Bonus: insight into breakthrough thinking

head-rendering from brain MRI

As I read this article on Surprisingly Simple Ways You Can Trick Your Brain Into Focusing, it strikes me how much of this has to do with effective communication strategies! I guess it really is the basic operating system!

Read the whole thing, but I can tell you that the gist of it is this:

  1. Don’t multitask.
  2. Take notes. But don’t try to write down everything you hear. Distill it and summarize.
  3. Consider other points of view.
  4. Take breaks.
  5. Narrow your focus and go deeper.

But get the details from the article. In the meantime, consider getting a copy of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. (affiliate link)




Share this, please!

Make it your own

Pan containing 40 1/2 oz of gold, value $650.00, on Mr. Low’s claim. From Flickr

I enjoy teaching, and have been fortunate to have good classes throughout the last year. It was fascinating watching the process of them starting with something that is often very general and then slicing it down to fit the time limit, while developing enough depth to interest an audience.

In the process of doing that, many of them got excited as they made the topic truly their own. Continue reading “Make it your own”

Share this, please!

Out loud is not for details


You really can only set about one solid idea every 10 minutes or so. That happens to also be about the length of time you can hold someone’s attention. I believe the two are closely related. Continue reading “Out loud is not for details”

Share this, please!

Why Lois Creamer is one of my speaking heroes

Lois Creamer

There are a lot of reasons Lois Creamer is one of my speaking heroes. Here are just a few of them.

  • We haven’t had this conversation, but in my observation, I don’t think Lois thinks of herself as a speaker. She might call herself a speaking professional. Certainly, she is an expert who speaks… and writes… and blogs… and produces CDs and audio products… in other words, she knows something, and will share it in any way she can.
  • If anyone understands the importance of focus, it is Lois. As long as I have known her (which must be over 15 years), she has focused on working with professional speakers who want to book more business, make more money and avoid costly mistakes.
  • She doesn’t confuse simple and easy. She takes things that scare people and tells them a simple way to do what needs doing. But she doesn’t tell you it’s easy. That part depends on what you do with it.
  • She walks her talk. (Focus, sticking with your niche, positioning statements.) So she’s a great model.
  • She doesn’t quit. I won’t go into personal circumstances I happen to know about. Let’s just say she doesn’t let what happens outside the business interfere with the business. (And I suspect she doesn’t let business interfere with what happens outside the business, either.)
  • She has figured out how to manage the balance of business and personal connections. I think she’s a great friend, and in a people business, that can potentially be a problem. If you give away the store to your friends, you will starve, and then you won’t be able to help anyone! She’s done a fantastic job of being a friend, and also knowing when an interaction needs to cross into “on the clock.”

As I said, there are lots of other reasons. These are just a few. If you have a chance to hear Lois, take it. If you have a chance to work with her, take it. Your business will be better as a result.

Share this, please!

Narrow your focus and go deeper

I'll Bring the Hot Dogs!

I once had a student who was stuck. She was supposed to speak in a speech round starting on Friday, and she came to me on Wednesday complaining that she couldn’t get started. She had come up with about a minute’s worth of material.

“What are you trying to develop a topic on?” I asked.

“The history of the United States,” she said. Continue reading “Narrow your focus and go deeper”

Share this, please!

The components of confidence

Photo by Flickr user gerriet

I’ve noticed the last few years that students seem to bring a slightly higher degree of beginning presentation skills into the classroom. I suspect this comes from growing up surrounded by hundreds of cable channels and YouTube.

It has even reached the point where the old saw about public speaking being the number one fear is no longer true. I thought perhaps it was, indeed, a steady trend of increasing confidence. If so, this semester doesn’t fit the trend. In fact, students have generally had more trouble with the second speech round than the first speech round. Continue reading “The components of confidence”

Share this, please!

Finding your passion

There’s a lot of discussion around passion and finding it for college students. No, not that kind of passion–get your mind out of the gutter. Passion as in caring deeply about.

Cal Newport’s guest post on the Zen Habits blog goes into many aspects of this. Here’s a quote from The Minimalist’s Guide to Cultivating Passion that summarizes a practical insight:

As Caldwell’s research reveals, true passion can’t be forced. You can participate in personality tests and self-reflection exercises until you drop from exhaustion, but it’s unstructured exploration coupled with aggressive follow-ups that most consistently leads people to a life-consuming interest.

He gives several practical examples. It’s worthwhile reading the article, and then thinking about what it means in your life, which is probably cram packed with activities. In light of Newport’s ideas, no wonder we have trouble finding or remembering our passion in life!

Share this, please!