Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Geek + Blog = Glog?

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Sure I'd like a standing ovation....

My biggest problem with "How to get a standing ovation" lies in the first point:

Have something interesting to say. This is 80% of the battle. If you have
something interesting to say, then it's much easier to give a great speech.
If you have nothing to say, you should not speak.

This is interesting a quandry in Toastmasters, since you have to speak. Thus you must wrack your brain and think, think, think for someting interesting to say. It's there, you must just find it or invent it. Note point 7. People love stories and if you think about your life, your week, your day you'll have a story.
Ideas and tips for opening your speeches. I like the idea of "Make points that people agree on first". This is also an effective, if not over-used, sales technique "get them saying yes". If you can do this humorously, all the better.

One of the hardest things when speaking is to remain calm. Now personally, I believe in the "Fake til you Make it" school of thought - act calm and you will become calm. But how do you "act calm"? Try to control and concentrate on those things you can control, such as your breathing, expression and gestures. Do not forget about your voice . Work at starting at a lower pitch than normal to give yourself some room to go higher as your excitement and passion crescendo. This also helps to present a calm facade.

Write to speak

Have you noticed how many good speakers are also writers? Doesn't it seem that many of the greatest speeches were given with few or no notes. Was there no formal preparation? Was the speaking was extemporaneous?

No. There was written preparation by great speakers for great speeches. Additionally, there was a body of writing done by the speaker that helped them build their ideas and formed the foundation for speaking.

Consider Winston Churchill - an inspiring speaker and author with a large body of work. Martin Luther King Jr. - he left behind voluminous writings both public and private. Abraham Lincoln - an Attorney, the schooling for and practice of consists largely of writing.

Look around, you'll find the people that are the best speakers have a background in writing, a habit of writing. I know many lawyers. I've seen lawyers trained and seen the changes that training causes. Lawyers write, a lot. It's a key element of their schooling and their practice. When they speak, it's well organized and purposeful. They learned by rote, through practice - writing.

In short, this had led me to the conclusion that I need to write more.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Thinking ahead

How often do you open your mouth, start talking, and then, after a few effortless sentences escape, hear what you said and realize that it is almost total gibberish? Meaningless. Vacuous and content-free.

I have noticed occasions of that recently. Today I recovered from babbling episode using a technique that rarely works. I kept talking. Normally this only exaggerates the babbling but - I was able to focus and come up with an organization. I made much more sense the second time around. And it was much more succinct.

In extemporaneous speech - talking off the top of your head - you need a plan. Not a complicated one - but a plan nonetheless. You need to know where you are going in order to get there. It is much more interesting for the listener that way.

Think of a joke. The destination is the punch line. If you don't make it to the punch line, the joke is dead.

I reorganized today's verbal diarrhea to follow a timeline. And I knew where the timeline ended-up. I wanted to describe how a program I was testing was working and also tell how I got into the not working state.

Version one:
"On my machine the website gives an error, even though I tried resetting the config files and that is a different problem than what Steve is having after we used a clean build on his system and we've checked for other differences."

Version two:
"On my system and Steve's we reset the config files. We did a clean build on Steve's system. We didn't find any differences. We get different website errors on both systems."

So version two isn't scintillating reading, but it was much more effective and communicating what was going on. I simply organized my thoughts to follow the list of things we did, making sure the punch line was "We get different errors on both systems". When the organization came to me I felt that even I understood things better.

So, come up with the punch line first then map out an organization for getting there.