We’re going to experiment

lab

I majored in journalism in college for one particular reason: it was the closest I could get to not declaring a major.

See, I was interested in all aspects of human experience. I didn’t want to have to specialize in anything, because I was interested in all of it. But I went to college when the mantra was first started to be repeated that to be successful, you had to specialize (which struck me the same way the famous advice to Benjamin in The Graduate did: “Plastics…. There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.”). Picking a major meant picking a specialty, and it showed the ability to plan long term and achieve the goal.

So I specialized in not specializing. Journalists had an excuse to poke their collective noses into anything and everything.

The advice didn’t change, of course, and journalists have heard plenty of advice about picking a specialized field to cover, thing like, “Major in business and minor in journalism,” etc. Not bad advice. After all, you can graduate from college having taken nothing but writing courses, speaking courses, research courses, and know very well how to say it, but have nothing to say.

Still, I have always resisted that, although I have certainly dabbled in it.

This blog is an example. Effective communication skills are one of my passions. I take great satisfaction out of helping people effectively express their own passions and expertise. Focus on something, they tell you in books and courses about having a successful blog, and it makes a lot of sense.

On the other hand….

On the other hand they tell you to be yourself, to let your personality shine through, because people don’t come to blogs strictly for information. The information matters, certainly, but they can get the information any number of other places. What can’t be gotten anywhere else is you, and the irony is that this is the very same reason audiences will come hear a speaker. It’s not just for, or even mainly for, the information, but the particular slice of the information, the viewpoint on it, the spin, the flavor that is unique to that speaker.

And here’s the rub. While effective communication is one of my passions, it’s not my only one. I can’t put up blogs about everything that interests me–not and do any justice to them. Plus, it leads to the very thing that has afflicted this blog recently. It has been way too long since I wrote anything here, not because I’ve lost interest in effective communication, but because it became a chore to have to write about it.

So I’m going to break the rules. Facebook followers tell me they like to see my eclectic posts. I’m going to assume if you’re following me, it’s partly out of interest in communication-related topics, and just about everything is somehow communication related anyway, isn’t it? But I’m going to quit trying so hard to make sure the post is SEO-enhanced, is monetized (not for me, but for readers), is clearly tied to enhancing a communication skill.

Dan Pink says that we’re going through a cultural shift anyway, about to move into another era where the generalist will rule. I hope that happens before I retire.

Do me a favor? If you like what you read here, subscribe somehow. Join the RSS feed (which will tell me how many people are following it), or subscribe to the mailing list. I promise I won’t spam you. I just need to know if anyone cares about what is here. And because the posts are likely to become more diversified, I’m going to remove the focus on the “free if you sign up” stuff as well. Don’t sign up because of the freebie you get–it’s too easy to sign up, get the freebie, and then unsubscribe. I’d rather just give it away. Sign up because you find that at least half the time, you find the posts interesting.

(I’ll still have freebies. But when someone signs up, I’ll link you to the list of freebies, and anyone can download them anytime. You can just pick the ones that interest you. When I add a new freebie, I’ll notify everyone on the list.)

I hope those of you who are here for the communication info won’t just go away, of course. We’ll still have plenty of skills-related posts. But I’m going to do here what I’m trying to help you to do there: communicate about what you care about. I hope that in the process of doing that, you’ll get something useful about how to communicate more effectively, even if a given post isn’t explicitly about that.

What do you think? (Note: that’s what the comments are for. Go ahead, take a chance. Post something.)

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Author: Donn King

Donn King works with people who want to forge top-notch speaking skills to increase their influence and impact so they can advance their career or business. He is associate professor of communication studies at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.