A lost world

Currently, we are renovating an old house for, and partly with, our daughter and her husband. It’s hard work and sometimes, I am so tired after a day, that only a warm bath or, if the weather allows it, laying on the beach brings me back to life.
After all these years in management positions, I have to say that I prefer now this kind of work. Restoring a house also needs a lot of organisational and project management skills, and a great ability to learn new things in short time. I really love this work, it’s satisfactory to build something which remains a long time, which is useful and beautiful. Continue reading “A lost world”

Critical Thinking

For the CITCOM project, Isabell Schulz and me wrote a tutorial about critical thinking. It’s part of a series of workshops for this project and worth to share, we think.


To a certain extent we all know what critical thinking means – in short, good thinking, almost the opposite of irrational, illogical thinking.
Our societies are increasingly faced with multi-complex interconnected problems, which we are not able to recognise or solve with a reductionist approach. The ability to do so is much higher by emphasizing contextual understanding and critical thinking to then successfully tackle them.
Applying critical thinking techniques is a pre-requisite for being able to think complex scenarios, discuss them with open outcomes collaboratively.
According to Kant: Critical Thinking is the way out of self-imposed immaturity. Continue reading “Critical Thinking”

How to give a presentation

presentationI saw a lot of presentations during the last weeks and I thought it’s time to publish a small guide I prepared for some workshops few years ago.
It’s not an all-embracing guide but it summarized the most important points.

It all starts with finding the right topic for the audience you are going to present to, a topic which involves you, your listeners, and a which you can handle. This seems to be a not very difficult, but you might changed it when you define the purpose of your presentation. Either you want to inform, to persuade or just to celebrate something, you need to improve your purpose statement regarding focus, triviality, technical overload, relevance to the current situation and the time limit set for the presentation.
Once you clarified the overall purpose you then summarize in a single sentence the main message of your presentation.

Now you start collecting your materials. Have in mind the special interest of your audience and include your personal knowledge and experiences. Naturally, you need to evaluate all materials regarding accuracy, objectivity and licenses:

  • create an overview,
  • prepare a bibliography,
  • check if informations are up-to-date,
  • focus on local applications

For structuring your content, use on of these three methods:

  1. Comparison: point out similarities: unfamiliar or controversial
  2. Contrast: emphasize the differences between or among things
  3. Analogy: combine comparisons and contrasts: remote or abstract ideas

Balance your content in following a consistent, logical pattern in three parts: introduction, body, conclusion:Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 12.20.03

Structuring your content is the most crucial part of preparing a presentation. Many presenters succumb to the temptation to pack too much content into their speech and thus set themselves under pressure to talk about everything. It goes often along with a non-logical structure of a speech. To avoid that, it might help to structure your content as follows:

  1. Arouse attention
  2. Demonstrate a need
  3. Show, how the need might be satisfied
  4. Visualize the results
  5. Call for action.

Define the main points and sub points: short, direct and clear. Arrange the content appropriately according to their similarities, proximity and finish a story by offering a solution or a call for action.
Structuring your content, you can choose between a

  • categorical design by dividing topics into areas of interest
  • cause-effect design that pictures a topic either as the cause of an effect or as the effect of a cause.
  • narrative design by telling a story which moves from scene to scene.
    However, you need to ensure to have an effective introduction and conclusion. Above all: KISS – keep it short and simple!

Techniques for structuring each section of your presentation can be found in the attached presentation which I use for guiding a two days workshop. Here, I just want to refer to some points for the supportive visualization of your presentation.

There different types of presentation aids, such as people, objects, models, animals, graphics, pictures, etc. And there are much more presentation aids than powerpoint!, e.g. flipcharts, posters, handouts, transparencies, videos, audios, etc.
Visualization has advantages and disadvantages and you need to think of your overall purpose when planning the types and tools to include into your speech.


  • Enhance understanding
  • Memorize the message
  • Establish authenticity
  • Improve your credibility
  • Improve delivery
  • Add variety and interest


  • Distract speaker
  • Distract audience
  • Reduce eye-contact
  • Demage credibility if sloppy
  • Take time to prepare
  • Depend on equipment

However, most presenters use slide presentation programs. It’s eye-catching and funny to have a colorful presentation but you should try to avoid a total mess and mix of colors, fonts, images.
color schemeKeep it simple:

  • 6×6: No more than 6 bullets per slide. No more than 6 words per bullet.
  • Choose plain fonts
  • Color choice: light on dark, dark on light
  • Run a spell checker
  • Font sizes (min): Title 48, Subtitle 32, Text 28
  • First slide: Title, subtitle
  • Last slide: contact details (URL, name, phone, twitter, FB, etc.)
  • your logo in header or footer
  • in footer: your URL, number of slides, date

There are also some points you should avoid under all circumstances:

  • Never let a slide presentation be a substitute for your speech.
  • Never read the slides to your audience.
  • Don’t use complex graphics, simplify them!
  • Don’t use moving text or graphics
  • Don’t play sounds

Regardless which type of visualization aids you choose, you should always rehearse your speech and test to presenting area about technical possibilities and restrictions.

Workshop Presentation & Public Speaking (PDF)


How do I keep my budget balanced?

Planning for Joomla! Roadshow 2013 in IranPreparing the next European meeting of the Happy Home Wallet project I did discuss with some people of different ages and social backgrounds the above question.
The ways to handle money are different and it often causes stress for a lot of people but all agreed on these two main principles:

  1. Money itself can’t be an end goal but a resource used to accomplish other goals and fulfill obligations.
  2. Spend less than you earn for a long time and you will be financially successful.

However, we also noticed two main trends towards money: Continue reading “How do I keep my budget balanced?”

Principles of Communication

Our communication is influenced by unconscious processes which are decisive for success or failure for the scheme of our relations. Even non-verbally, we always transmit plenty of information when talking to or with others and thus influence their behaviour.

On the occasion of the international project meeting for the CITCOM project, Isabell and I gave a workshop about the principles of communication.
The first part was delivered by myself and went into the basics of our communication, in the second part Isabell introduced a framework for devising a communication strategy and how to execute it successfully.

The feedback we received showed two tendencies: most of us aren’t aware of their communication patterns and don’t really want to discover the source of these unconscious influencers. Secondly, people want to have easy answers to complex questions, expressed by the demand on ready-made communication strategies: a website, a bit of Facebook, some emails, etc.
Understanding communication processes and developing a good communication strategy is more complex and a job for professionals – you can hire us 😉
Enjoy reading it! Continue reading “Principles of Communication”

Consumption patterns

Happy Home Wallet project aims to rediscover sustainable ways of living and to make it practically, we will deliver some workshops about a range of topics covering that aim.

In preparation for our international workshop in Ostrava about “Private consumption patterns and its impact on the local economy” we were researching about consumption patterns and we did a survey in our area to find out how “the average person” behaves.

To balance the family budget, it is probably necessary to review our consumption, reduce waste and reorganize our resources.

This turned out to be more complex than thought at the beginning, but very interesting 😉

Above the pure measurement of private spending it’s worth to explore what influences consumption and how that reflects in certain lifestyles. Continue reading “Consumption patterns”

Family business meeting in Kaunas

Akmeniu DvarasI am just back from the family business project meeting in Kaunas. We are running this project since one year and the aims, as described here, are to assess the situation, needs and competencies of small family driven businesses in our region and to connect them with other small businesses in Europe, namely in Lithuania, Latvia, Wales and Turkey.

We started with researching the situation of such small businesses in each of these countries.

There is no legal definition of the term family business but mainly these are small enterprises, which represents with about 90% the majority of the enterprises in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The numbers are similar in all partner countries and also that there are central governmental programs to support them but with a limited impact.

Well, we try to change that a bit with our project, even though we can only work 8-10 enterprises but very individually. We interview the owners of the companies, record their business story, reflect on the results and discuss possible improvements.

While doing this we pay attention on a balanced interaction and mutual cooperation. We know, it makes no sense to propose a general program for further development as the needs and experiences are very different. However there are some similarities beyond national borders:

  • getting knowledge about web-based tools for marketing/networking
  • the wish to be better connected with businesses, decision makers on regional level
  • get in contact with other businesses in Europe

Thanks to Europe, we can offer some family representatives the participation at international meetings to connect with their colleagues.

We have a huge variety of businesses we are working with and of course, we aim also to find synergies and group interests. During each international meeting we’ll carry out a workshop, based on what is needed.

In Kaunas, Hagen gave a workshop about social media applications, even though everyone seems to know them but many are not really efficient in using them. During the next meeting in September in Wales we will do a workshop “How to network?”. Also this topic meets a need of many of our businesses.

The Welsh government has just realized that small businesses needs support and we will take the opportunity to bring them together with a selection of businesses from Europe to “ensure” they doing the right things 😉

However, all this is a proposal, served on a silver tray, but the family businesses needs to contribute and being active by themselves.


It's your decision - https://www.flickr.com/photos/31034054@N04/3946702460/

Different Ways of Communication

Today, we had another meeting with some members of the places2b group, not to discover a place2b, but for getting a deeper insight into Facebook. Half of the group already use Facebook, the other half even had heard about it.

With the help of the summary Hagen prepared, we discovered fast the main points and some people learned something new.

But, very soon we were in a hot discussion about sense and nonsense of using something like Facebook and later on, what the hell the Internet enables.

Here are the main points listed:

  • You can connect and access everything, there is no secret in the world,
  • there is no privacy, you don’t know who has and use your data
  • social relations are more and more reduced to Facebook friends-collections
  • people send emails and messages instead talking to each other.
  • There should not be everything in the web, not even the “secret” places we will discover. What will happen, when all the tourists visit these places? We should keep them secret!

I am not that good in using the French language, and that’s why, I was not able to argue with precise words at the moment. Therefore some written words in English first.

Well, all is true, and it might be bad somehow. But, there are also some good points in the way communication has been changed.

The “good, old times”, when you were only the reader and not the creator of the news, when you could not buy or sell goods around the world, when it was difficult to stay in continuous contact with friends and family far away from your place, are over! Even the protection of your privacy was dubious. You always created a trail when living in a place, signing contracts, making phone calls, take money from your bank account. Could you always control who was doing what with your data?

I realized, in different situations, that the same people who are claiming for more transparency in politics are often trying to hide their knowledge. But, they also use the great possibilities of the web, if it’s suitable for them.

And there is nothing you can say against it, that is the web today: to communicate fast, spread information, create news, share knowledge, make business.

Imagine, you want to raise awareness of sustainable development, you want to protect nature, create a new business, you need to tell the world about it. Ok, you can go to your neighbours and discuss that issue, write a petition and call some friends and a journalist, have meetings, etc.

The journalist will probably write an article which will be published in the newspaper AND on the newspapers website, tweet about, post it to Facebook. Your concern will profit because there are for sure a lot more readers on the web than subscriptions of the paper. You will get a wider publicity using different communication channels and meet probably your goal (well that depends not only on the use of communications channels).

In that way not you chose the channels but others. You could have more fun, make new friends, inspiration, empower and motivate more people, if you actively use these media.

Love it or not, you can’t ignore the change of communication.

As Lisa Reichelt said ” …communication has become so convenient that it’s actually become ambient around us. It surrounds us wherever we want it, not necessarily when it wants us. We dip into it whenever we like.”

All is linked together in the web – How to communicate, manage and learn

Join us in Fitou from April 4th – 8th 2011 by taking part in the course “All is linked together in the web – How to communicate, manage and learn“.  We’ll bring together teachers, trainers, managers and non-educational staff from around Europe to share experiences, try new tools and learn new methods.
The course is listed under reference number FR-2010-318-001 in the Comenius-Grundtvig Training Database

Here’s a glimpse of what we have planned:

  • The interactive workshop gives the big picture and an understanding of links, relationships and backgrounds of the Internet, web-based applications and their implementation.
  • We clarify basic vocabulary used in relation to the World Wide Web and not necessarily focus on specific software or web applications, to not train you in the use of specific ones, but rather to open your minds by offering alternatives for different working situations in project management and teaching routines.
  • You will categorise and assign selected web applications to European project management tasks, which is then publish on the workshop website. This could inspire others and lead to a reference work. You will discover solutions that can help you to execute tasks in a more effective and efficient way.
  • The teaching environment is dynamic and agile. We explain theoretical foundations and give examples; but it is up to you to choose and, with our help, set up desired applications, you wish to work with on a daily basis.

Visit the European Course Database for more information, and apply now.
Deadline for submitting funding application to your national agency is 15th September 2010.
Looking forward to welcome you in Fitou!

Talking about wine in Cassagnes


Most of the time, I really like what I do but sometimes, I feel a bit privileged, when I go to  work, such as today. I started early in the morning to meet Cecile from Domaine Revelh. The  one hour drive from Fitou to Cassagnes, where she lives, really impressed me. It’s just a gorgeous landscape, with thousands fragrances and fantastic views.

Few weeks ago, Cecile made a very special degustation of her wines and immediately I tried to convince her to prepare a how-to course for doing2learn. And today was the day, where we discussed a possible structure of a course about wine.

The most complicated thing is to cut the huge specific knowledge into eatable slices and still explain in detail every bit.

When we started the doing2learn project nearly two years ago, I prepared a pattern of a structure for such courses and I realized, how difficult it is for most of the people to describe complex issues understandably in 200 words or in a 90 second video to meet the average attention span.

Currently, we have got more than 23 courses for different topics, made by ordinary people, proud to share their knowledge.

Even though the project funding period will end in October this year, we want to keep this platform alive, modify it for easier access and include all the current web “baubles”.