Donn King's Corner

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‘Be kind’ depends on kin

Crowd

It seems built into our biology that we are tribal creatures. Much of what passes for racism or nationalism or sports rivalries are simply specific applications of this human tendency: I prefer members of my own tribe over those of any other. Continue reading

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Why are you not doing Toastmasters?

gavel

The headline makes an assumption, I suppose. But before you dismiss it with, “I am doing Toastmasters,” stick with me and read past the first three paragraphs. I can anticipate that you might have one of three reactions. Continue reading

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Avoid the common extremes

Monkey in stereo

Aristotle called it The Golden Mean. Both athletes and audiophiles talk about the Sweet Spot. I don’t have a catchy term (not yet), but the concept applies to choosing and developing a topic. Continue reading

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Bonus post: I love an unexpected turn of phrase

Jimmy Hoffa

There are many reasons I love my wife. One of them is her creativity. She really has a way with words. Continue reading

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Bonus post: Dressing up affects audience and speaker

Suit guy

I’m using “speaker” in a loose sense here. I don’t just mean people who stand on a platform and talk to multiple people at once. I think most people know that telemarketers are advised to keep a mirror on their desks and smile as they talk to prospects on the phone, even though the prospect cannot see them. When people can see you, your appearance affects how your message is received. But it also affects how you feel about yourself as you deliver the message, which may have as great an effect on ultimate reception.

This concept is explored in some depth in Dressing Up the Brain: Wearing a Suit Makes People Think Differently found in The Atlantic. Check it out.

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Meaning just hits you broadside sometimes

Kitchen

It’s funny how things can just hit you right out of the blue.

My wife and I were driving in town recently, when a pick up truck going the other way went by. In the back was one of those small plastic kitchens, typically aimed at five-year-old girls. You wouldn’t think something like that would have the power to induced tears, but it did. Continue reading

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Behold the power of story

Chinese baby

Just for clarity: I have never been a Chinese woman. Except for a few minutes this morning.

Just 15 minutes ago or so, I was listening to NPR on the radio as I was driving in to work. They were interviewing Jenna Cook about her search for her birth mother. Like most of you, I have been aware for a long time that international adoptions are not uncommon, and even that the situations that lead to such adoption are quite complex. But I had never been touched by those complexities. Continue reading

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Bonus post: does your organization look like this?

monkeys

Came across this puttering around the Internet. I couldn’t help but think that this explains a lot of human organizations. Does yours look this way?

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Three classes of vocalized pause

word cloud

You don’t notice when people don’t say “um” and “uh” and “you know.” When they do, though, they can really interfere with listening because they break the flow. Those are the obvious “vocalized pauses,” but there are others that will interfere for a different reason, and they can be even harder for a speaker to notice and eliminate.

The first step in dealing with them is recognizing them. Let’s look at three classes of vocalized pauses. Continue reading

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Why speeches crash: 5 common nosedives

Crash

Every speech is unique, as is every speaker. But the problems that cause speeches to crash are amazingly consistent. I have listened to over 24,000 speeches in my life. Probably 80 percent of the “bad” speeches resulted from one of the following problems. Continue reading

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