I have learned some hard lessons recently. I wrote this last week:
It seems so wrong to be sitting here in his hospital room, him over there so quiet, because he passed away this morning — my beloved 32-year-old son. Continue reading “What I learned when my son died”
I’m thinking about starting a new podcast focused around “Life Switchers”—people who have made a major change in their lives such as going from being a corporate drone to a business owner, or from a high-level executive to a school teacher. I’m not sure of the frequency right now. It could be once a month or once a week. I think episodes would probably run about 20 minutes in length. Would you be interested in hearing interviews with such folks? I already have one episode recorded and a few more lined up.
I would appreciate your input with the poll below. If, for some reason, it doesn’t show up because of your browser settings, you can go to the poll here.
Quora didn’t like this answer about speaking with confidence, for some reason, so I’ll share it with the world this way. I think it’s helpful, and I’d like to put it where it can do some good.
The original question was “Tomorrow I have a presentation and I don’t know how to start it. I feel afraid in front of people. What can I do?”
Here is my answer (and I can’t see a thing wrong with it, but it got “moderated”). It has only been edited to use more active voice. (I would have edited it more there, but I didn’t get the chance.) Continue reading “Harness nerves and speak with confidence”
As an old newspaper reporter, I can tell you firsthand how it interferes with the writing process when the editor stands over your shoulder. Yet, most of us do this to ourselves every time we try to write.
Writing and editing are two different functions. You will do a better job with less stress if you will separate them. When you write, write. Don’t worry about punctuation, editing, spelling, etc. You can clean that up later.
If you think you don’t have time to do that, let me tell you: you don’t have time to not do it. It actually takes less time to separate writing and editing.
Since we are concerned with helping you speak more effectively and avoid writing it out word for word in the first place (because you’ll then sound like you’re reading, even when you’re not), it’s even more important to find another way to prepare for your speech—and this is it.
Continue reading “Respecting your inner writer and editor”
I could have sworn I have written about this before, but I can’t find it at the moment. Maybe I didn’t. That’s what all speakers worry about, I think: am I going to forget what I want to say? I had better leave myself a note.
When I teach beginning speakers about speaking notes, I teach principles, but I don’t insist on a particular way of doing them. Different people need to do notes differently. The answer to the question, “What kind of notes should I use as a speaker?” is “Whatever works for you.”
But there are some general principles of speaker notes. Here’s my take on the subject. Continue reading “Make a note to yourself: use a grocery list”
How does every James Bond movie start?
Right in the middle of the action, right? Bullets are flying, he’s parachuting into a moving convertible, etc.If you saw a recent movie
If you saw a recent superhero movie called Deadpool, it exemplifies this action movie start perfectly. I’ve never followed comic books too much, so I didn’t know this guy’s backstory, and I didn’t need to. The movie just grabbed my attention right off the bat, and then spent three-fourths of the movie giving me the backstory on how we got to that scene.
Too many speakers waste valuable minutes getting ready to speak. Forget that. Continue reading “Introduce effectively for impact”
I had a similar conversation on separate occasions with two of my kids following some unwise choice both had made. It went something like this:
“There are three kinds of people in the world. There are people who learn the easy way. There are people who learn the hard way. And there are people who just don’t freaking learn. [I confess the original language was harsher—but it was a really unwise choice he or she had made more than once.] You’ve already shown that you are not the first kind. It remains to be seen which of the other two you are.”
Continue reading “Taco lessons for life”
This started out to be a “no big hairy deal” thing–and it really still is. But I have once again been presented with a “lesson,” and I’m going to out my own stumble to share with you, just in case it’s useful.
First, let me acknowledge that, once again, I have been absent from the blog for quite some time–haven’t been in here since May. Life circumstances have changed in such a way that it is inevitably affecting me professionally, and I will make another post about that. Suffice it to say that both my writing and my speaking will change drastically, and while I will still publish to help you be more effective at communicating in your daily life, my approach is going to have to change. But, as I said, that’s for another post.
Now, back to our regular post:
My lesson started out with a simple enjoyment of a Facebook post from writer Jena Schwartz. Continue reading “A social media lesson learned: slow down”
Your (I suspect) tongue-in-cheek response to a Facebook posting has led me to a lot of introspection and thought. When a colleague posted a very frustrating example of inept prose from a student (if I recall correctly, someone in the last weeks of the second semester of English comp, who should have known better before even beginning that semester), you responded with, “Yeah, I’m not teaching college students… thank you for helping me make that decision. ;)”
It’s always hard to tell if someone is joking in social media, and I realize you probably were—but at that moment, you seemed serious to me, and I was saddened. I can’t depend on my memory anymore, but I’m pretty sure you planned to become a professor, and I fear our water cooler banter may have seriously influenced you.
In any case, you prompted some introspection on my part that I would like to share with you, and with others who might be considering similar professional goals—even if you were just joking. (And I apologize for sucking the comedy from it if that was the intent.)
Note: thank you for letting me use this moment as a foil to dig into my own thinking a bit and writing about it!
Continue reading “Open Letter to Jeremy”
I managed to get through a challenging semester. I knew I wouldn’t be able to post for a couple of weeks as we wrapped up, but it has been nearly a month! However, I have the next couple of posts already lined up and I wanted to alert faithful readers to a slight change in scheduling.
Sometimes I keep up with the “twice a week” schedule pretty well, and, as you can tell, sometimes I don’t. I’m going to try a different pattern (and you can let me know how you like it or don’t like it). I am aiming for a regular post every week on Tuesday, something more in depth. I may post shorter pieces at other times, but I’ll try to make sure Tuesday brings something of interest to all.
I am also working on a new podcast that will go live by the first week of June. In this podcast I will talk with people I’m calling Switchers right now. (This term could change as it develops.) These are people who have taken a path beyond the usual, or who have later in life switched from a standard career into something that satisfies their souls.
For instance, the first one will feature a young woman who discovered both a passion for photography and for independent business unusual among recent college graduates–a path she had never considered before finding it. When a new podcast episode goes up, I will post that here as well.
Conventional wisdom is that you need to be regular in scheduling, and I certainly aim for that. If you have been with me for awhile, though, you know that I have responsibility for a severely disabled daughter, and my wife is also disabled. They have veto power over my plans. (If you can tell, I’m smiling as I say that.) My choice is to not write this blog at all, or do the best I can with it. I will be posting about this later, in fact, but the short version is: I think you should do the best you can with what you want to do, even if you can’t do it perfectly.
So thank you for sticking with me, and helping me produce something you would be glad to share with friends and colleagues.