Lydia Bailey, content coordinator of Masters Programs Guide, has shared with us a handy graphic that pulls into one place many useful insights in dealing with the fear of public speaking. (Full graphic at the end of this post.) Continue reading
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
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
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
There is a bit of wisdom that sticks with me from childhood, from Ecclesiastes 4:12, that says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Even if you don’t do a lot of manual labor (I certainly don’t), you still know that a typical rope isn’t just a bunch of threads. It consists of fibers twisted into yarn, yarn twisted into strands, and strands twisted into lays. A typical rope consists of three lays.
That metaphor serves well in thinking about improving effective speaking. It takes competence in three areas woven together: effective delivery, effective organization for the ear, and effective content. Continue reading
There is some standard advice you hear offered to writers of every type and sort. “Don’t write unless you have to,” or “If you can not write, don’t.” The idea seems to be that writing is so hard that you shouldn’t do it unless you feel a compulsion to do so, or else that unless you feel that sort of compulsion, you will never achieve any level of skill.
Rubbish. Continue reading
In my public speaking courses, we are just finishing the first round of “speeches.” (I put it in quotation marks because they’re really get-on-your-feet exercises.) I can already see a key difference among many of them.
There are two kinds of speakers: drivers and sailors. (There are two kinds of people: those who put everyone into two categories, and those who don’t. But that’s another post.) Drivers may or may not know where they’re going, but they try to steer everything exactly where they want to go. Sailors, likewise, may or may not know where they’re going, but they’re comfortable adapting to constantly changing conditions. Continue reading
Today I got a reminder that teachers don’t necessarily remember that effective teaching equates pretty closely with effective speaking. A colleague at the lunch table commented on the ineffectiveness of teachers who will stand at the front of the room and read off a PowerPoint slide. Continue reading
Our son just got a practical lesson in economics as well as in education.
He replaced the inflow part of his toilet. It’s not rocket science, but it takes abilities that fall within the scope of all three types of knowing.
Some years ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr. John Shotter talk about the nature of dialogue. I will not try to explain what I heard. In the first place, it nearly made my head explode. In the second place, I’m not at all sure I understood it–not that he couldn’t explain it clearly. It’s just somewhat like my dog trying to understand my explanation of symbolism in Shakespeare.
But I think I properly understood a useful classification of three types of knowing. (Disclaimer: this is my understanding of it, and may not be what Dr. Shotter intended.) There is “knowing that” (basically, knowing facts and information), “knowing how” (knowing a skillset), and “knowing from within” (knowing the norms from within a culture as well as what we might call “gut level” knowing).
The economics lesson can be summed up like this: when you are able or willing to do what other people are either unable or unwilling to do, you can make a living.
Plumbers can charge what they do because to some degree they know things other people don’t. It goes beyond mere information–after all, the Internet has revealed all, at least as far as basic facts are concerned (the first kind of knowing). And the Internet has even revealed much (if not all) of the second type of knowing–the process for completing basic plumbing tasks such as replace an inflow valve. (My son had no problem finding YouTube videos to show him “how.”) But the third type of knowing usually only comes with experience. In this case, although he has never changed that particular fixture before, he has done enough work with pipes to have a proper “feel” for how things should go together, how tight the connection should be, etc.
But plumbers can also charge what they do because to some degree they are willing to do what other people aren’t. You can’t pay me enough money, for instance, to get me to crawl underneath my house. If there is plumbing to be done under there, it is worth it to me to pay someone who knows what they’re doing, and is willing to do it.
In this case, the economic lesson involved the number of times he said, “Yuck!” I’m grateful he was willing to do it–it saved a bill from the plumber. But if that simple task involved that degree of “yuck,” it’s easy to see there will come a time when he might have the knowledge to complete some plumbing task, but not the willingness.
And if he develops that willingness, then he could have a lucrative profession in his future.
What about you? What parts of your job involve which types of knowing? What parts involve a simple willingness to do the hard parts? Isn’t that what continues to keep writers and speakers paid in this age of easy communication? When anyone can publish pretty much anything for free, isn’t that what keeps people buying magazines, books, and subscriptions?