Learning to fall


When I was a kid, one of my good friends was Steve Reid. Steve later went on to be a successful musician in Memphis, Tennessee, though he passed away unexpectedly two years ago. We lost touch over the years but thankfully reconnected before he left this earth.

As a working musician, Steve certainly knew how to keep going despite failure. We never talked about it, but I know the life of a musician is hard–constantly hustling to get the gigs, to make a living, to keep the vibe going.

Continue reading “Learning to fall”

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What does coaching really mean for teaching?

Peabody High School 1940 ChampionsA colleague commented on Facebook recently about the “coaching method” for teaching college composition. That label carries with it quite a bit of detail regarding approach to teaching, but there is an aspect that, I think, should be a part of every college teacher, and every speaker to some degree.

When I hear “coaching method,” I think of the football coach at my high school, Walter Kilzer. Continue reading “What does coaching really mean for teaching?”

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Use a free, easy tool to improve your speaking

Coffee with Donn logo

I have started a Facebook video series to share speaking tips (and some writing tips, but focused on “out loud”). I’m going to try to do this twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) to see how it goes. After we get going, I’ll broadcast live so people can interact during the broadcast, but the recording will remain available.

You don’t have to have a Facebook account to see it. But if you have one, “like” the page while you are there to make it easy to see more content as it comes out.

You can see the first Coffee with Donn video here.

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Why I use Scrivener for writing almost everything

Scrivener logo

You probably already have a favorite app you use for writing. “Favorite” may be a loose term–you may or may not like it. It could just be the least irritating tool you have. But it’s one you’re used to. It either came loaded on your device, or as part of a larger suite you paid big bucks for or got for free.

I want to suggest that you consider paying for a tool that will do the job better for you and save you time and frustration, especially if you work on longer projects. I have been using Scrivener for a couple of years, and I find myself using it for writing just about everything, from books to articles to speaking notes.

Continue reading “Why I use Scrivener for writing almost everything”

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Knowing and “knowing” are not the same

doctor smoke

I just came from the grocery store. You see people you know there if you live in a relatively small town. As I was checking out, I saw one of Hannah’s respiratory therapists outside the front of the store. I knocked on the window to get her attention, and she reacted, but didn’t seem sure what the noise was or where it came from.

She then put a cigarette to her lips and pulled a long drag.

Continue reading “Knowing and “knowing” are not the same”

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Conflict is inevitable; effective communication is not

Fear vs. trust

This weekend I will be presenting an education session for the District 63 Toastmasters Spring Conference in Chattanooga. We’ll be talking about Healthy Conflict, aimed at managing such within a Toastmasters club, but the principles apply to any organization.

Here’s the gist: conflict is inevitable. If you are alive, you will experience conflict. Many of us spend a lot of time trying to avoid conflict, and while we certainly don’t need to seek it or cause it on purpose, we should face the reality that it will happen, and so focus on developing skills for effective, healthy conflict. Continue reading “Conflict is inevitable; effective communication is not”

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Floss one tooth bird by bird

Bird with teeth

There is a much-beloved-among-writers book by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. It covers many of the challenges writers (and speakers) face, but the title is one of the most important parts to me. It reminds me of how to manage huge projects, like a novel. Continue reading “Floss one tooth bird by bird”

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Technology makes a good servant but a poor master


Technology is great! I love it! But it can overshadow things that are more important.

The very word implies that technologies are tools. They help you accomplish things, but they don’t tell you what to accomplish or help you evaluate what’s most important to accomplish. Continue reading “Technology makes a good servant but a poor master”

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Business talks don’t have to be boring


There is an assumption that business talks, by their nature, are boring, as exemplified in this post. This is good news, in a sad sort of way. It’s like the old joke about the two guys trying to outrun a grizzly: “I don’t have to outrun the bear; I only have to outrun you.” Since expectations are so low, anything you do that raises your talk above the level of boring makes you outstanding in the eyes of the audience.

The simplest way to do this is to remember why we do the “out loud” stuff in the first place. Just asking that question and answering it is likely to put you way ahead of the competition all by itself. Continue reading “Business talks don’t have to be boring”

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Politeness depends on cultural expectations


Some of our friends (and their friends) have come to our aid lately with donations and gifts to help with Hannah’s challenges. We’re very grateful for those, and for prayers and support of all kinds. It also got me to thinking about something that is (surprise!) communication-related: communication of gratitude is culturally bound. Continue reading “Politeness depends on cultural expectations”

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