached out to the person she knows best who was most recently a baby: her 5-year-old son, Joey. In response to the question, “Do you think baby boys don’t like baths because it’s too hot for their testicles?” Joey reportedly said, “What’s a testable?” Huh. Honestly, I mostly don’t know. Thank you, Joey.

Perhaps it is not a question for doctors or children, however, and instead a question for bathtub manufacturers. Has bathtub design taken into account the fragility of a man’s balls, and if so, how? Do bathtub manufacturers have a suggested way of entering the bath, for men? Had they done research into how men enter bathtubs before designing their bathtubs and, if so, could they share any of that research with me? I reached out to several and, again, surprisingly to me, I did not hear back from most. Pitiful.

I did hear back from one, however: American Standard. “That is definitely a question I’ve never heard before, Kelly!” said Nora DePalma, who does PR for the brand. She said she would check and then check back in with me the next day. “Quick check in: as of Fri afternoon, we had not yet found anyone who could verify how men enter bathtubs. I asked my husband how he gets into a bathtub and he responded with ‘I don’t take baths,’ so that was less than helpful.”

Read: Do Men Enter Bathtubs on Hands and Knees so Their Balls Hit the Water Last? at The Cut

3. Some great one-liners

“I’m all for convenient food. I’m super psyched about any food that I can eat with one hand because that means I can use my other hand to hold more food.” [I Tried Soylent. It Didn’t Go Well.]

“So here is how the Seed&Spark sausage got made this year. Don’t worry, we’re both uncomfortable with that metaphor.” [How raising a $2+M Seed Round really, actually went]

“We’re finally getting back to the glory days of iPhone design: shatterable on both sides.” [Breaking Up with the iPhone]

4. I wrote my shortcut to being seen as intelligent, charismatic and credible

I’ve been training and coaching a cohort of early stage startup businesses at work, and last month I ran them through a workshop on public speaking skills. I developed the workshop with some MBA colleagues and came up with a fun shortcut to better body language and use of voice, using the Made to Stick framework.

The clickbait-y title of the post is “The two words to improve your presentation and pitch” and, despite my love of improvisation, the two words are not “yes, and”. (Those two words might be the secret to being a great conversationalist, though.)

A team at Science of People investigated what makes a TED Talk go viral, by having hundreds of volunteers go through experiments with the 2010 videos. The results are fascinating:

* People rated speakers comparably on charisma, intelligence, and credibility whether they watched the video with the sound on or the sound off.

* The more hand gestures, the more the speaker was seen as charismatic. And there was a correlation between the number of hand gestures of the speaker and the number of views the video had accumulated.

* Smiling makes you look smarter and more credible.

* Viewers formed an opinion of the above factors in the first 7 seconds.

Are these worth remembering anytime you want to be seen as charismatic, intelligent and credible? Absolutely.

But when you’re about to make an important presentation you don’t want to be thinking “hand gesture, be more charismatic, hand gesture, smile, hand gesture.” You don’t want to look like you’re following some poorly-practised internal choreography.

So after twenty years of stage performance and public speaking, here’s my shortcut to speaking superpowers in two words:

Read: The two words to improve your Presentation and Pitch at BlueChilli to find out the two secret words that will make you a better public speaker.

I work with startups, teach entrepreneurship, and freelance in improv and leadership coaching.