If you want it to live, embody it

seed_start

Everyone has ideas. But like most everything else, ideas cannot live without flesh.

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What was that idea again?

Dutch Scullery Maid

I had a great idea for a blog post. It came to me while I was in the kitchen, working on making an omelet for me and fried eggs for my wife. The stove was hot, the butter at just the right temperature in the pan, so I couldn’t go write the idea down right then. No problem, it was a great idea, I would remember.

Yeah, right. How many times have you done that? Based on your experience, how likely was it that I would remember it? Continue reading “What was that idea again?”

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Has it really been that long?

abandoned house

I didn’t really mean to stop writing. But I haven’t posted anything here since July. I actually wrote quite a bit since then, but nothing that struck me as worth publishing. There are 25 posts sitting in draft mode. In November, I wrote a skeleton of a post that said, “This is probably my last post.” I remember what was happening then. I had just discovered that my aunt had died–a year earlier. And a favorite cousin had also died–two years earlier.

Continue reading “Has it really been that long?”

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Do something toward your goal EVERY DAY

Calendar chains

My students are just finishing an assignment. I asked them to write down 10 possible topics for an informative speech every day for a week (well, five days out of seven). In other words, they would wind up with 50 possible topics.

I have survived the system they are now working through, so I know, with absolute certainty, that many of them put it off until the night before it was due and generated 50 topics all at once. Continue reading “Do something toward your goal EVERY DAY”

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Ideas are dangerous, and so must be communicated

old_glory

America is the embodiment of an idea communicated.

Tomorrow is July 4, a day that Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence. We call it Independence Day, but the reality is there were five years of war yet to come before a treaty was signed granting independence. Stop and think about that: it means we celebrate not the achievement of independence, but its declaration. Continue reading “Ideas are dangerous, and so must be communicated”

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How to get ideas for speeches

If you’ve read much here, you know I think one of the most important aspects of speaking, if not the important aspect, is the unique bit you bring to it. Since it’s so easy to look information up these days, a speech can’t just be a convenient way to share information–there are too many more convenient ways. The unique point of view, the unique experiences, or at the least the curation you perform–those are the factors that serve to make a speech worthwhile to an audience, offered in the context of a unique connection with them. Continue reading “How to get ideas for speeches”

photo by: stevendepolo
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You must be willing to create crap…

…in order to find the good stuff. That’s sort of what Anne Lamott advised in her book Bird by Bird. One of her chapters was titled pretty much that (using a stronger term than crap).

Daniel Pink posits a similar idea in his piece entitled Why you should come up with at least 1 bad idea today, based on a Wall Street Journal piece by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Believe it or not, Adams (not known as an optimist) puts an even more positive spin on the idea.

Lamott seems to me to be saying you have to write crap to get it out of your system, and if you’re willing to just let it flow, you will find amid the effluence some worthwhile material. Adams, on the other hand, says that coming up with bad ideas a) gets you started on the process of coming up with something good, and b) provides quality raw material for good ideas. Not just fertilizer, in other words, but seeds.

As I watch speech students struggle to come up with “the” right idea, right structure, right approach, I wish I could communicate this principle. Perhaps Mr. Pink will help do so.

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New category for speech ideas

I’ve added a new category that, over time, will grow to be a substantial part of this blog. Some sources offer good starting points for developing speech ideas, especially ideas that are “off the beaten path.” Post in this category point to these. Most, if not all, of these sites are chosen because they do not fit the predominate assumptions of our time and are likely to be contrarian as a result.

For instance, most people assume, based on media coverage, that there are basically only two political positions: liberal and conservative. In reality, political ideas exist in a much more complex matrix than a mere bipolar spectrum can comprise. A site such as Nolan Chart not only makes this clear, but also offers resources for exploring ideas not only of interest to peers in a speech class, but also outside the usual conversation.

It is not our purpose to advocate any particular position, but rather to enable effective advocacy by students, which is furthered by going outside the mainstream to surface and examine assumptions that otherwise would not even be noticed as assumptions.

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