Words carry more than information. The words you choose change the texture, the flavor of the information. They change the way readers view the world.
For instance, my public speaking students frequently choose “Legalization of Marijuana” as a topic. (The fact that they have been choosing this topic for over 30 years says something about our nation, but that’s for another article.) The audience of college students has probably heard this discussed dozens of times in various settings. So I suggest instead they discuss “Relegalization of Marijuana.” That often makes audiences cock their heads, the way a dog looks at a ceiling fan. That recasting of the topic can completely change the way the speaker approaches the topic and the way the audience hears it. Continue reading “The texture of words”
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.”
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.
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.”
You can’t force creativity, but you can remove the roadblocks.
At the risk of sounding like an old fart (because, after all, I am one): I believe I have noticed a decrease in the ability of incoming students to think outside the pigeon hole. I don’t think students are any less intelligent, but I do think it is one of the unintended side effects of “No Child Left Untested” foisted on the American public in a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to improve public education.
I don’t want to trot down that side path right now. Regardless of the cause, I am sure I see students struggling to think creatively. You might struggle as well.