GoTo Training Preview


Tonight, I’m hosting a GoTo Training for my online students.  We are talking about their persuasive PechaKucha presentations and 10 tips to help them succeed on this big final project.

Here is a preview of a few slides:







Have you ever hosted a GoTo Training with your students?

Ronald Reagan’s Challenger Address


In class today, we examined Ronald Reagan’s Challenger Address after the space shuttle explosion.  First, watch the speech below:


Nancy Duarte dissects Reagan’s audience analysis and how he effectively segments the audience into several categories: mourners across the country; families of the space shuttle crew members; children watching the shuttle launch at school; the Soviet Union; and NASA.  Duarte’s February 2011 article analyzes the speech in great detail with a focus on audience analysis.  Click here to read “Why President Reagan Deserves The Title ‘The Great Communicator.'”

I also stumbled across a teaching packet from the University of Texas if you are planning on sharing this presentation with your students.  The teaching resources include an amazing speech-writing guide with some helpful tips: 1) use attention-getting devices such as storytelling, 2) communicate clearly using understandable language and a clear structure, 3) include accurate information, 4) provide specific examples to support your ideas, and 5) end on an exciting note such as a call to action (Source).  I enjoyed the speech-writing and speech analysis sections in the packet which can be very helpful in developing some powerful lessons.

How do you explain “audience analysis” to your students?  Can you think of any other speeches which do a masterful job of audience segmentation?

Lessons From Grad School


My name is Alex Rister, and I am a second-time graduate student.  Most people look at me strangely when I make this confession, but I proudly embrace any stigma that comes along with being an eternal learner.

The first time I attended grad school was in 2007.  I earned my M.A. in English Literature from the University of North Florida.  I went to school full time; I took 3 or 4 classes at a time; I primarily studied and wrote a thesis on Irish Lit; and I finished my degree in a year and a half.

I decided to return to graduate school to pursue another Master’s degree… this time in Interpersonal Communication.  To my surprise, beginning graduate school again in 2012 has proven one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  My experience this time is completely different.  I am attending school part time while I work full time.  I am taking one class per semester.  I have no idea what my primary area of focus or study will be just yet.  I will take years to finish my degree.  Even though I’m only 6 graduate hours in, I’ve learned 3 important lessons from grad school… part two.

Lesson #1: I’ve grown up.

There is an enormous difference between my experiences in graduate school now as a woman pushing 30 and my experiences in graduate school as a girl in my early 20s.  While I student at UNF, I had a passion for what I was doing, but I had no idea what I was doing.  Now, I feel so much more control over my mind, my learning, my writing, and my dedication to my studies.  For example, we wrote our very first paper for my Interpersonal Communication class in early February.  I found myself reading and re-reading the articles we were to synthesize; emailing my instructor for feedback; writing and revising my ideas; and asking a trusted classmate for feedback.  I spent several days and over 12 hours on the short, 3-page assignment.  When I got to class, I overheard one of my fellow classmates say, “I wrote this paper today.  Yeah, I got it done in less than 2 hours.”  I had a flashback to my first graduate degree and saw the difference between my two grad school experiences.  When I was this fellow classmates’ age, I probably spent 2 hours on my assignments just as she had.  Baffled at the shift, I wondered what changed in me.  I realized… I had grown up.  I took my work more seriously.  I valued my learning experiences more deeply.  My mature self enjoys school more than my young self ever could, and my mature self definitely puts more work into school than I ever would have six years ago.


Lesson #2: I am open to new things.

As a full time student at UNF, my schedule revolved around my coursework.  This time, I have to take classes around my full time work schedule.  I also have other obligations such as volunteering and meetings, so I can only take classes on specific evenings.  Because of my busy life, I am at the mercy of the School of Communication’s graduate course schedule.  I’ve taken classes I have no interest in; for example, in Fall 2012, I enrolled in Legal and Ethical Issues in Communication.  I’d never taken a law class and had zero interest in boring legal documents.  It turns out, I found the First Amendment and its historical cases fascinating, and I know more about my individual rights than I ever would otherwise.  In the future, I foresee additional courses that cause me to yawn (Health Communication) or to shiver in terror (Statistics), but I have a feeling these classes will also surprise me in positive ways.

Lesson #3: I am getting more involved in my academic community.

At UNF, my only extracurricular activity on campus was my one semester as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.  At UCF, I’ve tried to become as involved as possible in my academic community.  While research assistantships are only possible for full time students, I filled out an application in the hopes that faculty will ask me to help with their long-term research.  I’ve reached out to a former professor to collaborate on an exciting project that could turn into multiple academic articles.  I’ve communicated with the Writing Center’s coordinator to see if I could become a volunteer peer reviewer.  On-campus workshops, conferences, and forums have also become more appealing, and I’m planning to attend three in April.  I’ve really turned into a supernerd!

While I continue on my graduate school journey, I hope to make meaningful connections with faculty and fellow classmates; to push myself by taking classes and learning about things that challenge me; and to find several areas of interest for my thesis and possible conference papers.  Keep me in your thoughts during the next 6 weeks as I write a major 17-page research paper using qualitative research methods for the very first time!

Are you a repeat graduate student?  What are three lessons you’ve learned as a second-time M.A. seeker?

TED 2013 Has Begun!


Today begins TED 2013.  Learn more about this year’s presenters in the official Program Guide.  I am most excited to see speeches by Nilofer Merchant, Rich + Tone, John McWhorter, Orly Wahba, and Jinsop Lee.  I was excited to see that nearly 30 women are presenting at this year’s conference.  And can you believe Bono is presenting?!

TED Talks


Follow TED’s blog here.  You can also check out all of the action as it happens on Twitter and on Facebook.

How To Be A Presentation God: Ethos3’s Slideshare Presentation



I’ve exhaustively covered Ethos3 CEO Scott Schwertly‘s book How To Be A Presentation God.  However, I recently found the corresponding Slideshare deck and wanted to share its beautiful design with you.  Read my review of Schwertly’s book.  Watch the book preview video here.

What great Slideshare decks have you seen lately?

Links of the Week: 2013.06


This week’s wrap-up includes education-inspired articles to help the superstudent or the superteacher succeed.

USA Today featured “6 things you should say to your professor” in its online “College” section.  I love author Ellen Bremen’s tips because I am a teacher frequently on the receiving end of a lot of unprofessional emails, voicemail messages, phone calls, and instant messages.  I also like that Bremen compares the relationship between student and professor to student and boss.  Ultimately, her advice is that students should “use these [suggested] phrases to sound proactive, rather than reactive” (Source).

For example, last month, a student called me and explained that he needed an A+ in my class in order to graduate.  To him, this may have seemed like a perfectly reasonable request, but to me, this immediately raised red flags.  How should a student go about communicating a need like this?  Bremen suggests, “Instead of saying, ‘I really needed a 4.0 in this class!’ say, ‘I am striving for a 4.0 and I’m prepared to work for it. I’ve reviewed the syllabus. I would like to make an appointment so I can ask questions and discuss my plan for achieving my goal.’” (Source).  This advice (along with 5 other common trouble spots) comes from Bremen’s 14 years of teaching experience, and her communication tips are sure to help any student understand the importance of professionalism, hard work, and personal responsibility… three things a teacher values.


Professors and graduate students know and treasure the Chronicle of Higher Education. If you haven’t already, it’s high time to get a free account here.  My second article of the week comes from the Chronicle and is written by Richard D. Kahlenberg, “a senior fellow at the Century Foundation [and] author of, among other works, The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action (Basic Books, 1996), and editor of Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College (Century Foundation Press, 2010)” (Source).  Though the article is quite long, “How Much Do You Pay For College?” is an insightful look at a taboo topic.

Lastly, for my online educators, I read the condensed findings of a study in “Some Groups May Not Benefit From Online Education.”  Essentially, after examining over 40,000 community college and technical college students, researchers Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars found that “[s]tudents of all types completed fewer courses and achieved lower grades online than they did in face-to-face classes” and that “men, African-Americans, and academically underprepared students had the biggest gaps between the two mediums” (Source).  Read the full study here.

What interesting education-related articles did you read this week?

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories


When Chiara Ojeda is the primary instructor, and when I am the supporting teacher in the classroom, I am able to sit back and be inspired; to gauge students’ reactions; and to tweak and develop my own lessons.  I do love preparing new lessons for class!  My most recent deck is on storytelling and how to use story in a presentation.  Check out a few slides here.

One of the students’ favorite videos is “On The Shapes of Stories” by Kurt Vonnegut.  Watch it here:


The students respond well to hearing many different approaches to story.  They read a piece of flash fiction to see how story works.  They read Nancy Duarte’s Resonate and learn how to incorporate stories into their presentations.  I would like to push them to do more story writing in class.  Brainstorming, creating, and workshopping a specific story for a specific speech will help them to understand the hard work that goes into story creation.

Recently, Garr Reynolds has been posting up a storm about story.  I want to read each of his new articles carefully to see if there are any takeaways my students can learn from.  Presentation Zen features “On the power of speech and telling your story,” “To live is to have a story to tell,” and “A beautiful story told without a single word,” and “The storytelling imperative: make them care.”

How do you teach story to your public speaking and presentation class?  What resources do your students enjoy the most?